This post serves as a guide to using Mercy more effectively in Overwatch. I’m no pro, but I am a Mercy main and I’d like to share what I know for those who want to learn. Keep in mind that this guide is based on experience and opinion, it’s not intended as the “be all end all, 100% correct in every way” rule book for playing this character. Enjoy and feel free to add anything I may have missed in the comments!
Let’s begin with the basics.
Mercy is a support hero in Overwatch whose specialty is healing, damage boosting and reviving teammates. She heals and damage boosts via a beam that connects to a teammate who is being targeted. Damage boost is +30% while connected and she heals 60 HP per second while connected. There is a range on her beam which is fairly standard (15 meters). Her full kit includes:
- Caduceus staff: Mercy’s main “weapon” which is what she uses to heal and damage boost teammates.
- Caduceus blaster: Her secondary weapon is a sidearm used to deal damage and defend herself.
- Guardian Angel: Mercy uses this ability to glide quickly towards a highlighted teammate, providing assistance as quickly as possible.
- Angelic Descent: This is a somewhat passive ability which allows Mercy to slow her speed of descent when falling from heights or crossing gaps. It can also be used to maintain proximity to teammates in the air such as Pharah.
- Resurrect: This is Mercy’s ultimate ability. When charged, Mercy can revive nearby fallen teammates and restore them to full health.
It’s a pretty straightforward kit, one that isn’t hard to get the hang of or even to master. The challenge of playing Mercy doesn’t come from her kit, or from her being particular difficult to play as far as skill goes, but rather has to do with timing, awareness and decision making.
Your first goal as Mercy should always be to keep your teammates healed.
Since Mercy has sub-par defensive capabilities and isn’t properly equipped to be offensive in most situations, her primary purpose is healing. This where one major disconnect between Mercy players and those who don’t play Mercy comes to light. Often times she is regarded as a character whose main purpose is to resurrect her team with her ultimate ability. While this is not necessarily wrong, it isn’t her primary purpose. If you play her properly and keep your team healed, you shouldn’t have to resurrect very often. This is where the timing, awareness and decision making skills come into play, making her a challenging character to use effectively.
If you are playing Mercy and doing your job, with the support of your team of course, then your team should be consistently healed with exceptions (a flanker who is too far, a rogue teammate who plays “lone wolf” style, etc.). If your team is healed, they wont be dying so you wont need to use your ultimate ability very often. Holding on to the resurrect ability and using it in more crucial situations is key to playing Mercy. While a solo or “one man” resurrection isn’t a bad thing, if the situation calls for it, it’s best to keep a hold on your ultimate ability for when multiple teammates die at the same time. This often happens when the enemy team uses their ultimate abilities against your team. In a way, you have to acquire a skill for reading the enemy team and planning your resurrections in advance. This way you can resurrect more teammates at a time, thus gaining your team a second chance after the enemy has used all the metaphorical cards in their deck.
To be effective in this goal you need to have good timing in your healing and resurrects, you need to be aware of your surroundings as well as yours and the enemy teams strengths and weaknesses, and you need to be able to make good decisions when it comes to priority healing and resurrects. Keep in mind that mastery of the Guardian Angel ability is key to using Mercy. This ability allows you to fly quickly around the field by targeting allies in battle. This is useful when flying to a teammate in order to heal them as well as to fly out of a dangerous area by targeting a teammate outside of the battle.
- Stay behind your team/the person you are healing. Mercy is defenseless while healing, use your team as a shield – keep them alive while they defend you.
- Don’t leave the majority of your team to heal a straggler/flanker. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few; there are health kits scattered around for those players, stick with the bulk of your team for maximum efficiency.
- Using Guardian Angel to glide around makes you harder to kill and a more effective healer. Use it often!
- Communicate as best your can when you are being singled out by a flanker, DPS enemy, etc. Let your team know that in order for you to heal them, they need to defend you.
- Don’t hold it against your team for shouting “I need healing!” at you. You are one person who is potentially taking care of five people by yourself. Do your best and don’t beat yourself up when they die, it isn’t always your fault.
- Remember to prioritize your healing based on your team’s needs and composition. It’s not always about healing whoever is closest, it’s also about healing who needs it most.
Let’s talk for a moment about what I like to call priority healing.
It’s important to break down who needs healing most and who can wait at all times in every match. This changes match to match, team to team. It’s helpful to have a general understanding of how all the characters in the game are played but not a requirement. I main Mercy but I have a healthy number of hours with almost every character in Overwatch. I find that it’s a good idea to play all characters at least once so that you can better understand playing around them with any character. When playing Mercy this helps to understand who needs healing most and who can wait.
