Mercy Strategy & Gameplay Guide “The doctor will see you now.”
Table of Contents
- 1. Strengths
- 2. Weaknesses
- +3. Strategy
- 4. ChangeLog
This guide takes an in-depth look at how to play Mercy in Overwatch. We look at the strengths and weaknesses of the hero, and we go over mechanics, recommended strategies, and things to beware of.
The guide has been written based on our extensive experience playing the game since before the Closed Beta began, and it relies on our decades-long FPS experience. That said, our aim is to keep the guide relatively brief and easy to understand, making it accessible to veterans and new players alike.
If you have any comment on the guide's content or structure, please let us know in the comments! :)
Stamp of Approval
- Highest single-target healing in the game
- Can boost teammates' damage done
- Resurrecting dead teammates is one of them most impactful ultimates
- Guardian Angel allows Mercy to move freely between teammates
- Extremely viable both on Attack and Defense
- Can only heal one player a time
- Cannot do damage while healing, and her weapon is weak
- Has no escape (unless there are teammates to fly to) or survival mechanisms
- Is often successfully focused down by the enemy due to her fragility and importance
In this section, we will briefly go over the main strategies you should employ as Mercy. We will begin with an Overview, and then we will go in depth more about each ability that Mercy has.
Mercy is one of only 3 healers in Overwatch (there are 4 heroes in the Support category, but Symmetra does not have any means of actually healing anyone). She provides the highest single-target healing in the game (which also happens to be much more reliable and easy to use than Zenyatta's), making her a very popular choice.
Unlike Lúcio and Zenyatta, Mercy cannot do any damage while she is healing or damage-boosting a teammate. This means that, when playing as Mercy, your top priority is to keep your teammates' health topped off and to boost their damage; taking out your Caduceus Blaster to deal damage should be a rare occurrence (we explain when below).
In practice, this amounts to spending most of the game holding down fire or alternate fire (healing or boosting damage) while using Guardian Angel to move around and your ultimate to resurrect fallen teammates. The below priority does a good job of superficially summarising Mercy gameplay.
- Use Guardian Angel to get to your teammates.
- Use your Caduceus Staff to heal damaged teammates.
- When no one needs healing, boost the damage of your teammates.
- When teammates around you are dead, use your ultimate to Resurrect them.
- When there are no teammates around you, use your Caduceus Blaster to deal damage and attempt to protect yourself.
Having said that, there are several factors that can make the difference between an average (or even ineffective) Mercy and an outstanding one. These are triage (deciding which ally needs to be healed), choosing when to boost damage instead of healing (and deciding whose damage to boost), positioning yourself as Mercy in order to stay as safe as possible, the correct timing (and targets) for your ultimate, and the subtleties of when to use your pistol. We explore each of these elements in depth in the sub-sections that follow.
3.2.1. Caduceus Staff Healing
LMB: Hold to heal an ally. RMB: Hold to increase an ally's damage inflicted. Press 2 to select.
Using your Caduceus Staff to heal teammates is the core part of Mercy's gameplay. The technique itself is very straightforward: aim at the teammate you wish to heal, and fire. The aim does not need to be precise, as the Staff will simply target the nearest teammate to your crosshair (within a reasonable distance). You also do not need to continue aiming at the teammate you are healing; the healing beam will remain connected to the target for as long as you are in range and in line of sight. In fact, in order to make things easier, the beam persists for a few seconds even when range or line of sight are broken, to avoid it being interrupted by your target's erratic movements.
Moreover, switching healing target is very easy and is recommended. There is no cooldown associated with the Caduceus Staff, so whenever there is a better target for you to heal, simply do so.
The real difficulty of healing as Mercy is in deciding which teammate you should heal when multiple are damaged, as well as to decide between healing and boosting (or dealing) damage.
There is no golden priority list of heroes that you should heal. It is not possible to say "always heal Genji before Winston", for example, because every situation is different. There are two guiding principles for healing as Mercy, which you should always keep in mind.
- You must prevent players from dying before you heal other players to full health.
- You must heal players who are actively involved in a fight and who are taking damage.
The reason for the first principle is simple: a dead player cannot be healed back up, and cannot do anything to help the rest of your team. Because of this, you should always look to heal very damaged players to "safe" health levels before you go on to top others off. A simple example would be to focus your healing on a Soldier: 76 with 20 health instead of on a Roadhog with 300 health.
