In Project M, Lucas boasts excellent mobility with fast, low commitment neutral tools, versatile combo tools, and insanely powerful smash attacks. His out-of-shield game also grants Lucas good neutral or punishing options, such as his down aerial. His recovery, while risky, is extremely versatile and can travel long distances very quickly using his double jump (which can be cancelled into an aerial or airdodge), z-tether, a fall-decelerator in PSI Magnet which can also be jump cancelled similarly to Fox's Reflector, and his Thunder-looping. PSI Magnet also lets him deal with camping by absorbing energy projectiles, and to help with this he can also access his new neutral special Offense Up. This move increases the power of his already devastating smash attacks, especially useful as it increases the size of his up smash alongside its power.
His ledge options are serviceable, such as stalling with PK Thunder, gaining back his invincibility with a z-tether, threaten at close range with a ledge-hop PSI Magnet, and make use of his passable ledgedash. He also has access to one of the most technically difficult techniques in the game in the "snekdash", which if the demands are met can make some of Lucas' ledge options completely invincible. PK Freeze is a decent projectile that can lead into multiple followups, one of these followups being his extremely dangerous DACUS, which can make it unsafe to be above Lucas and can finish off combos from entire stages. He additionally has ease in hit-and-run combat courtesy of his extremely fast mobility on the ground. To a lesser extent, his double-jump cancelled aerials and b-reverses also give him long-distance mobility. Lucas has excellent shield pressure due to his DJC-aerials, powerful up throw that ignores weight, long wavedash, and jump-cancelled PSI Magnet. All of these build onto his greatest strength: his combo ability. His versatile options across the board, ability to traverse whole stages very quickly, and very early KO moves make it not unreasonable for Lucas to bring someone from 0% to a KO.
However, Lucas also has weaknesses. His subpar tech roll and bad combo weight make it easy to punish and fatally chain Lucas if he makes a mistake. He also has short range and poor edgeguarding abilities, which slightly dampen his stellar combo ability and can make it difficult to secure a KO. His unique double jump also gives him trouble against platform camping, as he can't quickly punish his opponent for doing so. His ability to start combos is also slightly weakened by his tether grab, which doesn't have great range by the standards of tethers but is still rather slow.
Overall, Lucas is a character who can make it very difficult for opponents who have bad out of shield options or moves that are less safe on whiff. His power additionally gives him an upper hand against characters who would otherwise survive longer at early percents. However, he has a hard time dealing with characters who can easily out-range or gimp him and have good tech-chasing options or chaingrabs. Overall, Lucas has significantly better matchups than he did in Brawl, and that has led to above average tournament results and representation.
Changes from Brawl to PM
Lucas was heavily buffed from Brawl to Project M. His ground mobility has been improved with his dashing speed increased and the ability to wavedash, and overall the power of his attacks have been increased. One of his biggest buffs is the removal of the extra 10 grab-release frames that plagued him in Brawl, as such he is no longer as vulnerable to grab release follow-ups. Lucas has been given many new options to combo and KO opponents on-stage, such as his new neutral attack and up tilt being reliable combo starters. His new neutral special, Offense Up, replaces his almost non-competitivly viable PK Freeze. When charged it signifficantly increases the damage, knockback, and range of his smash attacks giving him more viable KOing options. PK Freeze has been moved to his side special replacing PK Fire, however the physics are more akin to PK Fire. PK Freeze gives him a better approach due to being executed faster, especially in the air, and having more hitlag and reduced knockback to give him better follow-ups. PK Thunder has less startup and now corners tighter, making it much safer to use for a recovery and also allowing him to use it in tighters areas. PSI Magnet is now a useful combo technique as it can now be jump-canceled and damages constantly rather than only at the end of the move, while at the same time making it less punishable.
The changes to Project M's engine also benefit Lucas: Lucas now has a much better approach thanks to a long wavedash due to his lower traction. Directional air dodges now provide him with an extra form of recovery besides PK Thunder. Additionally, Lucas can now DACUS, which has the longest distance in the game and, combined with Offense Up, provides him with a dangerous finisher.
However, Lucas has received some nerfs however. The main nerfs he received were to the range of his PSI attacks and recovery. Lucas has lost many of the advanced techniques he had with his side special: Unlike PK Fire, PK Freeze does not push Lucas backwards, which removed his ability to perform the Magnet Pull technique thus removing its use for recovery, along with the removal of Zap Jump. While PK Thunder has been made safer, it now travels a much shorter distance making his recovery worse. PSI Magnet's absorbing hitbox is smaller now, and it no longer turns Lucas around to absorb projectiles that are behind him. Lucas's endurance is much worse now as he is now the 8th lightest character in the game. Without the use of Offense Up, his smash attacks have reduced range and power thus reducing their KO potential. Overall it is more difficult to land the sweetspot for some attacks, such as forward tilt and forward aerial.
Overall Lucas's buffs outweigh his nerfs and his matchups and performance is signifficantly better than it was in Brawl. His tournament representation has generally been much better than it was in Brawl. While previously a low-mid tier in Brawl, he is now considered a high tier character (15 out of 41).
Grabs and Throws
Changes from PM to P+
Up to date as of version 3.6.
In competitive play
Lucas has been given an alternate costume based on a segment in Mother 3 where Lucas is mistaken for the Pigmasks' general, the Masked Man, and passes as him for a while. Lucas's costume features no changes to the visual effects of his attacks, other than that his forward smash now uses the Masked Man's energy sword instead of a stick.
Project+ would give Lucas's Masked Man disguise four new recolors, and provide a new costume based on his appearance in the cancelled game Earthbound 64.
Z-Secret Costume: Chimera Lucas
R-Secret Costume: Masked Man