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Yes, Kiriko is Free for Overwatch 1 Players in Overwatch 2

If you owned Overwatch 1 prior to its shutdown in October 2022, you gain instant free access to the new support hero Kiriko in Overwatch 2. This instant unlock is a core benefit of the Overwatch 2 Founder‘s Pack that all OW1 veterans receive.

For new Overwatch 2 players without the Founder‘s Pack, Kiriko must be unlocked through leveling up the free Battle Pass. This guide will cover all you need to know about unlocking Kiriko from the perspective of both returning OW1 players and new OW2 players.

Overwatch 1 Veterans Get Rewarded with Instant Kiriko Access

When Blizzard made the decision to pivot the original Overwatch game into the free-to-play Overwatch 2, they wanted to reward the loyal player base who bought and played OW1 over the years.

Enter the Overwatch 2 Founder‘s Pack – a bundle of perks like skins, icons, and instant hero unlocks given to all OW1 players for free when transitioning to the sequel.

The Founder‘s Pack ensures that you as an OW1 veteran can access the new support hero Kiriko immediately upon booting up Overwatch 2. No level grinding required.

According to Blizzard, this instant access is to "memorialize the dedication of existing Overwatch players." It‘s a nice gesture that recognizes your time investment and ownership of the original game.

As a fellow OW1 player myself, I appreciate being able to jump right into playing Kiriko. It lets me learn her abilities and experiment with team synergies right away in OW2‘s new 5v5 format. Having that instant familiarity with the new support hero is valuable.

The OW1 player base spent years mastering the original 30+ heroes. So having to grind extensively just to access one new hero in OW2 would have felt punitive. Thankfully, the Founder‘s Pack lays out the welcome mat for us veterans.

What Else is Included in the Overwatch 2 Founder‘s Pack?

Along with instant access to Kiriko, the Founder‘s Pack also grants OW1 players:

  • Soldier: 76 Overwatch League Legendary Skin – Features team colors and logos from all the inaugural OWL seasons
  • Sombra Overwatch League Legendary Skin – Also displays the inaugural OWL season logos
  • Overwatch 2 Player Icon – Identifies you as an OW1 veteran

These cosmetic items create a nice added bonus on top of the Kiriko unlock. The two legendary skins pay tribute to Overwatch League‘s history and are valued around $20 worth of credits. And the player icon visibly flags your OW1 credentials to others.

For OWL fans, the two skins may actually be more exciting than the Kiriko access itself. But most OW1 players agree that instant Kiriko unlock is the primary perk here.

Grinding to Unlock Kiriko as a New OW2 Player

If you‘re starting fresh in Overwatch 2 without the OW1 Founder‘s Pack, the requirements to unlock Kiriko are different. You‘ll need to reach level 55 by grinding through the free track of the Overwatch 2 Battle Pass.

Based on estimates from players during Season 1, expect to take 15-20 hours of match time to hit level 55. This translates to around 1-2 weeks of regular play for most.

Here‘s an approximate Battle Pass progression breakdown per week for new OW2 players:

Progression SourceLevels per Week
Weekly Challenges12 levels
Match XP10 levels
Total~22 levels

As you can see, you‘ll likely need to grind for 2 full weeks from when you start playing OW2 in order to unlock Kiriko for free.

Alternatively, you can instantly unlock Kiriko by purchasing the premium Battle Pass for 1000 Overwatch Coins, which costs $10. This lets you skip the grind if you want immediate access.

But either way, the process of unlocking Kiriko as a new player requires a hefty time or money investment compared to the instant access OW1 vets receive.

The Value of Instantly Having Kiriko Available

Why does it matter so much whether you instantly have access to Kiriko or need to grind 15+ hours to obtain her?

Having Kiriko immediately available allows you to start integrating her into your personal hero pool right away. You can develop game sense and skill with her abilities through hands-on experimentation.

