The Overwatch 2 narrative team has added 25,000 new voice lines to the game, some of which are described by writers as “reactive” — voice lines pulled from a complex system designed to reward players in rare or absurd moments.
Overwatch 2 players on social media are starting to notice these voice lines spread throughout the game’s ongoing beta period. There are voice lines for even the most hyper-specific situations, down to recreating complex scenes from Overwatch cinematics. According to narrative designers Justin Groot and Gavin Jurgens-Fyhrie, some voice lines even include reactions to details like specific Overwatch 2 heroes’ skins.
Sigma is one of Overwatch’s most contentious heroes, for one specific reason: He doesn’t wear shoes in his default skin. When the hero was first released, it was one thing players talked endlessly about. He’s got full armor and… bare feet. Overwatch’s development team added a nod to those bewildered players with some new voice lines in Overwatch 2 — but whether players ever hear them will depend on a lot of factors, including whether they’re wearing a Sigma skin with or without shoes.
“It started from a conversation where Baptiste commented on Sigma not having shoes and [narrative designer] Miranda [Moyer] pointed out it’s weird if you’re wearing a skin that has shoes when it says this line.”
Groot said he went into Overwatch 2’s system and tagged every single Sigma skin as either having shoes or not, which allowed the team to add that into the tangled system that pulls out voice lines for weird scenarios. That’s one of the criteria the system looks for when pulling voice lines. Say you’re playing Widowmaker and you shoot a shoeless Sigma: “Someone please get him some shoes,” she’ll quip.
Sigma himself has some of his own lines that reference his feet, too. One line, for instance, triggers if you’re playing Sigma and get a kill streak: “Superlative arch support.”
“I don’t want to keep banging away at the feet thing, but it is pretty great that this team can go to the rest of the Overwatch team and say, ‘We have this very critical idea for shoe-based lines,’ and the Overwatch engineers will go, ‘Yes, that’s vital. Let’s do that.’”
These reactive voice lines extend to characters, moves, scenarios, and locations, too. It’s all part of the 10-person narrative team’s goal to make voice lines feel like a reward for doing something cool or weird — a way for the game to recognize and celebrate the player. The team wanted players to feel like the voice lines feature characters reacting not just to predictable scenarios, but that the game’s characters truly recognized what the player was specifically doing in that moment.
“When writing reactive lines, we can take into account more than 50 criteria; for example, ‘target is invisible,’ or ‘target is in Sigma ult,’ or ‘you are in Sigma ult,” Groot said. “We can also combine these criteria to write lines for even more specific situations.” Stuff like when an ulting Soldier: 76 kills another ulting Soldier: 76, Ana sleep-darting a charging Reinhardt, or Sigma killing Widowmaker immediately after she uses her grappling hook.
For diehard Overwatch fans, a new lore moment or character detail is just as important as an achievement.
“We really wanted to chase that feeling and celebrate players as much as possible for different accomplishments they can have in Overwatch,” Groot said.
[Disclosure: This article’s author previously worked at The Meta with Justin Groot.]