Essentially, players can use Kiriko as a model of what to expect from the upcoming Overwatch 2 heroes grind. As detailed in a blog post, Kiriko, and, by extension, all future heroes, is locked behind the battle pass. Players who want to earn Kiriko (and again, all future heroes) for free will be in it for the long haul since she is the Tier 55 reward. Each tier requires 10,000 XP, and weekly challenges will only dole out 5000 XP permission. During an interview with Eurogamer, Jon Spector, commercial lead of Overwatch, said that “hardcore” players should unlock Kiriko in a matter of weeks, while more casual players might take the entire season, which will last nine weeks. Plus, anyone who groups up with friends will receive a 20% XP boost, which gives players an extra incentive to queue up with people they know.
Anyone who wants to unlock Kiriko faster can skip ahead with the Premium Battle Pass, which instantly makes her available, but that is where the cost of free-to-play games rears its head. In order to purchase a Premium Battle Pass, players need to spend 1000 Overwatch Coins, which is Overwatch 2’s premium currency. These coins are available in the cash shop where players can buy 1000 for $10. Alternatively, gamers can earn the coins by completing weekly challenges, but this is capped at around 540 coins per month (assuming a player completes all of the weekly challenges every week) So while it is possible to earn a Premium Battle Pass, it takes almost two months to do so. On the bright side, odds are anyone who grinds enough Overwatch Coins to buy a pass will probably earn the new heroes in the process.
The shortcuts don’t stop there, though. Seasoned Overwatch players will receive a free Founder’s Pack along with Overwatch 2, which, when redeemed, nets them Kiriko. Of course, the mere prospect of stashing heroes behind battle passes raises an important question: What happens if a player can’t unlock Kiriko (and by extension future heroes) by the end of the Season? In that unfortunate scenario, Blizzard will provide an additional challenge for the season, and anyone who completes it will receive the previous season’s hero. Plus, these characters will go on sale in the game’s cash shop. If you’re familiar with the way Apex Legends handles its new heroes, you should have a pretty good idea of how that system works in Overwatch 2. If anything, Overwatch 2 is arguably a bit more generous (if only a bit).
For what it’s worth, don’t actually need to unlock heroes to play as them through the Practice Range, Custom Games, No Limits, Mystery Heroes, and Mystery Deathmatch modes (as well as certain special event modes). However, anyone who wants to use Sojourn in Competitive will have to log in during Season One, and you will need to unlock those heroes the hard way if you want to use them in Overwatch‘s main modes.