This gives OW1 players a leg up in terms of taking full advantage of Kiriko‘s potential.

For example, during the first few weeks of OW2 Season 1, I was able to start using Kiriko‘s Swift Step ability to escape Zarya‘s Graviton Surge ult. This was only possible because I already had practice using Kiriko‘s kit.

New players without instant access are left playing catch up. By the time they finally unlock Kiriko after the grind, OW1 vets already have a mastery advantage.

Put simply, having a new hero available immediately allows you to maximize their impact. You can tailor team compositions and strategy around their abilities rather than waiting weeks to integrate them.

How Other New OW2 Heroes Are Unlocked

For reference, here is how Overwatch 2‘s other two new heroes work in terms of unlock requirements:

  • Sojourn (Damage) – Available instantly for all players by default
  • Junker Queen (Damage) – Available instantly for all players by default

So Kiriko is the only new OW2 hero that has a gated access model. Both damage heroes Sojourn and Junker Queen are instantly unlocked.

This puts the importance of Kiriko‘s instant unlock for OW1 players into further context. Support mains who owned OW1 can immediately use Kiriko while damage players have access to both new damage heroes already.

If Kiriko was also instantly unlocked for all, this advantage for OW1 support mains would not exist. The Founder‘s Pack gatekeeping essentially protects their access.

Why Can‘t I Play Kiriko? Addressing Unlock Confusion

Based on widespread player reports, there seems to be significant confusion around why Kiriko remains locked for some Overwatch 2 players.

Here are some potential reasons why you may not have access to Kiriko even if you own OW1:

  • You did not merge your OW1 account with your account before June 2022
  • You played during OW2 beta or early access but did not meet requirements for permanent unlock
  • You primarily played OW1 on a shared console account that did not qualify for Founder‘s Pack
  • You purchased a new copy of OW1 after the June 2022 cutoff for Founder‘s eligibility

If you are certain you owned Overwatch 1 prior to June 2022 and had your accounts merged, I recommend reaching out to Blizzard support. They should be able to confirm if your Founder‘s Pack entitlement is missing.

Providing your ID and any past OW1 purchase information will help them troubleshoot and hopefully resolve the issue.

Kiriko‘s Playstyle and Tips for New Players

Once you do eventually gain access to Kiriko either instantly as an OW1 player or through level 55 grind, you‘ll want tips to excel with her.

Kiriko is a high-mobility support who specializes in healing and enabling flanking heroes who dive into the enemy backline. Here are some tips to leverage her unique abilities:

  • Use Swift Step frequently to reposition and remove debuffs from yourself
  • Look for opportunities to cleanse teammates of stuns and anti-heals using Protection Suzu and Kitsune Rush
  • Wall Climb to access unexpected vertical off-angles to surprise enemies
  • Follow your flanking Genji, Reaper, Tracer etc. and support them with Ofuda kunai heals
  • Prioritize saving low-health allies with well-timed Protection Suzu invulnerability
  • Don‘t hold your Kitsune Rush ultimate too long – it charges very quickly

Within a few hours of practice, you‘ll have the basics of Kiriko‘s abilities down. But it will take many matches to fully optimize using her toolkit and unlock her highest potential value.

Parting Thoughts from an OW1 Veteran

As someone who invested hundreds of hours into the original Overwatch game over its lifespan, I personally appreciate the instant Kiriko unlock for OW1 players. It serves as a nice gesture of recognition from Blizzard.

That being said, I can understand some new OW2 players feeling frustrated at the grind gatekeeping. There is validity around wanting all players regardless of OW1 ownership to have immediate access to new heroes.

But for myself and many other OW1 vets, we are thankful to transition into OW2 without losing progress or having to re-grind too much. Instant Kiriko access streamlines the upgrade process.

I hope this guide helped explain the Overwatch 2 Founder‘s Pack perks and specifics around unlocking Kiriko as both a returning and new player. See you in the next match!



Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.