The latest update to arrive on Overwatch's public test realm introduces some significant alterations to Lucio and his ability to buff or heal nearby teammates.
Put simply, the changes buff many of Lucio's abilities but limit his ability to aid his entire team at any one time. The area of effect on Crossfade has been reduced from 30 meters to just 10, but the amount of health restored by his healing song has increased by 50 percent. To help players adjust to this, a visual effect has been added temporarily that helps to demonstrate the new range of Lucio's songs. On a related note, his Ultimate, Sound Barrier, sees its range drop to 30 meters to 20.
It's not all bad news for Lucio, as other changes are being made to compensate for this. His weapon's projectile speed has increased from 40 to 50, and wall-riding provides him with a 30 percent movement speed boost. Jumping off a wall also provides an additional "burst of speed."
Blizzard provided some explanation for this in the patch notes, saying, "Lucio has often felt like a must-pick due to his raw healing output and the versatility of providing a speed bonus to your entire team. The goal of these changes is to keep those elements feeling strong, but making them harder to apply to everyone on your team at all times. The end result is that he should feel stronger with teams that he can stay close to but not as strong when on teams with heroes that are often spread out (such as Pharah, Widow, Genji, etc).
"Much of Lucio's character power was tied up in his large passive auras, which caused other elements of his kit to be weakened over time in an attempt to balance him. Now that his auras are more focused it will allow them to be much stronger and allow Lucio to be more active in his role."
Regarding the visual effect indicating Crossfade's range, principal designer Geoff Goodman said in a forum post, "[W]e're looking at getting a more permanent (and better looking) visual indicator at some point, and potentially making it an option to enable/disable."
As always with PTR updates, these changes to Lucio may or may not make it into the live game intact. Overwatch's newest character, Orisa, for instance, quickly faced balance adjustments after being introduced on the PTR.
Elsewhere in this update, Blizzard has introduced a new system meant to reduce the frequency of draws in Competitive Play. Similar to the way a winner can be named on Escort maps based on which team pushed the payload further, Assault maps can declare a winner "based on which team captured the largest portion." To sufficiently test this out, Competitive Play on the PTR will only see Eichenwalde and Hanamura pop up in the map rotation for now.
Eichenwalde is again the subject of a change in this update, as there's a new path from the attackers' spawn leading to the capture point. Custom Games gain a new ability to save a preset, while the Hero Gallery is now home to backstory information about characters and "some of their lore-inspired skins." There are also bug fixes, which you can see in the full patch notes.
All of this is already available on the PTR version of the game, which is accessible to owners of the PC version. There's no word on how soon these changes might be implemented in the full game, but we do know a patch adding Orisa arrives tomorrow, March 21.