There are many factors at work here. For example, if the other team has a Widowmaker in play, your goal is to heal players above 150 health so that Widowmaker cannot kill them in a single shot. If, on the other hand, the other team is using a Pharah or a Junkrat, you should should heal multiple players up so that no one is on a very tiny amount of health, since the splash damage of Pharah's rockets and Junkrat's bombs can easily kill very damaged players.
The second principle seeks to make your healing as efficient and useful as possible. For instance, if you have a high-health Soldier: 76 who has just activated their ultimate (and who is being damaged while firing at the enemy) and a very low-health teammate who is taking cover next to you or running away, it is best to heal Soldier: 76. This will directly allow him to stay in the action and be useful, whereas healing your retreating teammate has a much lower priority.
It is also important to keep in mind that some heroes have the ability to self-heal. Roadhog and Soldier: 76 have effective self-heals, while other heroes have shields that regenerate on their own when they are not taking fire (Zarya, Zenyatta, Symmetra). When any of these players is critically low on health or engaged in a battle, you should feel free to heal them. Likewise, when no one else needs healing, you should heal them anyway because any healing you do charges up your ultimate ability (whereas their own self-healing does not benefit them directly in any way). For the rest of the time, healing other targets without means to self-heal should be a higher priority.
As you practice more as Mercy, you will come to recognise common situations where you should heal specific targets. Here is a non-exhaustive list.
- Pharah, Reaper, and Soldier: 76 are extremely vulnerable and highly targeted while using their ultimates, so they are high priority targets at this time.
- Bastion is very vulnerable whenever the enemy enters his line of sight (because he is extremely dangerous and because he is stationary), so you should always be ready to heal him.
- Winston can win a 1vs1 duel against almost any other hero, provided that you are there to replenish his health. So, whenever you see Winston involved in a close-quarter skirmish, keep him topped off as he dispatches his enemy.
3.2.2. Caduceus Staff Damage Boost
LMB: Hold to heal an ally. RMB: Hold to increase an ally's damage inflicted. Press 2 to select.
While healing teammates is certainly Mercy's core activity, boosting the damage of teammates is also very useful. The damage-boosting beam works exactly like the healing beam, and it boosts damage done by 30% while active. Since healing and boosting damage are mutually exclusive activities, you will constantly have to decide when to do one or the other.
As a general rule, healing teammates up is always a higher priority than dealing damage. This is because a teammate that stays alive is far more valuable to the team in the long-term than one who does slightly more damage for a short time at the expense of them (or another teammate) dying. That said, there several important exceptions to this.
To begin with, when one of your teammates has a "golden opportunity" and they are not in immediate danger of dying, boosting their damage can be much more beneficial than healing them.
For example, if an allied Reaper is jumping down on top of the enemy team and using their Death Blossom ultimate, boosting their damage is often better than healing them. This is because Reaper benefits from the element of surprise, and he hopes to do as much damage as possible before the enemies react to him and stun or kill him. If they do turn on him, his death will probably be so sudden that your healing beam would not save him; on the other hand, boosting his Death Blossom damage can mean that the enemies are already dead before they can react.
Another example is boosting the damage of a Soldier: 76 who is using Tactical Visor, when the enemy team is unprepared to shoot at him. If Soldier: 76 is able to come around behind players who are distracted by the rest of your team, boosting his damage can mean that the enemies will die before they can even react. As a counter-example, if the same Soldier: 76 faces the enemy team head-on (with Tactical Visor active), healing him is recommended because he is sure to be taking fire.
Aside from these golden opportunities, there is another case when boosting the damage of a player is better than healing them, namely when boosting their damage does not put them at direct risk of dying while increasing their killing speed. For example, if you and an allied Reaper run into Winston or Reinhardt, you should boost Reaper's damage instead of healing him. Reaper is guaranteed to kill these enemies before they can kill him (ultimate usage notwithstanding), and boosting his damage simply means that the entire skirmish will be over sooner (before the enemy can receive backup). You can heal your teammate up after the fight is over.
In addition to knowing when to boost damage instead of healing, it is also important to know whose damage to boost. Again, aside from the golden opportunities listed above, there are some heroes who benefit far more from damage boosting than others.
