Overwatch 2 just kicked off its fourth season, which brings a new support hero into the shooter’s expanding roster. The newest addition to Blizzard’s online multiplayer game is Lifeweaver, Overwatch’s first Thai hero and first canonically pansexual hero. The game is also introducing a new sci-fi-themed battle pass and event, while also bringing back a recent event mode, in addition to balance changes and updates to the game’s competitive mode.
Here’s what you need to know know about season 4.
Season 4 battle pass and Starwatch event
In addition to a new support hero, the next battle pass introduces a new series of cosmetics themed around a space opera, complete with an evil empire and opposing forces. This extra sci-fi version of Overwatch is called Starwatch, and players will be able to compete in a 4v4 Starwatch event in May, pitting the Infinite Empire against the Watchers, with different heroes belonging to different factions. The event runs May 9-22.
A new season means a new balance patch, and the support hero Brigitte is at the forefront. Brig’s ultimate ability gets a makeover, giving her an enlarged shield and the ability to stun with her shield bash. The developers said the goal is to help the hero “be more engaging and powerful when she is using the ultimate.”
Mercy’s recent changes are being reverted, meaning she’ll be getting back some mobility while also losing her healing boost for targets below half health. The tanks Sigma and Reinhardt got nerfs alongside the damage hero Cassidy — all aimed at slightly nerfing their lethality. Ashe also got a “bug fix” that prevents her from building ultimate charge while B.O.B. is on the battlefield, which is a meaningful nerf.
Competitive and matchmaking
Competitive players rejoice: Ranks no longer reset at the end of the season. And now you’ll be able to see the lobby’s average skill rating when competitive matches start. Post-match, players will see their win/loss record and get an indication of how close they are to the next skill tier division. The latter is a particularly welcome change, as it will finally give us some indication of whether we’re on the cusp of ranking up or still have a ways to go.
Lifeweaver launch date and abilities
Lifeweaver is a part of the season 4 battle pass, which started on April 11. He’s a utility-focused support who focuses on keeping teammates alive and providing additional mobility options to allies. Here’s what his kit looks like:
Primary weapon: Healing Blossom. Hold primary fire to charge a healing burst and release to send the burst to your targeted ally.
Secondary weapon: Thorn Volley. Unload a series of projectiles at a rapid fire rate. Note that Lifeweaver has to swap between weapons like Mercy with her staff and blaster.
Petal Platform. Place a platform on the ground that raises as soon as a hero (from either team) steps on it. Jump at the apex of the lift for an extra aerial boost. The petal can be destroyed by Lifeweaver or by damage, and it can be hacked.
Rejuvenating Dash. Make a small leap in the direction you’re moving and gain a small self-heal.
Life Grip. Yoink a targeted teammate to your location. Think of it like a Roadhog hook that targets and protects allies.
Passive: Parting Gift. When Lifeweaver dies, he drops a gift that restores a large amount of health to an ally or a small amount to an enemy — whoever grabs it first.
Ultimate: Tree of Life. Construct a tree that heals immediately upon cast and periodically for as long as the tree stands. The tree blocks line of sight and can be damaged by fire and destroyed by Sombra’s EMP.
Overwatch 2 has been working on building out its support roster, which has had relatively few options compared with the tank and damage roles. The game added Kiriko at launch in October, Lifeweaver joined roster in April, and a recent developer blog post confirmed that the new hero for season 6 (roughly August) will also have a support role. Put another way: Overwatch 2 will add as many support heroes in its first year as the game did in the previous five years. These additions will give support players more variety in the heroes they can play and the ways they can contribute to a team composition.
CNET had a chance to hear directly from the Overwatch developers in media interviews ahead of the hero’s announcement. They fielded a lot of questions about the potential to abuse Lifeweaver’s teammate-moving abilities, as too many of us have started a match by being walled off in our own spawn room by a trolling Mei. They said the game has some detections in place to prevent, say, your team’s Lifeweaver deliberately pulling you off the map. Mobility abilities such as Tracer’s blink will also cancel the effect of Life Grip, giving players some additional control. And both the Petal Platform and Tree of Life can be canceled if they’re accidentally used at an inopportune time.
Lifeweaver’s kit looks like it’ll reward creative uses, like using Life Grip on an ally during their ultimate to change the angle of attack or dropping a Petal Platform to hide allies in strategic and unexpected locations. But the charge-up nature of his healing also means you have to anticipate when your team will need it. The developers also confirmed that Lifeweaver’s primary healing doesn’t scale as it charges — it’s either fully charged, or uncharged, which is confusingly different from how the ability looks on screen (gaining numerical charge as it charges up).
Lifeweaver lore and more
Lifeweaver was roommates with Symmetra at the Vishkar Academy, where she learned how to master hard light constructs. But that tech turned out to be a little too rigid for him, and he eventually went on to create his own technology, biolight. Whereas Vishkar wanted to control the technology, Lifeweaver wanted to use it to improve the world, so conflict ensued, and he went on the run, eventually winding up at the Atlantic Arcology — a nation-independent location hinted at in the Esperança map. The devs wouldn’t say much more about the Atlantic Arcology, other than the fact that the hero Torbjörn spends some time there.
In terms of personality, Lifeweaver is confident, warm and interested. The developers said to look out for various flirtatious lines as Lifeweaver lets most of the Overwatch cast know how great he thinks they are. (This sounds like the perfect setup for a full-fledged Overwatch dating sim.) It’ll be interesting to see who in the roster returns that interest.
In terms of gameplay, the developers said their aim was to design a hero who was easily accessible, especially to new players. They cited Mercy as inspiration, wanting a hero that was less mechanically demanding than Zenyatta’s aim or Lucio’s movement. That philosophy seems to fit with Lifeweaver’s utility-centric design, but we’ll find out exactly how things play out now that the new season is live.