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Overwatch 2 hero Kiriko unlocked to compete, here’s her story


Overwatch’s newest character, support hero Kiriko, is having a different release style. She is the first new hero to be brought in Overwatch 2Pass the battle, meaning that while multiplayer has access to Kiriko, the others are still grinding away to unlock her. She also just added to one of Overwatch 2the core modes ofand her viability in competitive play will be tested in the coming weeks and months.

Kiriko also has a somewhat unusual path into the game itself: She started out as a concept art piece aimed at Overwatch 2Blizzard’s PvE component plans to make it available next year. Originally conceived as an enemy unit type, Kiriko has become a full-fledged hero based on her powerful visual design. She’s also had jobs in various incarnations for about four years, as Blizzard attempted to turn the drawing of a streetwear sports healing ninja with a spooky fox into a possible hero. controllable.

Senior hero designer Joshua Noh told Polygon in a recent interview that Kiriko went through “probably four support-worthy abilities, just trying to find what’s interesting and what works. dynamic in the game, especially with the new 5v5 model for PvP. “

Kiriko “started out as just a truly amazing work of art [character art director] Arnold [Tsang] drew,” Noh recalls. “He drew a bunch of ninjas [that] could be the enemy. And we were like, Hey, this looks super awesome. Try and make it a hero.” Noh says that Kiriko’s soul was originally “like a pet class in an MMO and follows you around” healing your teammates. But that idea proved too difficult to implement, and eventually evolved into Kiriko’s ultimate ability, Kitsune Rush, creating its own technical challenges.

“There’s a lot going on in the background there,” said Noh, explaining that Kiriko’s fox needed to navigate around in-game objects, gaps in the floor, and terrain. “Show a large area like [a huge buff] is a challenge in an already visually noisy game like Overwatch. “

A variety of illustrations of Kiriko, including her original concept work, where she wears a technical ninja outfit and holds a giant throwing star.  Other variations include more traditional Japanese costumes and weapons, including sticks and blades.

Image: Arnold Tsang / Blizzard Entertainment

Kiriko’s original design included a comically oversized shuriken that acted like a yo-yo or boomerang – a weapon that was eventually repurposed for another hero, the Junker Queen, who threw a retractable knife return.

“It was fun to use,” Noh said of Kiriko’s shuriken. “But we ran into this problem where it created a very striking silhouette that looked very deadly, like a DPS player, and people expected that weapon to really take people down. […] But one of the other challenges we faced along the way with her [ninja design] are all abilities that are really hard to translate into healing playstyle. ” The team experimented with a shotgun-like healing weapon, but wanted to avoid magic or ninja magic, Noh said. In the end, they decided to use healing and cleansing talismans called ofudas. , leaning more towards spirituality than magic, using relatively new homing technology built for Overwatch 2.

Noh said that Kiriko started out as a “trick hero, and she has a lot of ways to outwit the opposing team.” Early versions of her kits included smoke bombs and “ninja shadow clones” that players could swap with. But in the end, the goal with Kiriko is “to try to encourage DPS players a little bit to try to support,” says Noh, “like trying to get all kinds of players watching Genji move into a support role. .” (Overwatch 2 players may know that meaningful aim doesn’t reduce queue times for damage roles, but it’s an admirable effort.)

Kiriko’s return story and connection to Overwatch’s heroes are outlined in a short story written by Christie Golden titled “Yokai” and in an animated short released in early October. But according to narrative designer Kyungseo Min, Kiriko’s role as Kanezaka’s protector and her relationship with the Shimada brothers Genji and Hanzo, has seeded in Overwatch from the beginning of 2021. The Deathmatch Kanezaka map includes mentions of foxes, the Yokai guard group of which Kiriko is a member, and the rival clan Hashimoto, who run the Tiger’s Den bar in that neighborhood.

“We definitely wanted her to have some kind of bond with the Shimada brothers,” Min said. “An initial iteration is [that Kiriko was] their long-lost sister, but we abandoned that idea because we wanted to make our worldview look a little bigger, but still connected. We landed on [Kiriko being] a family friend, like a niece relationship between those two.

“Ever since we worked with Kanezaka, we’ve been keeping an eye on her and shaping her personality, and how she fits into the Overwatch universe and the Shimada clan falls and Hashimoto takes over.. She is just part of a group of young people who are vigilant about protecting the community. “

Kiriko’s personality in Overwatch 2 derived from various inspirations, including Kaoru Kamiya, the kendo instructor (and favorite) from the manga/anime Rurouni Kenshin. According to Min, the narrative team wanted to match Kiriko’s personality, in some respects with her playstyle. Kiriko combines both attack and support, with an attitude to match: “face you” in a fight, but also traditional, reserved, and dry wit.

“It was really fun trying to balance those two opposing personality types,” says Min. “I think we had a lot of fun trying to really try to bring a more dry and flat tone, because we always wanted to do that, it was very difficult to balance that in the context of the game’s sound. ours. You only have a few seconds to really enjoy communicating with players, so they must be bigger than life… So try to achieve [Kiriko’s] The right deadpan humor is really a challenge. “

Min added, “Yes [a Kiriko] interacting with D.Va that I really enjoyed just because it really showed the world of Overwatch to be optimistic about our future. Both are very strong women – both very outspoken. So there’s a line where D.Va says, ‘What can they do without us?’ and Kiriko said, ‘It’s a full-time job for qualified people.’ I’ve certainly had such conversations with my girlfriends, and I’d like to be able to instill that into our world. “

Kiriko using her Suzu Protection ability on Genji and Hanzo in a screenshot from Overwatch 2

Image: Blizzard Entertainment

Min said that voice actor Sally Amaki, who voiced the anime and was a member of the July 22 virtual singing group, “brought [Kiriko] to life.”

“This is her first game work, so there is a learning opportunity, because [games have] very different delivery,” Min recalls. “But she was just a champ – she went through four hours of the night like nothing and how, Oh, yes, I have a concert tomorrowbecause she is a member of a J-pop idol group. “

As for Kiriko’s future, Min hesitates as to where her story – and that of her best friend Shimada – will go. But with the Hashimoto clan, as seen in Kiriko’s animated short, potentially serving as good fodder for the PvE mode, one can imagine the game’s ninja trio joining forces to clean up the streets of Kanezaka next year.

“She will definitely be the key person in what’s happening in Kanezaka, until the Shimada clan falls and Hashimoto terrorizes the surrounding area,” Min said. “The brothers certainly will not rest, either, for the clan that has overpowered them continues to terrorize what was once their territory.”

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