Get to know the factions in crisis with each other in Overwatch 2
If, “all the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players,” as the Bard says, in the world of Overwatch those players are the various heroes that we play. Yes, I recognize that saying “the players play the players” is a Xzibit meme in the making, but roll with me here.
With the original Overwatch being centered on story-free objective maps, you could be forgiven for not knowing that Soldier: 76 and Reaper are mortal enemies, or that Winston once Primal Punched Doomfist into next week, since it has no bearing on gameplay. But in Overwatch 2, the story missions will very likely focus on a particular faction story, with players taking the role of that faction’s protagonists for that map — good guys, bad guys, or morally gray guys.
Hence, it might be good to have a clear idea of what the big teams are, which is what I aim to do here. There are numerous heroes who won’t be included here, because they’re not meaningfully aligned with one faction or the other, but we’ll deal with them later. For now, let’s talk about the Alliance and Horde of Overwatch.
Overwatch: The Next Generation
Notable heroes: Winston, Tracer, Mei, Reinhardt, Brigitte, Mercy, Echo, Genji
Given that Winston’s Recall is the inciting incident for the story of this franchise, we should start with his faction. At the beginning of the Zero Hour animated short showcasing Overwatch 2, it’s just Winston, Tracer, and Mei. However, by the end of that cinematic, Genji, Echo, Reinhardt, Brigitte, and Mercy have joined the party.
Principally, the objective of this faction is to put Overwatch back together… or at least work towards doing some of the tasks that Overwatch previously did in the past, such as protecting VIPs like Mondatta (which Tracer sadly failed to do) or using the Ecopoints to gather vital climate data (which Mei is in the process of doing.) Of course, we also see depicted in Zero Hour the primary operation that the original Overwatch was founded to counter: fighting against omnic aggression.
While not seen in the cinematic, we know from preview materials for Overwatch 2 that Torbjorn — along with Torb’s sidekick/pet project Bastion — and upcoming playable hero Sojourn are also joining the team in some capacity. As a final note: I’ve left Lucio off this list because while we see him cooperating with Overwatch when they come to fight Null Sector’s attack in Rio de Janeiro, we don’t have a clear indication if he’s going to fully commit to saddling up with Team Winston to fight Null Sector elsewhere in the world.
Overwatch: Old Soldiers
Notable Heroes: Ana, Soldier: 76
It’s important to delineate Ana and Jack Morrison (a.k.a. Soldier: 76) from other Overwatch veterans for one core reason: strictly speaking, very few people know they’re alive, and that set doesn’t appear to include Winston. We do know, however, that the two of them are prosecuting a two-person war to bring down Talon, as well as any other obvious evils they come across, such as shady businessman Guillermo Portero in Dorado. Hopefully that all goes better than their throwdown with Team Hakim, of course.
All that said, opposition to Talon might be the only thing Jack and Ana have in common with Team Winston. Soldier: 76 reminds us frequently that he’s not interested in playing by the rules any longer, so it’s likely he intends to prosecute a less scrupulous war against evil than Winston or other former Overwatch agents would be comfortable with. Ana, for her part, seems mainly interested in keeping Jack from getting himself killed.
We know as of Mercy’s short story Valkyrie that she’s learned of Jack and Ana’s survival. She also knows that Reyes is “alive” in the sense that he’s become the Reaper, though how much she knows about his condition isn’t expanded on in that story.
Notable Heroes: Doomfist, Moira, Reaper, Widowmaker, Sombra, Sigma, (plus non-player characters Mauga, Nguyen, Maximilien, Sanjay)
The international criminal organization bent on inciting chaos and global conflict is itself surprisingly orderly, even if all of the people on staff aren’t necessarily trustworthy. Reaper’s offing former Overwatch agents, Widowmaker’s killing people for an adrenaline rush, Sombra has her own agenda, Sigma is effectively a slave, Mauga may or may not still be alive and Nguyen is probably alive but grumpy. Sanjay Korpal — Symmetra’s handler and an official for the Vishkar Corporation — is the member we know the least about, since he’s shown up with Talon but never said anything about it. Behind it all is Evil Biology Teacher Moira and One Punch Boss Doomfist, diverse in style but unified in intent.
The gameplay trailer for Overwatch 2 suggests that Null Sector’s new offensive is at least partially supported by Talon, by way of Doomfist’s offer of support in the conclusion of the Storm Rising campaign. Exactly how that support manifests is unanswered at the moment, but I’m sure we’ll learn more as we get closer to the game’s release. Oh, and just to amp up the drama a bit, we (the audience) know that Maximilien totally betrayed Akande to Overwatch, but we don’t know if Akande knows that. J U I C Y.
Everything we’ve been told about the original Omnic Crisis didn’t place the blame for it at the feet of any one organization — all we know is that omnics started a war, humanity fought back, and it looked bad until Overwatch came in and was able to end the war. We learned in the first Archives mission, Uprising, that a new omnic extremist group called Null Sector was taking a hardline stance about omnic rights, escalating to violent action like taking over King’s Row and seizing the mayor of London and Tekkharta Mondatta as hostages.
While Overwatch was able to beat that uprising down, Zero Hour presents us with a new and vastly upgraded Null Sector, starting with their big offensive in Paris and followed by similar attacks in other parts of the world. We still don’t have any unique characters to go along with Null Sector, by the way… with the exception of the ominous figure meeting with Doomfist at the end of Storm Rising, dubbed “Null Hector” in some parts of the community. At this stage, however, they’re the OTHER major antagonist organization that Overwatch has to contend with going into Overwatch 2.
Notable Heroes: Hanzo, Baptiste, Junkrat & Roadhog, McCree
This is less a faction and more a description of heroes who have a key detail in common:
- Hanzo fled the Shimada clan after believing he killed Genji, which the clan hasn’t been happy about (they’ve been sending assassins after him).
- Baptiste fled Talon after becoming disillusioned with them, got roped into another job by Mauga, and fled AGAIN, so they want him dead.
- McCree’s a fugitive not only for his past career with the Deadlock Gang but also the revelation of his dark ops actions while part of Blackwatch.
- Junkrat & Roadhog apparently aggravated the Junkertown Queen in some notable way and were banished from Junkertown. While not fleeing from the Junkers per se, they are fleeing from justice in the wake of their international crime spree — regardless of what that spree was for.
Hence, all of these characters are on the run from someone. The paths they take in terms of interactions with other factions likely plays into where they fall in the overall story, but as it stands they’re all effectively free agents.
There are numerous other playable heroes and notable non-playable characters in the franchise who don’t have any direct link to any of the major factions, and aren’t on the run from something. We’ll dig into them in a future debrief. There’s a lot of time, and a lot to discuss, before Overwatch 2 launches.
What do you think will happen when all of these factions clash?
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