Changes coming to two of Overwatch's most controversial characters

Sandbox balance is hugely complicated thing to negotiate to start with; throw in 25 different heroes with complicated abilities and you get the headache for developers that Overwatch must be. At its baseline though, developers have always wanted their competitive game to be truly competitive and almost more importantly they’ve wanted it to be fun. It’s a video game after all! When we talk about fun we mean both for the person playing the character in question and for the person playing against that character. Currently there are two characters on the Overwatch live serves whose abilities arguably don’t fit that bill that on the PTR have received some huge changes- Mercy and D.va.

D.va

For a while now D.va has been an incredibly effective Tank pick in Overwatch’s Meta. Her mobility gives her fantastic synergy with the hugely popular Dive composition, her damage when she has the support of a Winston or Tracer for instance can be devastating, and her self-destruct can yield both team wipes and a fresh health pool. The jewel in her crown however is her Defence Matrix. This is a shield she can throw up in front of herself and over allies that eats all projectile based damage. It has led to her being one of the most powerful characters in terms of shutting down offensive abilities and ultimates, like Soldier’s Tactical Visor or Pharah’s barrage, as she can simply fly up to the character and eat the attack like the gremlin she is. She also provides one of the most effective peeling defences available for the support characters in the game; when one is pressured all she has to do is fly to them at the call of distress, throw her defence matrix over the support and boom- Tracer is left crying because she can’t secure any kills.

Ultimately this has led to D.va being based pretty much solely around this one ability which considering the aggressive and energetic vibe of D.va’s character, is not as much fun as it could be. Not only that but for someone playing against D.va, it can be an incredibly frustrating mechanic as it doesn’t have a cooldown as such but rather a charge so it is impossible to know when she has it available- leading again to a lot of DPS tears of frustration as their third rocket barrage that game is eaten.

So what is being done about this highly frustrating, highly defensive, almost boring D.va? Here’s the patch notes:

What better way to make D.va’s damage more fun than rockets?

Scott Mercer

Principal Designer

Micro Missiles (New Ability)-
D.Va fires a barrage of small rockets that detonate on impact, dealing damage in a limited radius around each explosion. These can be fired while D.Va is using any other ability or firing her Fusion Cannons

Defence Matrix-
Defence Matrix’s resource meter will now deplete twice as quickly

Boosters-
Fusion Cannons can now be fired while flying

These changes mean that Defence Matrix has been nerfed as an ability, now it has to be used at far more specific moments instead of just held up to eat everything. However D.va herself arguably has been buffed, or at least received a shift to her role. Her new ability to fire a barrage of small rockets gives her a huge spike damage potential coupled with the fact that she can now keep firing her primary weapon while flying. In an interview with Youtuber Stylosa, Scott Mercer the game’s principal designer said that they felt if they “took away some of her defensive capabilities they had to give her back some of her offensive capabilities” and the Micro Missiles where a much more fun way of doing that than just buffing her primary weapon damage.

Micro Missiles are certainly a more explosive way to inject some DPS focussed fun back into D.va and this give and take style rework of her is interesting to say the least. What this will mean for her as a hero in the Meta is currently unclear but with the versatility of her kit and the spike damage potential she now has its doubtful she will be going far. It’s possible that we see D.va return to a hyper aggressive, screaming assassin style of Tank that flies into the heart of the enemy to ruin a support’s day or goes out on sneaky flanks in her tonne of steel Meka. Whatever the case this rework sees Defence Matrix take just a little more planning than before which is definitely a great change- even if she’ll still probably eat every Pharah’s dreams of PoTG.

Mercy

Now we get into what is probably one of the biggest changes any character has every received in Overwatch balance history, and one that is sure to shake up the way the support Meta game is played. Everyone’s favourite, or most loathed, angelic Swiss Doctor is also getting a rework- and it is a doozy.

For one reason or another Mercy and the players that main her have been the recipients of a huge amount of salt from the community. Rightfully or not, Mercy’s passive and slippery play style has led to people accusing her of requiring less skill to play due to her not having to aim as such to get value like a Tracer would have to. Another large part of that debate is that she can completely undo a lost team fight for her team by simply hiding, flying in once her team are dead and hitting Q to bring them all back. This is definitely a frustrating thing to play against and can at times feel very cheap as a victory one by the mechanical skill of one team is undone by the press of a button from the other.

Whether this is a train of thought you agree with or not what separates an average Mercy from a highly skilled Mercy is their decision making, where should they be and when to avoid death. She is a very game-sense focussed hero and her new changes… well… speak for themselves:

 Resurrect (formerly Mercy’s Ultimate ability)
o Ability now targets a single player, instead of every player within a radius
o Radius reduced to 5 meters
o Ability cooldown is 30 seconds
o Mercy is no longer granted invulnerability while Resurrect is active

 Valkyrie (New Ultimate Ability)
o Valkyrie unleashes the full power of Mercy’s Valkyrie Suit, enhancing her weapons and abilities for 20 seconds:
o Caduceus Staff: Mercy’s healing and damage boost beams now affect all allies near the targeted teammate, and the staff’s effective range has been extended
o Caduceus Blaster: Granted infinite ammo, while simultaneously increasing damage and fire rate
o Guardian Angel: Increased range and movement speed
o Resurrect: Cooldown is instantly reset when Valkyrie is activated and reduced to 10s after the initial cast
o Hover: Mercy gains the ability to fly freely, at increased movement speed
o Regeneration (Passive): No longer interrupted when Mercy takes damage

There is so much to talk about here but we will cover the headlines. First and foremost Resurrect is no longer Mercy’s ultimate ability, instead it is now on a cooldown of thirty seconds but can only be used to bring one teammate back from the grave. This in itself is absolutely massive and incredibly powerful. Any great Mercy player will tell you that frequently the most valuable use of her ult was not to bring back your whole team but rather to put you in a position in a team fight where you have the man advantage. When a fight is 6vs6 it’s equal fight but as soon as a team loses one or two members they are significantly more likely to be facing a trip back to spawn. Mercy being able to bring one player back every thirty seconds now means she can put her team in this position a lot more frequently- she just has to make sure she’s picking the right person to bring back. This, while strong, puts a lot more emphasis on her need for good game awareness which is a great change.

Her new ultimate, Valkyrie, “unleashes the full power of Mercy’s Valkyrie suit” and that is certainly a good description. Put simply, she can fly around like the spectator camera for 20 seconds, the range on her healing and damage boost staff is increased and her pistol is capable of outputting a tonne of damage. In fact there is a video of a nano booster Mercy doing some ugly things to the whole enemy team floating around on twitter. She effectively becomes a mini flying Zenyatta and Orisa ultimate which is able to resurrect one of her team every 10 seconds which is absolutely incredible. Honesty at the moment it could be a little too strong and a little too flexible, in fact it was announced that her pistol damage would receive a nerf about an hour after players got their hands on the PTR.

Even so, this change to Mercy is incredible and will certainly have a huge impact on the game and hopefully being another level of decision making and variety to Mercy’s gameplay. It slots perfectly into the fantasy of the character, Mercy being this battle medic that flies around the field like a guardian angel watching over all of her ungrateful Genji main children and it will certainly be a lot of fun to play!

And remember, for those who are worried about this new Mercy, Soldier’s tactical Visor will be a fantastic counter to the new Screaming Battle Witch.

Let us know what you think of the changes below or follow the link to our twitter @lastritesgaming