Think back to the long lost age of 2014. Blizzcon in 2014, to be specific — the 7th of November. Blizzard, the world famous developer of Diablo and World of Warcraft, hadn’t launched a new game IP since StarCraft in 1998, and their years of creativity and innovation had all been leading to this moment — the reveal of Overwatch.
Helmed by Jeff Kaplan as game director, and Chris Metzen at his side as creative director, Overwatch had been years in the making. After a rocky development cycle with constant team changeups and even a genre shift, the world was finally ready for one of the most emotionally charged, instantly charming and beautifully animated cinematic reveal trailers in game history.
The reveal trailer for Overwatch introduces a number of characters and lore concepts in a tightly-scripted six minute package. We saw the origin and subsequent fall of Overwatch. We met an international crack-team of soldiers, scientists, adventurers and oddities that would fight the good fight to put an end to the Omnic Crisis. The trailer then showed a number of the game’s characters, including the instantly iconic Tracer and Winston alongside villains Widowmaker and Reaper. The central story of the trailer itself follows a pair of brothers exploring a museum based on the history of Overwatch (the team, not the game), who end up caught in the middle of a battle between the previously mentioned four characters. Using the brothers as the viewer’s lens and a more relatable touchstone for the fantastical world around them allows the story to have a deeper emotional impact — in under six minutes, the pair’s unique personalities and rocky relationship lead into a powerful arc.
On top of being packed with action, lore and personality, this reveal set the gold standard for animation in game trailers. It has a smooth and fluid style that rivals that of Pixar, a style that has carried forth and been improved on across the many other cinematic trailers Overwatch has had over the years. These lend themselves beautifully to filling out the world and its history, introducing dozens of new characters and giving context for the battles you fight within the game, and this is the one that started it all.
I could write all day about how this trailer blew away my expectations and introduced one of the most interesting worlds I’ve experienced in gaming, and how many times (a frankly ludicrous amount) I’ve revisited it since I first saw it years ago. But the power and emotion that is communicated in this trailer can only be conveyed by watching it. What are you waiting for? The world could always use more heroes.