Blizzard explains why ‘Overwatch 2’ heroes are behind a battle pass

"Heroes are the single most engaging content that we have in the game"

Overwatch 2 upset some fans last week when it was announced that new heroes will be locked behind the game’s battle pass. In response, Blizzard has stated that doing so will not upset the game’s strategic, team-based battles.

The battle pass news was confirmed by Overwatch commercial leader and vice president Jon Spector, who stated that the new heroes will be available via the free track of the battle pass. This will begin with Kiriko, Overwatch 2’s latest hero, who will be unlocked on tier 55 of a roughly 80 tier battle pass.

Players can either level their way up through the battle pass to unlock Kiriko for free, or they can pay 1,000 Overwatch Coins (around $10/£8.70) for the premium battle pass, which will allow instant access to the new hero.

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Speaking to PC Gamer, Overwatch general manager Walter Kong explained the rationale for putting the game’s heroes behind a battle pass.

“Well, heroes are the single most engaging content that we have in the game. And as we designed this model, it seemed to be a very strong fit to put those heroes into our new engagement systems.”

Overwatch 2
Overwatch 2. Credit: Blizzard Entertainment

Overwatch 2’s philosophy is that not every player will own every hero, and that the game balance has been altered to “reduce the amount of hard counters that Overwatch has,” according to game director Aaron Keller, thereby eliminating the need to have a specific hero for a specific strategy. Instead, Blizzard wants players to have “more freedom” regarding the heroes they choose to play as.

Fans have argued that hero-swapping has been a cornerstone of Overwatch from the start, with players swapping out characters in order to combat specific strategies or heroes as the battle goes on. However, Keller notes that the reality is that most players will stick to a small number of heroes that they are familiar with, and weren’t engaging with the hero-swapping strategies anyway – particularly at higher skill levels. “As the players get to be a higher and higher skill level, that band of heroes they play, it actually narrows because it takes a really long time to get good at a hero to play at that level,” said Keller.

It remains to be seen if these arguments will mollify angry fans – though as PC Gamer notes, Blizzard’s arguments are more that locking heroes behind the battle pass is not a big deal, not that it is in any way beneficial to players.

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Elsewhere in gaming, Sega has explained why it has rebranded the Yakuza series to Like a Dragon in the West.

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