There are many things I don’t particularly like about Overwatch 2. In my last beta preview of the game, I got some hands-on time with Junker Queen and noted that she felt a lot more like an offensive DPS-style character rather than a tank, and it seemed that Overwatch, as a whole, was moving more towards being a competitive FPS game rather than a hero shooter. Those feelings still hold true even as I’ve sunk a considerable amount of time with the final build of Overwatch 2 over the past two weeks, but somehow I just can’t seem to stay away.
As always, Overwatch 2’s magic lies in its personality and soul. The original cast made a splash when the game first launched, and the three new heroes help to add even more character to an already rich tapestry of iconic personalities. We’ve already met Sojourn and Junker Queen, and they both feel like solid additions to the overall roster.
My personal feelings about the direction of Overwatch 2 aside, Junker Queen has proven to be a rather fun shake-up to the meta. While Competitive 2.0 has yet to be released, it’ll definitely be interesting to see how teams base their selections around their tank player.
Playing around and countering Junker Queen has been incredibly fun, as you often have to read her movements and try to predict when she’s about to charge straight into your backlines. She creates even more chaos in an already chaotic game, and it often felt like my team had to change up our strategies depending on whether we were facing off against Junker Queen, or a more defensive tank character.
Sojourn, on the other hand, feels like the “safer” hero addition. In my first beta preview, I described her as a classic DPS character, and how she was essentially a more interesting version of Soldier: 76. She hasn’t changed much since that first beta, and helps add a little flavor to what would otherwise be a cookie-cutter gunner-style hero.
And then there’s my girl Kiriko, who is easily the most interesting and exciting addition that Overwatch has seen in years. We’ve been long overdue a new support character, and Kiriko absolutely delivers.
At the time of writing, it’s hard to say exactly how much of an impact she’ll have on the competitive scene, but honestly, even if she ends up being trash tier, you can bet I’m still gonna main her for a while once the game launches. To describe her in the most reductive way possible, Kiriko basically feels like a healer version of Genji. Just like the Shimada brothers, she can scale and climb up walls automatically, giving her a unique sense of verticality and flexibility we haven’t seen in any of the other supports.
Sure, Mercy can fly, but she’s always at the, um, mercy of whoever she’s targeting. And let’s be real, Mercy’s floating has always felt a little unwieldy and way too reliant on the positioning of your teammates. While Kiriko isn’t necessarily the fastest healer around, she feels a lot more mobile, especially when you pair her wall-climbing ability with her teleportation skill.
Kiriko’s L-Shift ability lets her immediately teleport over to a targeted teammate, allowing her to quickly disengage from battle if things get scary. It definitely helps that her healing and damaging abilities are ranged as well, so she doesn’t always need to be right in the thick of the action with her team. She’s absolutely one of the most mobile healers in Overwatch 2 right now, and the flexibility of her kit makes her a lot of fun to play around with.
That being said, that flexibility comes with a cost. Her right-clicks allow her to throw knives at foes to damage them, while her left-clicks let her throw ofudas, which will automatically seek out nearby teammates to heal them. Kiriko’s E ability also lets her throw out a talisman, which has an AoE effect that will give her and her nearby teammates temporary invulnerability.
When I say “temporary,” I mean it’s really temporary. It lasts for maybe two seconds before wearing off, and it felt most impactful whenever I used it defensively to shield my team from a D.Va bomb, or when my tank needed just a little push to start a big attack on the enemy team.
Her healing numbers are… okay. It doesn’t seem like Kiriko’s going to be the designated main healer of any team, and she’s definitely more geared towards doing damage and disrupting the enemy team with well-timed talisman throws. Her Ult — which is also an awesome visual spectacle — increases the movement speed of her teammates and also reduces their cooldown times, making it a great opener for a big offensive push.
With all that in mind, it looks like Kiriko is meant to be more of a buffer/enabler for the team, rather than an all-out healer, kinda similar to what Brigitte brought to the table when she first released.
Overall, I’m a fan of Kiriko’s unique kit, and you can absolutely count on her being picked first in most, if not all, of your Overwatch 2 matches once the game drops.
All of this is to say, I really like the three new heroes we’re getting in Overwatch 2 at launch. There’s something for everyone here: Sojourn for the new players looking to get acquainted with the game, Junker Queen for tank players and DPS enthusiasts, and Kiriko for the support players who have been dying for something new.
Not to mention the fact that Overwatch’s art and sound direction continues to be top notch here. All three new heroes are just striking in design; just like the rest of the Overwatch cast, you can take one look at any of these three and immediately know what game they’re from.
Whether it’s Junker Queen’s Mad Max-esque junkyard aesthetic, or Kiriko’s beautiful fusion between her traditional Japanese garb and modern sensibilities, Blizzard’s knocked it out of the park yet again when it comes to the overall look and feel of the game.
Image Source: Blizzard
That being said, we can’t ignore the elephant in the room… or elephants. While I’m still not a fan of Overwatch’s insistence on being a more DPS-centric competitive game, those concerns seem to pale in comparison to the other controversies that have arisen from Blizzard’s decision to go for the free-to-play route.
The Overwatch 2 Battle Pass system hasn’t felt overly oppressive in the past two weeks I’ve played it, but I should mention that Blizzard unlocked the premium Battle Pass track for all members of the press who played during the review period. This means that I got Kiriko right when I started the game, as will all legacy players who already own the first Overwatch.
However, if you’re completely new to the game, you’ll only get Kiriko by progressing through the Battle Pass to level 55. And let me tell you, getting to level 55 is a grind. For context, I’ve been playing for about two hours each day for the past two weeks and I’m only in the 20s.
For a game that’s all about picking and counter-picking in the middle of a match, being locked out of certain heroes feels very bad. It’s clear that Blizzard wants its player base to commit more time to the game so that they don’t miss out on all the goodies, but locking heroes behind the Battle Pass still seems like a decision that could hurt the competitive spirit here, in my view.
Aside from that, though, I’ve found the Battle Pass progression to be relatively smooth, and I do like that lootboxes have been abolished to make way for rewards that you earn just through playing.
I’ll have more thoughts on the overall feel of the Battle Pass in my full review coming next week, once I’ve had more time to properly determine just how much time F2P players will need to commit to unlock a new character.
Despite my trepidation with the new free-to-play nature of Overwatch 2, I’d be lying if I said I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed my time with the game so far. My playtime has mostly been in Quick Play and Custom Games, but I’ll have more thoughts to share in my final review once I’ve had a chance to check out some of the other modes.