Why Do People Hate Mercy in ‘Overwatch?’

When I play Overwatch I often choose a healer, either Zenyatta, Moira, or Mercy. I love being my team’s support, jumping from player to player and saving them from the brink of death with a click of a button. I’ve fallen into the support role, but it wasn’t by choice.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/qvw595/why-do-people-hate-mercy-in-overwatch

I do not think people directly hate support characters and I have to say in both Overwatch and HotS supports tend to be the ones who get voted up the most at the end of a match because people realize that they are the ones keeping the team alive.

As for Mercy the problem is the game is balanced in such a way that you need her on your team. If you play ranked it is expected that if you play support characters you can play Mercy if no one else is. It makes the game feel stale when every round there is a Mercy involved and it means that while you really would like to play Ana you know deep down that you should be playing Mercy.

So why is it that she feels required every match? Well the revive is kind of obvious but the other part is the fast healing and damage buff. Often enough the entire team doesn’t need healing so really all you need to be focusing on is making sure you are keeping your front line alive. And whereas other supports like Ana require you to make skill shots to heal your teammates Mercy just requires you to tap mouse one. This makes her incredibly good because she never misses a heal and the healing is constant. Add to this her ability to fly which doubles as both a way to stick to front line and a way to escape means she really should never be dying along with being able to get all over a map.


The problem with Mercy is that she has both the largest impact on any game of Overwatch while featuring a skill floor and ceiling which are a single plane. The entire game revolves around Mercy at all times and at all levels of play.

The cry of “but she requires such nuanced decision-making!” is nonsense in the context of Overwatch, where literally every character is making just as many decisions while also grappling with the much higher mechanical demands of their character.

No matter how you slice it, an incredibly positioned player hitting an unbelievable shot that expresses years of disciplined mechanical practice having their contribution be erased by a single, often-safe keystroke is poor design. I won’t miss her.

As a frequent support player, here’s where I stand:

This is a game with 26 characters. For months, one of those 26 characters has been absolutely mandatory to include in your 6-player squad, and due to the nature of team comp, this comes at the expense of other support characters-- characters I really enjoy playing!

Mercy’s must-have status is a state of affairs that needs to be fixed, and it’s a little frustrating to see Blizzard’s efforts to fix it framed as being based on ulterior motives. I’d just like to get to the point where I can confidently pick Zen or Moira instead of Mercy, without feeling like that’s a liability to my team.


It’s an unspoken rule in casual play that nobody wants to play the healer and if they do, it’s a cheap move since playing one is considered “easy mode.” That was affirmed the other week when a video posted by IGN showed how professional players saw Overwatch’s top healer: Mercy.

In what way do the opinions of professional players about the balance of a single character constitute an “unwritten rule” that all healers are cheap? This does not follow.

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People don’t like Mercy in particular because resurrect is frustrating in a very visceral way, which is compounded by her being basically in every game.

Coincidentally, I main support in most team games because I want my opponents to suffer.

Man, these are the most depressing comments. Overwatch is a game that’s meant to be fun for a wide variety of people, and as a support character that’s easier to contribute with out of the box Mercy is fun for a large amount of starting players. I was fine with Blizzard’s first rework because it gave Mercy more for high level players to do, but I’d hate to see her disappear or be nerfed away entirely. She’s not fun to play all the time, but you can always just choose a different healer.

Honestly, I’m getting to such a bitter point with all of this that I wish the mechanical skill junkies who whine about Mercy would just leave for a different game. Counterstrike’s still a thing, right? Or Titanfall 2? Headshot land is waiting right around the bend if you want it!

Different people like to make different decisions. I don’t play her much, but I trust the people who do, and they’re the ones who say she requires a lot of decision making to play well. If anyone wants to read that for themselves, check out applecider’s essays.

Anyways, buff Ana. Lemme feel better about choosing heals grandma when I’m not tank and we’ll be good.


Here is the problem, boiled down: the character you create to be accessible for inexperienced and mechanically unpracticed players (which is fine) should not also be the most powerful character in the game. Do you know why?

It’s because highly skilled players who are looking for every abusive competitive edge they can will exploit that character to a degree that makes everything else obsolete, which is exactly what we are seeing right now. Overwatch has more supports than Mercy, but you have to squint to notice.

