Why Mercy's Resurrect had to be killed

By now, you’ve heard about the massive overhaul that’s on deck for Mercy. With a new solo-target, “E skill” Resurrect and new ultimate ability, Mercy looks like a completely different character on paper. While some have welcomed the changes with open arms, others have been left asking, “Why?” The problems that Mercy suffered from made her an issue in competitive queue all the way up the ladder. From the way skill rating works to the fact that she promoted sloppy or passive play, Mercy was much more of a hindrance than many would like to believe. Here are a few ways that Mercy was problematic, and some ways that her prospective changes address these issues. Hopefully you’ll see a pattern.

One-tricking as Mercy

A lot of players one-trick in competitive queue—meaning, for better or worse, they are only good at a single hero and often refuse to play anyone else. People do it for a variety of reasons ranging from comfort to leveling strategies. There’s not a whole lot wrong with this approach if you can ignore the incessant pleas of your teammates to switch when it’s needed, but one-tricking with Mercy often leads to inflated skill rating gains, which then exacerbates the issue of poor game sense at all levels of play. 

You might be thinking, “What’s wrong with staying on Mercy? Every team needs healing, right? What better choice is there than the prototypical healer in Overwatch?” All are very valid points, but the problem comes down to her ultimate ability. Like LG JAKE said in a blog post earlier this year, purposefully waiting to use Resurrect when four or more teammates are down creates a cycle of failure in many instances. A lot of Mercy players just see “x5” next to the skull and pull the trigger. However, most of the time they aren’t looking at the situation or enemy ult economy when they do it.

I play a lot of Reinhardt, for example. As soon as four or five enemies are dead, I already know what might be coming if the other team has a Mercy. It’s one of the easiest reads in all of Overwatch, and that comes with or without your team screaming to watch out for Mercy. When that big Resurrection pops, it does nothing but put a smile on my face. Why? Because that’s four or five fresh targets to get with an Earthshatter so my team can farm more ultimate charge.

Not only did that rez accomplish nothing, but it actually puts the other team in a deeper hole. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t see any of that. It rewards the Mercy player for that mass rez, and if they end up winning the map, they get a handsome SR bonus. For the Mercy one-trick, you couldn’t ask for anything better. You’re playing the same character so the game has a better gauge of your skill level, and you’re nailing multiple rezzes every time you ult. It’s the easiest recipe for success regardless of how well you’re really playing.

A complete lack of utility

For all of Mercy’s attractiveness as a healer, she doesn’t have a whole lot more to offer her team. Zenyatta has Orb of Discord, Ana has Sleep Dart and Biotic Grenade, Lucio is a healing beacon and can boop, and all of them can do damage while they’re healing. Their survivability surpasses Mercy’s in every way, and they have a handful of debilitating effects that Mercy doesn’t have. Like the folks at Arc6 told me sometime back, you shouldn’t be seeing Mercy if there’s no Pharah on the field. At least then she can get up and out of range of some heroes. 

Don’t get me wrong. It’s possible that with the inferior aim at lower levels, you might be okay just zipping around between grounded teammates. You might even be able to pocket someone on the ground without much worry. Even if this is the case, you have to ask yourself what purpose you’re serving in every engagement. Is it just healing or occasionally boosting DPS? Because that Zenyatta has a fire-and-forget heal on Winston, Orb of Discord on the enemy Mercy, and he’s nailing headshots and raking in some kills. At the end of the day, you’re there for Resurrection.

Mercy promotes sloppy gameplay

We’ve gotten to a point where a sizable part of the Overwatch community believes that Mercy is the support meta in every situation. You can’t enter a game anymore without someone demanding that Mercy be chosen over the others. Some might say it’s because she’s the best healer, but this is untrue. It’s because of Resurrection, nothing else. In this regard, it’s unfair to pin lazy, sloppy play on the Mercy who hides and waits for that “x5”. People don’t like being without that crutch, plain and simple.

It would now be appropriate to discuss what happens with Mercy in Overwatch esports. For starters, where there is Pharah, there is Mercy. That’s the only time you’ll see her. Next, you will very seldom see a huge rez unless it’s completely safe to do so. This usually occurs when the enemy respawn stagger gives you the opportunity to do so. Other than that, single or double rezzes are the name of the game, and they happen as soon as someone drops so they can get right back in the fight. Even with that, Resurrection still has very little impact on the game. Look at the following chart provided by Winston’s Lab, an Overwatch data analysis site:

This measures ult efficiency by showing the percentage of fights won when ults were used, minus the percentage of fights won where ults weren’t used by heroes with two total hours played in esports matches since June 20th. (D.Va is omitted because she technically has two ultimates.) As you can see, at the highest levels of play, Resurrection has almost no impact on engagements. If it’s not good at the professional level, what does that say about it in unorganized play, where it feeds the enemy half of the time?

Of course, pro play is not reflective of the entire competitive ladder, that same disorganization at lower-level play means teams often lacked the coordination to bait out the rez before following up with ults of their own. In other words, sometimes a big rez was indeed effective.  

Even so, Mercy was in a bad spot—take it from Reinforce. She was not fun to play, she made people lazy, and there were serious problems with her SR gains. If you’re a fan of Resurrection, her changes actually make it a whole lot better. Now your Mercy will actually have to keep fighting and make micro decisions in every battle like everyone else, all while prolonging the engagement with individual rezzes. Not only that, but her ultimate brings more tools to the table, putting her closer to the caliber of support character she should be. In theory, this should improve the quality of player behind the Swiss medic.

While these PTR changes might be shocking, think of how much more value you’ll be getting per spawn. Think of all the times having one tank die caused a hold to snowball. Give it some time and let it sink in. These changes are a step in the right direction.