The second Overwatch 2 beta only started relatively recently and with that being the case, players have had the chance to dive back into Blizzard's anticipated sequel to test out the new character, Junker Queen, and also explore the new Hybrid map, Rio. Available to PlayStation and Xbox players as well, I've been spending some time in the beta putting Junker Queen through the ringer, and after a bunch of games, it's clear that Blizzard is onto a winner with this character.
And I say this as someone who was rather underwhelmed with Sojourn, the new character that was introduced in the first beta. Don't get me wrong, Sojourn is an incredibly powerful character that demands a lot of skill and prowess to master, but her kit feels too similar to Soldier 76's in my eyes to feel exciting or really particularly fresh. Junker Queen on the other hand doesn't suffer from this same fate, even if there are abilities and moves that clearly resemble other Overwatch characters.
For starters, there's a clear familiarity with Roadhog when it comes to Junker Queen. Both use shotguns as their primary weapon, even if Junker Queen's weapon seems to have a bit more range, due to a tighter spread, which comes at the cost of a lower maximum damage shot. Match this up with the Jagged Blade ability - which is a throwing knife that can be recalled and will pull any impaled enemies towards Junker Queen - and you can see that it's not just the primary weapons but Roadhog's hook/Jagged Blade that are similar in nature. That's not to say that this ability is uninspired or dull, however. No, in fact this is already shaping up to be one of my favourite abilities in Overwatch in general. And this is because it's actually a double-edged skill shot, as it requires precision on the throw, but also good positioning and timing on the recall if you want to force an enemy out of place. Stack this up with the fact that it's endlessly fulfilling to hit and you can see that Blizzard has nailed this ability.
But this isn't all that Junker Queen can do, as she can also swing her massive axe in a cone in front of her, which if hit will wound enemies and deal a chunk of damage. It's essentially the same attack as Reinhardt's hammer, except this combos with Junker Queen's wounding passive, where melees, Jagged Blade, and the Carnage Axe swing, all leave targets with a brief bleeding effect that is reciprocated as healing for Junker Queen herself. And this combos even further with her Commanding Shout ability, which increases Junker Queen's health by 200 and buffs her movement speed by 30%, which makes it all the more challenging to take her down, something that is necessary as she lacks a lot of self-healing, has no base armour or shielding, and doesn't have really any other methods of protecting herself.
This is clearly the design style of Junker Queen however, as this is a character that is all about aggression and putting pressure on the enemy team. If you give her space to do such a thing, Junker Queen will run through your team and tear it apart, but if you can isolate her, and focus her down, she will drop very quickly, as she lacks a lot of movement and self-defensive features. That's not to say she can't escape from a bind though, as her Ultimate: Rampage is a pretty lengthy dash, but considering its offensive possibilities, I would highly recommend saving this for use when attacking and not retreating or attempting to survive.
I say this as Rampage is one of two abilities in all of Overwatch that offer an anti-healing debuff, with the other being Ana's Biotic Grenade. Due to the fact that anti-healing is perhaps the most impactful debuff in Overwatch, having a second character that can offer this up is a massive bonus, even more so since that character is not a support. That's not to say that Rampage is as impactful and powerful as Biotic Grenade, as it simply isn't, mainly due to the cooldown between each ability's respective use, but it can change the dynamic of a fight and with that being the case, should be used strategically.
As Junker Queen is still very new, there's no real way of knowing how/if she will slot into the meta. But, as players and professionals get more time with her, we'll start to see how her usage pans out. From what I've seen though, this is a very exciting character addition, one that could change the way that Overwatch is played in the future, especially when considering she has been designed from the ground-up for the 5v5 gameplay that Overwatch 2 offers up.