Scorched earth is a tactic used by militaries where the main goal is to destroy everything useful for the enemy while retreating or advancing (destroying their manufactories, farms, oil fields and stuff like that). If you have participated in kindergarten gang wars, you will spot the similarity with the real thing – if you managed to win a small tackle-fight against your little enemies in their own lair built of wooden bricks, chairs and clothing – you totally wrecked their camp afterwards, victoriously, so they would have to build everything from scratch. You were also a terrible person, but whatever. Scorched Earth is also a fun little game with artillery tanks shooting at each other, but most importantly, it shares a similar name with one of the weapons in TF2 – the Scorch Shot.
Just before the holiday season, Valve shipped some new crates. There is a particular one I’ve looked forward to the most. Crate #77. Not only do you get a chance to unbox the strange Grenade Launcher again (hardcore traders fainting, poor people throwing hands in the air and praising the Lord), you can also get the strange Scorch Shot! I also had the joy of unboxing it right away with my first crate drop, just like I wanted. I could finally use Scorch Shot and force other people to see my kill counter on it when I kill them to death!
Why don’t people use the Scorch Shot more? Because they hate having fun! Well, it deals 50% less damage. Instead of regular flare’s 30 damage, you deal 15 damage. Yes, I know, people want to kill their enemies faster? Pfffft. It is way funnier to watch your enemies burn slow if you’re a Pyro. Things people do when on fire… ehhhh… It also won’t critically wound people on fire like Flare Gun does, but honestly, who cares? I can bounce people all over the map!
That’s the main thing of this weapon – bouncing. Hit a guy, he gets knocked back. Hit a guy from a long distance, he gets knocked back even further. If SS was hitscan, I assume enemies ragdoll would dissipate in a fine red mist and flying appendages breaking through 5 servers and back. There’s more! A flare that hits a guy will bounce away! It doesn’t bounce far, unfortunately, but it allows setting people on fire easily if they are grouped! Imagine a little Italian plumber on fire, jumping on TF2 classes’ heads. That’s pretty much the same thing. A flare that doesn’t hit the target will explode on contact with any surface, but not like Detonator – it’s a weaker and smaller explosion. So you can set people on fire even if you miss them by a tiny bit – very helpful for less experienced players. You can also flare jump! It’s a pretty low height tho, so don’t get your hopes up. Get it, up, heh. It is pretty useful for some walls you can’t crouch-jump on, and you need just a tiny boost. There are some example walls on Frontier I think. You basically Scorch the ground! It can also destroy sticky bombs! Utility all around!
The main problem is obvious – why use Scorch Shot when Detonator does almost everything SS does? There is no big tactics, no hidden answers – it’s just the bouncing. If you are reading this blog, chances are you’re a strong, smart and masculine love machine. So let’s draw a parallel with women and flare guns. Detonator is the amazing women that offers you almost everything you want. She is reliable, passionate and attractive. Scorch Shot, on the other hand, is somewhat inferior to Detonator in regular day-to-day life, but she has the prettiest smile in the world. Or some other romantic cliché.
What I wanted to say with that silly comparison is this: You might like a weapon for it’s effectiveness, damage or utility. If you are offered a good mix of all these things, you’ll take it. Scorch Shot won’t offer you crazy damage. You’ll get something people call “gimmick”. But that gimmick, ladies and gentlemen, pushes people away from carts, points, sentry nests. That gimmick is more team-oriented than any other secondary weapon in Pyro’s arsenal, except maybe for Manmelter. Fire is a great tool for annoying the enemy. And you get to push them away. Heck, when someone hits me with SS I am happy. Because I fly for a second or two and I find it amusing as hell. Funniest secondary for Pyro ever. Pushing Snipers off of high platforms? Check. Pushing people into botomless pits? Check. Semi-advanced spy checking abilities? Check. Extra cool tauntkill? Checkmate.
Seriously, it has a kickass taunt that kills people. And it is also used by Pyro in Meet the Pyro video. If you still haven’t found a reason for using Scorch Shot, make an appointment with your doctor. Because you might have a case of no-fun in your brain.