The full, free-to-play launch of Overwatch 2 multiplayer is only about a week away, and Blizzard is revealing some additional details about the new user experience. Now, if you’ve already got a lot of experience with the original Overwatch, most things will just transfer over, but interestingly, things will be different for those who are jumping in fresh with Overwatch 2. But before we get into that, do check out the game's launch trailer, below.
A new “First-Time User Experience” will force new Overwatch 2 players to invest a decent amount of time into the game before they earn access to all its modes and existing heroes being brought over from the first Overwatch. Overall, Blizzard says players will have to play around 100 matches to unlock all the older heroes (a solid time investment considering Overwatch matches typically take 15 or 20 minutes). You also can’t get into Competitive mode until you complete 50 Quick Play matches. Blizzard claims they’re doing this in order to not overwhelm new players, but it’s clearly also a way of managing the influx of new players and discouraging people from setting up disruptive sock-puppet accounts. Here’s a bit more detail on the new First-Time User Experience…
“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. New players begin with access to a limited set of game modes, heroes, and some other restrictions to onboard them more gradually. The first phase of our new FTUE rapidly unlocks all the game modes and the ability to chat in-game, and the second phase unlocks all the original Overwatch heroes over the course of approximately 100 matches. 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. Most FTUE restrictions are lifted while in a group, so new players can team up with their friends at any time to play almost any game modes. Competitive is the exception to this rule because new players must complete a specific challenge to access this game mode.
Requirements to enter Competitive mode are changing with Overwatch 2. We are removing player levels in-game, so instead of having to reach a certain level, new players are now challenged to win 50 Quick Play matches before Competitive unlocks. This gives new players time to prepare for the higher expectations that come with Competitive, while long-term players don’t feel discouraged by teammates who have less experience. In the process of unlocking Competitive, we analyze new player skill levels to optimize matchmaking in a way that feels good to everyone.”
Unlocking old Overwatch heroes seems to operate on a separate system from the one for accessing new characters. New heroes like the fox lady Kiriko can be unlocked immediately for $10, or can be earned for free by grinding through a seasonal battle pass to level 55.
Blizzard is also promising a variety of measures to crack down on cheating and toxic behavior. As part of this all accounts, even those migrating from the original Overwatch, will need to register a phone number for two-factor SMS verification. Without a registered phone, you won't even be able to launch the game. Voice chats will also now be recorded and analyzed, so watch what you say.
Activision Blizzard has faced a series of lawsuits and other legal action on the heels of a suit filed by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) alleging widespread gender-based discrimination and sexual harassment at the Call of Duty publisher. You can get more details on that unfolding story here.
Overwatch 2 launches on PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, PS5, and Switch on October 4.