Overwatch 2 will seemingly make a major change to how Blizzard Entertainment rolls out new heroes for the game, according to leaked details about the sequel’s battle pass design. Instead of being available to all players immediately when they launch, new heroes will be available to premium battle pass owners on release, while other players will unlock them by progressing through the free battle pass track — or outright paying for them.
Those leaked details also include the name of Overwatch’s next hero: Kiriko, a support-class character who has previously been teased in trailers for Overwatch 2. Blizzard has not officially announced Kiriko, but has committed to adding a new support character for Overwatch 2’s launch in October.
New details about Overwatch 2 and its battle pass plans come from a description on Blizzard’s own website for the game’s Watchpoint Pack, a paid version of the free-to-play game that includes cosmetics, the season 1 premium battle pass, and other perks. Here’s a portion of that description, which Blizzard has since removed:
With the Season One Premium Battle Pass you can unlock over 80 tiers of rewards including Mythic Cyber Demon Genji, Legendary Hinotori Kiriko, and more. In addition, as a Season One Premium Battle Pass owner you will automatically receive access to Overwatch’s latest hero Kiriko!
Upon learning that new heroes might be locked behind the battle pass, fans expressed concerns about the change to how characters would be rolled out for Overwatch 2, pointing out that it runs contrary to the game’s design — switching heroes and counter-picking heroes mid-game is built into the game’s design, and all players not having access to all heroes would impact gameplay. That was the reasoning behind releasing the original Overwatch as a full-priced game in 2016.
Overwatch commercial leader and Blizzard VP John Spector addressed those concerns — in a way — on Twitter, saying that the leaked information about the battle pass was “incomplete.”
“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,” Spector said. That comment has seemingly done little to assuage fears that the free-to-play monetization of Overwatch 2 will affect how it plays beyond cosmetic options for players.
But if the leaked details about the battle pass are accurate, the plan to restrict the rollout of new heroes via a battle pass won’t be drastically different from how other free-to-play shooters, like Apex Legends or Valorant, handle new additions to their rosters. The potential upside for Overwatch 2 players with tiered hero rollouts could be shorter queue times, as only a portion of the player base will be fighting to claim the shiny new addition to the playable roster when they launch.
Polygon has reached out to Blizzard for additional clarity and comment on Overwatch 2’s battle pass and how they’ll affect new heroes, and will update this story when the company responds.