The Mercy we knew is no more. The latest changes to Overwatch's [official site] Swiss medic being tested on the public test servers transform her into a completely new hero, and I'm bloody excited. Gone is her powerful Resurrect ultimate ability, which revived any dead foe within a 15 metre radius, and it's replaced by a 20-second long skill that buffs every one of her other abilities. Reviving isn't totally gone, mind. It's now one of her regular skills and has a 30-second cooldown, but instead of reviving up to five players it can only pick up one teammate, and only if they're in a five metre radius.
The new ultimate, called Valkyrie, make her something of a wrecking ball. Her healing and damage boost beams have longer reach and will chain together on multiple teammates. She can fly anywhere she wants on the map. Her Guardian Angel ability, which sees you swoop to nearby teammates, has greater range. Her gun hits harder. And her revamped resurrect ability will automatically recharge when you pop Valkyrie, and then it will be on a ten-second cooldown.
It sounds absolutely incredible, and should make playing Mercy more excited. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy her at the moment because her Resurrect ability can change the course of a game, countering virtually any push from the enemy team. But it does mean that, when it's fully charged, you end up hiding in a corner waiting for your teammates to die so you can swoop in and save the day. That's the problem this change will address, says game director Jeff Kaplan in the video below.
The update will be tested on the PTR before being rolled out to the game proper, and with something this big you can bet it will take a while to iron out the kinks. D.Va also gets some fairly major changes: the duration of her defence matrix is halved and she's getting a new ability that lets her fire a flurry of missiles.
It comes at the end of a bumper news week for Overwatch. Sandwiched between the video short for climatologist Mei and the new Aussie map were some fairly interesting details about the game's upcoming competitive season. Season 6 will be shorter than the last, at two months rather than three, and its control maps will be over faster.
The change in season length doesn't really bother me because I'm never aware of how long is left in a given season. But shifting Control maps from five rounds to three is a substantial change, and one I've got mixed about. Those five-round matches don't half drag on, but coming back from a 2-0 deficit to win is one of the best feelings in the game.
The other big change comes to placement matches. These are ten matches you play at the start of each season to determine your skill rating so that you're placed with similar players thereafter.
Previously, Blizzard purposefully placed players lower than their actual skill rating so that they could experience the feeling of climbing through the ranks. Good in principle, but it meant that players were losing ranks between seasons, which made them angry. That's no longer the case in season 6: you'll be placed roughly where your actual skill rating is. Good news, I think.
There's a couple of other minor changes, such as reducing the number of games high level players need to play a week to avoid skill rating decay from seven to five. Kaplan outlines them all below:
What do you make of it all?