×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Overwatch’s’ Pharah, Mercy Talk Fame, Animated Shorts, Lego

They’ve got their minifigs, now the voices for “Overwatch’s” Pharah and Mercy are waiting for their animated close-ups.

Jen Cohn, the voice behind high-flying, rocket launching Egyptian Pharah, and Lucie Pohl, the voice of the angel-winged, haloed Swiss medic Mercy, were exuberant Wednesday evening as they chatted in a New York City Lego store waiting to greet fans to sign Lego Overwatch kits.

Alongside “Overwatch” lead writer Michael Chu, they discussed the excitement of seeing themselves in mini-fig form, the passion of their fans and the potential of the massive squad shooter’s blossoming storyline.

While gamplay in “Overwatch” is chiefly narrative free, developer Blizzard Entertainment continues to masterfully tucked into the colorful universe to dig out and deliver intriguing, emotional backstories for many of the characters.

Those stories arrive a bit in written backstories on the game’s website, but more often through other sorts of medium like print comics, online comics, and animated shorts.

The mix of content helps to create a narrative quilt that both builds on the players’ connection with those characters and leaves the door open to major story beats.

And that approach is a reflection of just how important an investment the game is to Blizzard.

“‘Diablo,’ Warcraft,’ ‘Starcraft’; all of those have been around for years,” Chu said. “‘Overwatch’ is also pretty huge in our mind.”

As the lead writer, Chu says he knows the overall thrust of the “Overwatch” story and the backstory of its characters, much of which hasn’t yet been told. That decision to drip-feed an audience clamoring for more story is driven by what Chu calls a careful balancing act.

“It’s hard because the audience is really hungry to find out more,” he said. “We don’t just want to release a list of story beats for characters. We want to engage with it dramatically. We’re still finding that balance.”

When I ask Cohn and Pohl if either of their characters has had an animated short, they both turn to Chu and draw out a long “No, we haven’t.”

Both say they’d love to star in one.

“The shorts are little cinematic masterpieces,” Pohl said. “When something comes out it is a really special thing. But that’s the cool thing for us: A lot of fans ask what we would like to see happen for our character. It’s cool seeing what Michael and the team come up with. But I’m in the same boat as the fans, waiting to see what comes next.”

Even the smallest piece of information can often create waves among the game’s biggest fans.

Cohn mentioned attending a convention once where a fan asked about her character’s father in a Q&A session.

“I’ve been working on this character for years and I didn’t know,” she said. “So the voice actress who plays my mother [Overwatch’s Ana] and I asked [Chu] and he very nonchalantly dropped the dad’s name.”

She said the audience went wild.

Giving voice to a character who’s entire backstory hasn’t yet been told can be an interesting challenge for the voice actors, because once that backstory hits it could impact the way they voice the character.

Fortunately, the Blizzard team frequently captures new voice work for the game and its many characters. Chu came straight from a session to the Lego event this week. Every time a new hero is introduced all of the characters need new lines acted out, stories add lines, and of course, those shorts mean more work.

Chu says that voice is the thing that brings Blizzard’s characters to life.

“Every hero has story, abilities, animation, but there is a certain magic of the voice coming through,” he said. “Voice illustrates something in more than three dimensions. It somehow really helps to bring them to life. I love hearing the characters’ voices.”

In many ways, “Overwatch” is becoming a lifelong commitment to the voice actors, one they seem to embrace.

Cohn said she loves that her 10-year-old son plays the game. Occasionally, she even plays on his team in the game, quietly listening to his friends chat about her character.

“It’s very cute,” she said. As her “Overwatch’s” popularity has grown so has the fame of Cohn, Pohl and all of the voice actors.

Cohn said her son even jokes about buying her a t-shirt that says “Yes, I’m Pharah from ‘Overwatch,’ don’t bother me.”

“I’m so honored and moved and flattered,” Cohn said. “It’s not often that you get to do a voice role that inspires so many young people and touches young people.”

