NEW YORK — If a 7-foot-tall German super soldier wearing knight’s armor crushed you to death by pinning you against a wall, what would that sound like? Just ask a voice actor for Blizzard’s hit video game Overwatch. They almost certainly have an answer.
In fact, that’s just one of the many lethal scenarios they’ve been asked to imagine — and then verbalize — since their roles in Overwatch began. And, to be honest, it sounds a little unnerving.
“OK, this is death by falling, but then you hit something on the way down, so make that sound.”
During Tuesday’s Games for Change festival in New York, three members of the Overwatch cast — Lucie Pohl (Mercy), Anjali Bhimani (Symmetra) and Carolina Ravassa (Sombra) — spoke on a panel titled “The Women of Overwatch: The Journey of Bringing Strong Female Characters to Life.” After discussing the process of being cast in Overwatch and what working on the game meant to them, the women answered an audience member’s question about something much stranger: the process of acting out the many ways their characters can die.
“It’s so fun!” Pohl said. “I love it. ‘OK, this is death by being crushed — what [would] that sound like?’” she said. From the sounds of it, that’s the weird part — having to imagine yourself in such an impossible, hauntingly dark situation, and committing to that fiction 100%.
“OK, this is death by falling, but then you hit something on the way down, so make that sound,” Bhimani joked, as though she were some kind of deranged movie director.
“You’re burning, but then you freeze!” Ravassa added.
“You’re burning, but then you freeze!”
To give you an example of what they’re talking about, here are the noises 24 of the 25 Overwatch characters — Doomfist was added after the video was made — make when they fall to their deaths.
But every single scenario requires slightly different noises. Here’s a video of the ways Sombra reacts to taking damage from various sources, including bullets, electricity, freezing blasts of air — you name it. (Skip to the :50 mark.)
Of the three actors, Pohl seemed to like the process of recording Mercy’s death sounds the most, likening it to some kind of immortality power fantasy.
“You get to die a million ways but then you’re still alive [in real life],” she said.
For Bhimani, though, the process of imagining her own death over and over was the weirdest part.
“I do remember feeling like I was losing my mind a little bit after the first recording session,” Bhimani said. “Like, ‘OK, so those are all of those noises, but what would it sound like if I died by asphyxiation?’ I was imagining all these different ways of dying, like, it was dark. I don’t intend to actually experience [those scenarios], so figuring out what that feels like is extreme.”
From the perspective of Overwatch voice director Andrea Toyias, one of the main challenges is just keeping the death sounds from veering into a different sort of territory.
“It can get too sexy,” Toyias said. “You gotta be careful.” To keep things on the right track, Toyias has to make sure she’s giving her actors the right direction.
“A little less intimate, maybe a bit more bloody?”
More Overwatch news and updates
For more on Overwatch, check out the rest of what Mic has to offer. Here is an intro to the cute, new “Wholesome Overwatch” subreddit, a look at some gorgeous Overwatch-themed PS4 and Xbox One controllers, a cool Easter Egg in the new Horizon Lunar Colony map and a criticism of Blizzard’s failures in its design of Symmetra.