In regards to priority healing, characters with less health should be high on the priority list while those with more health are lower on the list. This is a basic statement though and tends to be completely situational for a variety of reasons. You have to consider self-healers, since they can heal themselves when needed in most situations. You also have to consider a character like D. Va who technically has 2 lives (mech life and out-of-mech life). You also have to consider your DPS and tank teammates since they are in combat the most and are typically the most in need of healing throughout the game. Like I said, these things change match to match so it’s hard to get specific here given that this is not only based on team composition but also individual players and how they choose to play. For example, you may have a Pharah on your team and think “Ok, I’ll need to keep and eye on her since she is usually in the sky and in action”, since that is how most people play her, but the person playing her in this match may stay grounded and distanced, meaning they don’t need healing as much.
On top of all these considerations you have to pay attention to the better players on your team. While I’m not one to ever say that just because a teammate isn’t playing well that they don’t deserve healing, I think it’s important to recognize your best players and stay with them more than flying away to heal a Genji, for example, who is flanking and dying continuously. You’ll also need to keep in mind that healing and damage boosting properly charges your ultimate. So, for example, you may be trying to heal characters with lower health but switch over to a tank in order to charge your ultimate and simply resurrect multiple low health teammates who died at once. Priority healing is one of the most complex aspects of playing Mercy, it keeps you on your toes the entire match. It’s also something that your need to sort of learn over time. I can’t tell you how to do this in every situation because it’s such a dynamic concept, so experience is the best way to becoming more skilled in this aspect.
As a side note, keep in mind that no matter what you do, no matter your reasons for doing it and regardless of how helpful it all is to the team as a whole you will almost always have someone on your team get mad at you for not healing them in time or for not resurrecting them. Don’t stress about this. Often times these people don’t play healers and therefore don’t quite understand how they work or why you choose to do what you do. One trick that I find helpful is to never announce when your ultimate is ready as Mercy unless it’s in response to a team-wide plan (ie we are all going in, we need to know you can resurrect if we fail). This way they wont constantly expect you to resurrect them all individually because you announced it.
Heroes Never Die! Resurrection: Mercy’s ultimate ability.
Resurrection brings your fallen teammates back to life with full health with a brief moment of invulnerability. You can only revive your teammates for about 10 seconds after they have died (normal respawn time, once they respawn you can obviously no longer revive them) and in order to get more than one they need to have died somewhat close together as there is a range to this ability. It takes her about one second to cast so it’s basically instantaneous once the ability is activated. Originally Mercy was unable to move while casting her ultimate ability and could take damage while casting, but thanks to patches she can now move while casting and becomes invulnerable like those she resurrects while doing so.
It’s a relatively straightforward ability but does require thought and proper decision making, as previously mentioned. Now, before I discuss my personal strategy and the one which other Mercy players I know prefer, I have to say that resurrection strategies differ among the Overwatch community. Your of course welcome to come up with your own strategy, follow other strategies or follow mine. That being said, this is how I choose to utilize my ultimate ability when playing as Mercy.
Resurrecting a single fallen teammate is something that I only do under certain circumstances and honestly it’s pretty rare. Some believe that using your resurrect ability whenever you can – whether it be one or five fallen teammates – is your duty at all times. I don’t agree, as I think that resurrections should be used more tactically. Sure, you regenerate charge pretty quickly so it’s not like you only get one shot to resurrect in the match, but I think it’s key to save the ability for more critical times. There are only two reasons I will resurrect one person and those are when that person is crucial to my or my team’s survival (the one holding the point in overtime, the one doing all the killing at the time, the one who announced their potentially game-winning ultimate ability is charged, etc.) or when my team is well off and not dying very often. It’s highly situational and hard to gauge, but “one man” resurrections are a rarity for me simply because I’d rather save it for when I can benefit the team better via a larger resurrection. If I can predict that the other team is setting up ultimates that will kill my whole team then I will wait until that point to resurrect them all rather than wasting it on one person moments before.
I cannot stress enough that all of this is HIGHLY SITUATIONAL. There is no clear-cut rule or example, you just have to have enough experience to know when to resurrect and when to save it. You also have to gauge how long it will take you to recharge it. If your team isn’t taking a lot of damage due to poorly timed enemy attacks then you will have a hard time building up charge but if they are taking a lot of damage you can build it up rather quickly if you play smart and stay alive.
