Overwatch’s new escort map, Junkertown, has a precarious, hacked-together feeling to it—a greasy, grimy look that stands in stark contrast to the game’s usual utopian beauty. It never lets you get comfortable, either, mostly because it never stops winding.
Junkertown, which is now live on Overwatch’s PC public test realm, doesn’t reinvent the exploding death wheel so much as it runs it through one of those junkyard car-destroying machines and then reassembles the parts into something different. It’s a map of extremes, beginning with an open area akin to the ones from maps like King’s Row and Hollywood, except even more open, before proceeding into a second portion that’s confined and full of labyrinthine side paths on upper and lower floors, ala Eichenwalde. Junkertown’s second portion, though, is distinctly more winding, claustrophobic, and uncomfortable than Eichenwalde’s. Battles are chaotic, with players constantly rounding corners and skittering into side paths. It creates an awkward battle cadence that doesn’t quite feel like anything else Overwatch offers.
The map’s third area pulls a King’s Row and opens up again, but only slightly. It also introduces a wholly unique element in the form of a giant, slowly spinning turbine that essentially divides the area into an upper and lower half. Depending on who you’re playing and what mood you’re in, you can ride around on it to gain a slight high ground on your enemies, use it as cover if you’re a flier like Pharah, or put a turret on it if you’re a jerk who hates having friends. It should be noted, too, that the turbine only covers about three fourths of the room, which again lends the map a subtly awkward, uneven feeling. Then there’s another confined stretch, which leads to the attacking team’s goal: the Junk Queen’s throne.
Basically, Junkertown is an Eichenwalde-King’s Row mash-up from the bizarro alternate universe of Australia. Like other escort maps, it loves to alternate open and confined spaces, but it makes it harder to find a groove than any other Overwatch map I’ve played. I cannot emphasize enough how much Junkertown winds and winds and winds, rarely presenting you with straight paths or easy lines of sight. It’s structured like a damn snake. Between that and the awkward proportions of some rooms, though, it does feel like I’d expect a map made of junk to feel. It’s not a bunch of straight lines and obvious paths. It’s haphazard, albeit intentionally so.
I have noticed one major flaw, though. At the moment, it seems a little too easy for the defending team to hold the first point. In two hours of play, I managed to wind up in three matches where one team full-held the other. The other major sticking point, for me, is that I’m not sure if I find the map fun yet. For the most part it’s very smartly crafted, and I really appreciate the feeling it conveys, but I’ve yet to have a game where I came away thinking, “Yeah! That was an awesome time.” I think Junkertown will take some warming up to. Given how comfortable I’ve become on all of Overwatch’s other escort maps, perhaps that’s not such a bad thing.