Cheers, loves! The cheesy dialogue is here!
Come on, we all know the phrases and platitudes Overwatch’s character spout are cheesier than a Cheetos’ factory. Or that bad joke. You get the point.
I’ve been wondering about this every since I attended the Overwatch launch screening and watched the gorgeous animated shorts. Pixar, Blizzard is not. But that’s an argument for another time.
It’s fascinating that for all the money and talent Blizzard can afford the best lines they can come up for an Egyptian Iron Man-esque rocket queen is, “Justice rains down from above!!!” Or the more familiar phrase for us Pharah players: “Justice rains down from abarahhhh.”
15 hours into Overwatch and chill and you realize that the aesthetic decision to be campy is as much brilliant game design as it is cheesy writing. For funsies, let’s go over the character taglines, which range from cheddar to respectable.
- Zenyatta, the psuedo-hindu, Buddhist robot monk spouts some false wisdom that manages to disrespect two whole cultures at once: “True self is without form.”
- Roadhog, the apocalyptic themed pig man: “I’m a one-man apocalypse.”
- Hanzo, the brooding archer-samurai born from a bad Kung Fu film: “With every death, comes honor. With honor, redemption.”
- Symmetra, the punjabi, anal retentive, sci-fi sorceress: “The true enemy of humanity is disorder.”
- D.va, the K-pop styled mecha pilot: “I play to win.”
- McCree, the digital composite of every Clint Eastwood cowboy committed to film: “Justice ain’t gonna dispense itself.”
- Mei, the Chinese eskimo scientist, who’s awkwardness transcends camp with adorbs and OP abilities: “Our world is worth fighting for.”
- Mercy, the sci-fi-fantasy guardian angel doubling as a nurse: “Heroes never die.”
- Bastion (Pro-tip: Genji is a hard counter), Wall-E on roids: “Wall-E sounds and bird chirps.”
- Lucio, the Brazilian DJ with beats so fire he uses them to fight evil: “Come on, let’s bring it together!”
- Genji, Hanzo’s cyberborg ninja brother: “Even if I sacrifice my body, I will never sacrifice my honor.”
- Junkrat, the Joker with a grenade launcher and a peg leg: “It’s a perfect day for some mayhem.”
- Pharah, Egyptian Iron Woman who takes herself way too seriously: “I will protect the innocent.”
- Reaper, the angsty and possibly Mexican-American assassin who spent too much time at Hot Topic as a teenager: “Death walks among you.”
- Reinhardt, if Dark Souls heavy knights were from the future: “Justice will be done.”
- Soldier 76, the token COD character: “We’re all soldiers now.”
- Tracer, the Cockney chick with time cancer and who’s change in pose to a pinup pose caused many a neckbeards much offense: “Cheers, love! The cavalry’s here!”
- Torbjorn, cyborg Dwarf: “Build ’em up, break ’em down.”
- Widowmaker, the femme fatale sniper who can only relate with spiders after some traumatic event in her past: “One shot, one kill.”
- Winston, moon Gorilla: “Imagination is the essence of discovery.”
- Zarya, the butch Russian and response to all the other women in the game having the exact same body type: “Together we are strong.”
Like I said, cheesy. But this is camp. And camp is a deliberate aesthetic style and one with purpose. This is not kitsch, which falls into tackiness. Blizzard’s brilliance in opting to use campiness works in several player positive ways.
- Broad appeal. No intellectual barrier to entry. It’s entertaining.
- Uses language to convey a message in the clearest possible way while being diegetic (a part of the fictional world).
- The lines carry over into our understanding of the characters and their abilities, giving us valuable information about what the characters are doing gameplay wise.
- The tone stays consistent with the taglines associated with ultimates, which for fairness have to be distinct and clearly warn players that they’re in danger.
- It makes characters memorable, which compounds with the visual distinctions to bring some clarity to what can easily become a chaotic experience.
- Camp reinforces a spirit of fun and play rather than the sublimated aggression seen in “serious” shooters.
Most importantly, Overwatch camp is honest. Game’s have come a long way as an art form, but multiplayer is the realm of the teabag (which I have not seen once in 15 hours of Overwatch).
The cheese and cartoonish color maintain a tone that’s more consistent with how human beings play multiplayer video games: silly, silly ways. The human element of comedy is less jarring in a game like Overwatch than say a realistic shooter like CS:GO. Blizzard accounts for silliness, reducing dissonance.
In this way, cheese keeps the metaphor of Overwatch’s game world alive.