With the release of Overwatch 2 just a few weeks away, Blizzard has fully detailed the game’s Battle Pass system. As with other games with a Battle Pass, Overwatch 2 will offer both a free and premium ($10) track filled with various cosmetics that you can unlock by simply playing the game.
But one of the more interesting aspects of Overwatch 2’s Battle Pass is that it’ll serve as the primary way to unlock new heroes. When Overwatch 2 launches in October, it’ll introduce three new playable heroes: Sojourn, Junker Queen and the recently revealed Kiriko. Both Sojourn and Junker Queen will be playable immediately for anyone who plays the game at launch.
Kiriko, however, will have to be unlocked by leveling up through the battle pass. And this will be the case for all new heroes introduced to the game beyond Season One. As Blizzard explains:
"New heroes will debut for everyone in Overwatch 2 at Tier 55 on the free track of the Battle Pass. They’ll unlock immediately on the premium Battle Pass track."
The reason for the change has to do with Blizzard’s approach to competitive balance. One of the core focuses of Overwatch 2’s hero balancing has been to reduce the presence of specific hard counters. While some heroes will still be more effective against others, the goal is to have all heroes be viable in most situations.
To keep the game as fair and balanced as possible, Blizzard will delay the introduction of new heroes — beginning with Kiriko — into Competitive modes for a few weeks. This should allow them to tune a hero’s balance quickly after release without disrupting the balance of Competitive play.
While I understand delaying a hero’s availability in Competitive play, it’s still a bit unclear as to why they will make players unlock them through the battle pass before they get to play as them in regular, non-competitive modes. It could simply come down to financials and the hope that players will want to pony up $10 for the battle pass to have immediate access. I don’t necessarily have a problem with it though as long as you can still obtain the character in a way that’s free — and in this case, it’s by simply playing the game.
Blizzard also revealed the plan to release a new hero every alternate season after Season Two. As explained, Season One will feature the three aforementioned new heroes, while Season Two will introduce a Tank Hero. After that, we can look forward to a new hero in Season Four and Season Six, etc.
If you happen to skip a season and miss out on a new hero, Blizzard did say there will be ways to earn heroes that were released in previous seasons. You’ll be able to earn them by completing special challenges or by acquiring them directly through the in-game shop with Overwatch Coins. Overwatch Coins can be purchased directly from the shop or earned by completing in-game weekly challenges.
Overwatch 2 is set to launch on October 4, 2022.