The heroes that benefit most from damage boosting are Soldier: 76, Bastion, Pharah, McCree, Junkrat, and Reaper (in close-range). This is because they are all capable of reliably dealing high damage. Other good (but lower priority) targets are Widowmaker, Zarya, Zenyatta, and Symmetra (close-range only). The rest of the heroes should only really have their damage boosted when no other better targets are around.
You should be wary of spending too much time boosting the damage of a single player; not only will this make you two a target for the other team, but it also means that your flexibility will suffer. For example, it can be very beneficial to boost the damage of a Widowmaker at the start of the game, or when the enemy team has to start a fresh attack after having all been killed; that said, spending too long sitting next to a Widowmaker that is away from the battle will make it impossible for you to perform the much more important task of keeping your allies alive.
3.2.3. Caduceus Blaster
Press 1 to select. Automatic weapon.
So far, we have gone over the use of Mercy's Caduceus Staff. Indeed, you will spend most of the time using this instead of your Caduceus Blaster pistol, but that does not mean that your pistol is useless. There are a few situations when you should have your pistol out instead.
To begin with, if there are no teammates around you, then you should have your pistol out, since there is nothing to use the Staff on whatsoever. The pistol is weak, certainly, but do not think that it is hopeless for defending yourself. A skilled Mercy can fight Tracer, Genji, Soldier: 76, and other such heroes in close-range from a position of equality. All you have to do is strafe around and move erratically while aiming at their head, and you will be surprised just how effective your Caduceus Blaster can be.
Moreover, even when there are teammates around, it can be a good idea to sometimes switch to your pistol instead of healing them or boosting their damage. The most common example is when your teammate(s) are not able to kill a low health enemy (because of their positions or because their aim is not good enough). In this case, quickly switching to your pistol to finish off a highly damaged enemy can be better than simply healing your allies and hoping that they can finish the job themselves. That said, you must be cautious when doing this; your main job is to heal and boost damage, not to deal damage yourself.
3.2.4. Guardian Angel
- Cooldown: 1.5 seconds
Fly towards an ally.
Guardian Angel is a key ability for Mercy, without which she could not hope to perform her role. It provides her with the needed mobility to reach her teammates in order to heal them or boost their damage, and it also serves to get Mercy out of trouble and to the safety of her team (such as being Reinhardt's shield).
You should use Guardian Angel as often as needed. It has a very low cooldown of 1.5 seconds, and a very long range, making using it quite easy. It can also be used on dead teammates, meaning that there is usually a target around that you can move to. That said, using Guardian Angel effectively has a few limitations.
The first of them is its requirement for line of sight with the target. This is not an issue when your target is out in the open, but when they are hiding behind cover, running around, or located above you on a roof or a ledge, it can make it impossible to get to them. In cases such as this, the best course of action is to use the in-game voice chat to tell your teammate to stand still or move closer to the edge of the roof so that you can fly to them.
The second problem is related to a long-standing bug which occurs when there is a teammate directly behind Mercy when she uses Guardian Angel. When this happens, Mercy flies backwards to that teammate instead of forward to the teammate she was targeting with Guardian Angel. This will often get you killed when you were trying to fly away to get out of danger. There is not much you can do to avoid this, sadly.
The final problem stems from a "feature" of Guardian Angel. If you use Guardian Angel a second time while you are in flight towards your target, the ability is canceled and you stop flying to your target. This is great in case you have a change of heart (for example, the target you were flying to dies while you are en route), but it can also cause you to unintentionally cancel Guardian Angel prematurely. This is because the range and line of sight limitations force you to spam Guardian Angel until it finally sticks to the desired target, and in this case a quick additional unintentional cast can happen.
When using Guardian Angel, you must remember that you are vulnerable when you traverse large open spaces to get from one teammate to another, and you should be careful when deciding to do so.
Finally, always remember that Guardian Angel has very strong defensive uses. As Mercy, if you run into heroes like Winston, Reaper, Zarya, and so on, you are have practically no chance whatsoever of escaping alive, except to quickly fly away to an ally.
3.2.5. Angelic Descent
Hold to fall very slowly.
Angelic Descent allows Mercy to greatly reduce her falling speed if holding down the jump button while in the air. Since there is no fall damage in Overwatch, Angelic Descent has no damage-reduction purposes.
In general, we would advise against using Angelic Descent, with some possible exceptions. The reason for this is that Mercy is already a high priority target for the enemy, and she is extremely vulnerable when located. Her only survival advantages (if they can be called that) are her slim model and decent movement speed, coupled with her tendency to stay behind cover. However, if you are using Angelic Descent, you benefit from neither.
