The short answer is: No, Overwatch 2 is not free for owners of the original Overwatch. However, existing Overwatch 1 players will receive some exclusive benefits in Overwatch 2.
Overwatch 2 is the upcoming sequel to Blizzard‘s popular hero shooter Overwatch. Originally announced in 2019, Overwatch 2 will introduce new heroes, maps, game modes and PvE co-op experiences.
The biggest change is that Overwatch 2 will be free-to-play when it launches on October 4th, 2022. This means anyone can download and play the core PvP multiplayer mode without paying anything upfront.
However, Overwatch 1 owners will not get the PvP portion of Overwatch 2 for free. The original Overwatch was a paid game that retailed for $40-$60 depending on the edition.
So if you want to play Overwatch 2 PvP, you‘ll need to install and download it even if you own Overwatch 1. The good news is all your progression and unlocks will carry over thanks to the shared progression system.
What do existing Overwatch 1 players get?
While the PvP portion of Overwatch 2 is not free for Overwatch 1 owners, they do get some exclusive perks:
Founder‘s Pack – This includes 2 Overwatch 2 Legendary hero skins, a player icon, weapon charm, and Battle Pass access for Season 1. You had to own Overwatch 1 before June 23, 2022 to qualify.
Automatic Account Merging – Your Overwatch 1 cosmetics, unlocked heroes, player level etc will merge seamlessly into Overwatch 2.
Free Access to Kiriko – Kiriko is the new support hero added in Overwatch 2. She is instantly unlocked for all merged Overwatch 1 accounts. New players have to grind to unlock her.
So in summary, you don‘t get Overwatch 2 itself for free if you owned the original. But you do get bonus cosmetic items, guaranteed hero access, and the ability to carry over your existing progression.
Do I need to purchase Overwatch 1 to play Overwatch 2?
No, you do not need to buy or own Overwatch 1 in order to play Overwatch 2.
Since Overwatch 2 is free-to-play, anyone can download and play it without needing to own the original Overwatch. New players can simply create a Battle.net account, install the game client, and jump right in.
The only things you miss out on by not owning Overwatch 1 are the Founder‘s Pack bonuses mentioned earlier. But you can still play the core PvP experience without any purchase required.
Will my progression carry over from Overwatch 1?
If you owned Overwatch 1, your skins, sprays, emotes, player level, competitive rank, unlocked heroes, and other progression will carry over into Overwatch 2 automatically.
This progression merge happens thanks to the shared multiplayer environment between the two games. Your cosmetics and unlocks are tied to your Battle.net account, so they persist between titles.
To enable the progression merge, simply login to Overwatch 2 using the same Battle.net account you played Overwatch 1 with. After your accounts are merged, all eligible cosmetics and progression data will be present in Overwatch 2.
If you played Overwatch 1 on a console like PlayStation or Xbox, you‘ll need to link that console account to a Battle.net ID in order to carry over your progress.
What content from Overwatch 1 is missing in Overwatch 2?
While your progression and most cosmetics carry over, there are some pieces of Overwatch 1 content that will be unavailable in the sequel:
Loot Boxes – No more randomized loot boxes for cosmetic rewards. Overwatch 2 uses a seasonal Battle Pass system.
Assault Maps – Assault game mode maps like Hanamura have been temporarily removed from rotation. They may return later reworked.
Map Pool Changes – Certain original Overwatch 1 maps have been reworked or removed from the pool, at least temporarily.
6v6 Elimination – Only 5v5 formats exist now. The 6v6 elim mode doesn‘t exist currently.
So while you retain all your skins, sprays, player levels etc, the overall structure and format of the game has changed. This means saying goodbye to some old maps, modes and mechanics from the original.
Will Overwatch 1 servers shut down?
Yes, the original Overwatch 1 game servers will be permanently shut down on October 2nd, 2022. This is one day before Overwatch 2 launches on October 4th.
Once the Overwatch 1 servers go offline, the only way to play will be by installing, downloading and launching Overwatch 2. So you won‘t have the option to stick with the original game if you prefer it.
This also means any Overwatch 1 promotional events still running will end on October 2nd along with the shutdown. After that date, Overwatch 2 will be the sole available game going forward.
How is Overwatch 2 different from Overwatch 1?
Here are some of the major changes and differences between Overwatch 2 compared to the original:
5v5 Format – Teams now consist of 1 tank, 2 damage, and 2 support heroes instead of 2-2-2.
New Heroes – Overwatch 2 adds Sojourn, Junker Queen and Kiriko so far, with more upcoming.
New Game Modes – Push has been added. Assault modes have been temporarily removed.
Free-to-Play Model – No more upfront cost to purchase. Monetization is through a seasonal Battle Pass system.
Updated Engine – Visuals and audio completely overhauled. Matches look and sound much better.
Shared PvE – New story missions and Hero Missions PvE co-op coming post-launch.
Redesigned Maps – Existing maps have been aesthetically upgraded and rebalanced around 5v5.
So at its core, Overwatch 2 provides the same heroes and competitive 6v6 PvP action as the original. But lots of updates both big and small work together to give a significantly updated gameplay experience overall.
Should I buy the Overwatch 2 Watchpoint Pack?
The Watchpoint Pack is a $40 optional purchase that gets you:
- Exclusive Legendary Overwatch 2 Soldier 76 and Cassidy skins
- Season 1 Premium Battle Pass + instant access to Heroes Kiriko and Junker Queen
- 2000 Overwatch Coins (~$20 value)
- Overwatch 2 Player Icon
This pack is not required to play Overwatch 2. The core PvP multiplayer mode is free for everyone. But the Watchpoint Pack is a good value for longtime Overwatch fans who want bonus cosmetics and instant hero unlocks.
If you don‘t care as much about cosmetics, you can save your money and just play for free. But for those invested in the game, the Watchpoint Pack is a worthy upgrade.
You had to purchase it before October 4th to get the Soldier 76 Legendary skin however. After launch, it will only come with the Cassidy Legendary.
Overwatch 2 Review and Recommendation
Overwatch 2 makes smart updates that improve upon the original while keeping the core fundamentals intact. The shift to 5v5 changes the strategy in interesting ways. Heroes like Doomfist and Orisa feel completely revamped. New maps like Circuit Royal and Midtown are standout additions. And the graphics, sound and visuals are all significantly upgraded.
However, the switch to free-to-play means having to earn heroes through Battle Pass grinds or pay up. Content draughts between seasons are also concerning. Still, the tight 5v5 gameplay produces some of the most strategic and competitive matches yet. Overwatch 2 shakes up the formula just enough to feel fresh again.
For existing Overwatch fans, merging your progression from the original game is quick and seamless. The upgrades are absolutely worth checking out if you‘ve loved Blizzard‘s hero shooter up until now.
And for new players, Overwatch 2 removes the price barrier to entry and provides an approachable starting point to jump into the action. Just know that grinding or paying for unlocks will be part of the process.
Overall, Overwatch 2 successfully leans into what makes the franchise so enjoyable while evolving in logical ways to stay relevant. The change to free-to-play will keep the player base thriving for years to come.