What We Learned From Jeff Kaplan’s ‘Overwatch’ Support Video

The game director answers fan questions from Twitter, like why is Widowmaker blue?


Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan became the Twitter's Overwatch tech support recently, answering fan questions for a special Wired video. In it he spends 20 minutes explaining everything from technical features to the game's lore, all with the calm demeanour of a man who has dealt with obsessed gamers in the past. The video is absolutely worth a watch but here are some of the highlights.

What Zarya means when she says "toblestein", and the Overwatch team are bad at Russian
"Toblestein is a made up word," says Kaplan. "Those of us on the development team have been saying it since we first got the voice recordings in and the players have picked up on saying this as well. She casts her Graviton Surge it sounds like she's saying something about the toblestein. 

"This is just us in our ignorance not understanding the Russian language. What she's saying is ogon po gotnovnosti – and I did pronounce that very poorly – what that means in Russian is fire at will." 

Why Widowmaker is blue
"Windowmaker really has a tragic arc and it's interesting when you think about the trials she's been through," says Kaplan. She was originally married to an Overwatch operative and she was brainwashed and used to assassinate her own husband. It's an absolutely tragic story. After that she was deprogrammed to become a Talon agent and later they did all sorts of freaky experiments with her to slow her heart rate down to make her the amazing sniper that she is. But the end result is that her skin turned blue and she's actually a little bit numb in more than one way." 

Reaper has a complicated origins story, and we'll get to hear it
"There's a lot more that's going to come out about Reaper. This is something that we don't want to reveal immediately but it's a story we're very compelled to tell over time," promises Kaplan.

Why is Symmetra support class and not defense class?
"When we originally added the whole class system, where we added roles to Overwatch, we did it primarily for new players who were first approaching the game. They would see this big list of 20-something characters and would have no idea which character they should even play. We did it as an easy way for players to digest what the characters may or may not be about," he says.

"I don't want to say it was arbitrary who we put into what category – we did put a lot of thought against it – but there wasn't a lot of rigid game play mechanics behind what role they were in."  

Be friends with Mercy if you want to avoid wrinkles
"Aging in Overwatch is sort of interesting because you have characters like Mei who was literally in cryofreeze – Mei is one of the older characters – because she was in that cryofreeze for some time she's aged at a different rate. Tracer had her accident on the slipstream and that's caused her to have some unique aging properties as well.

"With Mercy you have to bear in mind she is one of the highest tech doctors in existence and she has extremely advanced medical technology. With that you need to remember that Mercy also helped Genji greatly in his recovery and helped him get over his grievous wounds that he received from Hanzo. There's a little bit of Mercy medical going on with both of them."