Did someone call a doctor? - Mercy Needs Some Patching Up
“Patching you up.”
Mercy recently underwent a major rework that has changed the Overwatch landscape dramatically. Her previous toolset included limited escape mobility, and an ultimate which allowed her to resurrect all allies within range. This powerful ability would often force Mercy players to hide, rather than participate in team fights. To most, including the Blizzard development team, this wasn’t very fun nor engaging and needed fixing.
In the Junkertown patch, Blizzard changed her Resurrection to a baseline, single-target ability castable every 30 seconds, her Guardian Angel ability gained a longer range and its speed was increased, and her new ultimate, Valkyrie, grants her flight and her staff becomes something like a chain heal. As a result of these changes, her pick rate has skyrocketed, particularly for higher ranked players.
For every tier of play, she’s always been one of the most picked heroes, second only in Grandmaster, but now statistically, Mercy is virtually guaranteed to be in every single match on both teams in competitive mode. In the lower half of the playerbase, she’s used about 2% more than before the patch, but it’s a different story for the higher ranked players where her use has increased an average of over 7% more!
For two weeks, the playerbase has decided that she is the must-have hero in order to compete, but is the consensus valid?
“Heroes never die!”
Discussion around Mercy tends to say that it’s her new, 30-second Resurrection as the source of all problems, but there are more counters than you think, counters that I’ll cover in a moment. With such a long cooldown and with only being able to bring back one hero at a time, it shouldn’t be a problem. Nuisance maybe, but problem no.
“Your guardian angel!”
While concern with the new Resurrection is definitely understandable, I contend that the actual trouble with Mercy is her newfound mobility from Valkyrie’s flight combined with its length, and Guardian Angel’s increased range and speed. After the changes, she easily avoids damage like a big, glowing moth that you can’t quite swat, especially while her ultimate is active and she gains a more active health regeneration.
Another, albeit rare, exampe is how the Guardian Angel ability, with good
lucky timing, can actually allow Mercy to dodge some ultimates such as High Noon! I’ve had it happen to me, but didn’t capture the play in time, though one redditor was fortunate to be able to catch it in action.
“I’ll send you my consultation fee.”
The guys from FNRGFE said on a recent Around the Watch episode, “Everyone expects Mercy to get nerfed so there’s no reason to scrim live.” Whether it’s a good idea to play by that philosophy or not, what would a nerf look like?
Changing too many variables at once will cause chaos in the data. We just saw that chaos with Mercy’s drastic rework, a rework that is actually typical behavior for Blizzard (see Bastion a few months ago and many, many years of World of Warcraft). They like to make drastic changes to set a new baseline for data, and then make incremental changes from there. With incremental changes in mind, let’s fix Mercy’s kit only changing one or two things at a time. Here are a few suggestions:
Reduce Valkyrie’s length. At 20 seconds, not counting Symmetra’s devices, Valkyrie is the longest lasting ultimate. Compare this to the two closest ultimates which are Orisa’s Supercharger at 15 seconds and Torbjorn’s Molten Core at 12. Over the course of 20 seconds, Mercy can aid her team with powered-up abilities for the majority of a team fight and, with her increased mobility and regeneration, typically survive anything that’s thrown at her. Valkyrie also resets the timer on Resurrection, which means she could potentially get three to four uses out of it in a 30 second timespan. While most ultimates are six to eight seconds, perhaps that’s a bit short for her, but 20 seconds is certainly far too long.
Remove Guardian Angel while Valkyrie is in use. Her high mobility allows to Mercy to be wherever and whenever healing is needed most and it allows her to easily avoid damage. With Valkyrie and Guardian Angel, right now she effectively has two strong escape mechanisms. Valkyrie gives Mercy so much extra movement, that Guardian Angel simply seems redundant.
Increase Guardian Angel’s cooldown. Doing this would force Mercy players to make a critical choice on whether to dive in for the rescue, or potentially save herself from flankers or chasers. In its current form, it’s often a low risk move to jump right into danger, especially at lower tiers of play.
Give Guardian Angel recharging uses. Changing Guardian Angel to the same system as Tracer’s Blink charges would add to the skill cap of the hero without impacting those already good at Mercy. If Tracer cannot use her engage/escape method endlessly, should another hero be able to use theirs so much?
“Must violence always be the solution?”
If or until changes are made to Mercy, you still have a few ways to deal with an enemy Mercy.
As mentioned earlier, work around Resurrection. Go into a fight knowing that the enemy Mercy will likely bring back the first person who dies. Once it’s cast, you know you know they have 30 seconds before they can use it again.
Mei walls are great for keeping a Mercy from not only healing or resurrecting, but keeping her away from getting into the fight with Guardian Angel.
Mercy now has to get within 5 meters of a player to resurrect them and she’s no longer invincible while doing so. Focus her when she zooms in to the rescue!
It’s highly situational, but shields block line of sight for Resurrect.
“I’m not a miracle worker. Well, not always.”