*Editor’s Note: This guide has been edited and rewritten in order to stay up to date with Mercy after the rework of her character. This rework was made live to all platforms in the September 19, 2017 patch. This article also includes edits to the abilities that were slightly changed in the October 17, 2017 patch. While this article was originally written in February of 2017 it was updated in October of 2017 to include tips and tricks pertaining to Mercy 2.0.*
This post serves as a guide to using Mercy more effectively in Overwatch. I’m no pro, but I am a Mercy main and have over 190 hours of experience with her, 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 ability allows Mercy to resurrect one fallen teammate with full health every 30 seconds. It has a 5 meter range and a cast time of one second. Mercy is vulnerable to damage while casting Resurrect, however the teammate who has been resurrected is invulnerable for a short amount of time.
- Valkyrie: Mercy’s ultimate ability allows her to use her Valkyrie suits full potential by giving her the ability to chain heal and chain damage boost teammates who are grouped together (including herself), fly faster and independently, making her pistol have unlimited ammo and a faster firing speed, and adding one more resurrect slot (however this doesn’t affect the cooldown of the resurrect ability in any way).
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.
Before we get into the guide aspect of this article, I’d like to suggest some settings for Mercy that can be changed in-game. Number one is to switch “Guardian Angel Prefers Beam Target” to off. When this is on, Guardian Angel will fly you to whoever you are healing even if you aren’t looking at them or are trying to fly to someone else. The second is to switch “Toggle Beam Connection” to on. This will allow you to simply press the button and toggle the beam onto your teammate without having to hold the button down. I have carpal tunnel in both wrists and this setting helps me out tremendously, plus it’s just a more simple way to connect your beam. When paired, these settings make it so much easier for you to fly around the battlefield and effective heal/boost your team.
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. As of right now she is the most capable, dynamic healer in the game. Not only does she heal more easily and faster than other healers but given that she is designed to focus primarily on healing rather than healing and offense, which makes her a dedicated healer, she is argubly the best healing the game at this moment. She is also the only healer who, in the right hands, can easily solo heal a team without assistance from another healer. What makes Mercy particularly effective though isn’t simply healing; the mark of a great Mercy player is a keen focus on timing, positioning/awareness and decision making skills.
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.). Now that Mercy no longer has her resurrect ultimate ability (which allowed for multiple resurrects at one time), being able to keep your team healed is more crucial than ever. There is no safety net for when you fail to heal your team as you can only resurrect one fallen teammate every 30 seconds. It’s important to keep your eye on your team as well as the enemy team in order to stay alive and keep your team alive. This is one of the most challenging aspects of playing Mercy and it’s a skill that tends to come with experience.
To be effective as Mercy you also 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 doesn’t 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 Soldier 76 on your team and think that you will need to keep him healed as the player is always on the front lines of the battle. However, he can heal himself and others close to him with one of his abilities so depending on whether or not the player is utilizing that ability, you may not have to focus on him very much in terms of healing.
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 mediocre 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 choosing to switch over to a tank to charge your ultimate in order to chain heal everyone can be a good strategy in the right moment. Priority healing is one of the more 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 likely 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. It’s good to just keep doing your best, don’t retaliate against them or focus harder on them. If they become overtly toxic then go ahead and report them and find a new match. No need to stick with someone who is toxic towards you for any reason.
Heroes Never Die! Resurrect and How to Use It.
Resurrection brings a fallen teammate back to life with full health and with a brief moment of invulnerability once every 30 seconds (with one extra resurrect while in Valkyrie). 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). It takes her about one second to cast this ability so it’s basically instantaneous once the ability is activated however you need to be within 5 meters of the fallen teammate and will have no personal invulnerability. It’s best to never fly in and resurrect one teammate in the middle of the entire enemy team as you will die and they will probably die again, making it pointless.
