Black Excellence in Overwatch – Blerd Gaming
Black Excellence in Overwatch – Blerd Gaming
*Editors Note* This article is sponsored by Starlion: Thieves Of The Red Night by Leon Langford. If you want to support a Black Indie Author, please check out their book!
Developed by Blizzard Entertainment in 2016, Overwatch is a mega-popular team-based video game. It features a host of different heroes as two teams duke it out in various game modes. From the same company behind World of Warcraft, the Diablo series, and the Warcraft/Starcraft series, the characters in the game are as unique as you can imagine. From cybernetic ninjas and a host of robots to a scientist gorilla and a hamster piloting a mech ball of death, Overwatch certainly knows how to create diverse characters.
In our previous installment, we looked at the Black Excellence from industry leader Apex Legends. Diversity in the gaming industry is still lacking. For that reason, it is important to spotlight those that are bucking the trend and properly highlighting aspects of different cultures. Spanning the three in-game classes – Tank, Damage aka DPS, and Support – Overwatch currently features three Black characters. Join us as we dive into why each exuberates Black excellence in their own way!
Jean-Baptiste Augustin who simply goes by “Baptiste” is a 36 year old Haitan combat medic. Baptiste is voiced by Ben Antoine, a Haitain-Canadian actor with over 100 film and television appearances, including Romeo Must Die and Four Brothers.
As a result of the Omnic Crisis – a rebellion between robots and their creators – Baptiste was one of the 30 million children orphaned. Due to these events, he and a friend became interested in the medical field and eventually joined the Caribbean Coalition to aid in the response to the Crisis. Upon completing his service, he shifted to the Talon mercenary group – an organization profiting off of the aftermath of war – ignorant of its mission.
In Overwatch, Baptiste is a support hero. Regardless of the current meta, Baptiste is among the strongest supports in the game. He has an Immortality Field tactical ability which prevents his allies from dying while within range. While the generator can be destroyed, when played correctly, this ability can negate several otherwise devastating abilities and ultimates from opponents. Baptiste also has the unique ability to simultaneously heal and deal damage. He is equipped with Exo Boots which allow him to jump higher than most other heroes. His ultimate, Amplification Matrix, generates a large window that increases the damage or healing of projectiles shot through it.
Baptiste grew up in trying times and was able to not only help support in the aftermath but became a very skilled combat medic. With the unfortunate abundance of underserved communities, his story of overcoming his environment, but not forgetting where he came from, is something that can resonate with thousands around the globe.
Akande Ogundimu, aka The Successor, aka Doomfist, is a 45-year-old Nigerian martial artist, mercenary, and businessman. Doomfist is voiced by Sahr Ngaujah, an African-American theater actor and director with appearances in Stomp the Yard and Luke Cage.
Akande was born into a prestigious family which owned a prosthetic-technology company. Armed with his intelligence, he grew to love martial arts training in several disciplines. In the aftermath of the Omnic Crisis, Akande lost his right arm ending his martial arts career before he could reach his prime. Thanks to his family’s company, he was given a cybernetic prosthetic arm. Though his competitive fighting career was over, he eventually was recruited to become the mercenary Doomfist and joined Talon. Yes, the same Talon that Baptiste joined.
In the game, Doomfist is a damage or DPS hero. His abilities are incredibly unique even for Overwatch. Most of Doomfist’s abilities revolve around his incredibly large cybernetic arm. He can charge up for a lunging punch, throw an uppercut to launch himself into the air or slam down into the ground. What’s more, whenever he successfully lands any of these attacks, he is granted temporary shields. As he often says, “the best defense is a good offense.” If all that wasn’t enough he is also able to shoot projectiles. A Doomfist in the right hands can lay waste to an entire team.
Doomfist exudes Black Excellence. He has some similarities to the Marvel superhero, T’Challa aka Black Panther. He is an incredibly intelligent, technologically adept martial artist. What’s not to love about this? Showing youth that it is cool to be smart and into tech will never get old!
Lúcio Correia dos Santos, or Lúcio for short, is a 26-year-old Brazilian DJ and Freedom fighter. He is voiced by actor, scriptwriter, producer, filmmaker, and musician, Jonny Cruz. Jonny also appeared in popular games like Red Dead Redemption 2, Hitman, and Need for Speed Heat.
Lúcio grew up in an impoverished favela in Rio de Janeiro affected by the Omnic Crisis. Growing up, Lúcio was interested in both hockey and football (American soccer). Eventually, music called out to him as a way to uplight the spirits of those around him. After a broken promise from the megacorporation Vishkar Corporation, Lúcio stole sonic technology from them and converted it into a tool to help drive Vishkar away from his neighborhoods.
In Overwatch, Lúcio is a support hero. His main weapon is the Sonic Amplifier that he stole from Vishkar. However, Lúcio traverses the maps on roller blades which enable him to glide along walls. In the right hands, he can navigate to nearly anywhere imaginable. Additionally, Lúcio provides an area of effect that can be switched between healing or providing a speed boost to his nearby allies. He can even crank up the intensity of either ability for a short period of time. Going a step further, Lúcio’s ultimate involves him jumping in the air and slamming the ground with a Sound Barrier which applies massive temporary shields to his allies within range.
Lúcio’s Black Excellence stems from his ability to overcome outside forces trying to take advantage of his homeland. Not only did Lúcio lead the charge to repel them from his favela but he did it while keeping smiles on his neighbors’ faces. This type of unbreakable spirit is what is exhibited in neighborhoods around the world.
What’s next for Overwatch
With the highly anticipated Overwatch 2 set to release hopefully within the calendar year, don’t expect anything new out of the original game. While the game plans to add an anticipated PvE mode to run alongside its PvP modes, there hasn’t been a lot of information about new characters.
While Overwatch featured the three Black men mentioned above, and a few brown ladies – Ana, Pharah, Sombra, and Symmetra – the roster was desperately missing a Black woman. Thankfully, one of the first newly developed characters set to debut in Overwatch 2 was Sojourn. While things may change, Sojourn, an Overwatch member during the Golden Age, is expected to wield a railgun with multi-firing types.
Understandably, Blizzard is being otherwise tight-lipped about its mega-project so we’ll be anxiously awaiting further plans along with the rest of you!
Recently, Blizzard announced a closed beta set to begin on April 26, 2022! Hopefully, you were lucky enough to receive an invitation.
How would you rate how Overwatch has handled diversity and Black Excellence specifically? What are your hopes for Overwatch 2 building upon its roster featuring representation?