Saturday, 3 April 2010

Re: Engineering

I've came up with suggestions some time ago about what alternate weapons the Team Fortress 2 Engineer should have. But since then, Valve have released several subsequent updates which have considerably changed how the Sniper, Soldier and especially the Demoman play and a beautiful crafted fan page has suggested some alternate turret weapons. And, in case you've missed it, the last major update to Team Fortress 2 added a chocolate bar for the Heavy and several melee weapons (One for the Pyro and one shared between the Demoman and Soldier).

So the scope is there for the Engineer to have more than a few additional items added: either as a part of the update, or in further releases.

Looking back at the suggestions I made: the Quik-R-Ratchet, or a variant thereof has already been tested in beta as the PDQ; the Scout order book suggestion existed at one point as a backpack but was not adopted; the I-Spy-Shooter is fine, but not amazing - and having played my first 35 point Spy game yesterday, I now feel qualified to state its hard enough already to sneak up on an engineer that I think there are better alternatives; and the BRB still feels distinct enough to be useful - perhaps also allowing the engineer to teleport even if his exit is sapped.

I'm still not convinced that the engineer needs alternate buildings - the only one from the fan page that feels 'right' is the multi-mode flying turret - and Valve themselves have pretty much ruled out replacing the teleporter or dispenser. Buildings that provide various buffs (kritz, minicrits, invulnerability) make the buffs that other classes provide less special, and similarly turrets that provide alternate attacks lessen the uniqueness of class weapons. And anything that affects the small window of opportunity between backstabbing an engineer and having the turret turn and shoot you while you try to sap it, is going to affect the balance of Spy vs Engineer encounters - which of the ways of taking out turret emplacements is the most interesting and least frustrating for the Engineer.

Here are some more Engineer item suggestions:

Gone Again Guitar: While playing the Gone Again, the engineer and all nearby friendly buildings become invisible and do not have any effect or attack enemy players. The Gone Again plays as a taunt animation for a fixed duration with a cooldown. Why: There needs to be a guitar based weapon for the Engineer, and something which allows the Engineer to build in an open location and then draw in the opposition should be fun. Especially since you'll be able to hear him play, but not know where he necessarily is. Replaces the Shotgun.

Ranch Home Rivetgun: The Rivetgun is a ranged weapon similar to the medic's primary weapon, but with a slower rate of fire, much smaller magazine capacity and more damage per shot (about 25% more DPS than the medic). However, the Rivetgun also repairs friendly buildings it hits - at approximately the same rate as hitting it with a wrench. Why: this allows the engineer to repair their buildings while not necessarily next to them - letting them roam with confidence. Since the repair depends on ammunition, it should be a shorter term improvement, and this is balanced against wrenching because the Rivetgun doesn't resupply buildings or remove saps. Replaces the Shotgun.

The Cowpoke: The Cowpoke is a crossbow with a barbwire drawstring and a red hot poker for a bolt. The Cowpoke has better range than the Sniper's bow, but does less damage, and has a much slower reload. Friendly turrets turn twice as quickly when tracking targets branded by the Cowpoke. The Cowpoke replaces the Shotgun. I had planned on making this a melee weapon but realized that a) hitting a building with a branding iron doesn't make a huge amount of sense and b) making this a ranged weapon encourages the engineer to run forward and tag upcoming targets. Note that this doesn't prevent a Spy from disguising or turning invisible - just when the Spy becomes a valid target they get tracked that much quicker.

Stand Tall Spurs: The stand tall spurs allow the Engineer to pick up and move his buildings. If the engineer is hit while moving a building, the building takes damage as well as the engineer. The Stand Tall Spurs replaces the Shotgun - left click to pick up, and then place the building using the original building placement commands. There is a short set up time when the building is placed again (2 seconds) before it comes fully active.

Well-done Arc Welder: The Well-done allows you to buff all nearby buildings temporarily which reduces damage to them by 50% for explosives and 25% for all other damage types, but means you take twice as long to upgrade your buildings. The buff lasts for 15 seconds with a 45 second cool down and appears to be a shower of sparks coming off the affected buildings. Why: an invulnerability buff is tempting, but would completely stop an ubercharge against a building in it's tracks. Whereas a buff may tempt both the attacker and defender to hang around. By biasing the damage reduction against explosives, it reduces the effectiveness of classes the most which don't have to expose them to direct line of fire of the turret to destroy it. Replaces the Wrench.

Good 'ol Grappling Hook: I've waxed lyrical about the next for a grappling hook in Team Fortress 2 long enough - hit a building or map section and you are pulled towards it, hit an enemy player and they are pulled towards you. This would completely unbalance the Engineer, allowing them to aggressively move forward and put turrets in unexpected locations, as well as drag an opponent into their turret's line of fire. I think the craziness would be worth it though - especially after the fun I had with the Demoman replacement weapons. To balance it: the grappling hook prevents you upgrading any building or speeding up construction because it replaces the Wrench. I'd hate to have to contend with a level 3 turret somewhere I hadn't planned on looking.

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