The Impact of a Well Designed Character

Have you ever seen the development of a character that was so well done you can’t help but think “My god that was beautiful”? I honestly felt that after watching the “Honor and Glory” Overwatch movie from Blizzard. It actually made my eyes well up. If you haven’t seen it yet I highly recommend watching it.

DISCLAIMER : Watch the movie first before reading, I don’t want to spoil anything as it is definitely worth watching.

Honor and Glory

Seriously, go watch it.

Reinhardt is one of the most beloved characters in Overwatch. He’s a big jolly happy armored crusader, what’s not to love? But like a lot of the game, there isn’t a lot of lore behind the character. There was never any context behind his personality nor was there ever an explanation as to his joining Overwatch. But in one video you get more meaningful development of Reinhardt as a character than you do in most stories. It made me wonder what it was exactly that inspired this feeling.

I think it has something to do with the humbling of a character. Everyone loves a strong confident character whose also charismatic and friendly. But the best part of that character design is the history of that character, witnessing the moment that changes their life forever. The best way, of course, is when the character learns humility, especially after causing the death of their mentor whom they respect and, probably, admire.

But what emphasizes this most is establishing the character before their history. With Reinhardt we get a tease of who he is. Various voice lines and brief descriptions as well as a Comic depicting him to be that righteous hero we all love. Seriously this man is oozing with charisma and honor its impossible not to love him. But most important was the release of the Balderich armor and the map Eichenwalde. Like every map, there’s a character tied to the location and for this map, this is Reinhardt’s. There’s several voice lines that come up but the most impactful is the history behind the set of armor in the chair at the very end of the map. That is Balderich Von Alder’s armor. There was so much mystery and intrigue behind who the character was that seeing him with Reinhardt reveals so much about the character.

The fact that the history and development of the character is revealed after getting to know the character makes it far more special. In literature, we have a vast amount of time and creativity to fully develop a character. Introducing a character to the reader before revealing their backstory allows for them to get attached and feel some kind of connection to the character. If we were to simply reveal the history of a character before getting to know them, I doubt our readers would feel the way we want them to feel.

Have them get to know the characters, love or hate them, and then sucker punch them with a backstory that makes them care for or despise them even further. That is the best kind of character development.

P.S: I can’t hid it, I’m a big Blizzard fan and Reinhardt is my favorite character archetype.

Hope this helps 🙂

– Raphael

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