2016 was a long time ago. Blizzard’s decision to make Overwatch 2 free-to-play and add a battle pass was necessary to bring it into line with most other multiplayer FPS games on the market today, but Big Blue is putting its own spin on things. It’s been confirmed that new heroes will be locked behind the free battle pass, led by a new healer, Kiriko, at the game’s release. For fans who’ve been calling for a more modern monetisation model and, well, any other news after years of relative silence, it’s a dream come true. And it turns out the devs themselves are also much happier with this approach.
I spoke to art director Dion Rogers, narrative designer Kyungseo Min, and hero designer Piero Herrera about just how excited they are to be able to drip-feed new content via this model.
Rogers notes “one of the biggest things going into Overwatch 2 was that we needed to be able to iterate the game much more quickly than we did before. We’ve spent a lot of time working on tools and workflow so that we’re actually able to do this.
“It was a bit difficult to do it in the first game,” he laments. “Obviously we could do it, but just not as rapidly as we’d have liked… We can try so many more ideas now, and not lose a tonne of time. It just makes building the world more fun – it was pretty fun before, now it’s extra fun.”
Herrera elaborates: “As a designer it’s a dream come true. Being able to script and see it in-game in a mere six or so seconds just adds to the overall agility of providing new content, so I love it.
“We’re a lot happier that we get to release content a lot more often with the new model, because we have so many ideas and, on the heroes team, we’re prototyping new mechanics all the time and we want to bring those out to the players. Now that we’ve expanded our team, we’re basically allowed to provide more new things.”
The relationship between new content and Overwatch has been strained for more than a year now, with the only additions to the base game being two FFA maps. While these new locations look gorgeous, they attract a specific breed of player, leaving everyone else feeling left out in the cold and, more importantly, hungry for anything shiny and new.
As long time fans continue to flock to the likes of Valorant, OW2’s battle pass and free-to-play system could be its saving grace. Not only does it modernise the game, the constant stream of fresh loot seems like the perfect way to combat those much hated content droughts.
If you’re looking to brush up on all things OW in advance, be sure to check out our Overwatch 2 tier list to pick your new main, and as well as out breakdown of the Overwatch 2 system requirements to make sure you’re popping heads in style.