It was the day before Valentine's, and love was in the air, so what better way to celebrate than to take a break from the stressful world of Overwatch 2 PvP and jump into Blizzard’s new Dating Sim, Loverwatch?
“This should be a fun experience”, I told myself. “I can have a fun and relaxing evening getting to know some of Overwatch 2’s oldest heroes, Mercy and Genji, instead of grinding challenges and competitive matches in PvP”.
Flash forward to a bustling comedy club nestled in a forgotten corner of the Midtown hybrid map. I’m standing center stage, surrounded by neon lights in front of a crowd of faces, all patiently waiting for my one chance to make a good impression and say a half-decent joke. I’m starting to sweat as the spotlight shines; this may be the most intense moment of my entire Overwatch career.
“What shoes do ninjas wear?” I finally blurt out. The audience leans in expectantly, waiting for the best punchline ever delivered. “Sneakers,” I say.
A deathly silence falls over the comedy club. I rethink all the life decisions that led me to be shunned by a fictional audience in an Overwatch 2 dating sim. But thankfully, not all is lost; I anxiously leave the stage and make my way to the back of the club only to find the green ninja and Overwatch’s resident bad boy himself, Genji, laughing at my joke. Finally, someone understands my comedic genius.
“Our executive producer said, we're going to get weird with Season 3. And I think we've done that,” Overwatch brand manager Beth Bryson tells me, trying to explain exactly how Blizzard came to make an Overwatch 2 dating sim.
“It was really fun going outside the canon,” narrative designer Kyungseo Min says. “Let's expand [Overwatch PvP] and make our heroes larger than life in these small casual moments like going on a dinner date.”
Loverwatch provides long-time players, like me, a brilliant way to learn more about the heroes that make Overwatch 2 so enjoyable. But, for new players, or people who don’t get on with the series’ demanding PvP, it gives a window into the extensive lore and characters of the franchise.
With Loverwatch, Blizzard made a point of approaching a dating sim with inclusivity in mind.
“It was part of the reason why we decided to make the player play as themself, you put in your name and whatever your preferences are”, Min says. “The experience is about getting to know these people and forging a human connection with someone”.
This isn’t new in dating sims, but it still stood out to me. The focus in Loverwatch is less physical and more on having small human moments with characters who can often seem two-dimensional when you look at them through the lens of PvP.
Honestly, this is some of the most fun I’ve had with the Overwatch cast of characters for a while. Instead of chasing a Genji player around the map as they beg me to heal them or get attacked by an angry Mercy player with a blast pistol, I got to learn more about the character behind these heroes. I enjoyed it so much that I’d even consider going back to that comedy club, but this time maybe armed with some better comedic material.