Few would bring up discrete mathematics when discussing the brash, ballistic bedlam of Overwatch. And yet, the game’s fandom has been throwing around terms like“Vigenére cipher” and “constant 23” a whole lot recently. Blizzard previously teased the arrival of a new character, Ana, by sharing a semi-cryptic blueprint of the silver-haired sharpshooter’s rifle. But now, in anticipation of what many presume to be another combatant’s unveiling, the company’s dropping hints of far steeper obscurity.
In fact, they actually hid the first clues in the very video that revealed Ana’s back story. Most likely, you missed them on the first watch, but perhaps you can catch one on a closer viewing, now?
Wait–where could the clues have possibly been? Turns out, the flashbulb-like shot transitions at 1:16 and 2:11 both display blocks of hexadecimal code. Hawk-eyed fans who were able to spot the numbers subsequently converted them to ASCII, then decoded them with an XOR Cipher, and finally converted the unscrambled message from Spanish, which revealed a new name. “Sombra.”
Sombra, of course, means “shadow” en Español, and that certainly sounds like a name that’d fit in with “Reaper” and “Bastion.” However, Blizzard isn’t giving up this mystery shooter so easily. Fans have had to play through the steps of a smaller-scale alternate reality game to learn more about this stranger. And, at many turns, it even seems like Sombra himself/herself is playing with them directly?
A Wiki at Game Detectives documents this ARG in extensive detail. Barcodes have been hidden in other promo videos, which convert to QR codes, which then pull up passages in Spanish that subsequently translate to teasing messages like, “Was that easy? Well, now that I have your attention, allow me to make things much more difficult.” And later steps have delivered on that threat, requiring sleuths to scour the source code of profile achievements, or arrange screencaps based on background graffiti. At one step, the numbers they found even formed a menacing skull.
Who, or what, could these hints be leading to? We hope Blizzard acquaints us with Sombra more directly sometime soon, but who knows? This might be too much fun for them not to draw out.
Any guesses on who “Sombra” is? Would you play along with this ARG, or would you rather keep your Overwatch-related gaming to fast-paced, first-person shooting? Drop your thoughts, feelings, and theories in the talkback.
Featured Image Credit: Blizzard