There is not much in the patch notes for patch 1.10 that hit live servers this week, but the content of those notes has changed the meta. Blizzard has finally decided that Lucio should not be an auto-pick in all team compositions, and has stepped in to fine-tune his power into a defined role. With this adjustment, Blizzard has opened up new opportunities for Lucio players to show off their skills, increasing the skill ceiling that can be reached with this hero. Simultaneously, they focused his strengths into a more specific area of effect (pun intended), allowing him to be a more dynamic hero. Blizzard also shipped a tiny buff to Orisa in this patch as the only other hero change, along with a change to Eichenwalde (more on that later). Let’s “break it down!”
Below are the official patch notes for Lucio:
- Sonic Amplifier
- Damage increased by 25%
- Projectile speed increased from 40 to 50
- Alternate fire now considers vertical orientation when knocking targets back
- Sonic Amplifier
- Healing-per-second has been increased by 30% (also applies to Lúcio’s Amp It Up ability)
- Self-healing has been reduced by 25%
- Area of effect radius has been decreased from 30 meters to 10 meters
- Heal Song
- Wall Ride
- Movement speed increased by 20% when wall riding
- Lúcio now receives a burst of speed when leaping off a wall
We will start with the changes to his Sonic Amplifier. These changes are the simplest, as they represent a straight-up buff to DPS and accuracy. The increase in projectile speed will mean that more of Lucio’s low-damage projectiles will hit their intended target. As a rapid fire weapon, Lucio’s Sonic Amplifier often felt like players were just spewing fire towards the enemy team, hoping to score some chip damage with the barrage of slow-moving projectiles. With a buff to damage and accuracy, Lucio will get better results from his weapon, scoring a better payoff for players who put the effort in to try and make their shots count. The increased projectile speed also plays into aiding accuracy when firing while wall-riding, as aiming in a three-dimensional space rather than just side to side is markedly more difficult.
Speaking of wall-riding, let’s move past the changes to Crossfade for a moment and talk about the changes to Wall Ride. With a significant increase to movement speed while riding the walls, and a buff to mobility when advanced Lucio players hop from one wall to another to re position, Blizzard has really turned what used to be a novelty ability into a strategic advantage. While wall-riding makes aiming Lucio’s weapon much more difficult, it also makes him harder to hit, and now increases his mobility as well. These new benefits further raise the complexity of the hero, without significantly affecting newer players.
Finally we reach the biggest change of the patch: Crossfade. Not only did the radius of Lucio’s healing aura get reduced by more than half, his self-healing was nerfed as well! To balance these out, base and boosted healing were increased by a significant 30%. In the patch notes description, Blizzard commented that these changes are going to affect the way Lucio has to play with team comps that play more spread out, making him a weaker pick when compared to someone like Ana or Zenyatta. On the flip side, Lucio now shines even more when played in a “deathball” team comp, or one whose strength lies in sticking together.
One of the biggest attractions for players to hero-based games such as Overwatch, League of Legends, and DotA lies in the unique experience each hero offers. It is certainly refreshing refreshing to see a developer focus on crafting a tool set for each hero that really sets him apart from the others. Overwatch is all about making strategic decisions, both on the battlefield itself, and in choosing which hero to play, or when to swap to another. As they continue to refine and define Lucio and other heroes, players can expect to find themselves having to debate the pros and cons of picking Lucio over another support instead of automatically picking him up because he fits every team comp. On the flip side, as players adjust to his new mobility and reduced aura size, Lucio should feel much more rewarding as players use him in the way the developers intended him to be used.
Orisa and Eichenwald Changes
The only other hero change that Blizzard shipped with this patch is a reduction in Orisa’s headshot hitbox. On her release, Orisa’s head
hitbox was fairly large, resulting in enemies scoring headshots against her more easily than was intended. Being a tank, Orisa is supposed to be able to soak up damage well, which did not mesh with her also having a larger critical hitbox than most other heroes. This change, while small, is a simple quality-of-life change for Orisa that will shift her survivability more solidly into the “tank” realm.
The final gameplay change included in this patch is a new attack path on Eichenwalde. Ever since its release, Eichenwalde’s first phase, the point capture, has been notorious in the community for being extremely skewed in the defender’s favor. The way the map was set up, there was a single choke point the attackers had to cross, with strategic high ground available to defenders, and plenty of cover. Conversely, the attackers had to peek around a corner to reach the choke, and all funnel through a small area with little cover to get through to the point.
This change will give attackers a new path connecting their spawn to the control point, allowing a multitude more options. Flankers like Genji will be much stronger now that they actually have an avenue of attack, and depending on the size of the path and whether it includes a cliff, it may be that a whole team could use the path as an access to the point.
Overall, these changes seem to be in the best health of the game. Lucio’s changes are a great step towards fine-tuning a hero in his role, and the Orisa buff is definitely a small step in the same direction. The Eichenwalde change has been a long time coming for players who have felt powerless playing attack on the map due to the limited options available. It will certainly be interesting to see how the face of the meta on the map evolves as more strategies of attack open up.