Overwatch’s Mercy Problem

In Esports by KatherineLeave a Comment

If you play Overwatch, you’ve heard of the rework of Mercy in patch 1.15, which completely changed her ultimate ability and remapped her whole-team rez to a single-rez ability with a massive cooldown period. While occasional tweaks and changes to hero abilities and Ultimates isn’t unheard of, Mercy is the only hero whose ultimate has been changed completely. The devs detail the reason for the change in the patch notes, listed below.

“While resurrecting downed allies is a core part of Mercy’s gameplay, the way her Ultimate functioned was causing a number of problems. It was frustrating to play against, and it incentivized Mercy players to hide away from important battles, instead of taking part in them. This version turns Resurrect into a single target ability. It’s still an important part of Mercy’s kit, but plays much better for both Mercy players and her enemies. Valkyrie, her new Ultimate, gives her the opportunity for big game-making plays and opens a number of new options for her.”

While I do agree that sometimes Mercy players hide away from important battles in order to swoop in to get a full-team rez, the idea that it is a huge issue in the course of a quickplay game is ludicrous. As someone who has poured countless hours into perfecting my playstyle with Mercy, the patch caused some due frustration. I’ve never been a Mercy who shied away from the big fights, and I used my ultimate with discernment but I never intentionally held out for a full-team rez.

The thing about Ultimates in Overwatch, though, is that they’re intentionally frustrating to play against. Nothing makes me panic more during a match than hearing Junkrat’s incoming Riptire or the distinct roar of Hanzo’s dual dragons. I’ve played countless matches where I’ve done a 3 or 4 man rez, just to have them taken out instantaneously by Pharah’s rocket barrage. It’s frustrating, but that’s the point. Ultimates are supposed to be game changers, and Mercy’s old ultimate is no different. By re-mapping resurrect to a single-use ability, Blizzard is taking away the one thing that made Mercy a formidable opponent and one of the few useful healers on the battlefield. Not to mention, some characters are incredibly OP from the get-go, including Bastion whose sentry gun tops out at 525 maximum DPS after being patched.

I’m not the only player frustrated by the changes. There have been countless tweets, tumblr and forum posts complaining about the patch before it ever went live, claiming that the changes are catering to DPS players. Largely, this seems to be true. In their most recent patches, Blizzard has been cutting back on hero abilities that counter DPS, including a change to D.Va’s defense matrix, a powerful tool used to counter head-on attacks, that causes it to deplete twice as quickly. Many players who main support heroes are upset about this decision, believing that it shows Blizzard’s preference for DPS heroes over support. This favoritism makes it more difficult for support heroes to play effectively with the culling of their abilities, while DPS heroes are either left unmodified or made more powerful (exhibited in the infamous Bastion patch).

However, there are players who believe that this change is not only necessary, but that Blizzard needs to further nerf Mercy’s abilities by requiring a hold on the resurrect button to make the single-ally resurrects more difficult or by nerfing the boosts granted to her during her ultimate. The idea is that Mercy is the hardest healer to play against and that her abilities need to be diminished so her enemies have a fighting chance against her. However, while Mercy can be a dominating figure in a fight, the essence of playing as Mercy makes you a target. She is incredibly visible, especially in her classic skin, and her standing health is low enough that it only takes a few shots to take her out if she doesn’t disengage fast enough. Additionally, her damage and healing boosts don’t do much to save allies from head-on assaults or enemy Ultimates.

I haven’t played Mercy since 1.15 went live (more due to being a busy college kid than an active avoidance), but it’s hard for me to imagine that 20 seconds of slightly enhanced abilities will give Mercy the option to make the type of “game-making plays” that Blizzard claims. It makes it difficult for me to find the motivation to load up the game, knowing that I’m going to have to essentially learn to play a new hero despite my track record as a staunch Mercy main. The biggest frustration, however, comes from the feeling that Blizzard has heard our complaints and will do nothing to fix the damage that they’ve done to Mercy’s character.

Katherine on TwitterKatherine on Youtube
Your Dungeon Master, best friend, and contributor for Obilisk.

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