So, almost a year ago now, I talked about finally finding a way of playing Demoman that I enjoyed. I mentioned discovering a Soldier play style too as a footnote, but I wanted to give him a spotlight of his own! Figured he’d earned it after the amount rocket jumping around I’ve been doing as him recently. But more accurately, I want to talk about the Direct Hit. I used to see Soldier as a slow, boring and clumsy type of character which I just couldn’t find the appeal of. But the Direct Hit (and a lovely shiny pair of Gunboats, of course!) changed that stubborn impression I had of him.
While the other launchers pump out decent damage at a consistent rate with their generous splash damage, I found it dull. It didn’t feel inherently rewarding in the same way a headshot or meatshot did, but the Direct Hit scratched that itch. Both in the satisfaction of landing the hit and the aftermath of the insane damage. It hits like a truck, attached to another truck, being propelled by a rocket at specifically 84mph… And it shows. Anything unfortunate enough to get in your way will either be severely wounded in a single rocket or gibbed into pasty, red chunks.
But it doesn’t just obliterate through flesh. It’s an Engineer’s nightmare. I almost feel guilty seeing an Engie finish his Level 3 sentry, looking at it with a proud smile, a single tear rolling down his face as he turns to fetch some metal and then I blow it up with two quick rockets before he can even consider retaliating. Never has it been so easy to wipe out hordes of sentry nests from such a safe distance. It’s funny seeing bunches of turtling Engies sprint around like headless chickens as you easily clean up the scourge they left on the map. Shaudenfreude is the word I’m looking for, I think.
But the moment I truly fell in love with the Direct Hit was only a couple of days ago. I was holding my own, capping the point and getting kills here and there, but we were ultimately losing after the middle point was recapped for the umpteenth time. As I was defending the fourth point, the same old Medic-Soldier combo came around the corner, stomping as they went, decorated in unusuals. As the fully overhealed Soldier flung himself toward the point with a rocket jump, little did he know that Air Supremacy was about to make flying colours out of him, WITH flying colours.
My first shot met his feet as he descended, sending him keeling skyward to the right and with one swift flick I delivered the second mini-crit infused rocket into him, popping him like a gory firework as his body parts rained down. The Medic turned heel and ran like the wind, but he could have walked honestly, I was too busy freaking out over the double airshot to care. The rest of that match I was on fire, that moment had invigorated me into decimating the enemy team with rockets and market gardens alike and we eventually won when a friendly Kritz Medic ubered me into the final point.
To think a year ago I wouldn’t have touched Soldier with a 10ft pole… Now I’m playing him as an explosive, sharpshooting speedster. With enough practice, this beast of a weapon can be tamed. It may not be the most suitable weapon against Scouts and Pyros but the mobility provided by the gunboats makes up for that shortfall if things go south, as well as allowing you to chase enemies or return to the frontline quickly! Otherwise, the raw power and speed will obliterate everything in its path. The Direct Hit may not be for everyone, but I love it. Sorry for the year-long wait, Soldier.
P.S. – I forgot to add Gunboats to Soldier in some of the screenshots but I can’t fix it due to not saving the SFM project. I’m clever like that!