Overwatch Lore: A Brief History

The lore of Overwatch is ripe with interesting characters, told through comics, animated short films, the in-game Archives events, and character interactions. The story of the game has not progressed forward in time relative to the game, rather, choosing to flesh out existing lore. Here's a quick rundown of the history of Overwatch.

The Omnic Crisis

The Omnic Crisis is the single most important event in the Overwatch lore. Omnics were created originally to serve the global economy and were developed by automatic factories called omniums. The company that controlled most of the omniums, the Omnica Corporation, is shut down after being exposed for fraud. Later, the defunct omniums suddenly begin producing highly intelligent Omnics with the intent of waging war on mankind. It is around this time that the Bastion siege automatons were produced, along with our hero Bastion.

Overwatch is Formed

To combat the Omnics, various nations produce their own elite teams and military divisions. The United States begin their Soldier Enhancement Program, where Jack Morrison and Gabriel Reyes become super soldiers. In Germany, the Crusaders are formed, led by Balderich von Adler. During the Crisis, the United Nations proposes a special strike team made from the world's top soldiers and minds. Balderich is invited to join, but falls in battle. He gives Reinhardt Wilhelm his invitation, to which Reinhardt accepts and becomes a founding member of Overwatch alongside Morrison, Reyes, Torbjorn Lindholm, Ana Amari and Liao.


The newly formed Overwatch team ends the Omnic Crisis, and is transitioned into a peacekeeping operation. Morrison takes over as Strike Commander, while Reyes is moved to head Blackwatch, a covert black ops sub-unit. Blackwatch captures teen outlaw Jesse McCree, where he is offered to join the organization. Reyes also partakes in various conflicts around the world as the Reaper at this time.


The Omnic monk Tekhartha Mondatta spreads his wisdom on human-omnic coexistence, and becomes a global celebrity. It is around this time that many of the Heroes we know are active. Tracer's accident occurs, with Winston inventing a chronal stabilizer to keep Tracer tethered to the present. Hanzo also attempts to kill Genji, after which is he rescued by Mercy and given to Blackwatch. Mei's team at Ecopoint Antarctica is forced to go into cryostasis.

The Venice Incident

Various Overwatch facilities are attacked. Strike Commander Morrison leaves the investigation to the discretion of Blackwatch Commander Reyes, to which he suggest they kidnap the suspects for information. They find that the perpetrator is Antonio Bartalotti, a high ranking Talon leader. After infiltrating Rialto, a neighborhood in Venice, they find Bartalotti. He taunts the team that if captured, Talon will rescue him. Reyes guns him down where he stands, blasting Bartalotti through the window and alerting the entire complex. Blackwatch is made public as a result of this stunt, forcing Overwatch to investigate.

Fall of Overwatch

As the investigation of Blackwatch happens, the United Nations conducts their own secret investigation of both Overwatch and Blackwatch. Public opinion of Overwatch becomes unfavorable, as they are accused of negligence, corruption and abusing human rights. A fight breaks out between Morrison and Reyes, causing an explosion that destroys the Swiss Overwatch HQ. It is believed that neither survived. As a result of experimentation from Moira, Reyes is able to survive with new ghost like abilities. Morrison also survived, becoming a rogue soldier. The UN dissolves Overwatch and enacts the Petras Act, making all Overwatch related actions taken by any former agents illegal and subject to prosecution.


Winston puts out the Recall, reconnecting the former agents of Overwatch to begin again. This puts us in the present time, where most of the new media about the characters take place.

And that's the brief history of the Overwatch lore! Omitted were parts that didn't advance the events of the game, such as the first Uprising event or some of the animated shorts that take place in the present. It is interesting that we don't get more lore that advances the timeline, as we keep getting glimpses into the past or snapshots of the present. We can only hope we get more going forward, as the lore is made almost entirely of our Heroes' backstories.

Photo courtesy of Blizzard.