Go behind the scenes with Blizzard in the latest ‘Overwatch’ short film

Blizzard’s multiplayer shooter Overwatch doesn’t have much in the way of traditional storytelling, preferring instead to throw its cast of characters into battle with little preamble. To supplement its in-game characterization, the studio regularly releases Pixar-like short films focusing on characters’ origin stories, and a new behind-the-scenes documentary lets us see just how they get produced.

“We knew when we started making Overwatch that the game was going to be this action-packed, six-versus-six, team-based shooter, and there wasn’t going to be a lot of room to do tons of great storytelling,” game director Jeff Kaplan said in the video. “Yet at the same time, we wanted to introduce the world to a whole new universe. Animated shorts were one of the most exciting avenues to tell a lot of story.”

Thus far, stories have focused on characters like Winston, who was almost killed at the hands of the evil Reaper, as well as Bastion. The lovable robot’s lonely tale might just be our favorite, and it gives some context for its behavior in Overwatch itself.

For the latest short, Blizzard focused on the ice-wielding Mei. Though she’s one of the happiest, kindest characters in the game, we learn more about her tragic past and the darkness underneath her cheery facade. As a more “normal” character who can’t teleport or rewind time, Blizzard wanted to make her relatable to players, and the studio also wanted to focus on her role as a scientist. It’s the loss of Mei’s mechanical companion Snowball that ultimately forces her to act and become the hero players know her to be. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a scientist profiled — Winston is an engineer — but the intelligent ape was already a longtime member of Overwatch before the events of the game.

“Mei isn’t a typical Blizzard piece where’s there’s wall to wall action and explosions. It’s brand-new territory that we ventured into,” project director Ben Dai said. “It’s something that we sort of want to prove to ourselves and to the audience — that we can actually make a piece that’s about a girl and a robot in a very simple setting with pretty much no action.”

Overwatch is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Check out the full short, Rise and Shine, at the top of the page.

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