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Overwatch director wants more story for Symmetra and Pharah

And he’d love a spinoff for Junkrat and Roadhog

Chelsea Stark (she/her), executive editor, has been covering video games for more than a decade.

In the Overwatch world, especially in its lore, there are stars, and there are characters who need more time in the spotlight.

Tracer and Winston, for example, have been essential pieces to lore building in the game, and according to game director Jeff Kaplan, they aren’t going anywhere for the game’s second year.

“Not a lot of people realize this, but pushing the payload in the Gibraltar map is actually pushing the equipment to put the Overwatch network back online,” Kaplan said during an interview to Polygon in New York this week. Winston is a large piece of that narrative arc.

And while many characters have seen special spotlights from in-game brushes with story, or the fan-favorite animated short series, there are some characters that Kaplan can’t wait to bring into the spotlight.

“I worry about characters like Symmetra,” he said. “I think we could do a lot more with her, and we have a pretty cool arc we’d like to see her go through.”

Fans have been clamoring for more of the support character, even in terms of cosmetic upgrades; Symmetra hasn’t even received one Legendary skin from the last five in-game events.

“Pharah is pretty underrepresented too,” Kaplan continued, “but we have huge plans for her, so I’m not worried about her.”

Both of the characters are often cited as part of Overwatch’s diverse cast, as women from South Asia and Northern Africa, but haven’t seen the same spotlight as some of the more story-critical heroes.

That also applies to Junkrat and Roadhog — the “two dingbats,” as Kaplan calls them. The duo are fan favorites, but don’t always fit with the serious nature of the game’s lore.

“We’re telling this big story about Reyes and Morrison that’s serious, but then, by the way, here's a guy who blew his leg off and thinks it’s the funniest thing ever,” said Kaplan, describing the disparity.

But Kaplan said there are “awesome” ideas floating around in his head for the pair, though maybe he hasn’t figured out how to sell them to the rest of the team yet.

“The way I describe them is they’re almost our spinoff IP. I always say ‘Joanie Loves Chachi,” and everyone’s like ‘No! That’s so bad! Not like Joanie loves Chachi!’

(We offered another spinoff analogy, Frasier, which is probably a little more palatable than the Happy Days spinoff. Kaplan responded with, “I should definitely say Frasier instead!”)

Maybe we’ll get some of those story beats during Overwatch’s second year. The game’s one-year anniversary is May 24, and an anniversary event starts next Tuesday, May 23.