If you doubt the necessity of a healer to an Overwatch team, just try winning more than the occasional lucky game without one. Supports remove the need to fight over health packs with that Roadhog who wont’ use his self-heal. They also keep you from wandering around looking for a pack that wasn’t just taken. While it is far from a thankless job, healing can be quite a bit less exciting than the other roles. Here are the reasons why you should(n’t) play support.
Supports are in an odd position because they can’t always control the outcome of a game, but you can’t win without them. A good support isn’t always noticeable, but a bad support sticks out like a sore thumb. Supports can’t carry as well as tanks or dps since they mostly rely on their team to kill the enemy: all they can do is keep them alive.
Sure, a clutch Mercy Rez or a well placed sustain ult from Lucio or Zenyatta can not only waste enemy ultimate abilities but turn the tide of a game. Ana boosts can often guarantee a team kill. The hardest part of the support class though is that it requires a certain level of team ability. If your Soldier can’t kill anything, keeping him alive might not actually have an effect on the game. A huge rez only helps you win if the team doesn’t get killed immediately after the revive.
Carrying as a support gets even more difficult when you can’t get the help you need to stay alive. Sure, some Mercy players try to front line. What can a team do then to protect the squishy nurse? And sure, Winston is a terror who can often kill a healer before the team can kill him. But supports still need their team just as much as the team needs them. Some characters like Zenyatta and Ana can protect themselves a bit better, but each support has its vulnerabilities. If you find you can’t stay alive, maybe switch supports or ask someone to switch you. I certainly know the pain of dying out of spawn 3 times in a row; no one can blame you for switching off healer out of frustration.
In the community forums there has been a great deal of concern that supports do not gain as much as the other classes, while also losing more. In my personal experience I have gained much more than the other classes on my team at times, and gained almost nothing at others. This was regardless of my performance, but rather seemed to be based on the group I was in or the healer I was playing. Because we still do not know exactly what determines RP gain in competitive, it is a complicated issue.
If you are finding you gain less as a support than other classes, maybe it is time to switch it up a bit. Ask someone else to support for half of the game, or switch of roles with members of your group. It can suck to work your buns off behind the scenes AND get the short end of the victory spoils.
I have had plenty of games where the team was very happy for my healing and my support ults. I have also had plenty of games where the responsibility of a loss of a point or a death was put on me. Everyone wants a pocket healer, everyone wants to survive a team fight.
“Mercy, why won’t you heal me?” Because, Genji, you are flanking and I can’t get back there.
Supports will find it common to be commended for their efforts, but failure to out heal insane amounts of damage can create some questions of your capabilities. Even as a solo healer, with 5 players to keep alive, the one that dies will often ask you why you didn’t save them. Perhaps vulgarly. But all is well when you end a game in defeat but your (maybe useless) 5 man Rez gets play of the game.
If you find it in your heart to keep healing after some abuse, good on you. But if it gets under your skin, there isn’t much harm in switching off healer and handing off the role to someone else.
But I Wanted to Kill Stuff…
We can all relate to the age old problem of DPS Excess. You load into a Quick Play and looky there: 4 attack characters and a Widowmaker. Excellent, I guess I’m healer.
Overwatch is a video game after all, and for the most part, people play to kill stuff. We want to shoot our guns and do cool stuff, and healers aren’t always as flashy as the other options. So, everyone wants to be the AD, but no one wants to heal. For support mains, this isn’t too big of an issue. Healing is fun and rewarding, and maybe if your aim isn’t so great its the best place for you. But for the majority of players, or for people who main the other classes, getting stuck with healer sucks. And of course, you never have to be healer. You can always pick someone with self heal, or you can fight over health packs. It isn’t impossible to win that way, and maybe you will have fun. But if you do play healer, it might not always be too bad. You can get practice on a support you like, and maybe even make some cool plays. It can be fun even without the win, and you might make a few friends or get a Legendary commendation at the end of the game.
Even when “getting stuck” with the healer role isn’t the issue, it can be an issue. With a bad comp or a solo healer, it can be frustrating because the game doesn’t seem to go anywhere. And if you are frustrated with it, there is no reason to stay on. Switch off or leave the match, don’t let a fun game upset you because you feel forced into a role.