Now that you can no longer resurrect the entire team and instead can only resurrect one or two fallen teammates with a large cooldown, it’s crucial to plan out your resurrects a little better than most people previously did. With Mercy’s new rework came a new playstyle concept: priority resurrect. Much like priority healing, you will need to be knowledgeable and on the ball to be effective when resurrecting. There are of course times when only one teammate dies at a time and if they are in a safe enough location then just resurrect when you can. When multiple teammates die, however, you will need to use some quick critical thinking to make the right choice.
As I said previously, location of the fallen teammate is a major factor in making the decision. If they are far away or in the middle of multiple enemies then you may just be better off leaving them to respawn on their own. Who the character is and the player’s skill with them is another factor to consider. If two teammates have died close together and in a safe spot but you can only resurrect one, then you should be choosing the one whose immediate revival will help the team the most.
For example, if you are attacking on a payload map and have the choice between a D. Va or Tracer, I’d say it’s probably best to go with D. Va since she is a tank and can help push the payload better. However, if the Tracer is a better player and has been doing a lot for your team in regards to flanking and eliminating stranded enemies, then you may want to resurrect the Tracer. Again, as with everything, it’s entirely situational. You will need to gain some confidence in your abilities and do what you think is right for the team in order to be skilled at resurrecting. It’s a game of trial and error but in the end it isn’t as complicated as it sounds, especially of you are following any of my other tips regarding positioning, prioritizing and simply paying attention to your team.
- Be smart with your resurrections. Use the ability whenever you deem it appropriate and useful.
- Keep in mind that you only have one every 30 seconds. Sometimes it’s not the best idea to use it just because you have it. If the person you resurrect is just going to die again or you are going to die for the resurrect, it may be better to just back up and regroup with your team, saving the resurrect for later.
- Be tactical and keep your cooldown and Valkyrie charge time in mind. You may be able to time things so that you can instantly resurrect two people at a time, which could change the tide of the game. Even though it’s not her ultimate anymore, it’s still a potentially game changing ability.
- You can’t resurrect when you are dead so keep in mind how important it is for you to stay alive. Don’t risk your life for a pointless resurrection!
Valkyrie Online! Mercy’s Ultimate Ability Detailed.
Mercy’s ultimate ability boosts her Valkyrie suit to its full potential, making her extremely effective and beneficial to her team. Let’s break it down, ability by ability:
Chain healing/boosting: When in Valkyrie, Mercy can simply target one teammate and heal or boost all nearby teammates at the same time. During a push, either on offense or defense, this ability can either power your teams push to be way more effective or help your team defend against a powerful push from the enemy. It’s also helpful when needing to heal multiple teammates at once, instead of individually healing them just chain heal them. She also heals herself when chain healing in Valkyrie so it can be used to help you out as well.
Using the blaster: When in Valkyrie, Mercy’s pistol has unlimited ammo and shoots faster meaning she never has to reload and can do a good deal of damage. This can be helpful to your team in many ways, as you can potentially become one more effective DPS character while in Valkyrie. However, I recommend that, unless the situation calls for it, you don’t make this a priority when in Valkyrie. If you team is fully healed then fine, have some fun, but don’t leave your team high and dry just to get a few kills.
Flying: Mercy can fly independently while in Valkyrie, potentially making her more difficult to hit and allowing her to maneuver herself to a safer area easier. I personally use this mostly to position myself far above my team to heal them as most enemies don’t seem to look up, making me safe and effective. Her beam and Guardian Angel abilities have extra long-range in Valkyrie so you can be high above or far away from your team and still be able to help them out.
This ability lasts for 20 seconds so make it count! Using Valkyrie at the right times can be hugely beneficial to your team so be sure to communicate with your team and plan your pushes when Valkyrie is ready.
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 offensive 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.
Here’s a good example of using the pistol effectively, I knew that once I resurrected my teammate he would be in immediate danger so helped him out and got a triple kill!
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. Mastering Guardian Angel is the key to mastering Mercy.
Mercy is a great hero and 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!