Using Guardian Angel to fly to the location of a Pharah and heal her, and then using Angelic Descent as you slowly descend in the open air next to her, keeping you in range to heal or boost damage may sound like a clever use of Angelic Descent, but it is extremely likely to get you killed.
Likewise, whenever you find yourself jumping off of a ledge or roof in view of the enemy team, it is in your best interests to move as quickly as possible through the air, reaching the ground quickly and getting out of sight.
One time to use Angelic Descent is when you want to stay in range of a Guardian Angel target while Guardian Angel cools down. For example, imagine that there is a Widowmaker you want to heal on a ledge above you, but you have no line of sight to her (to use Guardian Angel). In this case, you can fly to a Pharah who is hovering in the air just above you, use Angelic Descent to stay in line of sight of Widowmaker until Guardian Angel cools down (1.5 seconds), and then fly to Widowmaker from there. When doing this, however, you really must keep in mind that if there are enemies in your proximity, you may well be killed.
Another example is using Angelic Descent to reduce your exposure to the other team. For example, if you are knocked off of a ledge by a rocket, you may want to use Angelic Descent to slow your fall and buy yourself a few more seconds before you enter the line of sight of the enemies below. You can take this time to ask for help from your teammates, or locate an ally to fly to with Guardian Angel.
When you are not in sight of enemies, there are usually few reasons you would want to use Angelic Descent anyway (since no one is likely to need healing or having their damage boosted), but creative uses are always possible.
- Cooldown: 30 seconds
Revive dead teammates.
Resurrect is a great part of what makes Mercy such a valuable asset to any team. This is the only ability in the game that can revive a dead player, and as such, it is extremely powerful. A well-timed Resurrect can undo all the progress a team has made and completely turn the tide of a battle.
Resurrect only revives teammates that are dead within a rather small radius around Mercy (the user interface indicates how many players a Resurrect would revive at any given time). Line of sight is not required. You can tell where teammates' corpses are located, as they are also marked on the user interface, and are visible through walls and other terrain. As such, it is usually not possible to resurrect more than a couple of players at once unless the entire team was wiped out by some powerful ultimate ability combination.
Naturally, everyone dreams of the strong, Play of the Game 5-player Resurrects. While this is certainly possible and very strong when it does happen, you should not pass up opportunities to use Resurrect simply waiting for enough teammates to die.
We find that, generally, if Resurrect will revive 2 players, then it is worth casting. Hoping to catch more players with it only puts you in danger of dying or being forced out of range of the fallen players. The only exception to that is if you know for a fact that one or more teammates will also die very quickly, and that you yourself are safe enough to cast Resurrect later if you wait. For example, if several teammates are caught in a Zarya Graviton Surge, you can "wait" until all of them are dead before casting Resurrect.
In fact, you can even use Resurrect to revive a single player. This may seem inefficient, but that is not so. Consider, for example, that you are fighting in a location that is very far from your respawn point, but close to the enemy respawn point. In this case, a dead teammate will take a very long time to get back to the battle, whereas the other team's casualties will soon be replenished, putting you at a numeric disadvantage.
Another positive aspect to using Resurrect often, even to revive just 1 or 2 teammates, is that as soon as you have used it, you can begin to recharge it again. If not, any healing or damage boosting you do while Resurrect is charged up is "wasted".
Since you can only use Resurrect if other teammates die before you, it is all the more important to protect yourself, as Mercy. That means that if your Resurrect is available and a team fight is happening, you should take every possible precaution to keep yourself alive (while still healing teammates), so that you actually have the ability to use Resurrect when the time comes. As an alternative to this, if you know your team is ill-prepared for the upcoming fight (for example, they have no ultimates available while the enemies do), you can simply hide somewhere close to the fight, without exposing yourself to the enemies, and use Resurrect once 3 or more of your allies have died.
Finally, keep in mind that the other team is generally very aware of the power of your Resurrect, and if they get any idea that you will cast this ability, they will try to stop you. For example, if your entire team has died on the point, and you wish to go in and Resurrect them, you should use Guardian Angel on one of their corpses and Resurrect as soon as possible, because you will not get a lot of time to do it before you are killed.
- 22 May 2016: Updated the guide following KabaL's review.
- Added another strategy for using Resurrect.
- 29 Apr. 2016: Guide added.
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