Lucio is the Overwatch Meta
Likening Lucio’s playstyle to that of a conductor feels like an apt metaphor. The smoothness of his motion, the ability to bring out the best in his orchestra, or in the case of his teammates, and of course his music. Lucio is a conductor who puts the other members of his team on display, simply being an enabler for his allies to seek glory.
Lucio still takes a fair share of the spotlight for himself. He has defined the professional metagame better than any other hero for a reason that is both obvious and difficult to explain. Simply put, Lucio has the most powerful hero design in the game; a design filled to the brim with raw power while retaining extreme flexibility. Lucio is a hero who brings music to all.
Supports being combat worthy is not a new concept, especially in this Zenyatta meta. But whereas Zen fights with a maul dealing crushing blows, Lucio wades into battle armed with a rapier and fights with more finesse. His left click is an odd delayed four shot spray with long travel times. Using the delayed pattern of fire, Lucio can start firing from behind cover and quickly peek a corner, allowing two or three shots to get downrange in safety. When you also acknowledge that Lucio does not suffer damage falloff at any range, you realize that Lucio can contribute to harassing the enemy at any distance which allows for quicker ultimate charging.
However, the main two parts of his kit that make his combat involvement so unique is his right click and passive. His alternate fire so lovingly nicknamed "The Boop" pushes back all enemies in front of him several meters. Of course, we have all seen the highlight clips of Lucio players knocking entire teams off the ledge, and yes, it can be used for environmental kills, but the more consistent use is to create space. When used against enemy tanks like Reinhardt or Winston who find their way into the backline, it can allow Lucio’s allies to escape the range of their weapons and further exploit any mobility they have.
Lucio's skates characterize his movement. He does not stop immediately and instead glides to a stop. But much more interestingly and perhaps illogically, they allow him to run along walls, slowly ascending as he goes. On many maps, this allows Lucio to escape from less mobile foes or bring his auras into battle with his allied flankers. Notable on many king of the hill maps, this skill allows him to continually contest the point while rapidly moving at odd angles to survive, possibly extending overtime or simply healing a bit more.
His combat is much safer than other supports. Able to shove away or evade threats, Lucio requires less assistance from his team to survive, allowing them to focus on moving forward.
They say music heals the soul, but Lucio takes it a step further. Healing is an absolute necessity in Overwatch. The ability for a character to attempt a frag, take damage, and have their mistake erased is immensely powerful. Lucio just happens to be one of the best at this.
On a single hero, Lucio can only heal 12.5 health per second, or 40 health per second when he amps up. But a key strength in his healing is the fact that it heals all nearby allies. This puts his theoretical healing up to a potential 260 HP per second, which is second only to Zenyatta’s ultimate, which rests at a potential 1500 health per second.
However, the primary strength of Lucio’s healing is that it happens passively. The Lucio player does not have to stop firing at his foes to target allies to heal. Instead, the player can switch to or amp up their healing without ever interrupting their firing with other animations. This allows Lucio to approach a much more ideal balance of damage and healing than other supports, notably Ana.
Unlike Lucio’s multitasking ability, Ana has to interrupt her damage output to heal her allies either by shooting them or throwing a Biotic Grenade. The obvious benefit is that Lucio gets more uptime on both healing and firing than Ana. However, the forgotten benefit is that it allows a skilled player extra awareness of the game. Lucio can keep his attention on the positioning of his enemies more than any other healer, who also has to be aware of where their allies are to heal them. Putting more mental ram into where his aggressors are also contributes to Lucio staying alive longer than most supports.
Name a single team game where the ability to move faster than your opponents is not useful. Go ahead. Seriously try and think of one. Moving faster than your enemies can grant you favorable map positioning and increase the time you have to react to incoming fire. Conveniently, Lucio has the ability to speed up all nearby allies if he chooses to quit healing, boasting a 30% speed increase when he toggles to speed and amping up to an unbelievable 112% increase.
Lucio’s ability to speed up his allies is easily the most powerful ability in the game and has always been a defining factor in the meta of Overwatch. Before the hero limit was enacted, teams ran two Lucios to extend the duration of their speed boost. When Widowmaker rained death from her perch, teams utilized Lucio to close on her and bring her down. Now, teams add Lucio speedboost onto their diving Winston for him to wreak havoc on the enemy backline, while the DPS players surge forward to clean up.
Lucio's movespeed boost is the ultimate enabling ability. It enables divers like Winston and Genji to reach their targets in the backline significantly easier and counteracts the slow Deadeye places on McCree, allowing him to position properly in order to eliminate as many foes as possible. But even scarier, it allows a team who begins winning a fight to chase. McCree now is able to run into range to flashbang. Reaper easily reaches an optimal distance for his shotguns to rip foes apart. Picking off stragglers at the end of a fight is a key factor in snowballing a game as it extends the time your enemies are forced to play at a man disadvantage.
Perhaps the single most powerful factor of his speed boost is the ability to neutralize positional advantages held by defenders. Generally in Overwatch, the defending team is given time to establish the positions they want to hold from, usually on high ground. What Lucio enables his team to do is close onto the opponent's much quicker, thereby mitigating the advantage gained by holding defensive positions.
The ability to so rapidly approach the defending team is a primary reason why the meta is shifting towards favoring the attacking team. The threat of a Winston boosted by Lucio speed, Zarya shield, and Zenyatta healing forms a highly mobile damage dealing machine.
So much of winning an engagement comes down to which team coordinates around their Winston diving better. This dive meta only facilitates clean up heroes who are required to push the advantage after an initial engagement. Lucio’s speed boost enables both the divers and the clean up teams to excel at their jobs. But, this movement speed is just one component of his enabling.
What do all meta supports in Overwatch have? The initial answer is often healing, but Symettra is an example of a support kit that can succeed without healing. The correct answer is an ultimate that counters enemy aggression. Symettra teleports you back to the fight, Mercy does not let heroes die, Zenyatta heals his team faster than any other ability in the game, and Lucio drops the beat.
Lucio’s ult needs more charge than any other hero in the game, but the effects are quite profound. He shields all nearby allies for 500 health, up to a theoretical maximum of 3000 health in shields. However, the shield rapidly decays over a period of six seconds, so in practice, you shield much less than 3000. But, the resulting shield covers a key weakness in team compositions today.
Zenyatta ultimate allows your team to survive almost any sustained DPS, but still allows for players to get one shot by Self Destruct or Deadeye. However, the extra raw health provided by a Sound Barrier covers that weakness and when the two ultimates are combined, your team is nigh on invincible.
The ability to tank oncoming damage combined with Lucio’s speed boost further enables the dive meta, especially for Genji, who lacks the natural health pool of Winston and Dva. He has the mobility and damage to reach and kill the backline, but often suffers from being focused down quickly. When powered up by Lucio, Genji does not have to be nearly as afraid of his opposition and can lead the charge with a Dragon Blade like we see Shadowburn do so often.
Lucio’s kit is overflowing with power. Like all good support heroes, he heals, but he is so much more than a healbot. He can hold his own in a fight; dipping, ducking, diving, and striking blows. He counters enemy aggression with massive shields and facilitates his team's attack with massive speed boosts. As long as heroes in Overwatch have flaws in their kit, Lucio will be needed to mitigate those flaws. His ability to overcome an enemy composition by putting his own team in advantageous scenarios makes him the most powerful hero in the game.