BlizzCon 2016 Overwatch: What’s New Panel Transcript

This is a BlizzCon 2016 Overwatch: What’s New Panel Transcript covering all the details revealed during the event with images and video clips shown onscreen.

  • Jeff Kaplan (game director)
  • Geoff Goodman (principal designer)
  • Michael Chu (lead writer)
  • Arnold Tsang (assistant art director)



Narrator: Welcome to the Overwatch: What’s New panel.

Jeff: Happy BlizzCon, everybody, how you doing? Wow, there’s so many people here. So as you guys know the top things that players want in Overwatch are new heroes, new maps, and new game modes. So it was really exciting for us when Mike in the opening ceremonies announced that we will have new maps, new game modes, and new heroes coming to Overwatch.

So we are going to give you all the details here today we are going to start by talking about the 23rd hero… the new hero: Sombra. You are gonna learn a ton about her, then we are going to talk about that new feature: the arcade, a whole new way to play Overwatch — which has new game modes, and we will also talk about the two new maps that we are going to be bringing to Overwatch which is Ecopoint: Antarctica, homebase of Mei; and also the Oasis.

But first we should introduce ourselves. I am Jeff. I am one of the guys on the Overwatch team.

Michael: I am Michael. I am the lead writer on the Overwatch team.

Arnold: I am Arnold. I am one of the artists on the Overwatch team.

Geoff: I am Geoff. I am lead designer on the team.



Sombra: Story

Michael: Alright, so let’s get things started. Today we are going to be talking about our newest hero Sombra, hero #23, and you know since we have started talking about Overwatch with all of you, I think we have gotten like one question more than any other, it is not about Torbjörn nerfs, not about Symmetra buffs … you know I heard some stuff from Jeff about that. Yes, not about espresso machines, the question is who is Sombra, and I thought maybe we would get the answer from Sombra herself.

Sombra: Who is Sombra? To the system she is nobody, she doesn’t exist. No one remembers the girl. There were a thousand children like her after the war, but none of them could hack like she could. And she learned that people were just as easily manipulated. Now she understood how the world worked: Information is power. So she kept hacking politicians, corporations, governments. It was an addiction, but for the first time, someone noticed her. When your hardware is obsolete, it is time to upgrade. The girl was gone and Sombra was born. Now I’m ready, I will find out who really runs the world. I’ll find their weaknesses, and how to exploit them, and when I do, I’ll be the one pulling the strings. Who is Sombra? You’ll never know. Adios.


Michael: So Sombra is one of the world’s most notorious hackers and a master infiltrator. But how did the girl become Sombra? Well, to answer that question we have to look back to where she came from. Sombra was born 30 ago during what the Mexican referred to as La Media Noche (Midnight) — thanks to my two years of high school Spanish for that pronunciation.



So La Media Noche is the phrase they use in Mexico to describe the Omnic Crisis, and the time that followed that. So for a quick recap of the Omnic Crisis: it is an event that took place across the world where robot populations rebelled against their human controllers, and so you know just keep that in mind next time you are plugging in your Rumba. But anyways, Mexico really suffered a lot at the hands of the Omnic Crisis. The war destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure. It resulted in a massive loss of life that created thousands of orphans, orphans like Sombra, so in this environment Sombra had to do whatever she could to survive.



Luckily, she had an ability: she was fantastic with computers. She could hack anything and she could break in the system. So she used these abilities to steal money to get by, to manipulate the people who were trying to control her, and to make a life for herself.

Now if you have abilities like that you are bound to be of interest to people and a young Sombra was taken in by the Los Muertos organization. Los Muertos is an interesting group in the Overwatch world. You may remember them from the Soldier: 76 animated short: Hero. They claim to be kind of revolutionaries fighting for people who were left behind during the rebuilding of Mexico after the war.



Whether or not that’s really what they are up to, because they’re also engaged in a lot of other shady activities. It is up to you decide, but they took in a young Sombra, and she basically honed her hacking abilities working for them and helping them in their campaign against the Mexican government; and as a little sneak peek here I can show you this is one of Sombra’s legendary skins.



So this is what a young Sombra would have looked like as a member of Los Muertos. So as a member of Los Muertos, Sombra basically she was hacking the Mexican government, and she just kept going deeper and deeper into the world, and executing more and more audacious hacks; and it wasn’t just that she was good at it, it is actually something in her personality like she wants to do it. She has this thing where if there is a mystery, she wants to solve it. If there is a lock, she wants to break it; and so she would investigate corporations, the government, famous people; and in fact, Sombra gave me a little hint today that a very important person in the Overwatch universe’s birthday is today, and that’s Mr. Jeff Kaplan here so I think … happy birthday, Jeff.

So Sombra, while investigating the Mexican government, she stumbled upon across something. She found a conspiracy, or what she believed to be a conspiracy that was at the heart of a lot of the events that were taking place in the Overwatch universe, and obviously with her curiosity she wanted to know more about this. So she started investigating it, but the thing was someone could be a little overconfident, and she wasn’t ready, and the conspiracy struck back. They found out who she was, and they went after her.



Overnight, she had to go underground. She had to delete every trace of her existence and basically become a ghost. She spent years during this time, she was repairing herself getting ready to strike back against that conspiracy. So she got these upgrades on her, which you can see in our awesome art. She basically became the computer. She doesn’t need a computer to hack anymore. She has all sorts of upgrades, and with that she became a much more capable hacker than she ever was, and that attracted new suitors.



And in this case, it was the Talon organization who could totally make use of one of the world’s best hackers, and so as a member of Talon, she executed even more audacious hacks. I know … even more. She struck against corporations like LumériCo, Volskaya Industries (as you saw on the animated shot this morning), and basically while she is currently in league with Talon, she is a really interesting character because she is really in it for herself, she wants to find out this conspiracy, she wants the power of this conspiracy for herself, and I think that it is something we will see as we go throughout the story: “what exactly Sombra ‘s end game is,” and I guess I’d finish up by saying one thing that I think is really interesting about Sombra is– we talk a lot about characters who have various motivations, and they are sort of gray: “are they good? are they evil? what do they really want?;” and I think Sombra is a perfect example of that. She is an awesome unreliable narrative … perhaps the most unreliable narrative that we have, but now I’d like to turn it over to a very reliable narrator Mr. Arnold Tsang.



Next: Sombra: Concept Art

Sombra: StorySombra: Concept ArtSombra: AbilitiesArcade ModeNew Map: Oasis

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Tomas Hernandez is owner of since 2003. I post news about World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Diablo III, Hearthstone, Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm, Blizzard Careers, and the Warcraft film.

Blizzplanet is a leading fansite covering news about upcoming Blizzard Entertainment licensed products. I also post previews and reviews. I have interviewed book writers and Blizzard game developers.

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