Opinion

Pyro Update Suggested Changes Reply

My response to the suggested changes released by the Teamfortress team on June 20th

Ben Stokman
OneTwentyEight Blog
12 min readJun 26, 2017

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The Pyro update is imminent, and is pretty much guaranteed to be released by August. The teamfortress team has been pushing for the jungle themed items to be released, and has recently published the suggested balance changes for the Pyro update.

At this time, we do not know if this post means that there will be no new weapons for Pyro. There does seem to be an absence of balance changes for Pyro, which probably means that the TF team is still working on balancing and creating new weapons for Pyro.

The Post invited responses to the changes, so that what this post will serve to do. The feedback form is here.

These changes are in no way final, they only serve as a way for the TF Team to hear our feedback, and maybe change some of the changes before they are changed and we are chained to the changes until they are changed.

Multi-class

Panic Attack

The panic attack in my opinion is one of the weirder weapons in TF2; it is purposefully a crutch (tool to help players get out of certain situations.)

However, it seems to be that the Panic Attack is used mostly for an unpredictable attack weapon, particularly for Heavy, the blog post agrees:

Goal: Make the weapon immediately usable, remove the large burst potential (generally hard to balance), and give the weapon a unique design space to occupy

New design:

  • 50% faster switch speed
  • 50% more pellets
  • 30% less damage
  • Fires a wide, fixed shot pattern (regardless of server settings)
  • Shot pattern grows with successive shots (e.g. while holding down the attack button), but resets after you stop firing or reload

The Panic Attack has a new design, so the requirement of reloading does not exist anymore.

The new design also has six bullets, and not four. But it does however, deal 30% less damage, so that it is not used as an attack weapon, but as a weapon that is built to get a player out of tough situations.

Scout

As a person who mains Medic, scouts are annoying as hell,especially if your team has no idea what in the world they are doing.

Personally, I think that scout should be a powerful flank class, but should also be easily counterable.

Sandman

The blog post states that the sandman is hard to use, and also hard to fight against.

Players really hate losing the ability to fight back. Compounding this, the ball has to travel really far in order to disarm players. Being hit by a long-range ball (more often than not) ends up feeling random, rather than skilled.

Immediately after I read the statement, I thought that the sandman would be changed to not slow down the player as much, or increase the amount of time to get a new ball. But the new design does something different:

  • Long-range ball impacts no longer remove the victim’s ability to fire their weapon (but the victim is still slowed)
  • Max range balls now do 50% increased damage (from a base of 15)
  • The flight time required to trigger the “max” effect has been reduced by 20%
  • Ball regeneration time reduced to 10 seconds (from 15)

The suggested change makes the Sandman into more of a way to slow down the enemy team, and to take away mobility. the Sandman is virtually useless against heavies and slower moving classes.

Instead, I think that the sandman should be as it is, but the ball shall mark whoever it hits for death for 8 seconds. This will make the Sandman a useful weapon against all classes, and can be an assist weapon, like the Fan Of War.

It also is easy to counter, because the enemy can fall back, and the scout is reduced to 110 hp.

Bonk! Atomic Punch

This was just annoying.

The Bonk! allowed scouts to very easily get behind the enemy, without much risk, or skill. A scout behind the enemy us very, very lethal to the enemy.

There is one suggested change:

  • Apply a slow effect to the player after phasing wears off, based on the amount of damage they absorbed form -25% at low damage, to -65% at 200+ damage; lasts 5 seconds.

I completely agree with this change, be suggested cause it rewards skilled scouts who use the Bonk! more than underdog scouts who can’t reliably pull off a flank without the Bonk!.

Pretty Boy’s Pocket Pistol

The Pretty Boy’s pocket Pistol is a tool used by scout to get health, but not focusing on damage. The only problem was that it was “a liability” because it was weaker than the other scout secondaries.

