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The hidden lore of Overwatch’s maps

Hollywood

The limo carrying Hal-Fred Glitchbot beneath the Goldshire Studios water tower.

Where it is:

The fictional Goldshire Studios movie lot in Los Angeles, California.

What’s going on:

A lot of people in the Overwatch world really hate omnics, which may be understandable given some of them tried to wipeout humanity—and almost succeeded. But most omnics seem to be just like regular, robotic people; living their lives and going to work.

The stars on this sidewalk have names like "Erik Swift" and "Baleog Fierce," refernces to The Lost Vikings.

On the Hollywood map the payload you are escorting is actually a limo with famous Omnic filmmaker Hal-Fred Glitchbot inside. You are taking him safely from one side of the Goldshire Studios lot to the other, or trying to stop him from ever making it there. Obviously which characters end up on either side of this conflict during a match isn’t canon to the actual story, but it’s still interesting that the defenders here are actively playing as part of the anti-omnic movement, assumedly trying to hurt or kill this popular figure.

But I guess this sort of thing is pretty much Roadhog and Junkrat's day job.

Things to look for:

The stars on Hollywood’s street right outside of the attacker’s spawn is dense with names and references. See how many you recognize! 

There are also dozens of references to other Blizzard games and many characters within the Overwatch universe hidden through the map, including billboards of Lucio (who is an international popstar) and more Los Muertos gang graffiti in an alley. 

King’s Row 

London has changed a lot in 30 years.

Where it is:

The upperclass King’s Row neighborhood of London, England.

What’s going on:

Much like Hollywood, this is a map steeped in omnic-human tensions. Many people will recognize King’s Row from the animated short Alive, and there’s even a memorial to the omnic monk Tekhartha Mondatta (who Widowmaker assassinates) on the map. But the omnic hatred in King’s Row goes past that short, and is actually the focal point of the map itself. 

A memorial for Tekhartha Mondatta at the spot he was killed by Widowmaker.

Omnics have so few rights in England that they are forced to live in a city called the Underworld beneath the streets of London, visible as the end of the King’s Row map. Although pro-omnic support is rising in the city, the payload in each match is actually an EMP bomb which the attackers are escorting into the Underworld to detonate, killing any omnics in range. When you celebrate an attacker victory on King’s Row, you’re celebrating robot genocide. The defenders are trying to stop that from happening, in what is another map that lets one side of the fight play as anti-omnic terrorists. 

Things to look for:

The memorial to Tekhartha Mondatta is outside of a building called The Meridian, and is a nice little touch for any fans of the short.

The view outside of King’s Row’s playable area gives you an idea of how England has changed in Overwatch’s universe, roughly set in 2045, with a futuristic looking clock tower and tall skyscrapers.

Numbani

The streets of Numbani have tons of text to read, all pointing back to other parts of the world.

Where it is:

Numbani, a city established in the Nigerian savanna as a place where humans and omnics can live peacefully together.

What’s going on:

You may remember Doomfist’s gauntlet as the focal point of Overwatch’s announcement cinematic back in 2014, with Reaper and Widowmaker trying to steal it while Winston and Tracer fight them off. Well, that same gauntlet is the star of every Numbani match that makes it past the first capture point.

Doomfist's gauntlet on the payload.

The map takes place on Unity Day, which celebrates the city’s founding. Part of the celebration is an exhibit all about a mysterious character named Doomfist at the Numbani Heritage Museum, which makes up the final point and the defender’s last spawn. The attackers are actually escorting Doomfist’s gauntlet through the streets of Numbani to be displayed in the museum, while the defenders are trying to steal it for some nefarious purpose. 

Doomfist may find himself as a playable character in Overwatch someday, and creative director Chris Metzen spoke to us at more length about him last year.

Things to look for:

Numbani is another location dense with hidden goodies, as there are pictures of at least two or three characters that have recurred in marketing material and may be playable heroes one day. There are also many signs for in game companies and stores that appear elsewhere. I recommend going into a lone custom match on Numbani and just reading everything you can.

The Control maps

Ilios is a fictional Greek island based on the real island of Santorini, which also has a CS:GO map.

Where they are:

- Ilios is on a small island of the same name off of Greece in the Aegean Sea, loosely based on the real island of Santorini (which is also the basis for a CS:GO map).

- Nepal is in the Omic monastery of Shambali in the Himalayas, founded by Tekhartha Mondatta and home of Zenyatta and Genji.

- Lijiang Tower is in the heart of Lijiang, China and is the home of Lucheng Interstellar, the company which is assumed to have operated the lunar base where Winston was raised.

The Shambali monastery in Nepal is home to Zenyatta and where Genji came to train after being given a new body by Mercy.

What’s going on:

Without the attack/defend linearity of the other maps, the Control maps lack for the same level of story, or at least it’s not nearly as deep or clear. It would be easy to infer that the monastery in Nepal is under siege by anti-omnic extremists, that Lijiang Tower was being assaulted for some information or piece of tech in the Lucheng Interstellar offices, and that Ilios is being attacked for something found in the ancient ruins that make up one of its control points, but there’s no confirmation or direction for any of those ideas beyond the fact that they seem to make sense. Hopefully more will be revealed over time, possibly in the form of more comics or shorts. 

Lijiang is home to both Mei and Lucheng Interstellar, the company that ran the lunar base Winston was raised on.

Things to look for:

There’s lots to see inside the dropships that make up the spawn for every match, so scour the corners for info instead of just waiting for the door to open. You’ll see Hearthstone playing cards, posters for the animated shorts, and some adorable team photos pinned to the wall. 

On the Village map in Nepal, there is a room near the point containing a Shimada samurai robe, a picture of a young Genji and Hanzo, a samurai mural, and the sword from the B point of the Hanamura map. It's implied that this is actually Genji's room from his Nepal voice line "This is my home now," and entering the room as Genji will sometimes make him say "This is my sword, Ryu Ichimonji."

Page 1: Capture maps - Hanamura, Temple of Anubis, and Volskaya Industries

Page 2: Payload maps - Dorado, Route 66, and Watchpoint: Gibraltar

Page 3: Hybrid and Control maps - Hollywood, King's Row, Numbani, Ilios, Nepal, and Lijiang Tower

Tom is PC Gamer’s Associate Editor. He enjoys platformers, puzzles and puzzle-platformers. He also enjoys talking about PC games, which he now no longer does alone. Tune in every Wednesday at 1pm Pacific on Twitch.tv/pcgamer to see Tom host The PC Gamer Show.