Director's Take - A continued look at Lifeweaver
Last Director's Take, we talked about the state of Lifeweaver and the changes that we were making to the hero in order to strengthen him. They had a positive effect but didn't do nearly as much as we had hoped. We're going to continue that topic again this week. I'd like to look at what some of those changes accomplished, what we think he's missing, and some possible solutions we're looking at for the hero.
Over the last few weeks, we've made a number of buffs, tweaks, and modifications to Lifeweaver. In short, we modified his control scheme, making it more fluid and intuitive, and we buffed him across several different categories. We upped his healing ammo capacity, tightened the spread on his weapon, and buffed his ult. We saw a lift in his win rate across the game. At the lowest skill tiers, it was hovering around 45% but quickly dropped off at higher skill ratings.
The effects we thought these changes would have were difficult to work through since they coincided with the modifications to his control scheme. It's a little easier to estimate the sort of effect that a number change will have on a hero's performance, but estimating the power that comes from a more fluid control scheme is harder to do. We weren't sure how much it would change the hero's win rate, but we think we have a great base to build off of. Let's look at what some of those changes resulted in.
We increased the ammo capacity on his healing to provide higher throughput and increased the amount of healing that his ult does - this worked. He has one of the highest healing outputs in the game, including the highest at some skill tiers. This aligns with our vision for the hero, and we’re happy with where he’s at. We also tightened the spread on his weapon, but this only marginally raised his kills and eliminations (you have to squint to see this change in our charts). Along with these stats, another piece of the puzzle is that Lifeweaver has one of the lowest, if not the lowest, death rate for support heroes in the game. This might seem like it runs counter to some of the commentary online that his hitbox is too big, but he is still taking a consistent amount of damage - in the middle to upper range of other supports.
So, we have a support hero that has one of the highest healing rates and one of the lowest death rates in the game. That should be good, right? Overwatch is more than the raw numbers that get assigned to a hero’s weapons and abilities. Players need a reason to pick one hero over another. For Lifeweaver, those reasons are supposed to be his utility abilities. Life Grip and Petal Platform both can be game-changing abilities, but they’re also inconsistent. When they work right, they can change the state of a fight, but many times they are waiting to be used or just not being used well, either by Lifeweaver or his team.
When it comes to future changes for Lifeweaver, here's what we are thinking. We want it to be clearer why players may select Lifeweaver over other heroes. If your current hero pick isn't working for some reason (whether it be the map or enemy team comp), what's a strong incentive for swapping to Lifeweaver? We may make other changes along the way, such as lightly buffing his Thorn Volley and reducing hit volumes, but ultimately, we'll have changes targeted at further pronouncing Lifeweaver’s strengths and clearly defining his role on your team. This could be leaning harder into his healing effectiveness through a new passive or bringing additional benefits to some of his utility-focused abilities. With a defensive-based hero, we have to be careful how far we go in terms of buffing raw healing and defensive abilities - too far can negatively disrupt the overall flow of an engagement. These are some of the early things we're iterating through, hope to have our next set of changes ready for Season 5.
With these changes, it's our hope that Lifeweaver will rise to his proper place among the heroes in Overwatch 2. Looking forward, the next Director's Take will be on a different subject, something a little more future-facing.
As always, thanks for reading. See you in game!