This weapon is one of the lower owner-equipped items in the game. Looking at the current design, it seems that not taking falling damage ranks pretty low on the value scale for a Scout, and a flat +20% damage taken penalty is basically the kiss-of-death for a low-health class.

The suggested new design is:

  • +15% firing speed
  • Up to +7 hp per hit (from +5)
  • -25% clip size (9 shots)

This is a good design suggestion, but it does seem to be powerful. The pistol is used mostly as a weapon to finish off the enemy, especially for a scout, whose primary does nearly zero damage at long range. The new design suggestion does way too much damage, enough to finish another player off at long range.

I suggest needing this suggested change a bit by adding more damage falloff than usual, so it more focused on getting health fast, but can’t be used to finish off another player who is running away from the scout.

Crit-A-Cola

Much like the Bonk!, the Crit-A-Cola is mostly by scouts who do not use the secondary to annihilate anyone who they get close to.

Changes:

  • Added: Each attack while active adds Marked-For-Death debuff for 5 seconds (does not stack)
  • Removed: Marked-For-Death when effect expires
  • Removed: +25% move speed bonus
  • Removed: +10% damage taken penalty

The suggested changes are changes I agree with, however, the “marked for death” effect caused the player to take mini-crits, which completely removes damage falloff from attacks. This will allow players like the heavy to attack the scout at long range, which will be hard for the scout, and his team, to balance, because the scout’s primary has heavy damage falloff, and the scout is usually a lonesome flank class.

The Atomizer

The Atomizer is a liability. The scout almost never uses his melee, so the only downside is that the scout looses 10 health when he makes a triple jump, which is very detrimental to the scouts ability to survive.

Changes:

  • Triple-jump is now only possible while the bat is deployed
  • Removed: Self-inflicted damage when triple-jumping
  • Removed: Attack speed penalty
  • Added: Melee attacks done while airborne mini-crit
  • Added: 50% deploy time penalty (to prevent quick-switch by-pass)
  • Reduced damage penalty vs players to -15% (from -20%)

The suggested changes make the Atomizer a weapon that can be used if in a clutch situation, where the scout can take out the atomizer, and mini-crit the player. However, the mini-crit happens when airborne at all, which will allow scouts to mini-crit classes whenever he wants by simply jumping. I am suggesting that the mini-crit function is only applicable when airborne from a secondary or tertiary Jump.

Flying Guillotine

The Flying Guillotine is another annoying weapon, but is also one that can only be used with the Sandman.

Changes:

  • Removed: Crit vs stunned players
  • Removed: Mini-crits at long range
  • Added: Long range hits reduce recharge (by 1.5 seconds)
  • Distance considered “long range” reduced by half of the previous value when determining mini-crits

This makes the Guillotine less annoying, though the Guillotine deals something like 40 damage, and it is a projectile that is easily dodged by aware and fast players. I think that the Guillotine should, on top of the suggested changes above, deal 10 more damage for every second that it is airborne, starting after the first second in the air.

Soldier

B.A.S.E. Jumper

The base jumper is hard to counter without a Direct-Hit Soldier easily counter any other attack by killing the attacker using the height advantage, or retracting and deploying the parachute. The suggested changes make it easier to counter.

Changes:

  • Reduced amount of air control while deployed by 50%
  • Removed the ability to re-deploy the parachute once retracted (until the player lands on the ground again)

I agree with the suggested changes, because it almost perfectly fixes the above problems with the B.A.S.E Jumper.

Mantreads

The man treads are only used on market-gardening Solders, because there are other useful secondaries that assist the Solder in his duty.

Changes:

  • +75% push-force reduction now includes airblast
  • Added: +200% air control when blast jumping

The suggested changes add other helpful abilities to the Mantreads that make it useful for other things than scaring the crap out of snipers on Hightower, much like the Concheror, and the Battalions Backup; but for rocket jumping.

