Overwatch update removes Russian “Z” from Zarya . skin

A new update for Overwatchattached to the new of the game Anniversary Remix event, which also seems to have made a subtle change to the two skins for Zarya, the hero shooter’s Russian soldier. Blizzard has apparently removed the “Z” character from Zarya’s Arctic and Siberian Front skins, seemingly in response to the character’s mutation into a symbol of Russian nationalism. That single letter, which some have called “zwastika“,” Represents devotion to the state, murderous rage and unchecked power, ” The New Yorker wrotein the context of Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

Blizzard did not announce a change to Zarya’s legendary skin pair in patch notes for Tuesday’s updatebut subtle refinements have been made by members of the Overwatch subreddit. As shown in the images below, the small Z on the upper left chest of the Zarya jacket has been removed.

Zarya in her arctic legendary skin from Overwatch, before April 5

Zarya’s Old Arctic Skin
Image: Blizzard Entertainment

Zarya's Arctic Skin from Overwatch, as of April 5

Zarya’s New Arctic Skin
Image: Blizzard Entertainment

The change is a small but reasonable change. Blizzard seems to be moving away from itself, and Zarya is like OverwatchRussian heroism, from the letter Z associated with Vladimir Putin’s Ukraine war and homegrown, state support fueled by propaganda for the invasion. The letter was discovered on Russian tanks and other military vehicles when Ukraine was invaded in February, but Z’s intended meeting was not clear at first. Whatever its original purpose, the letter has become an important symbol to signal support for Russia’s increasingly brutal and violent siege of its neighbour.

Blizzard has made similar content modifications to Overwatch in the past six years: Victory pose for Tracer deemed excessively obscene by fans; remove the noose spray hose; change hero’s name formerly known as Jesse McCree; and cashback for a premium skin inspired by Overwatch League player charged with sexual assault.

Polygon has reached out to Blizzard Entertainment for comment and will update if the company responds.

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