Overwatch 2 Kiriko using her ultimate to buff Hanzo and Genji

[Update #2]: My Overwatch 2 review is now out, and to put it simply it's a terrible sequel, though thankfully a terrific game!

[Update]: Overwatch 2 is removing the phone number requirement for all veteran players.

Unlike its predecessor, Overwatch 2 will be a free-to-play game which necessitates a drastic change in how player progression works in order to ensure the matchmaking is not overrun by smurfs (people intentionally playing in much lower skilled matches) and other similarly problematic individuals. Yet at the same time Overwatch 2 needs to be accessible and approachable to completely new players, which is a rather tricky balance to strike.

In an effort to solve this conundrum, Blizzard will be making it so new accounts have go to through a guided First-Time User Experience (FTUE), on top of winning 50 Quick Play matches, before being allowed into Competitive Play. While the exact details are still few and far between, the FTUE will quickly give players access to a variety of game modes along with the ability to chat, while the full roster of the original Overwatch heroes will need to be unlocked over the course of ~100 matches.

Needless to say, this FTUE system has both advantages and disadvantages. The disadvantages are obvious as new players will need to invest a considerable amount time into Overwatch 2 before reaching parity with veteran players. So even if someone was extremely skilled and won every game, they'd still need to very slowly unlock all of the heroes before being allowed into Competitive Play.

Overwatch 2 Battle Pass Season 1 screenshot of the new legendary tier skins

Hero swaps are also an important part of Overwatch 2's gameplay strategy

On the positive side, the heavily guided and extended tutorial will likely be of great help to genuinely new players as it'll slowly introduce them to different game modes, rulesets and heroes. This should help make those initial dozen hours with Overwatch 2 a lot less overwhelming, and with a bit of luck, encourage new players to experiment with different heroes over simply sticking with what is familiar. Additionally, given the sheer amount of required games to join Competitive Play, the matchmaking should have a pretty good impression of what the player's skill really is before throwing them to the digital wolves.

Personally, I'm on the fence about this. I understand what Blizzard is doing, and I get how much it'll benefit Competitive Play by making the whole process unbearably tedious for veterans, but I also can't help but feel like new players will just grow frustrated by having to wait to unlock their favorite heroes.

I specifically started playing the original Overwatch because Genji's wall-climbing ability looked really cool, and if I wasn't allowed to play as him for dozens of hours because he's considered a high skill hero, I would've been rather cross with Blizzard... and that's putting it lightly. As such, I really do hope for everyone's sake that Blizzard has found a way to balance things in a way that will benefit both beginners and veterans alike.

Whether that will actually be the case, I suppose we'll find out in the near future as Overwatch 2 will be launching on October 4th for PC and consoles. Once it does I'll make sure to let you know, but until then I'd recommend reading a little bit more about the fox-themed support hero Kiriko, Overwatch 2's Battle Pass plans, as well as the first round of balance changes.