Sometimes, the stars will align and the gaming industry will have two or more games that are eerily similar to each other. It happened in 2009 with Sucker Punch’s Infamous and Radical’s Prototype, which was promptly solved with a lingerie fan art competition. Round two came in 2011 with the release of Battlefield 3 from EA and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 by Infinity Ward. Now, that same crossover is set to happen again this winter, though probably not with the lingerie fan art. Jury’s out on that, though.
Last year at Blizzcon, Blizzard unveiled a brand new MOBA-shooter by the name of Overwatch that puts players against each other as a cast of characters who all look like they stepped out of different comic books. Just four months prior to that announcement, Borderlands developer Gearbox revealed their new “hero shooter” Battleborn, wherein players play against each other as a cast of characters who all look like they stepped out of a different set of comic books. Now that Battleborn has had a full reveal this past E3, lots of people have been drawing comparisons between it and Overwatch, since both do look pretty similar. After all, they are both colorful shooters in which you play a cast of characters who would probably be enemies or playable characters in different games (or failing that, a comic book). Both developers are based in the same state; Gearbox has set up shop in Plano, which is only a few hours away from Blizzard’s Austin offices.
But what if their similarities are intentional? What if, in fact, they’re both part of the same series story-wise? Yeah, it sounds crazy, but we’ve got the perfect explanation for this: Overwatch is Battleborn’s prequel. Let’s break this down.
In the initial trailer for Overwatch, we learn the backstory for why everyone’s fighting. In the near future, Earth goes through a global wide “Omnic Crisis,” which basically means the robots rose up and terrorized humanity after their artificial intelligence went all kill crazy. To combat this threat, an international task force by the name of Overwatch was created. They recruited everyone, from simple soldiers decked out in power armor and scientists covered in hazmat suits, to dudes in giant mech armor with hammers and talking gorillas with jetpacks. After the Omnic Crisis, Overwatch stuck around as international peacekeepers until they finally disbanded. As the game itself opens, the remains of Overwatch are basically mercenaries for hire.
The debut CG trailer shows off four characters in action. On the side of “good,” we have Tracer, a British woman with semiautomatic pistols and the ability to teleport across short distances, and Winston, a giant gorilla in power armor that goes into berserker mode if his glasses are smashed. The two enemies they go up against are Reaper, a man covered in all black with a skull mask and a pair of shotguns, and Widowmaker, a woman with an automatic rifle and special goggles. The two groups fight over a gauntlet for someone by the name of Doomfist, but Reaper and Widowmaker flee after a kid caught in the crossfire basically renders it unusable. In the trailer, Reaper unleashes an attack called Death Blossom where darkness surrounds him and he spins around firing his shotguns from all sides. Conveniently enough, there’s also the threat of an approaching darkness in Battleborn.