This Overwatch free weekend is the best time ever to try out Blizzard's charismatic shooter

Overwatch's Brigitte offers you a hand up.

Overwatch is celebrating its second anniversary for the next few weeks, and it's opening the party to all with a free weekend from Friday, May 25 through Monday, May 28. This is hardly the first opportunity Blizzard has given players to try the game for free, but it is far and away the best one yet. Why? Because the Overwatch Anniversary event is much more than just a collection of new skins and dances - it's an all-access tour to almost everything that has kept the game fresh over the last two years.

First off, you'll get a special Legendary Loot Box just for logging into Overwatch during the Anniversary event. True to its name, the box is guaranteed to include at least one Legendary item from across Overwatch history. And that brings me to the second coolest thing about Overwatch Anniversary this year: you can unlock skins, emotes, highlight intros, and everything that would otherwise be time-limited to other seasonal events. Normally, new players scrolling through the Hero Gallery would be greeted with walls full of stuff that they simply could not get, possibly for the better part of the year. Not during the Anniversary! And yes, it will all transfer over if you ever decide to buy the game.

The Overwatch roster as of May 2018.

It's even better if you're already a dedicated player. Still regret not picking up Witch Mercy and Jingle Tracer during their respective events? If you have the credits to spend - or if you get lucky with a loot box pull - they're all yours. FOMO alleviated. Now the actual, number one coolest thing about this year's Overwatch Anniversary - it's a grand tour of event-exclusive arcade modes!

These are the modes you'll be able to try out during the free weekend:

  • Friday: Yeti Hunt
  • Saturday: Uprising
  • Sunday: Retribution
  • Monday: Lucioball

I've played all of them - honestly, I spend more time in Overwatch's Arcade section than any other part of the game - and can confirm that's a nice selection. It's a good balance of unusual PvP modes with the 5v1 Yeti Hunt and soccer-like Lucioball, and intense co-op modes with both Uprising and Retribution. Personally, I'd swap Uprising with Junkenstein's Revenge, the delightfully corny Halloween co-op event, to give new players a broader selection of the various Overwatch flavors. But I also appreciate the roughly chronological approach Blizzard is taking.

If you're on PS4 or Xbox One, you can start pre-loading Overwatch ahead of the free weekend right now. For your reference, the specific hours of the free weekend are from 11 am PDT / 2 pm EDT / 7 pm BST on May 25 to 11:59 pm PDT / 2:59 am PDT / 7:59 pm PDT on May 28/29. And if you decide you liked it enough to keep playing, you can grab Overwatch Legendary Edition for $20 off until June 5.

Looking for more stuff to play without spending a dime? Check out our list of the best free games.