Overwatch 2's Latest Hero Is Going to Start a Class War

Overwatch 2's Latest Hero Is Going to Start a Class War
Apr 2023

[photo1]Eric Ravenscraft"There's no way this doesn't get removed," my resident tank main told me. He was getting his first glimpse of Overwatch 2's latest hero, Lifeweaver. The floral-themed character is the latest in the Support class, and his kit looks like it could be one of the most transformative the game has seen in a while. But one ability made my tank nervous.Like a lot of new heroes, most of Lifeweaver's abilities are variations of mechanics that are already in Overwatch 2. Petal Platform lets him create a pad that lifts allies and enemies into the air. A dash moves him out of the way and heals himself a bit. Interestingly, when he dies, he drops a consumable that can heal allies or enemies, which could make his death even more consequential than that of most healers.But it's the ability called Life Grip that caught the attention of my friend Tercius, the tank main I regularly play with. Life Grip lets Lifeweaver grab an ally and pull them toward himself, temporarily making them invulnerable along the way. It's a perfect tool to save a hero from falling off a cliff or getting caught in an enemy Rip-tire.It's also the first time in Overwatch's history that a teammate--especially a support hero--could forcibly relocate an ally. And if my team's arguments are any indication, that small change could fan the spark of a long-simmering class war in the Overwatch community into a raging fire.This content can also be viewed on the site it originates from.Overwatch 2 is a game that's built on teamwork. It doesn't matter how good your aim is; if your team can't help keep you alive, you can only carry so much. This means not only that it's imperative for

allies work together, but also that they don't have much ability to sabotage each other. There's no friendly fire, you can straight-up walk through teammates, and most abilities can't actively impede your team.I say most because ... well, everyone who's played Overwatch knows what it's like to get trapped by Mei's wall inside spawn. Or have their ultimate blocked by a poorly timed wall. Occasionally, a friendly Mei's wall could be useful, like to lift an ally to high ground, but frankly an enemy Mei's wall can be just as accidentally handy. Lifeweaver's pull, on the other hand, seems so much more dangerous."I swear to God, as soon as I get flamed by a tank, I am swapping to this guy and ruining that tank's day," our team's Moira main said when first learning about Lifeweaver's abilities.[photo2]Reece Rogers[photo3]Tyler Colp[photo4]Will BedingfieldSure, Blizzard's teaser video shows Lifeweaver saving an ally from falling off the edge of the map. But you could just as easily pull back an overextending tank--whether they want you to or not. It's a leash with a 20-second cooldown. Every so often you can yank a teammate back, like a parent grabbing their child before they run out into traffic.But ... you could also use this to put someone in danger, right? Well, yes and no. The very first thought I had upon seeing the ability is that I could grab my own tank and drop them in a hole. However, the devs are one step ahead of me. Unlike Roadhog's hook, Life Grip will only pull an ally to solid ground. And if there's no solid ground nearby (like if he's about to fall into a hole himself), then the ability is simply disabled.Rosalind MoranCharles PlattAlden WickerWIRED StaffThis alone dramatically reduces the deliberate troll potential of the ability. But it's not zero. After a bit of practice in a game against bots, I was able to occasionally pull an ally into a pit on purpose, without dying myself, but it was clearly something I wasn't meant to do. However, this only applies to pulling an ally into an environmental kill.It's impossible for the game to prevent Lifeweaver from, say, pulling an ally out of cover and directly into a Widowmaker's line of fire. Or, like so many clumsy Mei, accidentally ruin a teammate's ult by snatching them out of position. On that note, characters that can't move during their ultimate, like Pharah, Bastion, and even Reaper, can be pulled during their ultimates. Which could go very well or very poorly.The brief period of invulnerability Life Grip offers helps mitigate the potential harm, similarly limiting its troll potential, but it's not a panacea. Anything a Lifeweaver could pull their ally away from is something he could pull them into. D.va's bomb, Junkrat's tire, Mei's blizzard, Rein's shatter, Zarya's grav.It's not a question of whether your team's Lifeweaver is going to get you killed. It's a question of when and how often.Depending on your role in Overwatch 2, you might have very different reactions to the sentence above. If you're a tank, like Tercius, there's a possibility you haven't stopped grumbling since first hearing about this. (Even after explaining to Tercius the safeguards in place to prevent Lifeweaver from dropping him into a hole, he still adamantly dislikes the new ability.)On the other hand, if you're a support main like me, you might finally feel a sense of balance for the first time in your Overwatch career. I have more hours with Mercy than any other character. (And to stave off the inevitable smears on my honor: Nerfing Guardian Angel was fine, you whiners.) And I'm well versed in the idea of another character's decision getting you killed.To understand the problem, we have to acknowledge an unspoken dynamic in Overwatch, which is that the roles are not created equal. There's a soft hierarchy for who gets to decide when and how to engage in a team fight. Put simply, a tank can rush into a fight and a support can grudgingly follow, but it's very difficult for a support to fall back from a fight they know is lost and convince the tank to disengage."Yeah, but that's your choice," Tercius told me, referring of course to my decision to save his Reinhardt-ass when he charges into a losing battle. "Life Grip isn't my choice. It removes my agency." (Tercius is actually a great Reinhardt and rarely does this, but I have to vent my frustration with Quickplay tanks somewhere.)Rosalind MoranCharles PlattAlden WickerWIRED StaffThe worry--which, admittedly, our Moira main shared, though to a lesser extent--is that forcibly moving players without their consent has, until now, been something only enemies could do. Being manhandled by your allies is new. And it's not always clear to everyone whether falling back or stalling out a point is the right call. I'll admit that we've won some games specifically because my tank refused to fall back when I thought they should.As a support, I'm naturally lower in the decisionmaking hierarchy. This is something I could nurse a grudge about, as I sit back knowing there's only so much I can do to save a tank or DPS that's rushing in alone. But it's also my job. To support. And, as much as the Mercy in me is pained to admit it, I see Tercius' point. While I feel dragged into a losing battle that gets me killed, it's still always me pressing W when I see my tank in danger. However, Overwatch 2 game producer Kenny Hudson thinks this won't be as much of an issue as my team is worried about. "When I was playing tank and I would get Life Gripped back, I could always tell why I was getting pulled back--when I noticed where the rest of my team was and how far back I was getting pulled."The idea that a tank will learn a valuable lesson and more thoughtfully consider their positioning when Lifeweaver pulls them back might sound nice. For anyone who's played a lot of Quickplay, it might also sound hopelessly naive. A good support will only pull their teammates away when it's beneficial, and a good tank will appreciate the save rather than scream at the healer who dared to question their decisionmaking.But Overwatch 2 isn't a game that's exclusively played by good teammates. Bronze exists for a reason.Which is perhaps what makes Lifeweaver's kit feel so viscerally controversial. In a small way, a support character is clawing back some of the decisionmaking power that's typically held by other roles. And no one in the world makes worse decisions than the randos that Overwatch 2's stupid matchmaker puts on your team.