Shooting Star is the latest Overwatch animated short. It’s also the worst.
Featuring fan favorite D.Va (personally, I have 152 Hours played as the character), we watch as she saves the city of Busan, South Korea from an Omnic attack. The short fails to further our understanding of D.Va or delve deeper into her character. Its plot is weak and the flashback at the beginning looks like a much better story. It doesn’t really widen the overall Overwatch lore or advance the game’s narrative. It doesn’t teach us anything and it’s a missed opportunity.
There’s no great character arc or emotional arc. The audience isn’t left feeling any different about the character at the end. Of course, the action is cool and the animation looks great… but so do all the other Overwatch shorts.
Here, let me explain what I mean by contrasting this D.Va short with the Reinhardt short. Honor and Glory (featuring one of the game’s other “tank” heroes) was the most recent animated short to come out before this one. If you watch it and don’t feel at least a little something by the end of it… well, just watch it:
There. See. Emotional arc, character development, great animation AND lots of action!
It teaches players not to rush in and try to do everything themselves. It shows tank players that they need to protect their team — very important in a team game. The players learn something.
The audience also learns something about the character. I know I did. I certainly feel differently about his character than I did before. I used to play so much of Reinhardt (and Mercy) when I first started playing Overwatch back in Season 2. Anytime I picked up this main tank out of necessity for my team, it felt like a chore. While it still sometimes feels like a chore, at least his animation instilled me with a sense of duty to protect my team and a sense of honor playing this character.
You know what would have made for a better story? What the animation reported in the news story.
Watching this animation was kind of like watching Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. They kept making references to other adventures that sounded way more interesting:
Mac: This ain’t going to be easy.
Indy: Not as easy as it used to be.
Mac: Well, we’ve been through worse.
Indy: Yeah, when?
Mac: Flensburg. There was twice as many.
Indy: We were younger.
Mac: I still am young!
Indy: We had guns. Put your hands down, will you; you’re embarrassing us.
There, doesn’t that sound like a way more interesting story than the main story in Crystal Skull? Or how about this reference to The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles? (I just barely remember watching the episode as a kid)
Mutt Williams: I took Spanish. I didn’t understand a word of that. What was it?
Indiana Jones: Quechua, local Incan dialect.
Mutt Williams: Where’d you learn that one?
Indiana Jones: Long story.
Mutt Williams: I got time.
Indiana Jones: I rode with Pancho Villa. A couple of his guys spoke it.
Mutt Williams: Bullshit!
Indiana Jones: You asked.
Same thing with Shooting Star. Wouldn’t you rather have seen how this had happened?
I bet there’s even a valuable lesson to be learned. Maybe something out of Top Gun? Don’t be a maverick, don’t leave your wingman, fight together as a team… something like that. I can’t tell you how effective it is when I play D.Va and dive in with my friend, Evan, when he plays Winston. Winston and D.Va focusing down the same enemy together can have a brutal effect. Or when Evan starts swinging the hammer as Reinhardt and I toggle D.Va’s defense matrix to block incoming fire for him and deny damage to my team.
Speaking of team, the other Meka pilots on D.Va’s team look pretty interesting. They all have different style mechs, which probably means different cool weapons and such. They also each have a different color. I wonder if they fuse together to form a Power Rangers megazord or Voltron? A giant mech fighting an evil Omnic would look really cool. And it’s not like Blizzard doesn’t already copy… I mean, “pay tribute to” other shows and movies. Shooting Star is basically D.Va defending the Jaeger staging area from Pacific Rim against a group of sentinels from The Matrix.
The other Meka pilots would certainly be more interesting than D.Va’s buddy, Taeyeon. It’d also be better than watching her put him in the friendzone for six minutes. He wasn’t even that much of a help… or help the audience learn anything more about D.Va’s past besides hoverbike racing. If her trying to do everything alone had gotten her friend killed, that might have been something. The audience might feel some emotion and players would learn not to showboat.
It doesn’t even make sense in the game’s continuity that she saves the city. When you play as D.Va on Reinhardt’s map of Eichenwalde, Germany, the voice line for D.Va is, “The destruction caused by the omnics here… it reminds me of home.”
But when I played Busan on the Public Test Region, everything looked fine:
On Einchenwalde, you can see the remnants of the defeated omnics scattered throughout the map. Even the remains of Reinhardt’s friend, Balderich, still rest sitting on the throne in the castle. Reinhardt’s friend in Honor and Glory is certainly more interesting than D.Va’s friend in Shooting Star.
Shooting Star is a missed opportunity for D.Va to interact with other Overwatch characters, specifically Soldier 76 or Lucio. There’s a fan theory I like to subscribe to that Soldier 76 is D.Va’s father. If he wasn’t around when she was growing up, this could account for her need to accomplish and her need be the best. The story could also bring the feels when D.Va finally reunites with her dad. Another character, Lucio, is often shipped with D.Va by fans because of their in-game interactions. The interactions by their voice actors are very entertaining. It’s fun to watch D.Va parry Lucio’s romantic advances, or see the voice actor for Soldier 76 act as an overprotective father at the end of this video:
At least Blizzard acknowledged all the fan artwork depicting D.Va guzzling Mountain Dew and chomping down on Doritos. They had to make up their own brands in the animation, but it’s still the focus of the Nano Cola Challenge.
A challenge that my team at @TeamBackPain (because we have to carry the randos to victory) invited me along for. Evan, Kayla, Ben and I had fun talking about life, movies and TV shows in the voice chat as we secured win after win for ourselves in Quick Play. It’s too bad we couldn’t have fun saying good things about the Shooting Star short.
Maybe for their next animation, Blizzard will make me feel something for a character, like I did for Reinhardt in Honor and Glory or for Bastion while watching The Last Bastion. At the very least they could continue the narrative they started in Recall, furthered in Alive and advanced in Infiltration. I’m partial to seeing them add depth to the villains — particularly as a fan of Widowmaker (I have 132 Hours on the character and her sniper rifle was the first golden gun I got). After seeing Zarya at the end of Infiltration, I wouldn’t mind seeing an animation with her. If nothing else, it would let us see the next chapter in the story of Overwatch.