After years of waiting for an update, we finally know what exactly Overwatch’s 33rd playable character, Sojourn, can do–and why her release has taken so long.
Vivian “Sojourn” Chase, Overwatch’s first female Black Canadian hero, was teased back in 2016 during the second Overwatch animated short “Recall.” Sojourn was posed as an original member of the Overwatch strike team before it got disbanded following the Omnic Crisis. Fans got their first glimpse of Sojourn on Winston’s monitor when he used his AI-computer to send a call out to other Overwatch members to join his cause. Although Overwatch garnered a reputation of having a wide cast of characters, such as a giant gorilla armed with a Tesla coil and hamster who pilots a mech ball, the stark absence of a Black female character (Orisa doesn’t count) was felt, especially amongst Black fans. After six years of waiting, an Overwatch trailer gave us a look at how she plays in Overwatch 2.
Sojourn is a damage character who doubles as both a hitscan character who can shoot her enemies instantly, and a projectile character with her primary and secondary weapons. Like Soldier 76, Sojourn has high mobility, utilizing a Tom Cruise-esque Mission Impossible 2 power slide to maneuver around enemies and under shields. The Overwatch devs described Sojourn’s ultimate, Overclock, as if “Genji’s Dragon Blade ability used a gun instead of a sword.” As someone who’s been on the receiving end of many dragon blades, they don’t seem wrong. Overclock takes a page out of Jill Valentine’s book by blasting out a powerful beam from her railgun.
Read More: Overwatch Director Says There Are Story Reasons For Saving The First Black Woman Hero For The Sequel
While all of this information is all well and good, I couldn’t help but look at my calendar and wonder why the hell it’s taken so long for us to get a crumb, nay a morsel of information about Sojourn. This frustration wasn’t lost on Overwatch’s former director Jeff Kaplan, who addressed fans’ frustration during Blizzcon 2019. At the time, he said her slow rollout was due to her playing a larger part in Overwatch 2.
“I personally feel like the right thing to do by the character is still deliver on that story and not just rush her out because the community is upset with us,” Kaplan said in a 2019 interview with Kotaku. “The real value of Overwatch inclusivity is the idea that we’re open-minded, that we want everybody to feel welcome into the universe, and the result of that is diversity. I would hate for the diversity to ever feel pandering, like we just had this spreadsheet with a bunch of checkboxes.”
Three years later, this same sentiment was echoed by the current Overwatch team in an exclusive interview with The Verge. In the interview, the devs doubled down on shedding some light as to why her release has moved at a glacial pace.
According to Verge, the reason why Sojourn’s release has taken so long is two-fold: she plays a significant role in the larger Overwatch story, and they didn’t want the first Black female character’s debut to feel trivial.
“We created this timeline, and we wanted Sojourn — especially since she’s the first Black female character of the game — to not just be a random addition to the game,” Dion Rogers, Overwatch 2’s art director told Verge.
In the past, new characters like Brigitte served to balance gameplay metas. When quick heroes like Genji and Tracer proved to be a problem, her shield bash stun was the solution. The devs went on to describe Sojourn in a similar problem-solving fashion, as an approachable character for newer players who also has a high skill ceiling for those pro-Overwatch League hopefuls.
“It was exciting to watch pro players experiment with Sojourn during the alpha and see all the ways her kit can turn the tides of a team fight,” competitive operations lead Brad Ross told The Verge. “While the meta and team strategies will assuredly be fluid throughout the season, our prediction is that Sojourn’s presence in OWL will be felt quickly.”
While Sojourn’s gameplay looks like a dope meshing of Zarya’s strength, Soldier 76’s maneuverability, and Baptiste’s versatility, her design is no slouch either. Aside from her brave fashion choice to wear shorts in the winter time, (our Canadian kin might get down like that but we don’t do that here in the States), her sleek cybernetic design and actual Black hair texture is superb. Sojourn’s designers told The Verge that her look was inspired by Angela Bassett’s poise and Serena Williams’ power and speed.
I for one can’t wait to finally have a new main character that’s an attack character. After my 236 hours in the trenches of Overwatch playing as a forever Mercy/Moira healer main, it’s what I deserve.
Overwatch 2 is slated to release sometime in 2023.