Thursday 17 December 2009

Soldier vs Demo

The second best thing about the pre-release hype for the Team Fortress 2 update has been sorting out my Internet connection and getting some time spent gaming online. The ADSL 2 connection I have at home has had persistent short drop outs for the last 9 months or so, which has been fine for using browsing the net but absolute hell for online gaming. I borrowed a Draytech Vigor 2820 from work last week (because this model sorted out a similar problem one of our customers was experiencing), and since plugging it in the connection has been rock solid. I don't normally mix work and pleasure - and have no interesting in astroturfing this blog - but I am impressed enough to pass on a recommendation.

After having stayed away from online gaming for so long, I expected to be rusty, but the time away turned out to have made my heart grow fonder and made the experience seem fresh and alive. It helped that there was a map update while I was away and I suspect that the line "Significantly reduced the amount of network traffic being sent." from that update has made network play much smoother. I achieved 2nd milestone for the Heavy, Spy and Sniper - with an Uberectomy of a medic standing amidst five of his team mates - and spent plenty of time soloing as a Heavy with Natasha and a sandvich.

(As an aside, it looks like I've glitched on several achievements - I've definitely achieved Does it Hurt When I do this, and I've somehow caused no damage as a Pyro).

As for the Soldier and Demo weapons - the sword and shield leave me cold, and I'll have to play with them to get a feel for how they change the game, but the Scottish Resistance sounds exactly like the Sticky Bomb gun that I want. The Soldier weapons seem more pedestrian, catering to higher skill players - although a banner rush will be a challenge - and to be honest, since the scout update I've been playing less Soldier than Scout. I'm sure there'll be plenty of happy soldiers ready to assplode me with their crockets.

In the big scheme of things, Valve has done an incredible job balancing the introduction of so many new weapons into an already finely tuned game. Only the Sandman aka nerf bat has been rejected by high level players and it's still a fun weapon to use for those of us who are less skilled. Of the remainder, the Heavy, the Spy and (if I could shoot that damn bow) the Sniper have all had viable alternate builds added to the game, without harming their core 'feel'. The introduction of the alternate fire for the Pyro has added well needed depth to that class to the point where I think the Back Burner needs to be unnerfed (+50 health) to compete.

The Medic has suffered the most, being the first class with weapon upgrades, and the Bonesaw and Syringe Gun need to be differentiated further from their replacements (the Syringe gun should boost uber at a rate moderately faster than healing a wounded player if all shots hit at maximum rate of fire; the Bonesaw should make the medic's weapons kritz or perhaps minicrit if it hits twice in a row - similar to the KGB, but obviously with much less potential for damaging the opposition).

As for what to look forward to, I still can't think of anything more compelling than the Quik-R-Ratchet and the Big Red Button, or whatever it is Valve ends up designing for my favourite class. And whatever the 10th class is, I'd like it to be something from the list I suggested (Even if I stole them all from Dystopia).

And the best thing about the pre-release hype for Team Fortress 2's latest update? Tom Francis getting the weapon he so rightfully deserves...

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