Overwatch, they say, is about teamwork. They’re correct, but what they don’t tell you (because it should be obvious to anyone with a child’s understanding of how video games work) is that you shoot at your opponents, not your teammates. It would appear that I merely have an overgrown baby’s understanding of video games because, reader, it happened to me.
For non-initiates: Overwatch players can choose to play as one of 23 heroes who fit into four classifications; offense, defense, tank, and support. A team must strike a healthy balance between all four if they want to win. It’s tempting to choose the lady with the bigass rocket launcher every time because, c’mon, she flies and shoots rockets at everyone, but if everyone on a team opts for an offensive character, you’re going to get wrecked by an evenly spaced-out squad.
Our friends at Kotaku recommended that newcomers start with support characters first, an excellent suggestion that I quickly took after dying dozens of times with nary a single kill in my first few matches as McCree, the cowboy, or Reaper, the skeleton man. I settled on Lucio, the dreadlocked Brazilian DJ guy, because he rollerblades around on the walls and plays songs on his sound gun. In Overwatch’s official lore, he’s “an international celebrity who inspires social change through his music and actions.” If you haven’t picked up on it already, Overwatch is on the whimsical side.
Anyway, Lucio’s most important ability is to heal his teammates or speed them up, but all the game tells you on this note is:
His songs can both heal his team or boost their movement speed, and he can switch between tracks on the fly.
Here’s where I made a crucial mistake: I assumed that to heal or speed up your buddies, you had to shoot them. This is dumb as dogshit, but it didn’t stop me from doing it. A lot. For a bit over two weeks, I mained Lucio and spent all my time behind my team, shooting them incessantly with my sound gun thingy. Sometimes, I would run around and try to knock enemies over ledges, but mostly I hunkered down and got to blasting. I killed a few enemies, and my screen told me that I was doing some healing, so I had no idea that I was horridly misusing Lucio and turning him into a DJ for evil, instead of an agent for social good or whatever.
Your projectiles don’t hurt your own team, so I had no direct way of figuring out how dumb I was being. People would occasionally yell at me over voice chat, but aside from a teen getting into an argument with his brother over whose turn it was before shrieking and disconnecting from the game, most of it was incomprehensible.
Eventually, I started to catch on. I would be shooting my supposed healing pellets right at teammates in critical need of health and they would die anyway. I would repeatedly get tips from the game telling me to stand closer to my teammates, which I took as obvious reminders, not warning signs that I didn’t know what I was doing. As I started playing more, I wanted to know how to properly use Lucio, which involved bugging my Kotaku colleague Kirk Hamilton. He explained that Lucio heals and buffs based on proximity and line of sight, not shooting his buddies with his gun. I assumed this was a widespread phenomenon and had been laughed about and forgotten en masse when Overwatch first came out last summer. However, I sheepishly consulted my colleagues this week and they confirmed that, yeah, I was just a dingus. I still play Lucio but I’m somehow only marginally better than when I was exclusively shooting toothless friendly fire. Maybe I should go back to that strategy.