Overwatch 2’s new hero — the first of three new characters that will be available when Blizzard’s sequel launches in October — is Kiriko, a support-type who blurs the line between damage dealer and healer. Kiriko will be the first character who can be earned through the free-to-play game’s battle pass.
Kiriko was developed with Overwatch 2’s new 5v5 team compositions in mind, associate narrative designer Kyungseo Min said in a developer update video revealing the new ninja’s abilities. Kiriko is described as a high-mobility, single-target hybrid healer. “She is fast,” Min explained, “and she can get to your little skirmishes, which happens a lot more often in 5v5 now, so she’s super effective.”
Qiu Fang, lead concept artist on Overwatch 2, called Kiriko “a battle healer” who gets into the thick of action, jumping in and out of combat. She’s “not a sit-back-and-heal type of hero,” Fang said.
“A lot of DPS players will love her,” Min said. In a separate roundtable interview, Min noted that Kiriko’s design was heavily inspired by a popular Overwatch hero: Genji. “In fact,” Min said, “one of the starting points of this character was [asking], How can we create a support hero that DPS players [who] like Genji would enjoy playing?”
But Kiriko’s main role and function in an Overwatch 2 team is to both heal and protect her allies. Her primary ability is the Healing Ofuda, which lets her throw paper talismans imbued with healing power that home in on allies. That should make it easy to help fast-moving heroes like Genji, or flying teammates like Pharah and Mercy. Supporting that is another ability called Swift Step, which lets Kiriko teleport quickly — and through multiple walls — to close the distance to allies who require healing.
“She plays really well with flanking characters, and mobile characters in general, such as Tracer [or] Genji,” said Piero Herrera, senior hero designer on Overwatch 2. “She’s just going to be able to jump in there and help them out with a cleanse or the invulnerability frames. You can imagine crazy combos to come up because of that interaction.”
Giving her additional mobility is the ability to scale walls, just like Genji and Hanzo.
Kiriko’s secondary ability is her kunai, a blade projectile that she can very quickly throw at enemies. Her kunai are fast, but do low overall damage. Still, critical hits with the kunai deal “a ton of damage,” Fang says. “It’s very powerful in the hands of an accurate player.”
Kiriko can also grant herself and her allies temporary invulnerability — not unlike fellow support character Baptiste — by throwing her Protection Suzu, a small bell, at them or on the ground. Protection Suzu can save allies from ults like Junkrat’s RIP-Tire or damage from a Bastion blasting in turret mode. The bell will also cleanse allies of debuffs like Ana’s Biotic Grenade or Junker Queen’s Rampage.
But Protection Suzu comes with a lengthy cooldown — currently 14 seconds — so players will have to use it wisely.
Kiriko’s ultimate ability, Kitsune Rush, summons the spirit fox and ghostly torii gates that Blizzard has been teasing for more than a month now. Kitsune Rush is a “huge buff” that gives Kiriko and allies “a ton of movement speed, attack speed, reload speed, and cooldown reduction.” It’s very, very powerful, Fang said, and great for initiating an attack on an objective.
Kiriko’s design derives from a character that Blizzard originally created for Overwatch 2’s PvE component. She was originally armed with a massive, fidget spinner-inspired throwing star, and had a somewhat more traditional ninjalike appearance. Blizzard eventually merged that with the traditional dress of a miko, a Shinto shrine maiden, and modern streetwear aesthetics.
Narratively, Kiriko is a young woman who hails from Kanezaka — one of Overwatch’s existing maps — and was raised by a “fierce ninja” of a mother, who also trained Genji and Hanzo. So Kiriko has a history with the Shimada clan, and got up to trouble with young Genji at the Hanamura arcades. Min described Kiriko as “a close family friend” of the Shimada brothers, but said that they also think of her “as a cute little niece.” But she’ll apparently redirect any disrespect or sass sent her way, and not just from the Shimada brothers.
“She has this sort of drive-by humor that she does for everyone,” Min said. “I’m really excited for everyone to see sort of, like, how she interacts conversationally with [other heroes]. And regarding her abilities, there’s a ton of reactivity as far as, if she heals the Shimada brothers, she’ll definitely take a dig, because, you know, she expects better [of them]. She’s super funny in a very tongue-in-cheek way.”
Players will get to see Kiriko in action when Overwatch 2 launches Oct. 4 on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.