Anyone who's played Overwatch will know how hero flexibility can make or break a match. Reinhardt isn't going to have much fun swinging his hammer at a troublesome Pharah 30 feet in the air, but switch to Roadhog mid-match and you can chuck your hook at her and bring her tumbling to the ground for an easy kill. So why oh why is Overwatch 2 planning to lock new heroes behind its battle passes?
That's the question fans have been asking after a leak on the game's store page revealed that Kiriko, the first support hero to be added since 2019, has to be unlocked by either purchasing the premium battle pass or grinding your way through the free track. While that info was pulled from the page pretty quickly, Blizzard vice president Jon Spector then took to Twitter to confirm everyone's fears: it's actually happening. "Addressing some incomplete info posted early about our Overwatch 2 battle pass," he wrote. "We'll be sharing all details ahead of launch, but want to confirm that new Overwatch 2 heroes will be available on the free track of the battle pass."
But what if you don't pay for the battle pass and don't reach the hero on the free track, or don't play at all during that particular battle pass period? Spector says the game "will have free paths to get new heroes in future seasons too," which isn't exactly very clear. It could mean that heroes will always be available on battle pass tracks, though that seems highly unlikely. The most likely answer seems that they'll be brought back on future battle passes when there's a hero lull in order to fill the gap.
Addressing some incomplete info posted early about our Overwatch 2 Battle Pass – we'll be sharing all details ahead of launch, but want to confirm that new Overwatch 2 heroes will be available on the free track of the Battle Pass.September 8, 2022
Understandably, the news has caused some concern amongst fans. With a game that, traditionally, has relied so heavily on switching heroes mid-match to counter the enemy team, I can't imagine a world where asking someone to switch to Kiriko gets met with the response, "Sorry I never unlocked them!"
It does feel like Overwatch 2 is heading in a direction that drops the emphasis on team synergy and abilities, something which made the first game so damn endearing. In my brief time with its two betas, I got the impression it was more of an 'everyone for themselves' vibe, falling more in line with your typical shooter. It's a bummer, a design direction I'm not personally a fan of.
It's not yet known just how grindy it'll be to pick up new heroes if you're not jazzed about dumping money into the battle pass. Hopefully, unlocking them shouldn't take too much work, though we won't know until the game releases on October 4.