The Overwatch 2 team has just revealed the game’s newest hero: a Support character named Lifeweaver. While many Overwatch 2 fans were initially thrilled to hear that the game was finally getting a new healer, the first details of Lifeweaver’s functionality have quickly raised concerns that he may be bad for the team-based shooter’s overall health.
At a glance, Lifeweaver appears to be a fairly standard Overwatch Support hero. He has access to basic healing and damage skills as well as a kit filled with powerful (and unique) support abilities. For instance, Lifeweaver can summon a platform that allows other players to launch themselves into the air. He even drops a special “healing pack” upon his death. However, the big twist with those abilities is that they can be interacted with by both the enemy team and Lifeweaver’s allies. That means that a Lifeweaver player can launch opposing players into optimal positions and drop healing packs for them. While such things can happen unintentionally, they could also theoretically happen intentionally.
It gets better (or worse, depending on where you stand). Lifeweaver can also pull quickly pull allies towards him via a kind of mystical lasso known as Life Grip. The idea is that this ability will allow Lifeweaver to quickly rescues teammates from danger. Crucially, though, the player being pulled towards Lifeweaver has no real say about the matter. Lifeweaver can pull whoever he wants, whenever he wants, and the player being pulled seemingly has no way to interrupt or decline the action.
You’re probably starting to see the problem. Well, so does the Overwatch 2 team. In an interview with PC Gamer, design producer Kenny Hudson said that “In terms of trolling, we do have some controls over where Life Grip can be cast from, and it’s doing some detection to make sure that you’re not doing something really bad like dragging someone into a death plane off the side of the map or something like that.” He also added that the team tested Lifeweaver internally and found that “we actually saw a lot of heroic saves with Life Grip, especially if you have an over-extending tank or something like that.”
It’s nice that the Overwatch 2 team was wise enough to prevent Lifeweaver from being able to straight-up kill one of their teammates, but the rest of that statement reads like wishful thinking.
Anyone who has played Overwatch with random players knows that you will have to occasionally put up with trolls on your team. How common such trolls are is a matter of debate and internal statistics, but it seems fair to say that they’re common enough to eventually turn some people off from playing the game at all. If those trolls are able to queue into a match as Lifeweaver, they will immediately have access to tools that allow them to not only directly sabotage their team but potentially help the opposing team. We already saw such things happen with Mei’s ice walls, but those were more of an annoyance compared to what Lifeweaver can seemingly do from the valuable Support role.
“Ok, I hear you,” you might be saying. “But can’t a troll player simply sabotage a match now by choosing to do nothing?” You’re right, but that’s the other interesting thing about Lifeweaver’s design. It’s not only the most troll-friendly Hero design in Overwatch history (at least on paper), but it’s a design that can negatively impact the game even if when a Lifeweaver player means well.
Consider that “over-extending tank” example that Hudson provided. It sounds good, but what qualifies an over-extending tank? More importantly, who classifies an over-extending tank? It’s not unheard of for an Overwatch player to be incorrectly critical of another player’s performance. Now, a Lifeweaver player who may be unfairly critical of a teammate’s performance can negatively impact the outcome of a game in the name of “trying to help.” Even if they’re sincere in their desire to do so, the results of their actions will remain largely the same.
We’ll be able to see just how impactful Lifeweaver is when the hero is added to Overwatch 2 on April 11th. Such as it is, though, it certainly seems like Overwatch‘s worst teammates may have found their best character.