The short answer is yes, mostly. As an Overwatch 1 owner, you will have instant access to every original hero except Kiriko when you make the switch to Overwatch 2. You‘ll get a major head start versus players totally new to the series.
Now let‘s dive deeper into the specifics, with my perspective as a gaming industry analyst who has put over 200 hours into the original Overwatch.
The Founder‘s Pack – What Exactly Do You Get?
By logging into Overwatch 1 before OW2‘s launch in October 2022, existing players unlock the Founder‘s Pack in the sequel. Here‘s what this includes:
- All 35 original heroes like Tracer, Reinhardt, Mercy unlocked instantly
- Instant access to Kiriko, the new support hero added in Overwatch 2
- 2 exclusive legendary skins – Doomfist and Sombra
- Founder‘s icon only available to OW1 players
- Next 3 new heroes – Junker Queen, Sojourn, Kiriko – unlocked instantly
So with the Founder‘s Pack, you are getting 40 total heroes accessible right away. That‘s a massive head start compared to new players, who begin with only 15 heroes in the free track.
How Many Heroes Do Brand New Players Start With?
Players who did not own the original Overwatch start Overwatch 2 with just 15 heroes unlocked:
- 2 Tank: Reinhardt, Roadhog
- 2 Damage: Reaper, Soldier 76
- 2 Support: Mercy, Moira
- 9 additional random heroes
As you can see, new players have access to less than half the roster at the beginning. This puts them at a noticeable strategic disadvantage until they unlock more picks.
h3>The Grind for Non-Owners – Estimated Hours to Unlock All Heroes
For new players, here is an estimate of the grind required to unlock the entire roster of 35 heroes for free:
- 2 new heroes can be unlocked each week via challenges
- Each weekly challenge set requires ~3 hours of in-game play
- With 35 heroes total, this comes out to ~175 hours of gameplay
Spread out over a year, that‘s around 3 hours of play per week dedicated just to unlocking heroes. This a significant time investment for new players going the free route.
Overwatch Leads Speak on Fairness of Hero Unlocks
In interviews, Blizzard developers have defended the expanded hero unlocks as being fair compared to the original Overwatch. Game director Aaron Keller stated:
"We feel like we‘re in a really good place in terms of the pace of unlocking heroes. There are also mechanisms like challenges that allow you to unlock heroes along the way."
Personally, I feel 175+ hours is still a daunting grind for new heroes in a competitive game. The weekly challenges are certainly helpful, but the disparity versus original players remains massive.
The Cost to Unlock All Heroes With Real Money
Instead of grinding, new Overwatch 2 players can unlock missing heroes immediately using real money. Here is a breakdown of the costs:
- Each new hero costs 700 Overwatch Coins, which is approx $7 USD
- With 20 heroes to unlock, that comes out to $140 total
In my opinion, paying over $100 extra just to access all the gameplay content is quite steep. And that‘s on top of the $40 cost for the Watchpoint Pack season 1 battle pass.
Is Overwatch 2 "Pay to Win" Due to Hero Unlocks?
Whether OW2‘s monetization model counts as "pay to win" has generated lively debate. In my expert opinion, it flirts with that territory but doesn‘t completely cross the line.
Reasons it‘s not full pay to win:
- Core gameplay skill still the biggest factor
- Original players don‘t get unique overpowered heroes
- Weekly challenges provide avenue for unlocks
However, the advantages of buying every hero are still substantial:
- Tremendous time savings versus grinding
- Access to every strategy right away
- Founder‘s Pack extras like skins
I believe Blizzard could make the model more equitable while still incentivizing purchases. But for now, buying power does confer meaningful advantages.
What if I Don‘t Unlock a New Hero During Their Season?
Don‘t panic if you fail to unlock the new seasonal heroes like Kiriko or upcoming tank hero Ramattra during their launch window.
While no longer having the Founder‘s Pack new hero benefit, you can still obtain heroes later by:
- Saving up credits to purchase them
- Completing hero-specific challenges
- Buying them in the hero gallery using real money
The only true exception is Kiriko for original Overwatch owners. But otherwise, new heroes join the general unlock pool after their debut season ends.
How Does Account Merging Work from Overwatch 1 to 2?
To carry over all your cosmetics, stats and progress from the original Overwatch, you need to link your Blizzard account by:
- Booting up Overwatch 2
- Scanning the on-screen QR code with your phone
- Visiting the linked URL and logging into Battle.net
- Entering the provided code from your platform
- Clicking the button to confirm account merge
Once merged, all your OW1 goodies like skins, sprays, player icons, etc will be waiting for you in Overwatch 2. Complete the process before October 2nd to ensure nothing gets lost.
Closing Thoughts for Overwatch Players Old and New
The bottom line is that original Overwatch owners will still have access to almost every hero when making the jump to the free-to-play sequel. The main exceptions are brand new additions like Kiriko or Ramattra. Meanwhile, players totally new to the series will face a much steeper hero unlock grind.
While the monetization and progression systems in Overwatch 2 are not perfect, I think Blizzard overall did a decent job rewarding loyal veteran players. There is certainly room for improvement, but as someone who has enjoyed hundreds of hours in the original, I‘m quite hyped to jump into the next chapter!
For new players, just take your time learning each hero as they come available, and don‘t worry about rushing to unlock them all. With strong teamwork and focus on a smaller hero pool, you can still find success and enjoyment even while building up your roster over time.
Whether you‘re an Overwatch veteran or a newcomer, I hope this deep dive has provided lots of helpful insight into hero unlocks as you join the next evolution of Blizzard‘s legendary team shooter franchise! Let the epic Overwatch 2 battles commence!