The Gunslinger gets a lot of hate. In fact, if we were to gather all the hate for the Gunslinger, we could probably power a mission to the moon. Actually, that was probably a bad example, as modern calculators have more power than those rockets that went to the moon had, but still, there is so much hate, it can make your head spin. Hours have been spend on SPUF going backwards and forwards, with nothing to show for it apart from a single bug fix.
Now, before we start, let’s make this clear: I am not a fan of the Gunslinger. But I am also not a person who screams “REMOVE IT!” and “NATASCHA IT INTO OBLIVION!” and all that. I’m somewhere in the middle. And that’s what the Gunslinger needs, slightly less bias.
There are loads of arguments against the Gunslinger, but the main ones are “THEY’RE SKILL-LESS!” and “THEY’RE ANNOYING TO FIGHT AGAINST!” and a few other things, like the fact that they screw over Scouts and Pyros. Let’s put these into context, then have a look at how we can deal with these problems.
Okay, first off, the “Gunslinger Engineers are skill-less bastards!” argument. Let’s be honest for a moment here. Apart from good building placement and understanding Spies, what more is there to Engineering that doesn’t apply to, um, most other classes, particularly Heavy? Engineer is pretty low down the skill-floor list as it is. Yes, the Gunslinger could do with something to make it more rewarding and more educational to use, but it’s just mean to call people who use the Gunslinger skill-less.
Next one. They’re annoying to fight against. You also know what’s annoying to fight against? Sandman/Cleaver Scouts, Machina Snipers, good Holiday Punch Heavies, Beggars Bazooka Soldiers with a Quick-Fix Medic in tow, Heatmaker Snipers, Demoman/Kritz combos, the Degreaser/Axtinguisher combo, Phlog Pyros, Huntsman Snipers, Caber Jumper Demomen, Piss-Rifle Snipers, Demoknights, Stock Snipers, Engineer/Pybro combos and Engineers who build in really, really hard to hit places. There’s loads of stuff that is annoying. I agree that Gunslinger Engineers are annoying, but they can be countered, while Demoman/Kritz combos are slightly more tricky, as are level 3 sentries without a Medic.
In particular, this argument seems to come from Scouts. Engineers have always been the counter to Scouts. Okay, Pyros say this too, as they’re a close-combat class and Engineers are an area-denial class. Okay, jumping Demomen and Soldiers say this too, but the thing is, this ALL happens with a normal Sentry Gun. Sentries are not fun to fight against. The Mini-Sentry makes it slightly worse only because you can create 2 of them (assuming you have the metal for it). It’s a problem inherent with the Engineer, and nerfing the Gunslinger into oblivion is just a small bandage on the class as a whole.
Let’s pause and mention something else here. The Gunslinger can be countered, by the same classes that already counter Engineer. Demomen, and to a point, Soldiers, are designed to destroy Engineers. Spies are designed for that too. Heavies are basically bullet sponges. And what on earth are you doing in the proximity of a mini-sentry as a Sniper? Alright, sorry, had to get that off my chest.
Actually, let’s take a whole different route, because, let’s be frank, I’m doing a crap job here. Let’s look at the few nice things the Gunslinger does. Well, um, there’s only one good thing (apart from enraging that Tosslecap Scout…)
Yeah, the Gunslinger gives Engineer a second playstyle. Because he only had one really. The job of an Engineer is to defend an area and place teleporters and ammo for his team mates. That’s, um, pretty much it. Perfect if you’re on Defense, meh if you’re on Attack. The Gunslinger was an attempt to make Engineers vaguely more useful on Attack, instead of just being suppliers of teleporters. At least, that’s how I see it.
Sadly, Valve didn’t manage to make it work right.