Mercy is a player character appearing in the 2016 video game Overwatch, a Blizzard Entertainment–developed team-based first-person shooter, and its related animated and literary media. Lucie Pohl voices Mercy in English-language Overwatch media.
|First appearance||Overwatch beta (2015)|
|First game||Overwatch (2016)|
|Created by||Blizzard Entertainment|
|Voiced by||Lucie Pohl (English)|
Within the Overwatch narrative, "Mercy" is the callsign of Swiss doctor Angela Ziegler, who provided key medical support for the original Overwatch group. In game, she is a Support class character who can heal and buff teammates and resurrect fallen teammates. The character is one of the more popular in the game, being noted by Blizzard to be the most played support character during the game's beta. However, her resurrect ability has been criticized in competitive and professional play levels, given the swing in momentum the ability creates, and she has undergone a major rework by Blizzard to try to make her a more well-rounded playable hero.
In Overwatch, Mercy is classified as having a "support" role, specifically as a healer for her team. As a healer, a player using Mercy can see colored ghost images of their teammates through any obstacle, with the color indicating their health levels, and when in-sight, can see the health bar of the teammate. Mercy is equipped with the "Caduceus Staff" and "Caduceus Blaster". The Caduceus Staff possesses two firing modes: the primary fire, when connected to an ally heals them for as long as they are tethered to the healing stream, while the secondary fire buffs an ally's damage output. The Caduceus Blaster is a small pistol which can deal effective damage at close range, but is otherwise weak. Although Mercy comes equipped with the Caduceus Blaster, a close-range pistol, Kotaku noted that many Overwatch players ridicule offensive-minded Mercy players, referred to as "Battle Mercies", as firing the pistol detracts time from healing teammates.
Her abilities include "Guardian Angel" and "Angelic Descent". Mercy can use Guardian Angel to fly directly towards a targeted teammate, including those that have recently been eliminated, either to move quickly across the field or near a teammate to apply her staff's powers, or to dodge enemy fire. While aloft, Mercy can use the Angelic Descent ability to slow her rate of falling, provide more maneuverability. She also has her "Resurrect" ability, allowing her to revive one fallen teammate shortly after they are killed, though leaving her vulnerable for a few seconds during the process and has a long thirty-second cooldown. Her Ultimate ability is "Valkyrie", which gives her omni-directional flight and several boosts for fifteen seconds: passive self-healing, increased "Guardian Angel" range and speed, doubled healing and damage boost range, chain healing and damage boost to all nearby allies of the target for the same amount, increased sidearm fire rate, and infinite sidearm ammo.
Development and designEdit
Mercy was one of the first twelve Overwatch characters introduced at Blizzard's BlizzCon 2014 event. A Polygon story covering the event noted Mercy was equipped with feathery wings, a healing stream, and a pistol. Mercy is voiced by Lucie Pohl, a German-American voice actress. While Blizzard had been trying to find an actor native to the area that could perform a good Swiss-German accent, they found Pohl's accent to be good for the character and selected her instead, according to lead writer Michael Chu.
In concept art for Overwatch, prior to her final design, Mercy had been represented as a black man with white hair and a broad build, but otherwise having similar outfits and abilities as the released version.
In addition to her default skin, Mercy has received themed cosmetics, such as during the game's 2017 "Year of the Rooster" event.
While Blizzard has made various changes to all of the heroes since the game's release, Mercy has seen very significant changes, including a complete rework of her skill kit, maintain to address how her ability to resurrect downed team members has impacted the game. At release, Mercy's ultimate ability was "Resurrect", which revived any recently eliminated teammates within a certain range, granting them full health and a brief invulnerability. Blizzard's developer notes on their July 21, 2016 patch for Overwatch referred to Resurrect as "one of the most powerful abilities in the game." Timely and strategic use of Mercy's Resurrect ability was considered by players to be a game changer, either saving a defending team from a defeat, or allowing an attacking team to continue an offensive push despite several eliminations. In August 2016, Blizzard added a buff to Mercy's "Resurrect" ability, as well as her general healing abilities, in order "to solidify her role as a strong, single-target healer." Prior to a patch in September 2016, post-match Plays of the Games in competitive play were frequently dominated by a Mercy player using the Resurrect ability, requiring Blizzard to rework how the game selected Plays of the Game to reduce this frequency.
Blizzard found that Mercy players overemphasized the "Resurrect" ability, as "it incentivized Mercy players to hide away from important battles, instead of taking part in them". With a September 2017 update, Mercy's "Resurrect" was moved out from being an ultimate ability to a standard skill with a long cooldown. Blizzard introduced her new ultimate, "Valkyrie", which significantly buffs all of Mercy's abilities and reduces cooldowns for fifteen seconds. Blizzard felt by keeping the Resurrect as a skill and adding the new Valkyrie ultimate, it "gives her the opportunity to make big game-making plays and opens a number of new options for her". Even her kit change, Blizzard has continued to fine-tune the abilities within the public test servers to try to achieve a proper balance. Jeff Kaplan said that Blizzard continued to find that with the new kit, Mercy players still kept out of battle save to use Resurrect, when they want the character to be treated as great healer for all team members. A further adjustment was made to Mercy in a January 2018 patch; whereas the Valkyrie ultimate originally had reset the Resurrect cooldown and provided a second Resurrect that could be used immediately, the patch eliminated the reset and second Resurrect. The Overwatch developers stated that they found that many Mercy players were still holding back and using the immediate Resurrects granted by Valkyrie to swing control of the game and which was difficult for opposing teams to counter.