There is something known as a “Play of the Game Resurrection” which is often a negative thing in regards to team healing and resurrecting. This is when a Mercy basically charges her ultimate ability then waits for her team to die all at once by basically leaving them, hiding away and sacrificing them. This can occasionally earn you the “Play of the Game” due to the amount of resurrections you get at once. The problem with this technique is that it is super fallible. There is no guarantee that your team will die all at once and close enough together, or that you can get in to resurrect them without dying. There is also no reason why you shouldn’t be healing them whenever you can. Overwatch isn’t about your individual success, it’s about the team’s success, and if your team loses but you get the “Play of the Game” for a big resurrection then what does it matter? You still lost when you didn’t have to. There are plenty of Mercy players out there who use this technique often but I think that it’s not always necessary and is too risky to rely upon solely. There are of course times when this is the best thing to do, as I said previously, but you shouldn’t be leaving your team do die purposefully at all times in order to resurrect them all together when you could be safely keeping them alive by healing them. All in all, resurrecting is entirely up the individual player to asses and use. I tend to try to be more tactical in my usage of her ultimate ability but occasionally I wing it and do what I can, even if it ends up being pointless. It’s a trial-and-error sort of thing, I suppose.
- Be smart with your resurrections. Use the ability whenever you deem it appropriate and useful.
- Don’t let your team bully you into using it ineffectively. This ability is a game changer and potentially one of the most powerful ultimate abilities in the game. Trust your instincts and don’t let others tell you how and when to use it in the heat of the moment.
- Be tactical and keep your charge time in mind whenever you use resurrect. You can gain it back quickly or slowly based on the situation you are in so be sure to factor that into the equation when using it.
- Don’t be too jumpy, wait for the enemy to complete their main attack fully before using resurrect. Resurrecting in the middle of a heated attack or an enemy ultimate barrage leaves your team disoriented and susceptible to being killed again immediately, making your resurrection worthless.
- You can’t resurrect when you are dead, play it safe when waiting to resurrect after a large attack by the enemy. It’s ok to hide for a moment in order to pull of an effective resurrection.
To damage boost or to heal? That is the question.
Mercy can damage boost teammates with her staff just as she would heal them, but of course with a different button. I have been working on my damage boosting skills lately, focusing on both boosting and healing, and have come up with a few tips. I’ve found that the best times to use this ability is when there is a secondary healer on the team and you are safely staying alongside a teammate who is capable of doing a lot of damage such as Bastion, Soldier: 76, Pharah, etc. If you are the only healer on a team though, then damage boost is best used when your team is stable enough to sustain light damage while you boost them. When done properly this will help them eliminate enemies faster and you can always switch right back to healing when they start taking damage. General rule of thumb is that it’s fine for light damage to be sustained while damage boosting but once the person you are boosting goes below 50% health then switch back to healing until they are safe. When it comes to figuring out when to damage boost vs. when to heal it’s a real balancing act. I suggest newer Mercy players focus mostly on healing before trying to damage boost as improper damage boosting can lead to unnecessary teammate deaths. Just keep your first priority in mind and boost when the time feels right; don’t forget to keep an eye on your other teammates when boosting one player as they may be in need of healing. Practice makes perfect here, so it may take some time to find your boost/heal balance.
When is it a go time to go full on “Battle Mercy”?
The “Battle Mercy” playstyle refers to a Mercy player using her offensive abilities rather than her healing abilities at any given time in the match; ie pulling out her pistol and attacking the enemy team as opposed to staying behind her team and healing/boosting. It’s a good playstyle to get the hang of whenever you have the chance because being familiar with her defensive capabilities can come in handy when being singled out and attacked. It’s just good sense to practice a bit with her pistol in order to learn how to properly defend yourself, but I think it’s worth noting that you shouldn’t get carried away. Some people play “Battle Mercy” as another offensive character and disregard healing almost entirely in lieu of killing the enemy team. If there are two capable healers on the team then Mercy can be played this way safely but when there is only the Mercy I feel it’s much more important to heal your team and use the pistol only when necessary.
Last but not least…
I urge Mercy players to play smart, stay alive and be sure to use her Guardian Angel ability as much as possible. By using Guardian Angel you can fly to teammates quickly to heal them as well as to avoid being attacked. It’s a basic skill that is crucial to staying alive and thus playing effectively. Mercy is a great hero and, in my totally bias opinion, the best healer in Overwatch if used properly. I hope this guide can help out anyone looking to become more skilled with Mercy as well as possibly educate those who don’t play her character about what it is that she does and how she is to be used. Good luck and don’t forget: Heroes Never Die!