Ah, the Shotgun, everyone’s favourite stock weapon. Last time we covered it, we were talking about Fat Scouts (i.e. Heavies) but this time, we’re talking about Soldiers. Before we start, a little-known fact about me, Soldier is my second most played class, a fact that has been firmly reinforced since I faced a horde of beeping monstrosities. Being the all-rounder that Soldier is, the Shotgun is, in his hands, one of the most powerful tools around, despite the fact that he also has a bloody rocket launcher.
Let’s look at a common scenario. A Soldier and a Demoman are fighting. Both are chucking dangerous projectiles at each other and are closing in fast. But there’s a point where your own projectiles will start hurting you as well as your enemy, as you find yourself within your splash damage. Out comes the shotgun, and you can blow your weakened opponent away with up to six shots of meatshotting glory.
Such a scenario is actually really common. When using his Rocket Launcher, Soldier works best at mid range, dealing fairly heavy damage with all those rockets. But whenever someone gets in a Soldier’s face, those rockets don’t work any more. You’ve all probably seen a Soldier panicking and firing rockets at a Spy right in front of him, blowing himself up in the process. Heck, I’ve done that before. It’s even more amusing when there’s a cloaked Spy in front of the Soldier, and both of them explode into a pretty cloud of gibs.
Not only is it a Demoman’s main weakness (since he lacks hitscan), but the Shotgun allows the Soldier to fight off other potential threats. A Pyro capable of reflecting rockets can be briefly confused and injured by switching to your shotgun, which the Pyro certainly can’t reflect, giving you a moment to switch back and catch him unawares with another rocket or another shotgun blast. The Shotgun also gives you a fighting chance against those in-your-face Scouts (normally seen wearing pink or lime green accessories). As they close in, they put themselves in meatshot range.
It’s not just Soldiers who benefit from the Shotgun, it’s Pyros too. A Pyro’s worst enemy isn’t always another class, but another Pyro, and with their flame-retardant suits, switching to the shotgun (which should be easy if you have the Degreaser equipped) means you can do some meaningful damage to them before the enemy Pyro even gets into range. The Shotgun also gives Pyros some mid-range damage capabilities, the same way the Shotgun gives Soldiers some close-but-not-melee-range damage.
That’s where the Shotgun shines. It’s so amazingly good. And wee tend to forget that the Shotgun is a powerful weapon. It can do 90 damage at point blank. One meatshot can bring light classes into the red instantly. It’s also hitscan, meaning it’s reliable no matter what your connection to the server is. Six shots, lots of reserve ammo, good damage up close and okay damage slightly further away, the Shotgun is good for pretty much everything.