This much anticipated book is perfect for the Overwatch fan who is obsessed with the highly developed lore of the game and doesn’t mind the hefty price tag. It includes art and information about the heroes, environments, skins, sprays, player icons, animated shorts, origin stories, and promotional art. While it does have some never-before-seen preliminary art, it is really the creator commentary that makes this worth reading as so much of the art has already been released and discussed on the internet in some form. This book is perfect for fans who want to have all the information about the game in one place and confirms the specific choices that were made and why.
The introductory material was a nice inclusion that makes all of the commentary throughout the book feel more grounded.“Making a Future With Fighting For” and the “Forward” include different kinds of background information than what is included in the rest of the book. It even has some personal stories such as an early group shot jamming their hallway printer. These are important because they keep the art tied to the people who made it, which is something that can sometimes be forgotten, especially when it comes to video games. While it might seem obvious, it is also nice to hear that the characters are the most important part of the game according to the creators too.
Speaking of the characters, the “Heroes” section is probably what most people are wanting this book for and it does not disappoint. We get to see older designs that include different styles, sexes, and ages as well as commentary on what the team was hoping to achieve in relation to each character and their environment. Highlights include the pages dedicated to Zarya, Torbjorn, and Soldier 76. I personally didn’t realize how comic booky Soldier 76 was before this point. It was very neat to be able to see certain details more clearly and they include other tidbits such as alternative alt concepts and effect concepts. The book also makes it very clear how closely the characters are tied to their environment and features many fun inclusions such as the posters, foods, and arcade games seen on various maps. The biggest selling point for me in this section was the level of detail they show in Ecopoint: Antarctica where they point out several hints they left to show that Mei had lived in the outpost when she was still a part of her scientific research team.
While I cannot possibly go over every section of the book, I do want to mention a couple other worthwhile sections. The section titled “Skins” provides a better look at what can already be easily seen in the game by removing pieces from the character, such as hair, which allows us to see hidden details that would otherwise be covered. The “Animated Shorts” section was probably my favorite from the book. They pointed out things that seem obvious once it is seen. An example of this is how the lighting changes track the time of day in “Are You With Us?” As the creators hoped, it did capture how much care and work Winston put into the message he put out. Another is the crowd design for “Alive.” The very fact that these choices conveyed the important information they were supposed to without drawing attention to themselves is a sign of very good artistic choices. I was also very happy that they pointed out the inclusion of the morlock purse in “Hero.” Throughout the book they note the influences they took from Warcraft, StarCraft, and Diablo, but this very specific nod was nice to see further emphasized.
Unfortunately, there are a couple of things that do bring the book down. One major issue is the lack of Doomfist. They do include his gauntlet and poster, but it seems like it would have a better idea to delay the book a little longer in order to give him a page in the “Heroes” section. There are a few other little details that are missing too such as Orissa’s pixel spray. I really don’t understand why something like that would be missing considering the fact that everybody else has their pixel spray and the spray tends to be one of the more popular ones. Personally, I would have enjoyed a section on the comics too as they have done a lot of world building just the same as the animated shorts. Finally, just about every other commentary piece included either the word optimistic or futuristic with them often appearing together. This made what might be otherwise interesting commentary feel really repetitive. None of this ruins the book, but it does bring it down a tad.
In the end, there are two different types of Overwatch fans: those that are just there for the game and those that love the lore that comes with it. If you are a fan in the latter category, this book is probably a must have regardless of its cost. It provides glimpses of all the different Overwatches that could have been and enhances the Overwatch that it is. That said, casual fans might give it a pass because of how much of this information is already made public. Compared to other art books, this is a solid entry that will be a mark of pride for those who own it.
(W) Blizzard Entertainment (A/CA) Blizzard Entertainment