“The Junkertown map showcases her tough, almost brutal personality, and we wanted her abilities and playstyle to match that energy,” says Blizzard of its new Overwatch 2 hero Junker Queen’s abilities. The new tank character is set to join the FPS game’s roster in time for the second Overwatch 2 public beta, and a quick glimpse at her kit reveals that she’s adopting a few tricks usually associated with the support role.
Now, a developer blog from Blizzard digs into the design decisions that went into creating her brawling-oriented loadout. The developer says Junker Queen’s pre-existing role in Overwatch’s lore meant that “she had big community expectations resting on her stately shoulders.” As such, they leant into her style as a scrappy, dangerous fighter – “a berserker tank whose survivability is directly connected to how many enemies she’s wounding.”
This is reflected in her passive ability, Adrenaline Rush, which causes Junker Queen to heal from all damage over time dealt by wounds. Wounds can be caused by her Jagged Blade melee, which applies both on her quick melee attack or when using an active ability to throw the knife at an opponent, as well as with her Carnage ability and Rampage ultimate. Wounding causes enemy health to slowly drain, which feeds into Junker Queen’s lifesteal.
Her axe, known as Carnage, was “the starting point for her design,” says Blizzard – it’s one of the defining features of how the character has previously been depicted in the narrative of Overwatch. The team decided not to make her a melee-first hero, however, restricting Carnage’s use to abilities. “Historically, making a melee hero in Overwatch has come with its own set of challenges.” The team cites Genji’s Dragonblade, which was initially his primary weapon before becoming an ultimate ability in the final release because it “didn’t translate well in-game.” Rather than giving Junker Queen a similar ultimate, they decided to make it a cooldown-based ability.
Originally, the axe was going to be thrown, but it made for too rigid a playstyle. Instead, the team allowed Junker Queen to hurl her melee weapon, a knife called Gracie, as her secondary fire. Landing it in an enemy wounds them, and then recalling it drags the opponent towards Junker Queen. “When Reinhardt was first prototyped,” Blizzard explains, “he was able to throw his hammer – an ability that was cool in theory, but awkward in practice.” This was because Reinhardt had to go over and pick up his hammer manually, whereas Junker Queen has a magnetic gauntlet that she uses to pull her weapons to her.
As mentioned earlier, the wound effect on Gracie also applies to her quick melee ability as long as Junker Queen is holding her knife, also applying the lifesteal passive. This additional effect follows on from the implementation of a snap kick melee for Zenyatta, which suggests the team is more willing to experiment with unique melee tricks for the game’s sequel.
Commanding Shout, Junker Queen’s final regular ability, temporarily increases her own health by 200 and that of any nearby allies by 100, making everyone briefly much more survivable – perfect for diving into the fray head-first. Crucially, it also applies a 30% movement speed buff across the same AoE – the game’s first team movement speed buff since Lucio. The team says this was designed to reflect her aggressive, confrontal nature: “She brute forces her way through her opposition with a relentless aggression that demands space.”
Similarly, Junker Queen’s ultimate ability, named Rampage, also drives her directly into battle. Spinning Carnage and Gracie around her magnetic gauntlet, Junker Queen charges forward in a straight line, applying a wound to anyone in the way and preventing them from being healed for a short period. Once again, Junker Queen dips into the support ability pool, becoming only the second hero with a healing prevention ability after Ana’s Biotic Grenade.
Blizzard explains Rampage’s design, saying, “We didn’t want it to feel elegant or magic-influenced, because it didn’t align well conceptually with [her] character. It’s a display of the raw, visceral power she possesses as Queen.” The ability to wound multiple enemies, thus providing passive healing to Junker Queen herself while simultaneously blocking the enemy from doing the same, certainly reads as particularly potent.
As noted by Blizzard, Junker Queen is the first tank to be built with Overwatch 2’s new 5v5 team composition in mind. “Tanks play more aggressively in Overwatch 2, and Junker Queen is certainly no exception – in fact, she’d consider herself the rule.”