Close on the trail of Heroes of the Storm's progression-overhauling 2.0 update, Overwatch's enduringly popular cyborg ninja is the latest new hero to join the roster of Blizzard's allstar MOBA.
Like Tracer, Zarya and Lucio, the spirit of Genji's skillset has been preserved while adapting him for his isometric new life. His passive allows him to leap over walls, granting him supreme ambush and escape capability particularly when used alongside his long-range Swift Strike dash attack. As in Overwatch, eliminating an opponent resets the cooldown on Genji's dash, making him difficult to pin down in a teamfight.
Genji's Q ability stores three charges of Shuriken, Heroes of the Storm's take on his Overwatch alt-fire. He throws three shurikens in a cone, and at close range all three can connect with a single target to do massive damage. Each charge of the ability only starts recharging when all of them are spent, encouraging you to deal three loads of burst damage in quick succession before leaping away to reset.
Deflect has been reworked. When it is activated, Genji gains an invulnerable shield and throws a dagger at anybody who damages him for the duration of the effect. This allows him to 'deflect' types of damage that he wouldn't be able to counter in Overwatch, like melee strikes and fireballs. Given that each retaliatory dagger deals a set amount of damage - rather than simply bouncing the enemy's projectiles back at them - he also is a powerful counter to rapid-firing heroes like Tracer. Each burst of Pulse Pistol fire at Genji prompts a storm of daggers the other way. Despite these changes, the timing aspect of Deflect has been preserved - good anticipation skills are rewarded, while getting baited into wasting Deflect often ends in disaster.
Genji's two new ultimate abilities mark a more substantial divergence from the source material. One, X-Strike, involves him leaping into the air before landing a massive cross-shaped strike that covers a wide surface area. His other ultimate, Dragonblade, has him draw his katana and allows him to perform a limited number of powerful cleaving auto-attacks.
Genji arrives alongside Hanamura, the first Heroes of the Storm map with an Overwatch theme. It is loosely based on the Overwatch map of the same name, but only visually - from its layout to its objectives, much has changed. Like Towers of Doom, each team's core is located between an impenetrable barrier. In order to deal damage, then, you need to escort payloads that spawn at intervals at different points on the map. When a payload reaches its destination, it turns into a turret and fires a shell at the enemy core.
Each payload's route takes it across the map, winding through lanes to fixed end points. Each team has its own set of routes, and payloads spawn at fixed intervals for each team. There's loads of strategic nuance in the decision to either push your own payload or set up an ambush along the route that the opposing team needs to follow. While the idea is very Overwatch, the execution is pure Heroes of the Storm.
There are mercenaries on the map, but they don't fulfill their normal role - instead of pushing out lanes and sieging buildings, each of the new camps drops a power up that can be used at the capturing player's discretion. These include an AoE heal, a projectile that reveals enemies in the fog of war, and a Torbjorn-style deployable turret that can even be mounted on top of a payload. Each of these is seized from new enemies that expand on Overwatch's existing fiction - the robot gangsters from the 'Dragons' short make an appearance, but they're joined by giant robot samurai too.
Genji and Hanamura are set to arrive a few weeks after the 2.0 update. Expect to see them on the test realm soon.