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Overwatch 2 will require brand-new players to unlock most of the roster through play

Blizzard says Overwatch newcomers will need to play about 100 matches to unlock every classic hero

Winston, Genji, Mercy, and Brigitte stand side by side in their default costumes in a still from Overwatch 2 Image: Blizzard Entertainment

Overwatch 2 players who are brand-new to the franchise — meaning those who never played the original Overwatch — will need to spend considerable time with the sequel to unlock the game’s existing roster of 32 heroes. Blizzard Entertainment said Tuesday that as part of Overwatch 2’s “first-time user experience,” new players will unlock the game’s modes and all original Overwatch heroes “over the course of approximately 100 matches.”

Blizzard cited “consistent feedback from new players feeling overwhelmed by numerous game modes and heroes” in a blog post explaining how the game maker plans to accommodate an influx of newcomers with Overwatch’s free-to-play transition.

Overwatch 2’s first-time user experience will quickly unlock all game modes and in-game chat, Blizzard said, but new players will need to win 50 matches in Quick Play mode to access Competitive games and complete about 100 matches to unlock almost all of the game’s characters.

Blizzard said most of those new-player restrictions are lifted when playing in a group “so new players can team up with their friends at any time to play almost any game modes,” with Competitive mode being the exception. Players moving from the original Overwatch to Overwatch 2 will have access to 34 out of the game’s 35 heroes at launch. (New support hero Kiriko is further restricted by Overwatch 2’s battle pass.)

Existing Overwatch players can also expect some changes in 2, as things like player portrait borders, player levels, and Competitive skill tiers will no longer display in game. Overwatch’s Endorsements are also being streamlined, from three options down to one.

Overwatch 2 players of all stripes will also face a new requirement: Starting Oct. 4, Overwatch 2’s launch day, players will need to have a phone number attached to their Battle.net account to play. That feature is called SMS Protect, and is described as an additional layer of security aimed at preventing cheating and other bad player behaviors. Blizzard says that the phone number attached to a Battle.net account “cannot be used on multiple accounts at the same time, and players can’t use the same phone number to create multiple accounts,” and that “certain types of numbers, including pre-paid and VOIP, cannot be used for SMS Protect.”

Activision Blizzard plans to implement the same SMS Protect system for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, which also launches in October.

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