Overwatch 2’s first openly pansexual hero takes the spotlight in a reveal interview with Lead Narrative Designer Gavin Jurgens-Fyhrie, Senior Tech Artist Chonlawat (Takki) Thammawan and Hero Design Producer Kenny Hudson. To begin, let’s get a glimpse into the backstory of the new plant-based support hero, Lifeweaver.
Hailing from Chiang Mai, Thailand, Niran PruksaManee (Lifeweaver) grew up in a well established family, with a love of all living things. He spent much of his youth going to botanical festivals and learning the art of mending plants alongside his family’s gardeners. His family sent him to learn at the Vishkar Architect Academy, where he met Satya Vaswani (Symmetra). Using his family’s wealth to travel the world, he witnessed the struggles of others and gained a new goal of healing the world. With this determination, he developed a new technology named Bio Light, a blend of organic matter and hard light that has the potential to heal grave wounds in mere moments. Lifeweaver’s ambition was to provide this breakthrough freely to the world, though the corporate structure of Vishkar wanted the tech for themselves. Refusing to back down from his dream, he is now a fugitive on the run, from both Vishkar and other yet unknown dangerous entities.
Not only will Lifeweaver be the first Thai character represented in Overwatch 2, but he will also be the first openly pansexual hero. “As somebody who grew up in Thailand, I’m really glad to see that we don’t just have the first character to represent Thai culture, but also a character that represents diversity in how an individual wants to express themselves,” says Thammawan. The devs also stated that they worked hard to ensure that this character wasn’t perceived just as a label, but that this represented their personality. “The ‘open’ part was very important to everyone we consulted. I’m very happy to say that it’s something we are making part of his core character… You’ll see that reflected in his in-game lines, his conversations and other material,” said Jurgens-Fyhrie.
After getting to know a bit about Lifeweaver, let’s dive into his gameplay alongside developer insights regarding his new Support kit.
Lifeweaver’s primary fire is Healing Blossom, where he is able to charge up a healing burst, which can then be sent to a targeted ally. The amount of healing is binary, meaning that the healing doesn’t ramp up depending on the charge. “If you don’t charge it one-hundred percent, there’s no sliding scale. Seventy-five percent doesn’t give seventy-five percent of the maximum heal,” explains Hudson. The devs believe this is something players will need to take some time getting used to, with this new style of healing being introduced.
His secondary fire is Thorn Volley, a rapid-fire spread of projectiles which can be toggled in similar fashion to Mercy swapping to her pistol. “With healing blossom being such a charge-up time investment primary fire, we felt that it was best that Lifeweaver had something to defend himself,” said Hudson.
Lifeweaver’s kit is not all about healing though, and brings unique utility abilities to the Support roster. The first of which is Petal Platform, a throwable that rises into the air once an ally or enemy steps onto it. With this ability, Lifeweaver is able to bring his team to new heights for a high ground advantage, or move an enemy out of position. “It really is exciting how much he can change the map, not just for himself but also for his team,” said Jurgens-Fyhrie.
The second utility ability in his kit is Life Grip, which allows for Lifeweaver to pull an ally towards their location, while also giving them a protective bubble. This can be used in many different scenarios, such as rescuing a teammate from a fall, getting a tank out of danger, or even used in tandem with other abilities such as Pharah’s Barrage. The devs understand that an ability that can displace your allies has the potential to annoy your teammates, and have implemented solutions to combat this. “The person being Life Gripped can use a movement ability, like Moira Fade or Tracer Blink, and they would get out of the Life Grip ability. Most characters have some control if they don’t want to be life gripped,” states Thammawan.
Not only will Lifeweaver be able to grant new mobility to his allies, but he also has a movement ability for himself as well. Rejuvenating Dash allows Lifeweaver to perform a short rush in whichever direction he is moving, while also healing himself for a small amount. This ability will boost his survivability, and give him more options during duels.
Surprisingly, this character also has a unique passive called Parting Gift, that drops a gift on death that can be picked up and heals the receiver, regardless of whether they are an ally or an enemy. Hudson explains, “the passive actually came up in playtesting and was one of those cool developments like, ‘wouldn’t it be cool if’ moments.” When asked further about an ability that has the potential to aid the enemy, Hudson continues, “when an enemy picks up the petal that drops, it heals for the same value as a small health pack, whereas a friendly will receive healing similar to a large health pack. There’s some tuning in there to limit the advantage that you’re giving your enemy, but still make it fun to play.”
Finally, his ultimate ability is Tree of Life, which sprouts a tree that continuously heals allies within its radius. The tree itself also acts as a piece of cover, with the trunk of the tree blocking shots and movement. Thammawan explains, “it’s very similar to Mei’s Ice Wall.” The team also joked that the development of this ability was tougher than usual, and that they fought hard to keep the ability from being changed. Thammawan continues, “it can clip into a lot of things, so the environment team really hated it…so we came up with the ‘tree strike team’ to come up with solutions to save the ability because we loved it so much.”
When asked about where the devs estimate the skill floor/skill ceiling of this hero to land, they said that one of their goals with Lifeweaver was to make him easily accessible to players of all levels. “Lifeweaver can be dangerous in certain hands while still being effective with newer supports,” says Hudson. Rather than being a mechanically difficult hero, Lifeweaver’s difficulty seems to stem from having a greater understanding of the game itself, and the flow of a match. Thammawan follows up, “It may look like Lifeweaver doesn’t need a lot of skill to play because he doesn’t need to aim in general, but he is a very decision based character. A lot of the mastery involves when to use abilities, what to do during the prep of the fight, and put his teammates in better positions.”
Lifeweaver will be available in the Battle Pass when Season 4 launches on April 11th, 2023.
Corvo is a writer who loves to explore journalism through video games. Writing and editing reviews for triple-A games and indies alike, he finds his passion within expressing his experiences in a fair and accurate manner. Some of Corvo's favorite games are Destiny 2, Mass Effect, and Disco Elysium.