In a thinly disguised plea for inspiration, Robin Walker’s new post over at the official TF2 blog I carefully avoided mentioning here so you don’t leave and never come back sets out the criteria for a good unlockable weapon for the Heavy – whose achievement/weapon pack is next, by the way. We are then encouraged to put forward our own ideas, although since the official TF2 blog doesn’t actually allow comments, you’re pretty much stuck with James, 1Fort and the Steam forums to vent those.
I summarise the rules here because Robin phrases them as an onslaught of questions, and on first reading I wasn’t always sure if “Yes!” or “N- no?” was the right answer. Also, the Steam thread on this misquotes one of the rules.
- The goal is to “Make the Heavy more viable when he has no Medic to pair with.”
- Don’t make him more effective when he does.
- Don’t change the role so that it encroaches on another class.
- Don’t make it hard to tell what’s going on when you use it or it’s used on you.
- Things that take a lot of models and sounds to implement are generally bad.
- Things that are easy to use but hard to perfect are generally good.
- Things that are better for some situations but worse for others are generally good.
- Things that make the player think differently a lot of the time are good.
- Things that have wide-ranging knock-on effects on other elements of the game are generally good.
And they only want one from you. I suspect they have several goals for the class, and try to come up with one unlockable to achieve each.
Obviously, the difficulty a Medicless Heavy has relative to a Medicked one is a lack of healing. He’s most effective against a group of opponents at close range, where the damage he can’t avoid wears him down quickly. So the simplest suggestions revolve around some form of health regen, health-stealing or, in one case, a really big sandwich to replace the shotgun. But I think any self-heal steps on the Medic’s toes: restoring hitpoints should be exclusively his domain. And, sandwich excluded, most of these don’t gel well with his personality or concept.
Like everyone asked to come up with one idea, I have two. I’d like a Minigun that sacrifices its crit chance for an absorb chance: your crit probability while firing instead becomes the chance that the next shot that hits you will trigger a second of Uber-like invulnerability. Only while firing. For those who don’t know, your crit chance is a factor of how much damage you’ve done in the last twenty seconds: 5% if you’ve done none, 20% if you’ve done over 800.
The essence of the Heavy, for me, is that “GRAAAHAAHAAAHAAAAA!” moment, when you’re just… killing… everything… This intends to prolong it, reward it and improve survivability. For the Heavy, the primary use of crits is to own at range: you already own close-up. So this unlock is great for close-range work like most parts of 2Fort, which is also where you take the most damage, but hurts your flexibility in big open areas like most parts of Dustbowl.
As for not letting it combine with a Medic’s healing, a doctor’s healing beam would visibly falter once the Heavy starts firing, and healing is suspended until he stops. But it doesn’t break the beam, and the Medic still builds Uber while it’s active. I don’t believe in these suggestions where the Medic is punished or discouraged from trying to help the Heavy: the rule is to stop the pair becoming overpowered, not to file for divorce.
By my count, this has a decent stab at the goal, stays within the three constraints (it’s not reliable enough to be used for any of the things the Medic’s Uber is good for), but doesn’t fare well in three of the five bonus considerations. Its main strengths are that its cheap, simple and easy to understand: the uber-sheen is already in there, and everyone knows what it means. So that’s what I’d be suggesting if I was sensible.
But of course, what I really want is expensive to implement, difficult to understand and stupid. It’s a Quick-Release Bandolier. I guess it would be an unlock for the Fists slot, so you’d switch to Fists, hit alt-fire and you’d drop everything: Sasha, shotgun, ammo. In return, you can run at the speed of a Demoman.
It’d solve a recurring problem I have as a solo Heavy: I can often accurately guess how long I’ve got before I’ll be dead, but I don’t know how long it’s going to take me to escape. I’m at the whim and determination of whomsoever chooses to pursue. Obviously messing with the Heavy’s speed is a big deal, but since he can’t do anything but punch until he gets his weapons back, it doesn’t really change his role. He can only get Sasha and co back by fetching them from where he dropped them, or returning to a storage locker.
The point, of course, is only partly tactical: there’s also the humour value of pummeling a Heavy so hard that he eventually drops his gun, turns tail and runs. An exaggerated jogging animation for a ‘naked’ Heavy would communicate the fact that he’s vulnerable and fleeing, but would of course be a silly amount of work for such a ridiculous concept. But it would be a shame, at the suggestions stage, to limit ourselves to things that are actually a good idea.
Moar: I have an alternative version of this idea that solves a few of the conceptual problems I have with the Bandolier (primarily, why do I need an unlock to be able to drop my gun?), but is a bit more far-reaching.
It’s an unlockable minigun that’s really a big cluster of shotguns taped together. It fires about two blasts a second, the same maximum damage per second as Sasha, but you hit everything in its cone of fire with every shot. Kind of a rapid BOOMBOOMBOOM rather than constant DAKADAKADAKA. The spread makes it even less effective than Sasha at medium-long range.
It’s much the same shape as Sasha, but when it’s out of ammo, it’s light enough to hold by the barrel and use as a club (left mouse) or throw at your enemy (right mouse). The Heavy automatically switches to club/throw mode when you run out of shells. It’s slow to swing, naturally, but does a hefty amount of damage: 90 points or so. When thrown, it goes about as far as a Sticky fired parallel to the ground, and does about half that.
Polite note idea courtesy of commenter SlowShootinPete
It crackles with electricity while it’s lying on the ground, and mildly zaps anyone running over it. As with the Bandolier idea, you run at the speed of a Demoman once you’ve chucked your gun, and you can either grab it from the ground where you left it, or get a new one from a Supply Closet – whereupon your old one vanishes. Because it uses shotgun shells and is only throwable when you’re out of them, you’re always left with just your fists after you’ve tossed it.
Part of the idea is to encourage the Heavy to just keep blasting until he runs dry – because that gives him a weapon and an escape method, rather than just leaving him screwed. That’s always fun for the Heavy and dramatic for his enemies, and the running-dry CLICKCLICKCLICK is invariably entertaining. When followed by having the big fellow simply chuck his firearm at you, turn tail and run, even more so.