The release of Overwatch seasonal skins marks changing times for many fans. In addition to expanding on the narrative elements of Overwatch, character cosmetics allow players to connect with the game world. Every player’s aesthetic choices for their characters gives them a small way to express themselves within the confines of a six-man team shooter.
Additionally, cosmetic items give developers the opportunity to connect real world events to the game. The introduction of small, week-long challenges and events helped to engage players outside of full-blown seasonal events. The Overwatch League blended with the original game to create opportunities for some neat cosmetic items. As 2019 fades into the background, here’s a look at the year’s top 10 Overwatch skins.
10 – Brick Bastion
This skin is full of small, delightful elements that can only be discovered by piloting this friendly death robot in-game. The sounds of Bastion firing his gun change to the clicking of Lego pieces. The front of his gun both in Recon and Sentry modes lights up with a fire-shaped Lego brick. This licensing spectacle was only available for two weeks in September, but is endearing enough to make it onto this list.
9 – Academy D.Va
D.Va has never been one to shy away from bright colors. Many of D.Va’s skins are bright neon hues that preclude any attempt at subtlety on the battlefield. Academy D.Va is no exception. Her Meka is refitted in brighter pinks and sharper angles that evoke a sort of Gundam anime aesthetic. D.Va sports a short skirt and jacket typical of a Korean school uniform. The overall theme of this skin fits the cultural symbology associated with D.Va and is charming to Korean and international fans alike.
8 – Scientist Moira
Moira’s basic design is a strange thing to work around, combining the images of both a mad scientist and supervillain into a single esoteric character. However, her scientist skin, which dropped with this year’s Archives event, is probably her best skin to date. It represents Moira at her peak, when she was able to pursue her unethical experiments without repercussion. The clean white of her lab coat covers the network of tubes that extend over her arms, and the truly nasty-looking needles that extend from her fingers are enough to make anyone nervous.
7 – Gargoyle Winston
Speaking of characters’ best skins, Winston’s Gargoyle skin is the only one that makes this scientist truly intimidating. Winston himself is not an intimidating character, but the glowing red elements of his eyes and body, matched with the stony reworking of his exterior make for an almost Castlevania-esque mystique. Plus, his gun is a cathedral spire. It doesn’t get much cooler than that.
6 – Rime Sigma
Sigma’s first event skin is seemingly an homage to the Lich King from World of Warcraft. Sigma has kept the skull motif, piercing blue eyes, and the ice that limns the fearsome undead monarch. Those who haven’t partaken of World of Warcraft can still draw comparisons between Sigma and Sombra’s Rime skin. This fantastical reimagining of Sigma, who ordinarily has a very science-fiction design, is a welcome addition for the newest member of the Overwatch hero list.
5 – Warlock Ashe
The best part of any Ashe skin is that players effectively get two skins for the price of one. Ashe’s Warlock skin is another homage to World of Warcraft, complete with demon horns and runes scrawled across her coat and her gun. Additionally, B.O.B. is transformed into a fiery primordial earth golem, which the World of Warcraft fans call an Infernal. This skin loses points because it launched with a bug that caused the sights on Ashe’s gun to glow. Players were unable to effectively aim down her scope with this in effect, rendering her all but unplayable while wearing that skin. However, this has since been patched.
4 – Atlantic Mercy
All-Stars skins have to be the best of the best. This year’s All-Stars tournament skins highlighted two supports that have been a mainstay of the franchise since launch. Mercy and Lucio, representing the Atlantic and Pacific teams respectively, took on motifs of the moon and sun. Mercy’s beautiful blue and purple wings match the gradient and color scheme of her dress. Her lavender hair is accentuated by a crown that bears the moon and stars that permeates the skin’s design. The small details in the lines along her arms and her wing armor are a treat to look at, to which anyone who dropped the ten bucks for this skin will likely attest.
3 – Lu Bu Reaper
Released during the Year of the Pig event, this Reaper skin flawlessly marries the lore of a 14th-century Chinese novel and the lore of the Overwatch universe. Lu Bu is a character in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and is considered a ruthless warlord whose history faded into legend. The twin feathers are one of Lu Bu’s symbols, as is the lionlike “ni” beast of Chinese mythology. Qiu Fang, the concept artist, considered this design “the Black Lion Reaper to last year’s White Tiger Genji.”
2 – Pacific Lucio
Returning to the legendary All-Star skins, Lucio’s Pacific skin, designed by Ben Zhang, transforms him into a glowing sun god. Such a design fits the happy-go-lucky personality of the character. His customary dreadlocks are converted into a fiery lion’s mane which glows yellow for healing and green for speed. The glowing tattoos on his arms, chest, and around his visor accentuate the pearlescent white of his armor. It’s a completely different look for the normally scrappy DJ that far outstrips most of the skins in the entire game.
1 – Zen-nakji
JjoNak’s Overwatch League MVP skin is a love letter from the developers to everything he accomplished with their game. More than the design itself, the skin is a merging of talents. According to Liquipedia, JJoNak’s gamertag stands for “Jjomullak Nakji” which roughly translates to “fumbling octopus.” The initially bizarre design combines JjoNak’s trademark animal with the NYXL colors. The bright pink octopi that make up Zen-nakji’s orbs possess a gently undulating animation, which is a lovely detail that brings the skin to life. Perhaps most importantly, Blizzard recognized a player’s accomplishment enough to celebrate it in-game, and gave other players a chance to support the Overwatch League by representing JjoNak in their own matches.