Kneejerk Thoughts on TF2’s Uber Update (Days 1 and 2)

22 Jun

To celebrate the release of Meet The Medic – the second-last of TF2’s class shorts, and based on existing trends the last to be released in my lifetime – Valve are putting out the Uber Update. We’ll see four days of reveals for a whole new sack of weapons and headgear – and since we’re on Day 2 (at least using America’s illogical and foul-smelling interpretation of ‘time’), and five of the nine classes have already been given new packs, it’s possible this could be the first update to give every single class a complete set of new toys. That’s a big deal, even without the video of a murderous German doctor at the end of it, so I’ll be talking about my first impressions until a) Thursday or b) someone tells me to stop.

Mobster Monday

Black Market Business (Heavy): I can’t think of a situation where the steep firing speed cost  would be wholly negated by a faster spinup time – if I bump into another Heavy carrying the stock Minigun, he’ll tear through me even if I get the first few shots. The lack of a conspicuous ‘whirrrrrrrrr’ is tempting, though – at the moment it’s impossible to mount a surprise attack  while the barrel is spinning. Plus, the design – a cartoonish gatling/tommy gun hybrid – is gorgeous.

The Man of Honour (Spy): A revolver with an extra 20% damage? Shut up and take my metal. The increased cloak transition time isn’t particularly worrisome (at least to me) since I rarely risk activating/deactivating it out in the open – it emits a noise that would give me away to nearby enemies, and even if it didn’t the sudden appearance of a teammate out of freaking nowhere is usually enough to warrant spy-checking anyway. I’m less interested in health-deducting The Big Earner; with only 125hp, the Spy is delicate enough as it is. Besides, some of my most exciting moments playing as him involve barely escaping a surprised mob of foes with only a sliver of health remaining. With this new knife, those moments would kill me.

Timbuk Tuesday

Lawrence of Australia (Sniper): Har har. I both like and fear the concept of a rifle that become more efficient with chained headshots – like because it sounds like a built-in training mechanism, and fear because I know Sniper players that can already make deadly killstreaks without a faster charge meter. The new sword, the Shahanshah, is already obsolete. It sounds like a dumbed-down version of the Soldier’s Equalizer: it becomes more powerful when you’re badly injured, but useless when at full health. More importantly, there’s no way this will ever be as effective as splashing them with Jarate and using the Bushwacka for a guaranteed crit.

In addition: the comedy headpiece is the only one of the newly revealed hats I’d consider hitting the trade servers for.

One Thousand and One Demoknights (Demoman): Pretty much the tenth class. With three new unlocks, each geared towards improving the effectiveness of the sword ‘n’ shield brand of Demo rather than the original bomb-chucker, it doesn’t look as if he’ll have any slots left for either of his explosive launchers. I’m always glad to see fewer impassable sticky traps and skill-free ‘nade spam, but there’s one situation in which the Demoknight will be completely untouchable: Medieval Mode. This was fresh and fun when it first came out, but part of the fun was seeing a multitude of classes beating each other to death with wildly varied melee weapons. I’m worried that, once this shield, sword and boot become common, you’d have to be a fool to play anything else.

The #1 Fan (Scout): How fun The Soda Popper will be depends entirely on how much running is needed to fill the crit-bonus bar; too much and we’ll see Scouts sprinting in bemusingly convoluted patterns to grind charge, too little and we’ll see Scouts in all our killcams having blown us away with their easy-button super-shotguns. The Winger is just crap, with a clip smaller than the Scattergun’s in exchange for a tiny increase in damage, and the bat is barely a weapon. That said, I’m eager to get my hands on one – the ability to triple-jump without the aid of a Force-A-Nature (and, presumably, to quadruple-jump with it) is perfect for my hyper-mobile, if somewhat combat-averse, style of Scout play.

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