Mercy is a hero who has been under fire a lot for quite some time now. Recently, she received yet another nerf in an attempt to balance the game. Since then, her pick rate has decreased significantly.

From GrandMaster level, her pick rate went from 16.16% to 2.79%. However, the Bronze league seems to be the player base who still plays her most with a drop of only 3%, leaving her at 9.48%. In general, she lost about 12% of her pick-rate in all competitive levels combined. We are going to look into the two perspectives from players on these changes.

Here is the patch note that started this:


  • Valkyrie
    • No longer makes Resurrect instant
    • No longer grants a bonus Resurrect charge
    • The speed bonus Guardian Angel receives when activating Valkyrie has been decreased by 50%
    • Duration reduced from 20 seconds to 15 seconds

Developer Comments: Mercy’s recent Resurrect changes have helped in allowing enemies to have more counter play in dealing with her, but she was able to use Resurrect through Valkyrie enough to largely mitigate the impact of the previous changes. Additionally, we’re toning back the amount of mobility Valkyrie provides through Guardian Angel and reducing its duration to overall reduce the power of this ability.

With this, Blizzard wished to allow teams to have more counter play against Mercy and possibly more interesting team fights as well. There are two kind of perspective on the changes, those who love it and those who hates it. Let’s take a look on both sides to know if this nerf is actually making her a balanced hero, or if it needs more tuning.

Scientific Mercy

Mercy : the Balanced healer

Mercy could now be more balanced than what we might think. The main issue with this Hero was that it was a most-pick that would dramatically change the outcome of the game. Overwatch being part of Esports as well helped us see how she was important as she was in every teams. Since the changes, her pick rate did drop drastically, but she still remains one of the top three most played heroes.

Tuning her down allows for other healers to step up such as Moira. Being less needed in a team does not mean that she is now bad at her job either. Less fun? Possibly. However, it is getting us more opportunities to see different team compositions, fights outcomes and see how less played heroes can also have their impact on the game.

Mercy remains a great healer for your team to have. Her healing output was not affected and she can still increase the damage done of her allies. What the recent patches affected were her overall mobility and her ability to resurrect her team. During Valkyrie, she can still heal and boost more than one person and fly to a safer position if needed.

She now requires players to be more careful of their positioning, but it also asks a lot more of her allies. Overwatch is a team-based game after all and the new Mercy encourages that mentality. The hero now needs more communication, team positioning and team work than ever before. Yes, we used to scream in the voice chat that everyone had to die on point. Now, we need to ask for shields and barriers to be able to rez and her teammates needs to be more weary of their moves as well since she can’t give them a second chance.

Mercy-portraitMercy : Nerfcy, the boring hero

Mercy used to be the most played hero of the game for a long time with a big part of the community playing mostly this hero alone. This was not only because she was a strong support, but also because players enjoyed her style. She is a healer with a lot of mobility, high impact and she had interesting and unique Ultimate (resurrect from launch to mid 2017 and now Valkyrie). The most recent changes did affect those three factors to a great extent.

Her mobility was not only reduced by the 50% nerf during Valkyrie, but she also no longer has an instant resurrect. The cast time on this ability did already affect a lot of players who were not happy about the idea, but were still satisfied with the option to have it instant in her Valkyrie. Which is now history. Being a slower hero made her an easier targets for many other characters such as Widowmaker, McCree, Soldier 76 and so on. Which is good for them, but not for Mercy. Playing as Mercy seems to have become more of a chore because she is now so easily countered. We could say that she now requires a little bit more skills to be able to survive longer, but also a well coordinated team. With the current state of Competitive play, this might be hard to achieve for solo queues.

Many players are also left wondering how and when to use her Valkyrie ability to be the most effective.  The way of seeing it is similar to how we look at a Zenyatta’s Transcendance. It is now mostly a ultimate that is made to increase the healing done, and in Mercy’s case, increase the damage boost as well. These two abilities being rather similar may also have made Mercy feel less unique, less interesting to play. We will probably need to wait until we see more of how the changes affected Esports before we can see any more tuning from Blizzard on this matter.

There is also the issue of changing a hero’s play style in the middle of a Season. We are not talking about some small tweaks here and there, only of major changes. It requires some adjustments from the player’s end. Also, some are not reading patch notes, not aware of their launch after PTR, do not play PTR at all, and are simply jumping in a competitive match with a little surprise. It does affect how competitive seasons grow and require a small adaptation time. For some players it only takes a few games, while others may struggle a little more as it changes how they used her ultimate or how they planned their escapes. In both cases, the time they get to spend in their competitive match can get reduced by the time they spend learning the new aspects of their hero.

mercy - overwatch

So, is Mercy actually balanced, but just not fun to play? Or is she really unbalanced?

This is a topic that we have been discussing a lot lately, but we would like to know your opinion.  There are also many players suggesting various ways of making Mercy fun to play again, you can find those in the Overwatch Forum and Reddit!

All images are copyright of Blizzard Entertainment


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