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The most popular hero in Overwatch by far is Mercy, based on competitive playtime, and she just got some huge changes currently being tested in the PTR. Resurrection is no longer her ultimate. Instead, it’s a regular, single-target ability on a 30-second cooldown. Her ultimate gives her the ability to fly, resets and decreases the cooldown on resurrection to 10 seconds, gives her huge range on her heal and Guardian angel abilities and finally gives her infinite ammo on her pistol while buffing her damage and fire speed.
Called “Valkyrie,” this signature part of the Mercy rework seems more like a random grab bag of buffs. It’s as if we’ve fastforwarded a year down the line of a Mercy rework that kept adding new features after testing with the last seemed insufficient. Because so much was added all at once, there was bound to be problems that arose once the community got their hands on it. Case in point: the new and improved Battle Mercy.
And the Overwatch team has taken notice of this. On the same day the Mercy changes went live on the PTR, game designer Geoff Goodman announced on the forums that Mercy’s gun is now much stronger than expected, and this was not what they’d intended. “There is likely to be a good amount of tuning happening throughout this PTR to iron this kind of stuff out. As obvious as it is that this has gone too far, and the same might even be true for her other changes, moving away from the 5-man GG resurrection meta-game is the right direction, and it’s necessary for the future of Overwatch.
Overwatch players have had to endure stale meta after stale meta, but one thing has always been consistent at the non-professional levels of play: Mercy resurrections have shaped the game. No matter what team composition you were running, you were still always playing the Resurrection game. Each team had a Mercy, and each team would try to kill the other’s Mercy before they can get the resurrect off. Whichever team Resurrected first would lose, because team one would die and get Resurrected to kill team two, but then team two would get resurrected and kill team one.
“We think it’s wrong to tell a main healing character to go off and hide somewhere and stop healing,” Game director Jeff Kaplan said in a developer update. “We felt like her resurrect was something that needed to be addressed.”
This also led to the problem known as the “Mercy One-Trick,” where players were able to get themselves to Grand Master in competitive by doing nothing but hide and wait for a 5-man resurrection opportunity, that likely wouldn’t even win them the game. Beyond that, competitive games aren’t fun when you know exactly what is going to happen and in the exact order. But, no matter the Meta in Overwatch, it was always Mercy’s game.
With these changes, as numerous as they are, we’re going away from that Resurrection game. Reasonably, Mercy can only resurrect three people with creative use of her ultimate, and that will be 10 seconds apart – not all at once – so there will no longer be that soul-crushing feeling of having your entire work wiped out by one button press. Changing resurrection makes being a great Mercy a lot more skill-based.
As we’ve seen, whether or not the numerous buffs granted by Mercy’s new ultimate will stick around remains to be seen, and it might end up that other aspects are also too overpowered. We can expect this PTR cycle to be pretty long, as it also includes major changes to Junkrat and to D.Va, so who knows what Mercy is going to look like on the other end? The important part though is resurrection. Going away from the Resurrection game is the right move.