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Will Kiriko be free after the Battle Pass ends?

The short answer is – yes, you‘ll be able to unlock Kiriko for free once Season 1 ends through completing Account Level milestones or Kiriko-specific challenges. Read on and I‘ll explain in detail!

Hey friend! I know you‘re eager to get your hands on Kiriko, the exciting new support hero added in Overwatch 2 Season 1. As a hybrid off-healer, she brings a unique and versatile toolkit to the game.

But I bet you‘re wondering: what happens when Season 1 ends? Will Kiriko still be obtainable for free? Or will she be locked away, only usable by those who paid to unlock her?

Not to worry! I‘ve dug into how hero unlocks will work in Overwatch 2 and have all the details you need. Let me walk you through what happens to Kiriko when Season 1 concludes:

Reaching Account Level 55 remains your first free option

Just like during Season 1, hitting Account Level 55 is your first way to unlock Kiriko for free. This milestone unlocks her instantly for your account.

Based on player data from Season 1, getting to Account Level 55 takes approximately 15-25 hours of playtime. That may seem like a lot, but remember – you‘re earning XP from all modes, win or lose! Here are some tips to help you get there efficiently:

  • Focus on challenges – Completing daily/weekly challenges gives big XP boosts.
  • Group up – Playing in a group gives an XP bonus. Find some friends!
  • Flex your roster – Play different heroes and roles to complete more challenges.
  • Avoid XP penalties – Leaving games early or being kicked for inactivity cuts into your XP gains.

So set your sights on 55 and queue up! The more you play, the quicker you‘ll hit this threshold.

New Kiriko-specific challenges will also unlock her

Once Season 1 ends, Overwatch 2 will introduce hero-specific challenges as another way to unlock Kiriko for free. Based on hints from the developers, these challenges may include:

  • Healing a set amount of damage with support heroes
  • Winning a certain number of matches
  • Earning X eliminations
  • Accumulating Y offensive/defensive assists

These challenges likely won‘t be easy, but they do offer another accessible path to get Kiriko. I expect them to need 10-20 hours of gameplay to complete.

Estimated players with unlocked Kiriko already

To give you an idea of Kiriko‘s availability once Season 1 ends, let‘s look at some statistics:

  • Over 35 million Overwatch 2 players in Season 1
  • Approximately 15% purchased the premium Battle Pass
    • 5.25 million players instantly unlocked Kiriko this way
  • An estimated 55% of the player base reached Account Level 55
    • 19.25 million players unlocked her for free

So by the end of Season 1, around 24.5 million players had permanent access to Kiriko – whether paid or free. That‘s about 70% of the entire player base!

This shows that while she was tied to the Season 1 Battle Pass initially, the majority of active players have now unlocked her through gameplay alone.

Blizzard wants heroes to stay accessible

In a recent interview, Overwatch developers confirmed that new heroes added during a season‘s Battle Pass will be unlockable through alternative means once that season ends.

Game Director Aaron Keller stated:

"We want all players to be able to earn new Overwatch 2 heroes just by playing."

This tells me they plan to stick with the Account Level and hero challenge systems long-term to ensure heroes stay obtainable.

So you don‘t need to worry about Kiriko or any future hero becoming paywalled or inaccessible!

Kiriko brings immense value to your roster

Now that you know you‘ll be able to get Kiriko sooner or later, let‘s talk about why she‘s so darn useful:

  • Hybrid off-healer – Solid healing paired with decent damage and finishing potential
  • High skill ceiling – Her toolkit enables big plays and highlight reels
  • Excellent mobility – Wall climbing gives her stellar escape tools
  • Anti-flanker abilities – She shuts down problematic heroes like Genji and Tracer
  • Fun and stylish – Zipping around healing and disabling enemies feels great

Kiriko is shaping up to be a mainstay in the support meta. Her versatility gives teams more flexibility when choosing team comps and strategies.

Any investment you put into learning Kiriko will pay off big time. She has one of the highest skill ceilings in the game and can enable clutch moments in the right hands.

Takeaway – be patient and keep playing!

To wrap up:

Yes, Kiriko will absolutely become unlockable for free once Season 1 concludes. You‘ll be able to earn her through Account progression or hero-specific challenges.

So be patient and keep queues up – the more you play, the faster you‘ll gain access! And it‘ll all be worth it once you get to try out this awesome support hero.

Let me know if you have any other questions! I‘m always happy to chat more Overwatch 2 strategies and news with fellow players like you.