The mid-season patch for Overwatch 2 was announced yesterday (October 31), and unfortunately, players are in for more tricks than treats this Halloween. Known to some as the global support nerf, this update has brought significant ability changes to the game's various support heroes.
This particular mid-season patch includes more than just changes to support characters, but with Ana, Baptiste, Illari, Kiriko, Lifeweaver, and Zenyatta all impacted, it feels as if there was a theme. Each one of these heroes was also nerfed (made worse), except for Zenyatta, who was bosted by a couple of perks, such as the line-of-sight timing on his Harmony Orb increasing from three to five seconds.
As a support main who primarily plays Ana and Baptiste, I was initially saddened to see these changes. Ana has already received a patch in the last couple of months in which her Biotic Grenade was changed to reduce the healing capacity, and with the cooldown of this ability increased from 10 to 12 seconds, I now have fewer ways to defend myself while playing as this character. However, after giving it some thought, I've come to realize that nerfing support heroes could be good for the future of Overwatch 2.
Since the release of the competitive first-person shooter sequel, the support class has slowly been buffed (made better or boosted). Old heroes received new and improved abilities as well as a passive healing ability, which made some characters practically unkillable. The more recent support heroes like Kiriko and Illari have also made a name for themselves for being overpowered and more lethal than some DPS-focused (damage per second) characters.
This newfound strength made some support mains hungry for power. Bloodthirsty Moria and Kiriko players seem to grow in numbers, as many are more concerned with getting kills than healing their team. It was for this reason that I thought the global support nerf could have been beneficial for a lot of players, regardless of their chosen class. But, that hope was quickly extinguished once I saw that Mercy had been left out of the patch notes.
Resurrecting an old grudge
Every so often, a shred of hope creeps up on me. It’s always small, but nevertheless, before a mid-season balance change: I can’t help but cross my fingers in the hope that Mercy finally gets some much-needed reworking to her abilities.
To the lucky few who have never seen or played against this particular support hero, let me spin you a short tale of woe. Mercy is one of the older characters in Overwatch 2, introduced in 2016 in the launch of the original first-person shooter. With the help of her Caduceus Staff, she can heal or grant damage boosts to allies. Unlike other supports who perhaps need to reload or recharge healing abilities, Mercy can dish out a constant stream of heals. Her mobility is also one of the best in the game for the support class. She can dash from one teammate to another with the Guardian Angel ability, which has a cooldown of 1.5 seconds and a movement speed of 17 meters a second, placing her up there with characters like Moira when it comes to movement.
The lack of aim and abilities management, as well as mobility, means she is one of the heroes in Overwatch 2 with the lowest skill ceilings and an equally low barrier of entry. This isn’t to say that there aren’t some fantastic Mercy players out there who make the most of what this character has to offer, but by and large, Mercy is one of the simplest heroes to master.
I have no problem with accessible heroes in Overwatch 2 that are simple to grasp for new players. Playing Mercy is a great way to get into the competitive shooter and learn the ropes; she can be great fun. However, my biggest issue with this character is that she can have such a massive impact in matches without the need for much skill. In particular, Mercy focusing on one hero and damage-boosting them can turn a mediocre player into an untouchable god. Below the absolute top tiers of this game, you usually need a Mercy to beat a Mercy.
Untouchable and unkillable
This plea will likely fall on deaf and maybe even angry ears. Sometimes, it seems as if Mercy is one of the heroes least likely to get reworked in Overwatch 2, not least because of her dedicated and vocal fanbase, who don’t hesitate to speak their minds.
While this character did receive some movement nerfs during the beginning of Overwatch 2 in late 2022/early 2023 and a damage boost decrease in Season 6, it’s not done much for balancing her out in the long run. By and large, this hero is still one of the worst to play against while easily standing as the most infuriating. If I have to see one of my hard-earned eliminations resurrected again, I may snap.
For now, all we can do is hope and pray this character gets a proper rework sometime in the future, or maybe even accidentally deleted. Luckily, the rest of the support changes this season will hopefully improve matches and competitive play by forcing healers to be just a little bit more cautious.
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Elie is a Features Writer for TechRadar Gaming, here to write about anything new or slightly weird. Before writing for TRG, Elie studied for a Masters at Cardiff University JOMEC in International Journalism and Documentaries – spending their free time filming short docs or editing the gaming section for their student publications.
Elie’s first step into gaming was through Pokémon but they've taken the natural next step in the horror genre. Any and every game that would keep you up at night is on their list to play - despite the fact that one of Elie’s biggest fears is being chased.