On Double- and Single-Barelled Shotguns

Not really TF2-related, but I thought I might take this opportunity to talk about a trend in shooters I’ve noticed. Loads of games seem to like giving you two shotguns, one of which is pretty much twice as good as the other. The Ur-Example is probably Doom II, which introduced as its only new weapon to the franchise a double-barrel shotgun, which was the first weapon in the game to have a clip you had to reload (which really cast an odd light on all the weapons in Doom I, I guess that pistol can carry 200 rounds without having to reload?) It set the precedent for reasons why anyone would care about the single-shotgun; you get it earlier than the game, it uses half as many shells per shot, and its reduced pellet spread lets you deal more damage at long ranges. Of course, other weapons are better choices for long range (If I had to, personally I usually used the pistol over either shotgun) and running out of ammo is rarely a concern, so none of these reasons really strike it home for the poor single shotty.

Team Fortress Classic (and its predecessor Quake Team Fortress) was no stranger to these concepts, and almost all of these reasons still factor identically into the relationship between the two shotguns available to players. If you’re playing a class that gets a super shotty (Engineer, Heavy Weapons Guy, Medic, Soldier, and Spy), use it. If you’re playing a class that uses a single-shotty (Scout, Soldier, Pyro, Demoman, Heavy, and Medic), don’t bother. Some other weapon of yours is better in any situation unless you’ve otherwise ran out of ammo. Yeah, even Demoman, who has no other hitscan weapon. The damage output is that bad. Plus you don’t even have the only valid excuse in Doom II which is “its early in the game and I haven’t unlocked the super shotty yet”, since its a class-based multiplayer and you get all the weapons your class is entitled to upon spawning in.

In the original Half-Life, and in this mod called They Hunger, both weapons are merged into one. You can fire this shotgun single- or double-burst style with the left and right-mouse keys.
In the original Half-Life, and in this mod called They Hunger, the devs saved some space and merged them both. You can fire this shotgun single- or double-burst style with the left and right-mouse keys, making both firing types valuable in their own situations.

Now how does this all relate to TF2? Well, this entire situation ties into the design of two related stock weapons:


Yeah, there is a double-barreled shotgun in TF2, and only Scout got it (though this Engineer hat would want you to think otherwise). That’s enough to elevate it to primary weapon, where it gains a damage output capable of elevating its wielder to the picking and DM-ing god that he is. The regular shotgun, a very powerful weapon nevertheless, is still only the secondary to every class who equips it (I consider the sentry Engineer’s primary). Much more effectively than in TFC, the double- and single shotties are balanced despite one being a straight upgrade to the other because only certain classes can equip each one, and the weapons are clearly given different roles to fill from each other.

I hope you enjoyed this trip down FPS memory lane. Now go shotgun somebody in a video game.

This article is part of my “On Shooters” series, where I compare multiple games by focusing on a specific game mechanic or developer objective. To read the rest, click here!

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