While Bastion and Torbjorn are still nowhere to be seen, the newest hero Kiriko has joined the fray in Overwatch 2's competitive gamemode.
Kiriko, the newest addition to the Overwatch 2 roster, is a support hero who also serves as one of the protectors of Kanezaka, a Japanese city in the game. The young kunoichi is the newest addition to the support heroes category and is now playable in competitive mode.
The kunoichi had a strange introduction to the game, she initially began as a concept art for Overwatch 2's PvE element, which Blizzard intends to release next year. Kiriko was initially designed as an opponent, but due to her good visual design, she became a hero-type character instead. The Overwatch team was working on her for around four years in different versions, as Blizzard tried to transform a drawing of a young female healer-kunoichi with a fox spirit into a playable character.
According to senior hero designer Joshua Noh, Kiriko went through 'probably four support kits' worth of abilities, just trying to find what's fun and what works in the game, especially with the new five-versus-five paradigm for PvP.'
Noh recalled that Kiriko 'began as just a really cool art piece that character art director Arnold Tsang drew.' 'He drew a whole bunch of ninjas that could potentially be enemies.' And we were like, 'Hey, this one looks super awesome.' Let's try to make it a hero.' According to Noh, Kiriko's fox spirit was initially 'sort of like a pet class in an MMO and follows you around' healing your teammates. However, that concept proved too challenging to create, and it later transformed into her ultimate, Kitsune Rush, that displayed its own technical hurdles.
Kiriko's initial weapon design contained a ridiculously large shuriken that behaved like a boomerang which could return back when thrown. The weapon design was later given to the Junker Queen, who wields a returning throwing knife.
Kiriko actually started out as a 'trickster hero, and she had a lot of ways to kind of deceive the enemy team,' according to Noh, and previous versions of her arsenal included smoke bombs as well as a 'Naruto-style clone ability' that allowed players to switch places with. However, the main objective of Kiriko would have been to 'try to incentivize DPS players a little bit to try to support,' according to Noh, 'kind of like trying to attract all the Genji tracer type of players over to the support role.'
The kunoichi's backstory and relationships with the other heroes were actually highlighted in Christie Golden's short story 'Yokai,' as well as an animated short that was in October titled 'Kiriko'. However, her role as Kanezaka's protector, as well as her connections to the Shimada brothers, has been already planned in Overwatch since early 2021, according to narrative designer Kyungseo Min.
“We definitely wanted her to have some sort of tie with the Shimada brothers,” Min explained. “An early iteration was that Kiriko was their long-lost sister, but we ditched that idea because we wanted to make our worldview look a little bit bigger, but still connected. We landed on Kiriko being a family friend, like a niece sort of relationship between those two”.