What is Illari’s ethnicity in Overwatch 2? The character’s Peruvian roots

Overwatch Illari

Illari is the 38th hero added to Overwatch, as the second iteration of the game moves from the Early Access phase to the ‘full live game operations phase’. Her backstory shows that she trained to become an Inti Warrior, a clan of protectors who draw power from the sun. However, her induction ceremony went askew and wiped out the clan. 

Illari descended from the Quechua people of Peru

Illari is Peruvian. She is the second South American character in Overwatch after Lucio from Brazil. 

Piero Herrera, the senior game designer at Blizzard Entertainment, said, “This character is really important to me because I’m half Peruvian, half Brazilian. We really wanted a second South American character, so everything pushed to cast her. The key moment was thinking about representing different people with this character.”

Blizzard Entertainment designed Illari to accurately represent Peruvian culture. Illari’s costumes, including her Llama Pajamas skin, accentuate her Peruvian heritage. Further, the colors of her costumes are written in Quechua, an indigenous language spoken in the southern and central highland areas of Peru. Joshi Zang, the game’s Narrative Designer, detailed Illari’s design process:

“We decided to take the best parts of this culture and really give it its true importance. We talk and consult with many Peruvian women about what is very important to them in representation. We also talk a lot with cultural researchers about how people live in the mountains, how they live off the land, and how they return gratitude to nature.”

The game’s developers also gave Illari two braids instead of one to closely mirror Peruvian culture. Illari’s power source is the sun, which is significant due to the sun’s importance to the ancient Inca people of Peru. Quechua women wore two braids in some parts of the Inca Empire, the largest empire in the Americas’ history. 

Zhang told Eseuro they chose Andre Cisneros Linares as Illari’s voice actor because she spoke Quechua. “We have been able to represent not only the Spanish and the Peruvian accent because we have a Peruvian voice actress,” Zhang said. “We were very lucky to find her because I insisted a lot that she should speak Quechua. I can’t wait for everyone to see her origin cinematic and hear her voice lines.”

‘It was very important that we seize the opportunity to elevate that culture on the world stage so that the world can see what a beautiful culture it is,” Zhang added.