As Overwatch continues strong approaching its one-year anniversary, Blizzard continues to release comics, trailers, and other merchandising to go along with the core game. However, one of the rare cancellations was an Overwatch graphic novel titled, Overwatch: First Strike. According to Overwatch's director, the comic would have limited the Overwatch universe.
At a press conference celebrating Overwatch's one-year anniversary, director Jeff Kaplan told Polygon why the company decided to cancel the Overwatch graphic novel, which would have given fans an in-depth look at an early episode in the lives of various Overwatch heroes.
"We sort of saw Overwatch really open up to the world, and listening to players and the stories they were telling and what they imagined the Omnic crisis to be really made us second guess what we were doing in First Strike," said Kaplan at the press conference.
The director prefaced with how the art and writing were both up to Blizzard's standards and how "it was a really hard decision" to cancel the graphic novel. Ultimately however, it was the fact that First Strike was "a very specific, contained story" "We [Blizzard] thought, 'Hey, if we go down this path, it really closes all these doors[,]" said Kaplan.
Overwatch: First Strike was revealed at the 2015 San Diego Comic-Con. The story would have taken place during the Omnic Crisis, a major story point in the Overwatch universe, most recently featured in the Overwatch event, "Uprising." The cover of First Strike showed off popular Overwatch heroes like Soldier 76 and Reaper looking like their "Origins" counterpart, before 76 became a robotic super soldier, and Reaper donned his cloak and skull mask.
As Kaplan said in a recent Q&A video for Wired, the fan theories that drive the Overwatch fandom have become a huge part of the game. Overwatch routinely includes community jokes like D.VA's affinity for doritos as in-game easter eggs. As such, the open-ended nature of some of Overwatch's major story points have also been aggressively writ by community.
On the one hand, this allows Overwatch to build a bridge to the fan community that has so wholly supported the game. On the other hand, it sounds as if Blizzard might be hesitant to clarify some of Overwatch's story for fear of closing some of the valves to community creativity.
How did you feel about the cancellation of Overwatch: First Strike? Do you think it was for the best, or a mistake?