Whispers of a hero based around the cunning and mischievous fox spirit, or kitsune, have been swirling in the Overwatch community for years. Developers have sprinkled strong hints throughout Overwatch 2’s betas about the possible inclusion of another Japanese hero, and now it’s finally time for the protector of Kanezaka to officially make her debut.
Kiriko, a young woman who trained alongside Hanzo and Genji Shimada and carries the power of the fox spirit into battle, will be Overwatch 2’s next hero.
She’ll be the first support hero released in the game in over three years and brings with her an extremely powerful kit based around mobility and team-wide buffs.
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A protector of the shrine in Kanezaka like her grandmother before her, Kiriko uses the fox spirit to facilitate mobility and power for her team. Her mother, a storied ninja who trained the Shimada brothers, instilled in her a fighting spirit. Kiriko has banded together with a group of teens who call themselves the Yokai to protect Kanezaka community members threatened by the Hashimoto, an evil clan that moved in after the Shimada clan disbanded.
Players who already have Overwatch will have Kiriko unlocked for free when Overwatch 2 launches in early access on Oct. 4 as long as they log in before the first nine-week season is up.
She’ll be instantly unlocked if a premium Season One battle pass is purchased; otherwise, new Overwatch players will have to unlock her through the free pass.
All Kiriko Abilities in Overwatch 2
Developers describe Kiriko as a “single-target hybrid healer” that can get into a skirmish and help out in any way possible. Her powerful kit reflects this division between healing and dealing damage.
Primary Fire: Healing Ofuda
Kiriko is able to target allies and throw ofuda–paper talismans imbued with powers–in their direction to heal them. This is a series of five projectiles that will hone in on an ally. The Healing Ofuda is a very slow-moving ability, so there’s an opportunity for players to throw them ahead of time if they anticipate damage.
Secondary Fire: Kunai
Not content with sitting back and letting everyone else have the fun, Kiriko throws kunai with her secondary fire to deal damage. They’re very fast and inflict more damage when they hit critically, making the ability more valuable to players who are used to aiming projectiles.
Kiriko’s main movement ability is the Swift Step, which allows her to target a single ally–in the vein of Mercy’s Guardian Angel ability–and teleport to them instantly. This teleport can even go through walls, making it invaluable when trying to catch up with a team or save allies from a skirmish elsewhere on the map.
Possibly Kiriko’s most valuable ability, the Protection Suzu is a small “bell” that can be thrown on the ground or into allies that gives a short burst of immortality and cleanses all debuffs.
Though other abilities (like Zarya’s barriers) can cleanse certain debuffs; this is the first ability in Overwatch that can even fully remove Ultimate-based debuffs. In a press conference, developers confirmed this cleanse includes effects from Reinhardt’s Earthshatter and Sombra’s EMP. Protection Suzu will also remove normal debuffs, like Ashe’s Dynamite fire damage, Ana’s Sleep Dart and anti-heal grenades, and more.
It reportedly has a long cooldown, though, so players will have to be mindful of when and where to cast it.
Ultimate: Kitsune Rush
This vibrant visual ultimate–which was teased in one of the Overwatch 2 trailers–sees Kiriko cast a “path” that gives massive buffs to teammates. According to the Developer Update, Kitsune Rush gives allies “movement speed, attack speed, reload speed,” and a cooldown reduction.
For example, an ally Ana hit by Kitsune Rush would see her cooldowns for Healing Grenade and Sleep Dart reduced dramatically, making those abilities available sooner.
This seems to be a fantastic ability for rushing in and engaging fights, making it more of an offensive support ultimate in the vein of Brigitte’s Rally and less of a defensive one like Zenyatta’s Transcendence.
As a passive ability, Kiriko can also climb walls the same way Genji and Hanzo can.
All of this sounds incredibly powerful for a support hero, but developers are aware of the overpowered potential of her kit and are working hard to balance it.
In a press conference, Hero Designer Piero Herrera said that the invulnerability of her Protection Suzu is one of the things they’re “certainly watching for” in playtests.
“We have processes in place to make sure we can achieve balance even after she’s released, in the first couple of weeks,” he said. “She’s packed up with a lot of utility but I think we nailed the balance really well.”
Kiriko will be available from Oct. 4 when Overwatch 2 launches in early access.