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Overwatch 2’s Latest Mercy Skin Sparks Fan Backlash

Overwatch 2 season eight begins today, December 5, but Blizzard showed off its new skins, events, and latest tank hero, Mauga, before kick-off. And the sentiment from players about the skins for season eight has been mixed—Baptiste’s formal wear is a standout, but it’s sandwiched between some real stinkers and an unremarkable Mythic Skin. But one cosmetic has stood out for all the wrong reasons: Mercy’s Year of the Dragon event skin.

Overwatch 2's New Story Missions: Worth The Money?

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For those who don’t know, Overwatch has been the subject of a lot of longstanding criticism regarding cultural appropriation regarding its decision to put characters in clothing and accessories from cultures that aren’t their own. Like when Mei, a Chinese woman, got cornrows, a protective hairstyle worn by Black folks, or when Pharah got skins evocative of Native American dress, prompting Blizzard to confirm her mixed Egyptian/Native American heritage after some questioning from fans. While those were isolated incidents for the two characters, Mercy, the angelic, Swiss healer who’s been in the hero shooter since launch, has had a recurring problem with skins depicting her, a white woman, in cultural wear associated with Asian countries. That trend is continuing in season 8.

Mercy’s skin for the Lunar New Year event is based on a Hindu and Buddhist mythical figure called the kinnari (sometimes spelled kinnaree), which is a half-bird/half-human creature. The outfit Mercy wears is evocative of the portrayals of the kinnari as depicted in Thai culture, such as statues seen at The Grand Palace in Bangkok. It joins other skins in Mercy’s closet that are derived from Asian cultures, such as the Zhuque skin, which references the Chinese Vermilion Bird, and the Miko skin, based on Japanese shrine maidens of the same name. This one felt especially odd, given Overwatch 2 finally has a Thai hero in the form of Lifeweaver, and fans took notice.

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