Overwatch 2: How to Unlock Every Hero

Overwatch 2 might now be free-to-play, but that "free" system usually comes at a cost. For new Overwatch 2 players, it makes unlocking every hero a real pain.

Overwatch 2
Photo: Activision Blizzard

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By the time you read this article, Overwatch 2 will finally be available to download and play. Since the game is free, anyone who skipped on the first entry can finally give this game a try without spending any money. However, since Blizzard decided to alter how players obtain heroes in Overwatch 2, many fans will instead have to spend quite a bit of their time trying to unlock all of the game’s heroes.

Playable characters were the driving force of Overwatch. Each new hero and villain sported a memorable backstory, as well as fantastic art and gameplay design. Blizzard essentially treated each new character as a celebration since then, complete with the introductory cinematics that were released alongside each playable character. In the past, though, Overwatch players have received each new hero free of charge. Sure, the game cost $60 (less if someone got it on sale), but that price of entry granted you access to 21 characters at launch with an extra 11 characters released over the next several years. While Overwatch 2 will also feature a steady supply of new heroes that will join the game’s initial roster of playable characters, you’re going to have to eventually earn all of them one way or another.

Not only will players have to unlock each new hero after they release, but new players can’t even use all of the game’s legacy characters out of the gate. While Blizzard isn’t asking the impossible from gamers who want to play as every character Overwatch 2 has to offer, the company isn’t making it easy for new players either. Here’s how long it will take you to unlock everything.

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Overwatch 2: How Long Does It Take to Unlock Every Legacy Hero?

Overwatch 2 will launch with all of the heroes from the first game. How long it takes you to unlock all of those heroes is a different story.

To ease new players into all Overwatch 2 has to offer, Blizzard is introducing the First Time User Experience (FTUE), which is part of the game’s “Defense Matrix Initiative.” The good news is that this system will prevent newcomers from being overwhelmed. The bad news is it will lock audiences out of the core Overwatch experience until they’ve completed a lengthy probationary period.

The FTUE will be divided into two phases. The first phase will restrict players to certain limited game modes (players can’t even use in-game chat during this period). It’s not entirely clear how long that first phase will last, but even after players can finally access all of the game modes and communicate with allies, the true grind begins.

From there, the only way beginner players can unlock all the legacy heroes is to make it through the FTUE’s second phase, which the Defense Matrix Initiative blog posts estimates will last “approximately 100 matches.” Actually, it seems like you technically need to complete about 155 unraked matches, but since a win counts as two complete games, that number will likely be smaller for most players (hence the 100-match estimate). At the most, though, you’re looking at 155 straight losses before you can unlock every hero (which sounds like an absolute nightmare).

Since the average match usually lasts between 15 and 30 minutes, they will still have to slog through 25 to 50 hours worth of gameplay just to use Tracer and Sombra. Let’s be generous and say that’s one hero every hour, give or take. While that number could be raised or lowered based on how well you and your team perform, even the most player friendly estimates suggest you’re looking at about 16 hours of playtime before new players are able to access the entire roster.

While you’re working your way through those early matches, you’ll be able to choose between the following roster of heroes:

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Junker Queen (Unlocked upon Season 1 Log-In)
Sojourn (Unlocked upon Season 1 Log-In)
Soldier: 76

From there, you’ll need to unlock the rest of the game’s heroes one by one in the following order:

Wrecking Ball

Given the FTUE, one can’t help but wonder what veteran Overwatch players will have to go through to access the core part of the game. The answer is “nothing.” Anyone who purchased and played the original game will get to start Overwatch 2 with all the characters they know and love (and hate) already unlocked. Everyone else will need to work their way through what is essentially Overwatch 2‘s expanded tutorial.

Overwatch 2: How Do You Unlock Kiriko and Every New Hero?

Since Overwatch 2 is (technically) a new chapter in the franchise, the game will include a steady stream of new heroes. In fact, Blizzard already has three lined up to ring in the new game, but of course, the most hyped one is going to cost the most to unlock.

When Overwatch 2 launches, the game will sport three new characters: Junker Queen, Sojourn, and Kiriko. Junker Queen and Sojourn are essentially welcoming gifts since everyone who logs in to play during Season One will receive these characters. That leaves Kiriko the odd ninja out. Unfortunately, she is locked behind a paywall, and anyone who isn’t willing to pay for her with cash will need to pay with time.

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Essentially, players can use Kiriko as a model of what to expect from the upcoming Overwatch 2 heroes grind. As detailed in a blog post, Kiriko, and, by extension, all future heroes, is locked behind the battle pass. Players who want to earn Kiriko (and again, all future heroes) for free will be in it for the long haul since she is the Tier 55 reward. Each tier requires 10,000 XP, and weekly challenges will only dole out 5000 XP permission. During an interview with Eurogamer, Jon Spector, commercial lead of Overwatch, said that “hardcore” players should unlock Kiriko in a matter of weeks, while more casual players might take the entire season, which will last nine weeks. Plus, anyone who groups up with friends will receive a 20% XP boost, which gives players an extra incentive to queue up with people they know.

Anyone who wants to unlock Kiriko faster can skip ahead with the Premium Battle Pass, which instantly makes her available, but that is where the cost of free-to-play games rears its head. In order to purchase a Premium Battle Pass, players need to spend 1000 Overwatch Coins, which is Overwatch 2’s premium currency. These coins are available in the cash shop where players can buy 1000 for $10. Alternatively, gamers can earn the coins by completing weekly challenges, but this is capped at around 540 coins per month (assuming a player completes all of the weekly challenges every week) So while it is possible to earn a Premium Battle Pass, it takes almost two months to do so. On the bright side, odds are anyone who grinds enough Overwatch Coins to buy a pass will probably earn the new heroes in the process.

The shortcuts don’t stop there, though. Seasoned Overwatch players will receive a free Founder’s Pack along with Overwatch 2, which, when redeemed, nets them Kiriko. Of course, the mere prospect of stashing heroes behind battle passes raises an important question: What happens if a player can’t unlock Kiriko (and by extension future heroes) by the end of the Season? In that unfortunate scenario, Blizzard will provide an additional challenge for the season, and anyone who completes it will receive the previous season’s hero. Plus, these characters will go on sale in the game’s cash shop. If you’re familiar with the way Apex Legends handles its new heroes, you should have a pretty good idea of how that system works in Overwatch 2. If anything, Overwatch 2 is arguably a bit more generous (if only a bit).

For what it’s worth, don’t actually need to unlock heroes to play as them through the Practice Range, Custom Games, No Limits, Mystery Heroes, and Mystery Deathmatch modes (as well as certain special event modes). However, anyone who wants to use Sojourn in Competitive will have to log in during Season One, and you will need to unlock those heroes the hard way if you want to use them in Overwatch‘s main modes.