A new Overwatch story released today expands on the backstory of its two veterans: Ana and Soldier: 76. One of the biggest revelations appears to be that Soldier: 76 is queer, and that he once was in love with a man named Vincent. The situation is similar to how author J.K. Rowling revealed Dumbledore's sexuality with no real build-up or context.
Blizzard published a story today on its website titled "Bastet" which explores an interaction between Jack "Soldier: 76" Morrison and Ana Amari. Both Soldier: 76 and Ana were members of the original Overwatch and longtime comrades alongside Gabriel Reyes, who eventually became the character Reaper.
During one conversation between the pair, the topic drifted to their younger days, and Ana brings up an unintroduced character named Vincent who Soldier: 76 had a personal history with. Here's an excerpt from the story.
Whatever the deeper history is, it seems clear that Soldier: 76 carried romantic feelings for Vincent. "Bastet" firmly establishes another bit of backstory for the enigmatic vigilante soldier/dad.
Soldier: 76 looks to be the second LGBT character in Overwatch, with Tracer having been revealed to be a lesbian in a holiday comic back in 2016. Both characters have had their sexualities revealed via extended-universe material rather than the game itself, which by now seems to be Overwatch's M.O. when it comes to character backstories.
Most of the characters in Overwatch are usually fleshed-out in extended-universe material such as comics, animated shorts, and stories. This sometimes leads to awkward retcons in-game, one of the most notorious being Pharah.
One of Pharah's alternate outfits in-game is based on Native American culture, but the Native American "aesthetic" has a long history of appropriation. Blizzard tried to explain the outfit after-the-fact by hinting that Pharah is half-Native American on her father's side. Blizzard even added a new in-game cosmetic spray item hinting at this background.
It was a not-so-elegant way to explain an uncomfortable situation. And Blizzard's insistence on separating what we see of characters in-game versus outside of it certainly echoes the time J.K. Rowling revealed Dumbledore as gay without any context. At the very least Soldier: 76's sexuality is another in a long line of same-sex relationships we hear about briefly but never see.
Still, fans have reacted to news by celebrating another queer character in Overwatch's extensive roster. And it helps diversify the game's hero roster after BlizzCon when fans asked why Blizzard has yet to introduce a black woman into its lineup (which, to be clear, is still an ongoing problem).
I love Soldier 76's new voice line "I AM GAY AND PLAYING AS ME MAKES YOU GAY" and how his ult sends an email to your dad that reads DAD I'M GAY— Eclipse Jared Rosen (@notquitefrodo) January 7, 2019
me: bye, dad soldier 76: more like bi dad me: what? soldier 76: what?— Kyle Gaddo (@kylegaddo) January 7, 2019
me: s76 is the most boring character in overwatch blizzard: hey check out this backstory me: pic.twitter.com/7t5GPuQhwA— adri(@felandaris) January 7, 2019
Overwatch continues to be one of the biggest shooters in the world, with the Overwatch League making a large splash in 2018. Nevertheless, it continues to court controversy with large-scale balance changes, character revamps, and secondary material.