As I have written in the past, I love playing the support class in multiplayer games. You can read more about my views on the support class and MOBAs in my articles: Teemo Support: is support a class or a playstyle?, and Team Games: roles and respect. Something about providing protection and utility to a team fight is far more engaging to me than simply dealing damage.
Lucio is an exciting character developed in Blizzard‘s FPS MOBA Overwatch and has recently made an appearance in their PC MOBA Heroes of the Storm. I had played him in Overwatch and found his kit to be lackluster, yet when I played him in Heroes of the Storm he seemed downright overpowered and a ton of fun, so what changed?
Lucio remains constant with two standout characteristics, he is extremely mobile, and produces supportive effects via an aura; meaning he does not directly apply the healing and speed boosts in his kit, but rather they emanate from him in an area of effect. However some key differences between the two game types, FPS and a traditional MOBA, lead to parts of his kit feeling weak in one and overpowered in the other.
Shooting and Damage
In a first person shooter the game’s primary mechanic is shooting, thus the primary skill the player develops is marksmanship. Even though the expectation of the Support / Healer class in Blizzard’s FPS / MOBA hybrid Overwatch, is that they use their characters kits to alter the flow of gameplay, there is still a necessity to deal damage using their weapon.
Naturally, the support class features firearms and weapons that deal significantly less damage than their damage focused counterparts to balance their strengths in the other aspects of their kit, such as healing and utility. However, this means that if they miss their shots or only land a few with their weaker weapon they will be far less effective in combat than other classes such as those focused on dealing damage.
This is one area where the difference in game type benefited Lucio more in his second incarnation. Although he has a weaker weapon the change from dealing damage via marksmanship in Overwatch to auto-attack (attacking via clicking a target and having a character attack them automatically until they exit their attack range) in Heroes of the Storm does wonders to show off the power of his mobility. In Heroes of the Storm Lucio can literally skate circles around his target while attacking them non-stop which helps to make up for his low damage output.
In Overwatch the vertical space and gaps lead to a dynamic environment to wall ride across. It is an advantage that far surpasses simply moving quickly that he already boasts with his passive Speed Boost track and allows him to circumnavigate spaces with ease and dexterity that other characters lack.
However, within Heroes of the Storm that vertical space is lost, so translating the Wall Ride mechanic becomes a challenge. They translate Wall Ride into a flat boost to speed that can help add to his mobility, but in no way modifies his traversal to the extent that it does in Overwatch, and ends up feeling gimmicky as opposed to impactful to gameplay.
The final major difference that I noticed between playing Lucio in Overwatch and Heroes of the Storm had to do with the power of his aura based skill Crossfade, which the player toggles to either heal their teammates or give them a movement speed boost.
In Overwatch it can be difficult to discern which of your teammates are within the aura and how to keep them safely within it. Due to the twitch gameplay, players are constantly getting in and out of team fights or simply staying away from them as is the case with snipers or assassins. This means that it is often the case that the player can really only engage with one or two of their teammates at a time and that roaming alone is rather ineffective.
However, in Heroes of the Storm the horizontal limitations of the maps, the same ones that lessen the impact of the Wall Ride mechanic, actually make it much easier to keep more of your teammates within your aura of influence. That coupled with a clear UI indicator of your area of effect makes it significantly easier to know where and how your will impact the fight and how to position yourself to maximize the positive effects you impart upon your teammates.
Crossing over to a better Lucio
Lucio is incredibly fun to play in Heroes of the Storm and almost feels custom made for it due to his extremely impactful kit within team fights and controlling objectives. He can roam through the map with ease and quickly help his teammates get to and from team fights as they erupt, all while engaging in objectives along the way, helping to chase down enemies caught alone or helping a weakened teammate escape. In Heroes of the Storm Lucio’s skills simply play a much larger role and is noticeable not only to the players themselves but also their teammates.
Do you enjoy playing Lucio? What do you think of how he plays in Heroes of the Storm vs in Overwatch? Do you think Blizzard did a good job in translating his playstyle from a FPS MOBA to a traditional PC MOBA? I welcome discussion on this topic and if you have experiences of your own you wish to share please respond to the thread for this article, or talk to me through my email or any of my social media: email@example.com, Facebook, Twitter.
Play Professor is the blog of ludologist and video game journalist Andrew Mantilla. You can check out more of his content on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube.