The Art of Overwatch
Publisher: Dark Horse
Review by Ryan M. Holt
Many items line the bookshelves in my cramped apartment–from graphic novels, to DVD’s, to statues of things I love. None of these other things are held in as high esteem as art books though. These tomes are but a fraction of documentation that shows what it was like to work on something I love before I even knew I loved it. Concept art shows what characters started as and what they were shaped to be. Environmental art is a glimpse beyond what we can see in the final medium. The latest art book I will be adding to my collection is the forthcoming The Art of Overwatch.
First things first, I absolutely love Overwatch. I play on average 15-20 matches a week, and follow it’s sports scene like most people follow football. Beyond that, I have been a Blizzard fan for nearly 20 years now. What makes The Art of Overwatch so special is that it is the first entry into a franchise for Blizzard. There was no art book for Diablo, or Warcraft: Orcs and Humans or Starcraft, only their sequels. There are no previous installments for Overwatch to fallback on.
Because of this, The Art of Overwatch sings. It really feels like Blizzard had been so used to making the same three games for years that Overwatch allowed a huge explosion of creative energies from its staff. The book is broken up into nine chapters, showing off unused hero concepts, rich sprawling environments, and in-game things like Sprays and Skins. The biggest mystery is still the story of Overwatch, and this book continues teasing players as to what has shaped this world.
The best part of the book by far is the chapter on the stars of Overwatch: the heroes. The book was completed sometime after Orisa’s launch, but before Doomfist entered the world of Overwatch, so sadly he is exempt from the book. But that means even heroes that came out post-launch like Ana and Sombra have some concept art to show.
The best part about this chapter is it shows us how many iterations of a character Blizzard goes through before we fall in love with them. Mei was originally Canadian and wielded an ice axe like Lara Croft. Sombra was originally a Japanese Fashionista named Omniblade that threw daggers. McCree was based off of old, unused Starcraft concept art. Bastion’s original ultimate ability was a land mine that popped up and shot bullets in every direction. Mercy was a dude. These little details go a long way to show where these characters came from and hopefully where the world of Overwatch will go.
As much detail and work that were put into the heroes, there was even more put into the environments. After all, these are the maps that everyone plays in, so they need to look great while remaining functional. This is where a bunch of easter eggs are hidden, and this artwork shows them off without the wink and smile presented in game. It is really daunting to realize how much work has been put into something as simple as a jar of Winston’s peanut butter.
Then, there are the skins. The book includes not just looks at everyone’s skins, but also some of the seasonal event skins from all of their events from the last year. This is such a great gift for cosplayers because it shows details of things that you might not be able to see in- game, like the intricate carvings on Mercy’s staff for her Halloween Terror skin.
The other section that stands out above the others is the section for the animated shorts and cinematics. It really shows how far Blizzard has come as an art house, and not just as a game maker. This concept art looks more like a movie, showing off story boards, color tests and lighting designs. They even show how they spruce up in-game environments like the Volskaya Industries map that was used in the Sombra announcement trailer.
Buy it! The Art of Overwatch looks to be a great addition to any shelf. Art books like these are few and far between. The amount of artwork in this particular book is astonishing, with something new to grab your attention with each turn of the page. The stories told in the forward and first chapter of the book show exactly what Blizzard was aiming for with this ambitious project, and it is safe to say that they hit the mark.