Been awhile since I’ve posted – I recently went through the ordeal of buying a house, and good God, preparing/moving/painting/unpacking, etc. is time consuming (but worth it – I ended up setting up my absolute dream game room, which I hope to post about soon!).
But, enough with the excuses. Glad to finally find some time to write a new post, and I felt like I should pen another Overwatch entry, this time about my beloved before she undergoes a massive change any day now: Mercy.
Mercy is not the character I gravitated toward first. Nor is she even my favorite to play. But, whether I would like to admit it or not, she is absolutely my main. There are a few reasons for this:
Playing a Support hero, while not always thrilling, is a fairly surefire way to automatically garner team support.
In the past, I have praised Overwatch for its relative lack of toxicity, a claim that loses validity every day, sadly. If you’re not pulling your weight on the team (or even if you are, and some clown perceives that you are not), an onslaught of abuse can turn a fun experience sour extremely fast. It seems somewhat cowardly to not play the hero you want just because you don’t want to take a bunch of crap from someone, so I don’t go that far – I’ll pick who I want, when I want in Quickplay. In competitive, I’ll float around to who I’d like to use offensively, given the team composition, but playing an effective healer in higher stakes matches such as these will often grant you the inverse – praise and gratitude, which can be a welcome change. I also realized early on that it would be beneficial to learn a healer because…
Effective Support heroes are absolutely crucial for competitive matches – and most people play them as an obligation.
You have definitely seen this scenario before: comp match, 5/6 heroes on your team have been selected. There’s still no healer. You remain in the spawn room, waiting anxiously as the 6th member of your team makes their pick as the rest of the team sprints out. They HAVE to pick a healer, right? They can’t be THAT douchey. But, sure enough, an attacking Torbjorn is locked in, and no one else is going to step up. You begrudgingly have to switch to Lucio, a hero you’re so-so with, at best… but it’s better than nothing.
Whether this would be me, or anyone else on the team switching to support when they don’t want, it was always the same thing – either they didn’t know what they were doing and, although they receive an ‘A’ for effort, they were better off sticking with their first choice, or they’re so salty about having to switch that the effort isn’t there, or worse – a combo of the two. Forcing myself to learn Mercy got me to a point where I would auto-lock her as soon as the match started – a choice that makes the rest of the team breathe a sigh of relief, and kick off the competition without a bunch of groaning.
Mercy is very simplistic in nature, but the strategy required in using her effectively, like most Overwatch heroes, actually runs pretty deep. Switching between her heal ray and attack buff is a fine art, which often threads the line of keeping a dying team on life support, boosting an assault into an all-out bloodbath, or rendering your team essentially one man short because you’re using the wrong one. Her Guardian Angel ability, which allows her to swiftly fly to a targeted ally, is less of a boosted method of delivering support to an ally faster than it is an essential survival tactic. One lesson to learn as fast as you can when playing Mercy – a default option has this ability linked to whoever Mercy is healing or buffing at that moment. It is ESSENTIAL to have this OFF. Being able to heal an ally while scouting the battlefield to where you can quickly escape to next is the difference between life and death. As Mercy, the enemy team will ALWAYS want to kill you first. Always.
When you have a team that is spread out enough that you are able to constantly fly around, healing that Winston to full health and thus also charging your Ult at a breakneck speed, and keeping an ear out for your Soldier’s audio cue of “I’VE GOT YOU
IN MY SIGHTS”, knowing that’s the sign to fly to him ASAP and buff the hell out of his Tactical Visor, it’s incredibly fun. Entire enemy teams can be decimated on a properly guarded point, and you know you did your job well when your card pops up post-game and your entire team votes for you in the blink of an eye. Suddenly, the decision to main Mercy becomes worth it. I’ve had teams beg me to group up, and if we’re clicking that well in the match, we’ll stick together for another several rounds and I’ll watch my SR surge.
