With Overwatch 2’s launch just a week away, Blizzard spilled more details about what will be different in the free-to-play sequel, and it’s sounding rough. While returning players will have access to all of the game’s returning heroes, brand new players will have to play approximately 100 matches to unlock them all. A future worth fighting for, indeed.
The information was revealed in a new blog post that, among other things, goes in-depth on the “first time user experience (FTUE)” for Overwatch’s long anticipated sequel. “We want FTUE to welcome players more gradually to Overwatch 2, as we’ve seen consistent feedback from new players feeling overwhelmed by numerous game modes and heroes,” Blizzard wrote. “New players begin with access to a limited set of game modes, heroes, and some other restrictions to onboard them more gradually.”
New players will have to win 50 quick play matches to unlock competitive mode, and complete roughly 100 matches to unlock all of Overwatch 1’s existing 32 heroes. In-game chat and other game modes, meanwhile, will “rapidly” unlock in the early stage of onboarding. “This focused experience eases new players into the world of Overwatch by teaching them about different modes, rules, and other high-level aspects of the game in an approachable way,” Blizzard wrote.
Quick-play matches often last around 10 to 15 minutes. Not including queue times, that’s around 20 hours to unlock Tracer, Genji, and the rest of the crew. While the original Overwatch was $60, the new one is free-to-play, letting players grind to unlock the full roster, not unlike some fighting games. On the other hand, even at minimum wage, half a full-time work week is $145.
This all comes on the back of the existing controversy over gating Overwatch 2’s first new hero, the support character Kiriko, behind level 55 of the battle pass. If players want access to her from the jump, they’ll need to fork over $10 for the premium battle pass. Overwatch 2 is taking a step in the right direction by ditching loot boxes entirely, but the nickel-and-diming over what costs money and how much time players need to grind is clearly leading to a lot of frustration before the game is even out (some battle passes and free-to-play economies are oriented entirely around rewards that don’t affect gameplay).
Today, Blizzard also clarified a few other changes coming to Overwatch 2:
- Only one endorsement category per match
- Portrait borders that symbolize player level are going away
- A new ping system helps players communicate without using chat
- Machine-learning audio transcriptions will be used to monitor toxic player behavior
- Player accounts will now require a phone number to add more security and protect against cheating
Overwatch 2 won’t just be Blizzard’s new focus when it comes out on October 4, it will actually replace Overwatch 1 altogether. And if you were thinking of buying the original game so that you could automatically bypass the first-time player experience for Overwatch 2, sorry, the game is no longer for sale. Instead, players are being directed to the $40 Watchpoint Pack which includes the old game and a smooth transition to the next one. Long story short: Overwatch 2 is a free-to-play game that’s secretly $40 if you’ve never played before and don’t have the time to grind.
Correction: 9/27/22 6:38 p.m. ET: The $40 Watchpoint Pack is not required to unlock Kiriko.