Heavy

All Miniguns

Changes:

  • The 1-second damage and accuracy penalty now applies to the first second of spun-up time, whether or not the Heavy is firing. Previously, the 1-second damage penalty would only be removed after 1 second of firing.
  • Accuracy and damage penalties now reset when the Heavy spins down, rather than when the Heavy stops firing. This means if you stay spun-up beyond one second, and fire in bursts, damage and accuracy will remain at 100%.

The damage penalty mechanic on Heavy’s miniguns is to keep Heavy from constantly spin up and down, and make himself more mobile. There is nothing wrong with that mechanic, the change is more of a bug fix, because when the Heavy is spun up, he is essentially immobile, not just when he is firing.

Gloves of Running Urgently

The Gloves of Running Urgently is a weapon that is very powerful in competitive, especially when combined with the Vaccinator Übercharge to block the miniature critical damage that the Heavy takes during and for a short while after having the gloves out.

Changes:

  • Added: Max-health is drained while item is active (-10/sec), and regenerated while holstered
  • Health will regenerate only the amount drained while active — minus any damage taken during that time
  • Each time the gloves are deployed, the drain rate is accelerated for a brief period of time
  • Removed: Marked-For-Death effect while active
  • Removed: 25% damage penalty

The suggested changes instead penalize the heavy for the amount of time he has it out, and does so in a way that overheal, especially with the Vaccinator, is less helpful.

Eviction Notice

What’s the Eviction Notice? Never Heard of it.

This weapon is very crappy, because it is less useful than other Heavy Melee weapons, like the Gloves of Running Urgently

Changes:

  • Added: Max-health is drained while item is active (-5/sec), and regenerated while holstered. Health will regenerate only the amount drained while active — minus any damage taken during that time.
  • Removed: 20% damage vulnerability

So, basically it’s suggested to be a watered down Gloves of Running Urgently.

Fist of Steel

The Fists of Steel is a very hard thing to counter when doubled with the medic, because the resulting pool of health is 630 (300*1.5*1.4).

Changes:

  • Added: 40% overheal reduction while active
  • Added: 40% healing rate penalty while active

I agree with the suggested changes, it makes the Medic less powerfull when paired with the Fists of Steel, and instead serves as a replacement for a Medic.

Engineer

Uncle Dane has made a very detailed video about the Engineer, it deserves to be watched.

Rescue Ranger

The ability to repair buildings safely from range is powerful. It creates an engineer that is very hard t0 balance, which Uncle Dane, in his video above, has said is very powerful.

Changes:

  • Ranged repairs now consume metal (at a 4-to-1 health-to-metal ratio, e.g. repairing 60 damage costs 15 metal)

While the suggested change does nerf the Rescue Ranger a little bit, it does nothing to help with the problem of the hard-to-counter engineer with the rescue ranger because the Engineer could turtle next to his dispenser, or sit on top of an ammo pack.

Instead, I suggest taking out the metal requirement, and adding a mechanic where the time the shotgun takes to reload a bullet is proportional to the amount of health the rescue ranger repaired. I am suggesting that a 60 damage heal would add 0.5 seconds onto the base of 1 seconds, and a rescue ranger that repaired 40 damage would take 1.33 seconds to reload. The bullets are in order, so if the first (#4) one repaired 60 damage, and the second (#3) 30, the first ranger would take 1.5 seconds to reload, and the second would take 1.25 seconds. Firing before the gun is fully reload will cause the variables to change starting with the number of rangers in the gun, so if 3 are reloaded, and 60 damage is repaired, the second bullet (#3) would take 1.5 seconds to reload.

Sniper

Darwin’s Danger Shield

Also known as: The Muselk Fan.

If one sniper had the Darwin’s Danger Shield, he is at a significant advantage when going up against other snipers because he can survive one headshot while the other cannot.

New design:

  • Counter ranged burn attacks (e.g. flares), and strengthen melee fights vs Pyros
  • Afterburn immunity
  • +50% fire resist

This is a good suggested change, Pyros love harassing Snipers, but it makes the Cozy Camper even more useless, because there is a good replacement for it.