During May 2018, Blizzard partnered with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation to offer a limited-time "Pink Mercy" skin that can be purchased by players, as well as a corresponding tee shirt with all proceeds going to the charity to support breast cancer awareness (akin to the pink ribbon). Blizzard reported that the charity sale raised over US$12.7 million, the largest single-year donation that the Breast Cancer Research Foundation had seen.
Mercy's fictional biography lists her real name, age, and base of operations: Angela Ziegler, 37, and Zürich, Switzerland, respectively. The fictional bio also describers her as "a peerless healer, a brilliant scientist, and a staunch advocate for peace." In the Overwatch universe, she is known to have been affiliated with Overwatch, being their head of medical research, and operating as a field medic and first responder while with them. She ascended to these positions in Overwatch via becoming the head of a prominent Swiss hospital, after which she developed a breakthrough in the field of applied nanobiology, which attracted the attention of Overwatch. Although she disagreed with the militaristic methods implemented by Overwatch, she used their resources to develop her winged Valkyrie swift–response suit. Mercy found herself at odds with her superiors and others in Overwatch, despite her medical contributions. Mercy is also mentioned in Genji's fictional biography, with one line stating, "Hanzo believed that he had killed his brother, but Genji was rescued by Overwatch and the intervention of Dr. Angela Ziegler."
In a fictional news report uploaded by Blizzard, Mercy is quoted as commenting on the end of the Overwatch organization, describing the growingly negative relationship between Soldier: 76 (Jack Morrison) and Reaper (Gabriel Reyes): "after Morrison's promotion to strike commander, his relationship with Reyes changed, the tension became more pronounced as time went on. I tried to mend things. We all did. Sometimes when the closest bonds break, all you can do is pray you stay out of the cross fire."
Mercy has been noted as one of the more popularly used characters in Overwatch; during the game's open beta she was the most played support class character. Mercy's Witch skin for the game's Halloween-themed event was noted by Polygon to be extremely popular with Mercy players. Following her major revamp in September 2017, Mercy has been found to be universally picked as at least one healer on a team in competitive play, and because these changes require her to be closer to combat, the concept of a "Battle Mercy" who mixes both healing with attacks gained popularity at higher-ranked play. Some criticized this change, and felt it was a sign that Blizzard was trying to cater the game towards the competitive players over casual ones; high-level players felt that Mercy was a "zero aim" character prior to the September 2017 revamp, making it easy for new players to learn, but subsequently, the character requires more decision making and choices that can be difficult to casual players to learn.
Video game journalists also praised Mercy; in his review of Overwatch, Phil Savage of PC Gamer, expressed, "I particularly love how varied the movement is between characters," praising Mercy's glide ability and citing Mercy as "the perfect example of how every aspect of a character can, in the best cases, support a specific style." Savage elaborated, "alone, she's vulnerable and slow – easily ambushed and dispatched. But, with line-of-sight to a teammate, she can spread her wings and fly towards them. It's fun to do, and also reinforces the symbiotic partnership between healer and healed: Mercy needs her teammates as much as they need her. It's masterful design." Due to her Resurrect ability being able to cause such an impact on the flow of a game, Kill Screen's Joshua Calixto referred to Mercy as "the most terrifying character in Overwatch."
With professional play such as the Overwatch League, some have argued that Mercy's Resurrect ability, even after the September 2017 revamp, was still too much of a game-changer in these competitive matches. Damian Alonzo for PC Gamer said that strategy for competitive Overwatch is generally about achieving a player advantage, which could be achieved with an early kill and which can snowball into greater advantages throughout the match, but Mercy's Resurrection completely undoes that advantage, nullifying such early kills and without any consequences. PCGamesN's Ben Barrett also said that because Mercy can undo the effects of short-term gain strategies like flanking with Resurrection, these strategies become futile, and resorting to more standard attack patterns slows down the pace of the game.
A relationship between Mercy and Genji was hinted at in voice lines added in early 2017; fan reception to these voice lines was mixed, particularly among fans who engage in "shipping" characters from the game. Fans of the game created a couple name, Gency, for the duo's possible relationship. The relationship is one of the more popular fan-created ones, based on Genji's fictional biography, which includes Mercy saving his life. Gita Jackson of Kotaku wrote that, "while some fans don't like the idea of the characters being canonically straight, there are other concerns that go beyond preference for a particular [relationship]. Some fans believe that 'shipping Mercy and Genji is inappropriate because Mercy is the Overwatch foundation's doctor. For them, the conflict of interest in a doctor/patient relationship is enough to make the ship feel inappropriate," adding that "some fans see the relationship as predatory on Mercy's part."
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