A new support hero is coming to Overwatch, and she’s full of life, cheeky remarks, and some seriously game-changing abilities. Revealed at Tokyo Game Show, Kiriko is the newest addition to Overwatch 2’s roster, and while her formal title might be “Protector of Kanezaka,” she might also be the most clutch player on your team.
First and foremost, Kiriko’s primary ability is to heal. She does this by sending ofuda–paper talismans offering the wielder protection–to her teammates. These ofuda hone in on their desired recipient, making them perfect for healing teammates who are airborne or far away. Her secondary ability sees her precisely aim and throw her kunai, giving her an edge of lethality that rivals actual DPS characters. In fact, Kiriko joins Genji and Widowmaker as one of the few characters who has a higher crit multiplier than the rest of the Overwatch roster, which is an impressive feat for someone who’s chiefly a support character.
Coming in with a 14-second cooldown is Kiriko’s Protection Suzu ability, which sees her ring a Suzu–or Shinto bell–and “cleanse” an area of debuffs and potentially devastating attacks, including Sombra’s hack, Reinhardt’s Shatter, Ashe’s Burn, Ana’s Sleep Dart, and Junkrat’s RIP-Tire. This paired with Kiriko’s next ability–Swift Step–makes her a support hero who can quickly change the trajectory of a match. Swift Step allows Kiriko to see her allies through barriers in order to teleport beside them, making her the first character in Overwatch who can phase through walls. This ability was created so the game would have a healer with unparalleled mobility, and who could bring the healing to the fight rather than rely on their allies to come to them.
For Kiriko’s ultimate ability, Kitsune Rush, she summons a kitsune–a fox possessing spiritual powers–to help guide her teammates and provide them with accelerated movement speed, attack speed, and cool down rates. This buff can stack upon other speed buffs, though Blizzard confirmed there is an internal threshold that this buff cannot exceed.
All these qualities make Kiriko perfect for players who might be more comfortable playing DPS and still want to pack a punch while playing support. According to Blizzard associate narrative designer Kyungseo Min, this is because Kiriko was actually created with DPS players in mind, particularly those who favor Genji–and this is not where her connection to the cybernetic Shimada brother ends.
According to Min, Kiriko has a very direct relationship with Genji and Hanzo in that her mother was the powerful ninja who helped train them. As such, Kiriko both grew up and learned alongside the duo, becoming a sort of “cute, little niece figure” to them. This part of her backstory is reflected in her interactions with the brothers, as she often teases them when they need healing, as well as her abilities. Just like Hanzo and Genji, Kiriko has mastered the art of wall-climbing, and can do so to reach her teammates more efficiently.
Another important figure to Kiriko is her grandmother, a highly spiritual woman whose beliefs strongly influence Kiriko and shape how she fights. Much of Kiriko’s abilities come from her use of spiritual objects associated with Shintoism, such as ofuda and suzu. According to Min, Kiriko herself acts as a sort of bridge between her grandmother’s spiritual thinking and more modern beliefs. While she respects traditions, she is “cognizant that traditions must change to reflect modern thinking.” As such, Kiriko exerts a sort of youthful energy and intelligence that makes her incredibly personable.
As for how Kiriko will be involved in Overwatch 2’s overarching narrative, Min stated that while the team cannot say much, Kiriko will be a “key player in the Kanezaka area and a catalyst for the Shimada brothers.” Min also said Kiriko will be a particularly fun character to watch interact with others, as she has a very tongue-in-cheek sense of humor and is not afraid of teasing characters regardless of how intimidating they might seem.
According to Blizzard, Kiriko will be a good hero for players of all skill levels and will pair particularly well with mobile tanks like Winston, Wrecking Ball, and Doomfist, as well as flying heroes like Mercy, and heroes who specialize in flanking like her “uncle” Genji. The team says they are aware she is incredibly powerful–as are all their heroes when they first enter the game–but also warn players she is a “double-edged sword.” While her ability to enter dangerous situations to provide clutch healing and damage negation is powerful, entering said dangerous situations doesn’t always bode well for support heroes.
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