The most exciting part of last night’s Overwatch League match between the LA Valiant and Seoul Dynasty wasn’t SoOn’s amazing Widowmaker play; it was the halftime show. Jeff Kaplan, from the Overwatch team, came out onstage to tumultuous cheers and applause to introduce the newest Overwatch event: Retribution, the latest story in the newly founded Overwatch Archives.
Overwatch, Blizzard’s multi-platform team-based first person shooter, clearly has more story to it than what is revealed in the game itself: every one of its 27 playable characters has a backstory, several warring factions are at play in the game’s history, and said history also includes a global robot apocalypse. Despite releasing nearly a dozen shorts and multiple comics, Blizzard has barely skimmed the surface of Overwatch’s history, and fans have been clamoring for more for months. Blizzard gave them that story in last year’s Overwatch: Uprising event, which allowed players to play through a formative piece of Overwatch history: the first official mission of Overwatch poster girl and fan favorite, Tracer.
Uprising ran for less than a month and was immensely popular among players, with over 145 million matches played. Given that a single Uprising match averaged between 14 and 18 minutes, that is a massive amount of hours logged in a single event. Fans were thrilled with Uprising, wanted more, and were not shy in telling Blizzard about it. On April 2nd, Jeff confirmed that Uprising would return as a playable event, as part of a newly minted framing device for Overwatch history: Overwatch Archives. Last night, Jeff announced Retribution, the second story in Overwatch Archives, to be released concurrently with Uprising’s rerelease.
While Uprising tells the story of a mission during Overwatch’s heyday, Retribution looks to be revealing a much darker part of Overwatch’s history. The official Retribution comic, released yesterday morning, sets the stage: Talon, a shadowy terrorist organization, has launched a direct attack on Overwatch, a global peacekeeping organization. While Overwatch is following the legal channels in terms of an above-board investigation, there’s a tacit understanding that it won’t turn up anything. Enter Blackwatch, Overwatch’s secret task force, meant to take care of missions that should never be known to the public. Blackwatch gears up to take out the Talon operative that ordered the attack on Overwatch; judging from the gameplay trailer, it doesn’t go well, though we won’t know the full story until Retribution becomes playable.
In the announcement, Jeff also revealed several details about Retribution not present in the trailer. Like Uprising, Retribution will have two different play modes: Story Mode and All Heroes mode. Unlike Uprising, which was identical in both modes, Retribution will play out differently between different modes. Additionally, Jeff announced a new skin for Reaper (seen in Retribution as Gabriel Reyes, head of Blackwatch): an outfit based on Reaper’s time in the world’s pre-Overwatch super soldier program, back when he was known as Soldier 24. Given how rarely Blizzard drops lore, this tidbit was very well received by excited fans in the Overwatch Arena and online.
Overwatch Archives drops on April 10th, including the return of the Uprising event and the premiere of Retribution.
— Katie Cullen