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Overwatch 2: How to Download and Set Up SMS Protect

Here's what you know to to jump in and get started with Overwatch 2.

Sojourn, Doomfist and Junker Queen standing under Overwatch 2 logo
Here's how to get started with Overwatch 2.
Blizzard

Overwatch 2, the sequel to Blizzard's class-based hero shooter, is finally here. The game removes one tank from PVP gameplay and adds a new battle pass system to the game. Eventually, the game will also feature new story missions, though those won't be coming until next year. 

First announced at BlizzCon 2019, Overwatch 2 represents a big shift for the series. The sequel fully commits to a live-service, free-to-play model where the game continually receives new content, in the form of seasonal content with new heroes, new maps and major balance patches each season. This model is an attempt by Blizzard to fulfill the original promise of Overwatch.

Bastion removed from Overwatch 2

Before you jump in, note that the hero Bastion has been temporarily taken out of the game due to a game-breaking bug that gave him an overpowered ultimate ability. Torbjorn is also removed from competitive play while the developers fix a bug that allowed him two uses of a single-use ability. The heroes are expected to be available again once the bugs are fixed.

How to download Overwatch 2

If you own the original Overwatch, the sequel is available to you as an update (admittedly a very large update -- about 50GB on PC and 30GB on console), which means you don't need to download a separate game. Just go to the game, check for updates, and the Overwatch 2 update should begin to download immediately.

New players can download the game by searching for Overwatch 2 on Battle.net or the Nintendo, PlayStation or Xbox online stores.

How to set up SMS protect

Blizzard has shifted from its original stance that all accounts would need a verified phone number in order to launch the game. Blizzard originally stated that "certain types of phone numbers, including prepaid and VOIP, cannot be used for SMS Protect." The decision, which was intended to combat cheating and other disruptive behavior was criticized for leaving new and existing players behind: Of US adults ages 18-29, 38% have a prepaid plan, according to YouGov data

The day after Overwatch 2 launched, a community manager posted a status update blog saying, "We have made the decision to remove phone number requirements for a majority of existing Overwatch players. Any Overwatch player with a connected Battle.net account, which includes all players who have played since June 9, 2021, will not have to provide a phone number to play."

However, any Overwatch accounts that are not linked to a Blizzard account will still need to link their account to a phone number, as will new players. The blog post says this measure help protect the community against cheating.

You can enable SMS Protect by logging into your Battle.net account, going to Account Details > Phone Number and entering your phone number. Click Continue and you'll receive a verification code via text. Enter the code and your account will be verified. 

Is Overwatch 2 free-to-play?

Overwatch 2 is free to download and play. You can acquire the season one premium battle pass for 1,000 credits (a $10 purchase), and buy cosmetics in the shop with that same currency. If you've bought the Watchpoint Pack (available on PC, Xbox, PlayStation and Switch), you'll automatically unlock the premium battle pass and receive some legendary skins and 2,000 credits -- enough for two more premium battle passes. If you don't unlock new heroes in the battle pass where they debut, they'll be purchasable in the shop or unlockable through future challenges.

Overwatch 2 release time

Overwatch 2 launched on Oct. 4, and servers came online around 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT. It's available on PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, PS5 and Nintendo Switch. 

Overwatch 2 server issues

Launch day was rough for Overwatch 2. The game was hit by two distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, according to Game Director Aaron Keller, exacerbating server stability issues that are common with new game releases. As a result, players were waiting in queues tens of thousands of people long just to get into the game, and once they were in, they were getting kicked out of matches and sometimes out of the server entirely -- stuck back at the end of the queue. The situation started to resolve the day after launch, but it was a difficult start for the game.

For more on Overwatch 2, check out our early impressions of the sequel and what you need to know about hero unlocks.