Making Overwatch 2's Sojourn was hard because 'railguns are kinda overpowered'

Blizzard is pretty excited about Sojourn, Overwatch 2's first new hero that will be playable in the upcoming closed beta. The studio is eager to show her off not only because she's the first black woman on the hero roster after six years of updates, but also because she's packing a powerful FPS staple: the railgun.

Blizzard has been thinking about adding a railgun to the Overwatch weapon pool for a long time, but struggled with how to balance around such a powerful, precise weapon. The first prototype resembled a classic Quake 2 railgun with high damage, hitscan precision, low recoil, and no scope required. 

"It was kind of a catastrophe of balance," as lead hero designer Geoff Goodman described in a Sojourn Q&A livestream today. "You could essentially fire Widow[maker] shots with no cooldown or anything, just constantly." Goodman said it was important that it still feels like a railgun without becoming overwhelming. "Ultimately I think we found a solution we really like."

A new blog post outlining Sojourn's abilities goes into detail on how her railgun works:

  • Primary fire: Rapid firing projectiles that generate energy on impact
  • Secondary fire: High impact shot that consumes stored energy

sojourn loadout

(Image credit: Blizzard)

So, the railgun's primary fire is a rapid fire machinegun that shoots projectiles (in other words, not hitscan) and builds up energy to shoot a high damage charged beam. Senior hero designer Josh Noh describes her as a "mid-range hero that rewards accuracy" but still fun at any level of play. It's an interesting compromise—based on description alone, Sojourn kinda sounds like Soldier 76 on left-click and Widowmaker (minus the scope) on right-click. It's easy to see why Blizzard sees her as difficult to master. Depending on how slowly her energy builds up for a right-click, she might feel like a damage deficit if she's not landing railgun shots (not unlike a Widowmaker struggling to score headshots).

Complementing her weapon are two more abilities: Disruptor Shot and Power Slide. Disruptor Shot is an interesting one: an AOE field that "snares enemies and eats away at their health." That sort of sounds like a weaker version of Mei's ultimate, though this one is meant to give Sojourn openings for precision hits. "...if you get caught in her Disruptor Shot, there’s a good chance she has you in her sights," the blog reads.

A brief Sojourn gameplay clip shared at last year's online BlizzCon.

Power Slide gives Sojourn a bit of mobility, but in a different way than Overwatch's other springy heroes like Lucio and Baptiste. She gets low for a slide and instantly cancels into a jump that goes high enough to access "high-ground vantage points". To me, that sounds like she'll at least be able to leap up a staircase or on top of a building, a big bonus over a similar hero like Soldier 76.

As for Overlock, Sojourn's ultimate, Blizzard's description is pretty clear: "We wanted it to feel almost like the hitscan version of a Genji Dragon Blade,” said Noh. Sojourn gets to let loose with her railgun and chain kills together fast with piercing shots, but only if he's accurate. "You will have a limited time to make a big play... or you could miss all your shots."

We also got some flashy glimpses of Sojourn in action in the gameplay trailer above, but we'll have to wait a bit longer to see a proper match from Sojourn's perspective. The Overwatch 2 beta is kicking off April 26 and Blizzard is still taking signups

Morgan Park
Staff Writer

Morgan has been writing for PC Gamer since 2018, first as a freelancer and currently as a staff writer. He has also appeared on Polygon, Kotaku, Fanbyte, and PCGamesN. Before freelancing, he spent most of high school and all of college writing at small gaming sites that didn't pay him. He's very happy to have a real job now. Morgan is a beat writer following the latest and greatest shooters and the communities that play them. He also writes general news, reviews, features, the occasional guide, and bad jokes in Slack. Twist his arm, and he'll even write about a boring strategy game. Please don't, though.