Sunday, 13 June 2010

The Blockenheal

I note in passing that Valve have returned their Overhealer design to the TF2 beta. The Overhealer is a Medigun that allows the overheal effect to persist. Previous iterations have allowed overhealing up to +100% of hit points - which allowed, among other obscenities, 600 hp Heavies which could ignore a 500 hp backstab - while the latest version merely allows a persistent +50% healing.

The downside is -50% healing rate, instead of previous versions which had a greatly slowed Ubercharge rate.

The Overhealer is an interesting weapon design for a class that has been underserviced by unlocks since the initial release. (The Spy is the only other class which has only 3 unlocks at present - the 4th will possibly be a flame proof suit which replaces the Revolver). During normal play, where the Medic is positioned slightly behind the front line of battle, the Overhealer will unlikely provide much difference to his alternative weapons. At this point, the Medic has a hard time healing characters quickly enough for persistent healing to take effect.

The Overhealer might make a difference between respawns, particularly if the Medic respawns with 2 or more others. That way, the race to the front should allow the medic to get several classes over healed.

But the most interesting time to use the Overhealer is during set up. At the moment, the out of the gate response to a medic is almost always an invulnerability Ubercharge whereas the Kritzkrieg tends to be used during unstructured play.

But the Overhealer is an ideal alternative during set up because it becomes possible for the Medic to overheal the entire team, providing an interesting alternative to an Uber rush.

When considered in this light, giving the Overhealer an invulnerability uber as well doesn't make a huge amount of sense - because the Medic gets both the overheal benefit to the entire team, and the benefit of this initial Ubercharge. I suspect Valve has been tuning the Overhealer rates primarily for this set up time, to either prevent the Medic healing the entire team, or getting the Ubercharge straight away.

The Blockenheal avoids this problem by giving the Overhealer an alternative Ubercharge effect. When charged, right-clicking with the Blockenheal immediately overheals the target and the Medic to 200% of their maximum health, regardless of how much damage they have sustained. This appears as a zap of electricity which shoots up the medigun beam to the target.

For the next 8 seconds after this instant heal effect, the Blockenheal heals at +200% rate - that is three times as fast - up to 200% overheal. Players healed beyond 150% health have noticeably larger overhealed particles surrounding them. The healing above 150% decays at the normal Overheal decay rate after the Blockenheal uber finishes.

The Blockenheal recharges at +100% the speed of the Medigun - that is twice as fast. More importantly, the Blockenheal starts out charged, so that the Medic has the ability to be a useful choice during the dying seconds of the match, without being an overpowered one. The Blockenheal normally heals targets at the same speed as the Medigun and Kritzkrieg.

The Blockenheal allows the ridiculous ways of breaking the game by having 200% health, while requiring the Medic keep a watchful eye on the class he is supporting. The Blockenheal uber doesn't provide the same level of punch that the Kritzkrieg or Medigun does, but benefits more players around the Medic than the Uber or Kritzkrieg is capable of helping. The instant heal effect can also be used defensively, to protect a Heavy from an incoming spy, crocket or distant sniper, or if the Medic becomes isolated.

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