Razorback

Combined with a Medic, the Razorback makes the Sniper almost indestructible, he can survive a headshot, and a backstab.

Changes:

  • Added: -100% overheal penalty
  • Added: Shield regenerates after 30 seconds

The suggested Razorback forces a sniper using it to be out on his own, and not rely on his team, which can be useful, especially when playing in competitive, where all of your team is on the front lines.

Medic

Vita-Saw

The Vita-Saw was the Meta for Competitive, without it, the team was automatically at a disadvantage because the other automatically had their Übercharge faster, so the suggested changes make the Medic work for the Übercharge.

Changes:

  • Added “Organs” collecting concept (… you know, hit someone with a saw, and out pops a vital organ which you then take, and hold). Each hit with the Vita-Saw harvests the victim’s organs (shown on the HUD).
  • Added: On-death, preserve 15% Übercharge per Organ harvested. This effect caps at 60%.

However, with the new design, the Übersaw is the new meta because the slower swing speed does not necessarily make the enemy harder to hit, and it gives the Medic more Übercharge than the Vita-Saw can.

Instead, I suggest a new design where the retained Übercharge should be capped at 50%, and it would be regained through damage dealt by whoever is connected to the medi-beam at a ratio of 40 damage for 1% Übercharge.

Obviously, the numbers should be tested. Every change should be tested.

The downside would be that Übercharge would be built at a 5% slower rate for other Übercharge building methods, and the Medic will also have 10 less max health so that he is slightly more susceptible to non-explosive classes (Soldier and Demoman), which are usually power classes that he goes up against with his team. The 10 less health makes little difference because those classes deal 100 damage, so the Medic would take 2 hits to kill either way.

Crusader’s Crossbow

The Crusader’s Crossbow is very helpful for healing hurt targets, especially at a distance. And much better than the other Medic Primaries.

Changes:

  • Übercharge gain rate reduced in the same way that the Medigun’s healing (and therefore, Übercharge build rate) is — based on the last time the target was in combat
  • Reduced by a third when 1–10 seconds outside of combat, and scales up to normal over 10–15 seconds

The suggested change for the crossbow is a good change, but it still does not compete with the other Medic primaries. I think that the other medic primaries should heal teammates 10 HP per shot, so they can be used as a healing mechanism for areas.

Spy

Ambassador

Nothing can say the problem better than the blog post did:

Players that are head-shot from across the map are expecting to see a Sniper in their death-cam, but they sometimes see (more often that we’d like) a Spy with a revolver

Changes:

  • First-shots are no longer perfectly accurate. Bullet-spread is instead reduced by 50%. This makes head shots less reliable at long range, while still very viable at close and medium-range.

The suggested change does stop spy snipers, but it also makes the Ambassador an unreliable weapon for skilled players. Instead, all shots should have damage falloff, or where headshots would not crit if the target is more than 10 meters away from the Spy.

Dead Ringer

This thing. This. Damn. Thing.

The dead ringer, when correctly used, is very annoying to play against. If you are a good player, you usually see the spy that keeps coming back no matter how many times you kill him, and your game becomes a chore where you have to hunt down the spy.

Changes:

  • Ammo kits and dispensers no longer refill the Spy’s cloak meter

I like this, the suggested change keeps the Dead Ringer from being spammed, and much like the suggested changes to the Bonk!, also doesn’t allow inexperienced players to easily get behind enemy lines, because it is harder to get away from players who chase the spy.

Your Eternal Reward

Changes:

  • Removed: “Cannot disguise” penalty
  • Added: Non-kill disguises require (and consume) a full cloak meter
  • Backstab-based disguises are still free
  • Increased cloak drain rate by 50%

The suggested change makes the Your Eternal Reward more useful, but also makes it incompatible with the Dead Ringer, and almost mandates the user to equip the L’Etranger.

Instead I suggest that the spy who equips it can disguise, but cannot cloak until he gets a successful backstab.

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