Overwatch 2 and its new battle pass have been making a lot of news recently. A combination of leaks and marketing material from Blizzard, as reported by our sister site PC Gamer (opens in new tab), had fans in an uproar. Specifically, they were unhappy about the idea that they would need to progress through the battle pass to unlock certain playable heroes.
Since then, Blizzard has clarified quite a bit about the battle pass system. In a group interview recorded by PC Gamer (opens in new tab), Blizzard VP Jon Spector stated that “regular players” should be able to attain the heroes locked within the battle pass. He and his team also laid out how much the Overwatch 2 battle pass will cost, how players of the original Overwatch can unlock certain heroes and other details about the upcoming game.
Now that we have some concrete information, it seems like an appropriate time to explain exactly how this feature will work in Overwatch 2. The original game was not free-to-play, and lacked a battle pass. So while the battle pass concept is familiar to Activision Blizzard fans, its implementation in this series is not.
Overwatch 2: What is a battle pass?
Battle passes are basically a scorecard for progression within a game. As you progress, you unlock loot, such as character skins, weapons, etc. Usually, a battle pass has both a free track and a premium track, with the premium track costing either real-life currency or in-game currency to purchase. Typically, the in-game currency is tough to acquire without spending real money. So ultimately, if you want the premium battle pass, you’ll need to spend money at some point.
This feature has become more common in recent years, especially as more multiplayer games switch to free-to-play models. Prominent examples include Call of Duty: Warzone, which Activision Blizzard also publishes, as well as Fortnite, Halo Infinite and quite a few other games, besides.
Overwatch 2 battle pass: What’s included
The free track of the battle pass for Overwatch 2’s first season still includes a fair amount of content. Over the course of 80 tiers, players can unlock two Epics skins, one weapon charm, two souvenirs, one highlight intro and eight Prestige Tier titles. There are also 14 additional cosmetic items (emotes, victory poses, etc.) to unlock as you play through the game.
But, of course, the big-ticket item is unlocking Kiriko, the newest Overwatch hero. Players in the free track will need to make it to Tier 55 to unlock Kiriko, which Spector says should be reasonably attainable with regular play. In future seasons, completing Tier 55 will unlock either a hero or a map.
However, if you have the premium battle pass, then you’ll automatically unlock the Tier 55 reward. As you go through the 80 tiers, you also get all the same rewards from the free track, but in greater volumes. The premium battle pass confers a Mythic skin, which is missing from the free track, and a 20% XP boost that will allow you to progress through the tiers faster.
Based on photos provided by Blizzard, the battle pass interface will appear mostly the same for both free and premium players. The only difference is that the rewards for many tiers will say “premium” and appear locked, unless you pay up.
Overwatch 2 premium battle pass: Cost
According to the group interview with Blizzard, each season’s premium battle pass costs $10 per season, or 1,000 Overwatch coins (the new in-game currency). Each season runs for nine weeks, so over the course of a calendar year, players will need to spend anywhere from $50-$60 to unlock all the premium battle passes.
There is another way to get the first season’s premium battle pass. For new players, or those looking to get some extra loot, you can buy the $40 Watchpoint Pack (opens in new tab). This pack includes the premium battle pass, the original Overwatch game, 12 hero skins and 2,000 Overwatch Coins.
If you save those Overwatch coins, the $40 will actually get you three seasons’ worth of premium battle passes, although those three seasons would cost only $30 à la carte. At that point, it becomes a question of whether you think the cosmetic skins and a few weeks of the current Overwatch game are worth the extra $10.
For current Overwatch players, you can’t get free access to the premium battle pass, but you can get its best perk. As long as you log into the game prior to the end of season 2, you get Kiriko instantly through the Founder’s Pack. While it’s not quite the same as getting the premium battle pass for free, it may save you some money in the short run.
Overwatch 2 battle pass: Outlook
At this point, we have a good idea of what Blizzard will include in Overwatch 2’s battle pass for both the free and premium tracks, at least for the first few seasons. Blizzard has said to expect similar rewards in seasons two and three.
Aside from locking heroes behind the battle pass structure — a controversial move that could shift how casual players approach the game — Overwatch 2’s battle pass does not reinvent the wheel. However, it may reinvent how Overwatch is fundamentally played. By potentially locking heroes behind a paywall, Overwatch 2 goes where Overwatch never did. Time will tell if this ultimately disadvantages players on the free track, or if free and premium players can equally enjoy the game.