As Overwatch continues to evolve in it’s second year, the team at Blizzard is constantly combing through it’s player base searching for ways to improve the game and balance the competitive nature of the hero shooter. Last week, the captain of Overwatch updates, Jeff Kaplan, enlightened us on some new changes coming to the PTR for Dr. Angela Ziegler, better known as Mercy– the guardian angel support character.
Currently, Mercy is a support character who’s main function is focus healing and power boosting her squad. While those abilities are remaining untouched for the most part, her ultimate is being replaced– well, sort of. Normally, her ultimate ability gives her the power to resurrect her fallen teammates as long as they still haven’t respawned yet. As you can imagine, Mercy possesses the ability to sway matches at critical moments. Which means that some players– if not most– tend to hold onto Mercy’s ultimate and hide, waiting for their team to get wiped so she can swoop in for a team resurrect. Even though a talented Mercy can absolutely help carry a team to victory through healing and boosting, the strategy of hiding with your ultimate isn’t too difficult for players of lower skill levels to pull off. Which typically results in a see-saw effect in matches when both teams have a Mercy.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that Mercy is a cheap or overpowered character, but it does make her almost essential in most team comps– for the wrong reasons. There’s a few different aspects as to why changing her ultimate will affect the game in a positive way and not leave Mercy mains feeling burned.
First, let’s go over how her ultimate is changing and what this means for Mercy. Her new ultimate, Valkyrie, will buff Mercy and give her the ability to fly. Yes, fly. Not her guardian angel ability, more like “I am the Rocket Queen” fly. As for the buffs? The length of her caduceus staff beams will be increased and power boosted, as well as have the ability to heal/boost multiple teammates that are nearby her target. That’s not all, her caduceus blaster will get a power boost, too.
Now, before you get too worried, Mercy can still rez her team– just not all at once. Resurrect will now be one of Mercy’s abilities. She will be able to resurrect one teammate at a time with a 30 second cool-down in between. Though, using her new ultimate, Valkyrie, will allow her access to resurrect again and change the cool-down to 10 seconds. It’s important to note that these changes may not stay exactly the same by the time this Mercy tweak leaves the PTR, but for now this is the blueprint for the new Mercy.
The reason why I think this is a positive change for both the community and the character is multifaceted. For one, as Jeff mentioned in the developer update video, it’s rather frustrating when a team works together to coordinate an attack and ends up getting a team wipe only to have their efforts reversed by a hiding Mercy. I cannot tell you how many times a set of matches was decided by a Mercy rez– for both victories and defeats. The reason why this isn’t particularly powerful at this point is that most people can coordinate a team rez. Her new updates though, change Mercy from an easy to use not super difficult to master hero– into a hero with a much higher ceiling for higher skilled players to achieve greater success and develop new strategies.
Another positive aspect of this change, is that it allows players who may get bored with typical Mercy strategies of hiding and team resurrecting to have more tactics at their disposal. I’m confident that this change to Mercy will result in the hero still being a necessary piece of a team composition, and not just to counter the other team’s Mercy resurrect. Not to mention, the satisfaction when using her new resurrect ability, chained into her ultimate, to resurrect more heroes will feel all the more satisfying while flying around the objective.
I’m looking forward to see how the development tweaks play out over the course of Mercy being this way in the PTR and seeing how this new version of one of my favorite heroes fleshes out. Oh, and that D. Va update that Jeff hinted at.