I won’t miss her.

A lot of these problems probably wouldn’t have occurred if it wasn’t for the competitive balancing mindset of “make new changes instead of undoing old ones”. There was a long period of time where Mercy just wasn’t picked competitively, until she got a buff that gave her temporary invulnerability during the rez ult, and then she exploded in popularity because it became too reliable to do a big team rez.

Instead of adjusting that previous change or altering the other character statistics to compensate for the huge ult potential, they decided they wanted to also make her more “high skill”, and in the process exchanged the existing problem for a whole host of new ones including:

  • Single-use rez poses little in the ways of risky decision making, compared to deciding to use the old rez ult to undo one big pickoff vs the risk of saving it for a big team rez
  • As a consequence of the above, single pickoffs were undone way too casually
  • Mercy’s main weakness was that she was one of the easiest supports to pick off, a weakness that Valkyrie totally eliminates
  • Valkyrie’s multi-heal efficiency during teamfights made Zen and Lucio ults seem redundant
  • Valkyrie’s multi damage boost makes Ana’s offense-oriented ult way less useful

So now as a result of Blizzard not having confidence in the core character mechanics and turning Mercy into a weird frankenstein support class, her appeal for casuals is being constantly diminished so she isn’t such a dominating force in competitive play.

It’s like if Valve decided to make the TF2 Medic’s ubercharge last 5 seconds longer, and instead of undoing the overzealous buff, they redid his whole design to where he now can turn into a flying nigh-unkillable god because eSports(??).


I am not against having accessible characters! I think it’s good that Overwatch has them! I am against having a character so powerful you have to pick them, because if the enemy team has one and you don’t, you’re simply boned.

Having variety and having options for all stripes of players is a huge part of Overwatch’s appeal. “One of the supports must be Mercy” does not serve that concept well.

The problem with buffing the other supports instead of nerfing Mercy, is that you end up with power creep. Fights would be interminable. No one would ever die. So then you’d have to buff various characters’ damage, or reduce characters’ HP pools, and in the long run you end up having to fiddle with the whole roster instead of just one character.


All of this complaining about the healer character being really good at healing just reminds me that official Yu-Gi-Oh tournies ban Pot of Greed and Monster Reborn and the cranky old man in me just starts going at it.

I personally kind of hate e-sports and professional play, not because of the skill of the players involved (this is something I love, especially when the technowizards called speedrunners go wild with their understanding of a game) but the small bubbled culture it has crated that ends up driving so many design decisions that most people literally do not care about or even really wanted. There’s this weird sense of ownership over a popular game that starts forming, and once the money gets involved, EVERYTHING gets horrible real fast. Just look at the endless complaints of sexism and homophobia in the fighting game scene (particularly Marvel 3 for awhile there).

Decisions like nerfing Mercy don’t just happen because of game balancing for professional play, they happen because of the absolutely absurd idea of what professional players think a game should be, i.e designed solely for what they want. Super Smash Bros got this the worst, with entire communities forming to despise the third entry in the series because of a single iffy design choice (tripping) and other minor complaints the vast majority of people playing these for fun rarely notice, if ever.

Add in all the general grossness (the Overwatch professional scene is a disaster zone of garbage people saying stupid crap) and you can start making out this boy’s club style cultural shift that tends to make games like these eventually unappealing or unapproachable to casual players.


Mercy main here, at first by choice and now by necessity, and the vitriol that surrounds her character is genuinely saddening. While Mercy has balance issues that Overwatch can’t seem to ever get right, I see most of the hate usually goes to the players who choose her. Yes Mercy has become more required with her res rework, but even when she wasn’t a total meta pick people went after her mains for a “low skill ceiling” or not deserving their rank in comp. I don’t even play comp (partly for this reason) and its extremely disheartening to hear people constantly accuse these mains of being bad at the game. Some of us just like to help where we know its most needed, and it feels super crappy when the discourse is about constantly mitigating the worth of Mercy players: we didn’t ask to be in the middle of a PTR shitstorm.

