Overwatch is known for its cultural diversity as many of its characters take inspiration from various regions of the world. The latest addition to the roster, Orisa, is no exception as her origins trace back to the Baluba tribe.
Overwatch Orisa's Overall Design And Skins
YouTuber The Game Theorists breaks down Orisa's mysterious origins and just how Blizzard possibly decided to handle the creation of her character. Amongst her burly yet cute design actually lies a pool of subtle cultural references. To begin with, it is quite evident that both she and Efi Oladele have racial origins tracing back to Africa. To narrow this down a bit, Efi Oladele actually translates to "beautiful" and "wealth has come home" in the Yoruba language, which is one of the more common modes of communication in Nigeria, Western and Central Africa.
On the other hand, Overwatch Orisa's centaur-like design actually stems closer to Greek mythology but two of her skins, Dynastinae and Megasoma, are actually references to two large beetles who share the same name. Her Camouflage skin, on the other hand, has some rhino symbolism, which links to the Earth, steadiness, sure-footedness and confidence, which are traits that Orisa has based on in-game lore.
That aside, her Supercharger takes inspiration from the bata drum, which can be played on both sides because of its unique design. They are also known as "talking drums" which could mimic the intonations of human speech as it could change pitch specifically and substantially. Due to this amazing feature, they actually have ties with Yoruba religion in terms of storytelling and communication, which is a tradition that started in Nigeria.
Historical Tradition In Overwatch Orisa's Lore
However, her true actual origins stem from her round face and slit eyes, which Blizzard put to good use via her many different expressions -- a clear reference to the Baluba mask. These said masks are actually very meticulous and difficult to craft due to the finely hammered brass that is built into the wood base. Fittingly enough, the Baluba people, who originate in Central Africa, were able to extract rich metals in their lands as early as the seventh or eighth century.
Incidentally, each mask is said to represent an Orisha, a spirit that is said to manifest one of the supreme gods in the Yoruba religion. To delve even deeper, the religion believes that each person has an Ayanmo or a spiritual manifestation of fate. Similarly, everyone must each find a way to transcend from evil to find a place in Orun-Rere, which is the spirit world for good people.
In order to do this, one must grow and mature to become one with their spiritual self. In truth, life and death are not major factors as an individual will shift between bodies to continue growing and maturing in their current "shell." Keep in mind that in Orisa's origins video, she was built from the scraps of demolished OR-15 robots.
More Than Just Another Robot
Furthermore, Efi would often advise her creation to do what is right and good in the world. With all of this in mind, Efi made Orisa a mask not just for mere aesthetics, but to give her a soul that seeks for righteousness. One could even say that it is some sort of spirit that has manifested into a machine.
Moreover, Overwatch Orisa's overall objective is not to merely protect the people, seeing as how any other machine could do this, but to understand why she serves and helps others, which, in turn, would make her AI become more human. In Efi's eyes, the robot is not just some sort of machine but an actual soul who wants to find her own "transcendence" into righteousness.
While it is still unclear to what Overwatch Orisa will be doing in the in-game narrative, her background might give insight to whom she will meet or what her overall role will be. In battle, she is an impressive tank who can both shield her allies while keeping enemies at bay with her firepower. The omnic is an amazing addition to the ever-growing cast of unique characters in the game.