Overwatch 2 devs explain how new heroes will work in competitive & debunk ranked rumors

Overwatch 2 heroes bpBlizzard Entertainment

The Overwatch 2 devs have revealed how competitive play will function now that new heroes will need to be unlocked and why they’re letting players compete in ranked without owning every character.

Overwatch 2 will be introducing a Battle Pass that will instantly unlock new heroes, leaving free players grinding to unlock them on the free track, using Coins, or by completing challenges in upcoming seasons.

When this news first broke following leaks, the community was split and felt that some players having access to new heroes could create a competitive advantage, but the Overwatch devs have a plan in place.

Unlike the original Overwatch where heroes could be played in ranked right away, OW2 will be locking them for a bit for some major balancing adjustments.

kiriko ow2 bpBlizzard Entertainment
Players can grind for heroes on the free track of the Battle Pass.

Overwatch devs reveal ranked changes with new heroes

Speaking with Dexerto, Overwatch Game Director Aaron Keller explained that new heroes will be locked out of competitive for “several weeks” after their release at the start of a season.

“We want to be able to have time to just balance the hero before it enters competitive. We want to be sure the hero is not grossly overpowered or undertuned at that point,” Keller said. “We also want to give players the chance to earn the hero as well.”

That said, even if a player doesn’t have every hero unlocked, they can still play in ranked. While some might take an issue with their teammates not having access to every option, the devs aren’t worried about this.

Posing an example, Keller further said that a player coming into Overwatch 2 a year from now, they will still be able to catch up.

“In order to even qualify for our competitive system, you have to put a decent amount of hours into the game. So, if you start Overwatch in October of 2023, by the time you’ve unlocked ranked, you ought to have most if not all of the heroes unlocked and available to you.”

Overwatch 2 ranksBlizzard Entertainment
Overwatch 2 is adding new skill tiers in place of SR.

Overwatch devs respond to “must pick” hero concerns

Keller credits the change to 5v5 and ability reworks to keep “hard counters” to a minimum and is less integral on hero swapping to deal with certain threats.

“When you look at the data of how often people switch heroes and how many heroes they typically play at one point, the majority of our players play a relatively small number of heroes and when they do switch, we believe it’s a hero they’re familiar with, effective with, and having fun with,” he added.

Overwatch Commercial Leader Jon Spector also noted how the team is actively trying to make it so no hero becomes a “must pick.”

Using the Overwatch League as an example, Spector referenced how Junker Queen was enabling a powerful meta and how the team immediately got to work adjusting her to be more balanced.

junker queen in ow2Blizzard Entertainment
The Junker Queen was very powerful in beta and needed to be nerfed.

“That’s the type of thing we’ll be doing with future hero releases as well,” he said.

Only time will tell how effective the new system is at mitigating balance concerns, but we won’t have much longer to find out.

Overwatch 2 launches October 4 on PC, Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo Switch.

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