DJ Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Playing Heals
In Overwatch, Lucio presents something of a conundrum. Every team needs him, but almost no one wants to play as him. Almost every time when I get into competitive solo-queue, I’ll wait until the last second to select my hero and, no one having selected him, I'll take on the job myself.
There are a few plausible reasons for this. Overwatch is a shooter and it would follow that shooting is why most people get into it. Lucio’s main contribution, however, is not shooting. Other support heroes fall victim to this (except arguably Zenyatta) but none are as indispensible as Lucio. His AoE heal on its own is pretty good, but combine that with the utility of his speed boost, his game-saving ultimate ability and wrap it all up in a shifting and hard to hit character model, and you have a suite of utilities that no other hero can replicate. It's why in nearly every major update has tried to either nerf Lucio or boost other supports. But no matter how Blizzard tries, the Brazilian Bard is still a must-pick on every pro team.
Solo-queue is a different story. In a perfect world, players would be quarreling over who gets to play as Lucio, not who has to. In this one, the overwhelming majority of Overwatch players are more interested in landing impressive killstreaks and making play of the game than making the largest possible contribution. Illogical team comps are just part of the deal when you play solo-queue though. To get around the frustration of being stuck in this role, I had to look more closely at what can make maining Lucio more fun. Here’s what I came up with.
1. His movement mechanics are a game unto themselves
Several heroes have movement abilities ranging from warps, horizontal climbs, enhanced jumps, teleports et al. Lucio’s is a wallride that is more akin to a horizontal climb. It can also be chained on multiple surfaces which opens up a host of vertical movement options. With a little practice and imagination, this can open up the entire map. Combine this with his speed boost and it’s reminiscent of the web-slinging mechanics in Spider-man 2 (also, how perfect would a Miles Morales skin be?).
2. Survival is his gift
At a paltry 200 hp, Lucio is one of the squishier heroes in Overwatch. Similar to Tracer though, his mobility makes him much harder to kill than it would seem. Between wall riding, speed boosting, self-healing, and a shifting hitbox, Lucio can dance around enemies in ways Tracer or Genji can only dream of. This can almost give him tank-like survivability for contesting points, drawing fire, and using his secondary fire to knock enemies out of position. I’ve managed to contest payloads solo against 4+ players for 15-20 second stretches, more than enough time for teammates to catch up. In competitive matches where every second and/or meter counts, this can win games.
3. Who says he can’t be deadly?
It takes a bit more practice than more direct heroes such as Mcree or Pharah, but in the right hands and with a proper grasp of how to use his kit (attrition, not burst) Lucio can actually rack up quite a few eliminations. Sure he’ll never be able to shred tanks a la Reaper, but most offensive heroes can’t even do that. Plus, every so often you’ll be in that perfect place to land multiple environmental eliminations with a single button press, and those moments are pure gold.
Collaboration is a great thing, maybe the greatest thing people are capable of. Different abilities and talents applied towards a common goal can accomplish great things. Moments like these are some of the most rewarding things about playing Overwatch a being a skilled Lucio can make you a part of more of those than any other hero.