A discussion of “new” Team Fortress 2 weapons

Just recently I’ve been back playing TF2 and really realizing what fun some of the newer weapons are. Valve has gone on a bit of a spree with recent updates where they’ve updated the balance of older, not-oft-used or just bad weapons for the current state of TF2, making for some interesting matchups.

Scout primary weapons have undergone a pretty big overhaul. The Scattergun remains old reliable, the Force-a-Nature is still annoying and hard to use, the Shortstop still sort-of-kites. But the most recent two weapons have been essentially redone from scratch.

The Soda Popper used to charge up while the Scout was running and give him minicrits for a short period of time. It was killer for Scouts who could aim well and synergized well with the default pistol for racking up longer-ranged damage. It was sort of a jankety thing, though, you couldn’t fire your primary weapon and save the charge, the minicrits activated as soon as the bar was full. It was weird, it did a thing that the Crit-a-Cola already did (but better), bleh.

After the remake, the boost can be stored (now activated with M2), and instead of minicrits the Scout gets 5 midair jumps for the duration of the boost. This makes it more of a fun weapon and less of a serious killer rampage fun-destroyer. Useful for reaching new places, for dancing around enemies, and generally being a blast. Does the DPS hold up? No, but the new utility is worth a shot.

The Baby Face’s Blaster was always somewhat useful: it made the Scout faster with damage dealt, but didn’t let him jump without seriously slowing him down. That’s all been done away with. First, its combat abilities were reset to clone the Scattergun, minus two loaded shots. Then the base speed of the Scout, with 0 boost, was increased to only a 10% penalty — piddly compared to the roughly 30% increase the Scout receives at full boost. Then the reduction was changed to take away only 25% of the bar on a jump, and only on air jumps. So, basically, if a Scout stays above a boost bar about 15% full (which is 15 damage, the break-even point) and deals 25 damage for every double-jump he performs, he only suffers in extended combat and gains a great deal of flexibility in moving between points, the cart, health packs, and enemies.

Most importantly, moving at 173% the speed of Pyros, Engineers, Snipers and Spies is exciting as shit.

As a quick note: the Crit-a-Cola was also changed to give the Scout +25% speed, +minicrits, and +10% damage taken while active. The more unlocks Scout gets, the more he can run and jump, and the stranger the class gets. Not sure how I feel about this one in particular.

The new Liberty Launcher, upgraded from its old 3-shot form, now has four fast rockets and protects the user from 25% of their rocket jumps, but you do 25% less damage. Whether or not I think this weapon is a crutch for people who can’t shoot Scouts (hint: it totally is), it’s really fun on open maps, particularly with the Gunboats, one of my favorite unlocks. This seems redundant but taking about 10 damage from an explosive jump can’t be beat.

The new Cow Mangler, simplified from its old 5-shot form, now only has 4 attributes: ammoless, charge shot, 20% vs. buildings, no crits ever. This simplifies things a lot and also makes it a decent use-everywhere launcher now. The charge shot is still only marginally useful (but still neat), even though it’s not the jumping king it once was.

The Battalion’s Backup now gives the Soldier 220 health. This is really goofy but occasionally useful. The Concheror now gives the Soldier 2 health every second. This is really goofy and often useful, particularly for rocket jump play (pairs reasonably well with the new Liberty Launcher too). These changes were a bit out of the blue but anything for players to equip them again, I suppose.

The Diamondback now grants free crits for backstabs AND building destructions. This is really cool. I unfortunately can’t aim Spy revolvers for shit but this is great when it works. Backstab the Engi, sap all his stuff, and suddenly you’re looking at maybe 5 crits to protect yourself (or play aggressively with). Interesting to be sure — it made me switch off stock revolver for the first time in a very long time.

The Short Circuit is now extremely fucking broken, which I suppose is one way to get your players to equip a difficult-to-use weapon. It now costs 5 per zap, can fire extremely quickly, can destroy all projectiles, and damages players. The damage was never the reason to use the gun but it’s now become a way for an Engineer to run head-on at Soldiers and Demoman without fear: throw down a minisentry, shotgun perhaps, then charge in blindly spamming left click. You have shut down any non-shield Demoman and any non-shotgun Soldier, which is a reasonable percentage of players. If you were looking to use it as it was originally intended, as a nest protector, you’re also in luck: easy as pie, piece of cake. Not exactly the most popular piece of metal but this weapon is out of control… and lots of fun to use while it lasts.

Crusader’s Crossbow now passively reloads, like the flare guns, and is in general a much better put-together weapon, even if I have little use for it. Go crazy.

And this one isn’t new, but can I just say hot damn I really really like the Loose Cannon and if the strange version were cheaper, I’d pick that up in a heartbeat. That thing is a pure fun machine.