Pohl added that every chance she gets to meet with fans is special.

“The fans share a lot of their owns stories,” she said. “I always feel that it’s such a privilege to get to do something that makes people feel so connected to you that they share their stories. They have our voices in their heads for so long when they play that they feel like we’re friends or part of their family.”

After hearing Pohl say Mercy’s line “Heroes never die” at an event, one mom said “That you keeping me up all night,” she said laughing.

“This is the moment we get to connect with those people who get so much meaning out of the game.”

Cohn added that the game’s message — that anyone can be a hero — is also meaningful.

“We are doing the voices of their best selves,” she said. “So we are them and in a way, they are related to us.”

More Gaming

  • 'Beyond a Steel Sky,' the 'Beneath

    Inside 'Beyond a Steel Sky,' the 'Beneath a Steel Sky' Sequel (EXCLUSIVE)

    “Beneath a Steel Sky,” the cult 1994 adventure game, is getting a sequel, UK-based game developer Revolution Software announced at Monday’s Apple keynote in Cupertino, California. The project sees a return of the creative duo behind the original: lead designer and head of Revolution Charles Cecil, and comics artist Dave Gibbons, best-known for collaborating with [...]

  • Will Wright, Hironobu Sakaguchi Making Games

    Will Wright, Hironobu Sakaguchi Making Games for Apple Arcade

    Legendary game designers Will Wright, Hironobu Sakaguchi, and more are working on new projects for Apple Arcade, the technology company announced during an event at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, Calif.on Monday. Will Wright is perhaps best known as the creator of genre-defining simulation games “Sim City” and “The Sims.” His latest work, “Spore,” [...]

  • Blizzard Unveils New 'Hearthstone' Rise of

    Blizzard Unveils New 'Hearthstone' Rise of Shadows Expansion Cards

    Blizzard unveiled 12 new cards in the upcoming “Hearthstone” expansion “Rise of Shadows” during a livestream on Monday. The newly revealed cards include two Legendary villains, Blastmaster Boom and Heistbaron Togwaggle, and one Legendary Defender of Dalaran, Khadgar. Blastmaster Boom is a Warrior Legendary minion and explosive mad scientist who summons two Boom Bots for [...]

  • Revolution Software Announces 'Beyond A Steel

    'Beyond a Steel Sky' Is a Sequel to Classic '90s 'Beneath a Steel Sky'

    Revolution Software’s 1994 adventure game “Beneath a Steel Sky” is getting a sequel, the game developer announced during Monday’s Apple keynote. No, it’s not “Beneath a Steel Sky 2,” but “Beyond a Steel Sky.” It will find lead designer and Revolution head Charles Cecil and artist Dave Gibbons teaming up once more to bring the [...]

  • Apple Announces Gaming Subscription Service

    Apple Announces Gaming Subscription Service Apple Arcade

    Apple detailed its long-rumored gaming subscription service during a special event it held in Cupertino, California Monday. Apple Arcade is the world’s first game subscription service for mobile, desktop and living room, the company said. With a single subscription, you get access to more than 100 new and exclusive games. The games won’t be on [...]

  • 'Raji: An Ancient Epic' mixes tight

    'Raji: An Ancient Epic' mixes tight combat, gorgeous visuals, and Indian culture

    It’s hard to keep count of the number of games based around Greek, Roman, and Japanese mythology. Their histories are so deep and full of tantalizing stories that weave through fact and fiction seamlessly– they make stories flow off the paper. Indian mythology and the thousands of cultural subsets it contains is no different. The [...]

  • EA to Publish New Team-Based Action

    EA to Publish New Team-Based Action Game From Indie Studio Velan

    Independent game developer Velan Studios is working on its first original intellectual property and it will publish it under Electronic Arts’ EA Partners program, the two companies announced on Monday. The new game will release on PC, consoles, and mobile. Velan is promising not only a unique game world, but an “entirely new and entertaining [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content