…But of course, there’s always the inverse. Sometimes, you don’t want to be support. Find yourself in one of those instances where no one else does, either, and you WILL be the one who begrudgingly switches, every time. I also feel like my performance with all other heroes has suffered as a result – whenever we do have a willing healer, and I am free to pick someone else, I put a ton of pressure on myself to perform, and always want to run back to my girl Mercy as soon as things get tough. I have essentially gotten to a point where, if I want to play competitive, I plan on playing Mercy no matter what (for the most part – sometimes a “meh” performance as Zenyatta is more crucial than a better-than-average Mercy). If I want to play as literally anyone else (or as I call it, going on Overwatch “vacation”), I head over to Quickplay. The worst side affect of this is when you are playing a comp match that is not going well. In these instances, the design of Overwatch usually truly shines – it encourages you to analyze the situation, assess what change the team needs, and adapt. When you’re the healer, though, you’re basically locked in. Unless you are on a team that is not only communicating (which is rare enough), but communicating effectively, you’re locked onto the healer role no matter what. It sometimes leads me to feel like I have little say in the fate of my competitive matches, which can be truly frustrating.
And now comes the news that Mercy is receiving a massive overhaul. Essentially, her ultimate (she can resurrect all fallen allies within a certain radius), which is arguably the biggest game changer of all the ultimates, is being scrapped. Now, as a rule, I pretty much hate change, and although I’m reluctant about this, I have had problems with this Ult. Many times, you will find yourself at the climax of a match, struggling to shove a payload those final meters onto the point to secure a win. Suddenly, your Resurrect is charged. Play it right, and you will secure your team an easy win. Your first teammate falls – don’t use it now! Reviving only one would be a waste. The second falls – this may be the time to use it. Two guys can make all the difference. It’s now at three fallen allies… the time is now. The fact that half the team is dead and you, Mercy, the most hunted of all heroes, are still alive, is insane – hit it!
Things aren’t always this straightforward, though. Sometimes, your allies die sporadically, and there’s no window to resurrect more than one at a time. Or, they die far apart, and you can’t ensnare them in the resurrect radius. Worse yet, you’re trying to remain effective in your role, healing while waiting for the right opportunity, but your team is providing you with poor cover and you’re the first to die. You race back to the point to resurrect before the match ends, but you can’t get there in time. What happens? The match ends in a loss, and you had your ultimate the whole time – truly the worst feeling.
This usually leads Mercy players to awkwardly hide somewhere nearby, waiting for the perfect “huge rez” opportunity. It’s not fun for Mercy players, and it’s not fun for enemy teams, who combo their Zarya/D.Va’s Ults to wipe out the whole team, only to have it negated by a Mercy swooping in for a 5 player resurrect. It’s for these reasons she is being changed, and overall, I agree it was needed. Now, Mercy’s resurrect will be one of her main abilities – however, she can now only revive one ally at a time, with a brutal (but admittedly necessary) 30 second cooldown in between. Her Ultimate, as a result, will now allow her to fly around the battlefield, heal and buff multiple allies at the same time, experience shorter cooldowns and receive an attack boost with her pistol. I like the sound of this, but I can’t help but wonder which way the playstyle will skew. Mercy toting a pistol, or “Attack Mercy”, has always been an option, and its a tactic I do use, although sparingly. I imagine that for the most part, I’ll be using her Ult to support the team, but I would hate to see her become so overpowered in her attacking abilities that using her Ult as an offensive weapon is the only proper way to use her. Only time will tell. One day, I imagine it will be funny to read this, and remember the days when Mercy could resurrect 5 heroes at once.
I’ve done some griping here, but all in all, I love Mercy. She embodies many of the reasons I love Overwatch as a whole. At times, I feel as though I’ve painted myself into a corner with her, but – that’s on me. Gotta get good with other heroes! How about you – any thoughts on the angelic healer? Lean towards other support characters? Let me know, and thank’s for reading!