That being said, I feel really bad for people whose other support mains have been edged out because the res rework was a mistake since day one. I personally wish I could play more Lucio or Zen, or god forbid Winston once in a while, and I really hope one day there’s a good middle ground between “ungodly meta” and “throw pick”.


I still want Ana to be stronger just cause I like her, but i see what you’re getting at. I don’t know–I can understand taking down Mercy’s effectiveness a bit if that’s what gets people onto other characters, but dismantling her feels wrong and it seems like we’re gradually going towards a dismantling. I know people who have walked away from Overwatch already because they were so frustrated by how Blizz did Mercy.

Full disclosure: I might be taking this too personally. I only recently got into playing Overwatch myself instead of just watching my little brother play, because of how much fun I have watching OWL actually. Now that I’m into it, it feels like there’s this danger of losing a good thing if it’s transformed into just another fps


Blizzard’s constant ineptitude for balancing is just staggering at this point. As noted above, rolling back invulnerability during rez would have been much better than Valkyrie. “Rez is unfun” is a shit stupid reason to do what they’re doing to Mercy, a character they created AROUND REZ. At this point, they may as well delete her, because it’s obvious they have no fucking idea what to do with her and are just throwing shit at the wall.

Not that I play this game anymore, because hey, I got tired of heroes getting unreasonably buffed or nerfed into the ground. ¯_(ツ)_/¯


In general I think that they shouldn’t be so reactionary when it comes to doing balance changes. If a hero in Dota 2 is dominating the competitive end of the game, the next balance patch will knock them down in power just enough while giving other heroes little boosts to make pro players consider changing up their team composition.

Granted that’s a game with over a hundred heroes whereas Overwatch has just over 20, and a lot more minutia that can be tweaked to have an appreciable affect on how matches play out, but the buffs and nerfs in Overwatch are so overzealous. It’s always a big round number like 25%, or a massive sweeping change to how all ultimates work; they need to have creative restraint and only make changes they can account for the ramifications of.

One thing they could absolutely take from conventional MOBAs is a character ban system, it’s one of the best ways to allow competitive players to self-regulate aberrant power imbalances in the current metagame without drastically affecting the lower end of play (since casual matches will never have ban systems). Give each team one ban each before the match starts, so if they hate Mercy so much, they can choose not to have her be a factor.

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A ban system in dota works because a hero cannot be chosen by both teams. Overwatch allows mirror compositions, and moreover promotes character switching mid-match to counter a certain composition or playstyle. Suppose you have a team ban Mercy; now is that character banned for both sides, or just the opposing side? Then, both teams would naturally be allowed to pick a ban for fairness, and now two characters are banned from the game, limiting options. Having a ban throws a wrench in their design philosophy, as well as it works in other games.

They have this in HotS, so Blizzard definitely knows how a draft mode works, but Overwatch simply doesn’t have the number of characters to sustain this.

Offtopic but Titanfall 2 is basically dead on PC and this is very saddening.


Mercy is fun, and Mercy is powerful, and Mercy is broken. Her ultimate is just nonsense. Super fast unlimited flight, incredible range, boosted abilities, more and faster resurrection. It’s like they intentionally broke the game, because she was powerful enough as she was before.

I play a lot of support and wouldn’t want her gone, but she needs to be dialed back, it’s just that simple.

The whole accessibility angle has nothing to do with the current state of Mercy.

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The trouble with listening to ‘hardcore’ gamers too much, is you end up with games that only appeal to hardcore gamers. I love the approachability of Overwatch, it’s the only multiplayer game I play.

My fiancée plays a lot of MMOs, but before Overwatch she had never played a multiplayer FPS. Overwatch is now the game we play together (I don’t do MMOs).

She loved the colourful cast of characters, but I think Mercy being so accessible had a lot to do with her being able to have fun and stick with it.
At first, she would miss all her shots because it turned out she didn’t realise the reticle indicated where you were shooting, she was aiming the end of her on-screen gun at enemies.

Having someone like Mercy available allowed her to play and make a meaningful contribution to the game, rather than feel hopelessly outclassed. She has racked up 100 hours now as Mercy, learned how to play shooters somewhat, and although still a Mercy main, has picked up a couple of other characters.