It’s that time again. A new Overwatch seasonal event has dropped, bringing with it a crop of fantastic new skins to grind for. This year’s Lunar New Year event was accompanied by a host of other announcements (including a merch collaboration, and a Brigitte GOATS skin, of all things). Nonetheless, this year’s seasonal event cosmetics stole the show.
The Lunar New Year is always an opportunity for Blizzard to merge their world with figures of Korean and Chinese legend. In past years, Blizzard has adopted characters from the Chinese epic The Journey to the West, invoked the imagery of the four heavenly beasts and transformed characters into great Chinese generals and folk heroes. This year’s theme celebrates Chinese and Korean performing arts, as heroes take on the garb of Chinese dancers, Korean percussionists and the like. Not only are these skins beautiful, they are a wonderful celebration of these cultures.
While no ranking list is perfect, here’s a look at the skins that dropped with the event, in order from “still pretty great” to “amazing.”
7. Monk Doomfist
If there was ever a character to fit the archetypal Eastern monk (Zenyatta notwithstanding) it would be Doomfist. He fights with his bare – albeit cybernetically enhanced – hands, requires discipline to play and patience to master. This skin adds wraps around Doomfist’s legs and left arm, stark white eyes and filigree on his signature gauntlet. It’s a simplistic change, but considering Doomfist received a legendary skin in the previous event, it’s all it needs to be.
6. Ancient Bronze Winston
The production of bronze was hugely important in establishing ancient China as a civilization during the Shang and Zhou dynasties. During this period in history, Chinese artisans produced thousands of pieces of bronze metalwork, both decorative and practical. While this Winston skin is essentially a recolor, the decorative elements on his armor and added details on his face are the same colors as oxidized bronze. Perhaps this skin is a tribute to those ancient metalworkers.
5. Paper Cutting Wrecking Ball
The third week of the event will afford players the opportunity to unlock the “Paper Cutting” skin for Wrecking Ball. The design on the ball itself imitates the red paper cutouts that adorn windows and doors during the Lunar New Year season. Oftentimes, celebrators mount these intricate designs on white paper to embellish the vibrant red, hence why Wrecking Ball sports white accents on his spherical mech. Hammond himself is bright gold, to match other elements of his ride, and perhaps even to match his golden guns.
4. Mask Dancer Moira
Moira’s newest Legendary skin is an homage to Talchum, or Korean masked dance. Different regions of Korea have different forms of this performance art, but all are characterized by ornate masks, colorful costumes and robes with long, flowing sleeves. Dancers often use their sleeves, similar to the ones found on Moira’s robe, to accentuate their movements during a performance. Historically, Talchum has an important dramatic element as well, and served as a way for the poorer classes of Korean society to express themselves while masking their social status. Moira takes it up a notch, however, as her mask’s eyes glow with fire. It’s all she needs to cement her intimidating look.
3. Samul Nori Lucio
Samul Nori is a genre of percussion that was established in Korea in 1978. The title roughly translates as “to play four things,” namely the ggoenggwari (a small gong), the jing (a large gong), the janggo (an hourglass drum) and the buk (a barrel drum). Samul Nori has its roots in traditional folk music called Pungmul. Pungmul performers often wear elaborate costumes such as the one Lucio has donned for the Lunar New Year event. Perhaps most notably, Lucio wears a sangmo, a traditional hat with a long ribbon. Pungmul performers are able to spin this ribbon in a variety of fantastical patterns. Lucio’s sangmo, however, also has a personal touch: it glows yellow for healing, and green for speed boost.
2. Opera Brigitte
This Brigitte skin is inspired by the intricate costumes found in Chinese Opera, or “Jing-ju” as the Romanized pronunciation. The skin is beautifully intricate, and contains the elaborate headdress and raiment that characterize Peking performing arts. Chinese opera has many specialized roles for its characters. In particular, Blizzard seems to have taken inspiration from the Daoma Dan, the specialized role of a young female warrior. Young women in the Daoma Dan role are often portrayed with flags behind them, which fans can see in a new spray. Needless to say, Brigitte fits this archetype perfectly, and performs the role with pride.
1. Face Changer Sombra
Face Changer Sombra was an unequivocal smash hit with fans when Overwatch first revealed it on Twitter. As the name implies, the mask covering the mischievous hacker’s face morphs through several different intricate designs, each more fantastical than the last. The skin comes from the Chinese performing art Bian Lian, literally meaning “face-changing.” Real-life performers of Bian Lian can switch masks across their faces at lightning speed, using fans to mask their hand movements and transitions. Sombra keeps her purple color scheme but takes other elements of her design, including her intricate headdress, from Sichuan opera, the genre of Chinese opera Bian Lian comes from.
What are your thoughts on these new skins? Give us your thoughts in the comments below.
Images from Blizzard Entertainment