'Overwatch 2' will sport all-new character designs
Blizzard Entertainment confirms that "Overwatch 2" heroes will have a new look on top of the new game modes, maps, and other add-ons. Photo: Blizzard

With the "Overwatch 2" release date finally arriving in less than a week, fans of the original game are understandably very excited about getting their hands on the new game. However, gamers new to the franchise might find it a bit harder as they will need to put in more effort to catch up to older gamers who already have existing accounts in the original game.

New players need to play 100 matches to unlock original characters

The good thing about the upcoming game is that it will seamlessly carry over the accounts of players in the original game. Thus, when "Overwatch 2" is released next month, they will still have access to the characters in the original game.

The bad news for players new to the game is that they will have to exert extra effort just to unlock the characters found in the original game. In fact, they will need to play 100 matches to unlock all of the original characters, according to IGN.

"New players begin with access to a limited set of game modes, heroes, and some other restrictions to onboard them more gradually," Blizzard wrote in a blog post. "The first phase of our new [First Time User Experience] rapidly unlocks all the game modes and the ability to chat in-game, and the second phase unlocks all the original Overwatch heroes over the course of approximately 100 matches."

Pacing new players so they won't get overwhelmed

There's a good reason why Blizzard opted to have the game's modes and heroes gradually unlocked for new gamers. This is to prevent these players from getting overwhelmed with too much to learn, which is very understandable considering that each hero has a unique set of abilities and counters that need time to master.

"This focused experience eases new players into the world of Overwatch by teaching them about different modes, rules, and other high-level aspects of the game in an approachable way," the developer added.

Fortunately, these restrictions won't be in place in competitive mode, which allows new players to still team up with their friends and try out heroes they haven't unlocked yet. "Competitive is the exception to this rule because new players must complete a specific challenge to access this game mode," Blizzard explained.

Phone numbers are now required for both new and old players

There is a new requirement in place that will affect both new and old players. "Overwatch 2" will require each player to provide a phone number with a new system called SMS Protect that is aimed at combating cheating and disruptive behaviour.

"Starting October 4, 2022, all players across all platforms, including consoles, are required to have a phone number attached to their battle.net account to launch Overwatch 2," the company said. "The same phone number cannot be used on multiple accounts at the same time, and players can't use the same phone number to create multiple accounts. A phone number can only be used once when making a new account, and certain types of numbers, including pre-paid and VOIP, cannot be used for SMS Protect."

"Overwatch 2" is slated for release on October 4, 2022.