Oh Soldier, never have I imagined a class with such a simple concept (A jack of all trades with an unconventional core weapon choice of the Rocket Launcher versus the typical Assault Rifle) have such a lacklustre support from the community and the developers themselves.
Now wait one minute there Stick, have you seen the Soldier’s weapon count? Heck, did you read the comics? He’s practically the poster boy for the TF2 team!
Well on face value, you sure do have a point. The Soldier has a lot of weapons and he has one very prominent presence in the comics. The thing is though, they all suck!
Ok, ALL suck is an exaggeration, it is more like the Soldier’s weapons and comic presence MOSTLY sucks!
Let us look at the Soldier in terms of balance. Jack of all Trades, master of none. He is like a mix of some of the better qualities of the Scout and Demoman, with mobility making him attractive to the skilled community and independence from most of the hard/soft counters that more specialised classes must suck up and take it for their team. With these sort of credentials, Valve should be playing with all sorts of elements with little balancing fears since just about any weapon would be considered a “specialising ingredient”.
You could have given him a no damage launcher that gave the upside of faster weapon switch, turning the Soldier into a Sky Scout, before the latest Soda Popper incarnation!
You could have given him some sort of Mortar Launcher that turned him into a Demoman that snipes crowds with quick firing mortars.
You could have given him the M1 Garand and turned him into a “Fat Sniper” for pete’s sake!
Instead of all that, our first unlockable Soldier weapon was: A rocket launcher with some quicker rockets and tiny splash.
Umm…yay? When did Soldier become Heavy 2.0? This wasn’t the Valve that made the Uber Update keep in mind, this was the War Update Valve! Doesn’t everyone keep lauding that as Team Fortress 2’s best update? Heck, the Demoman had a whole new playstyle added to him, why couldn’t the Soldier?
And this is a recurring thing with most of the Soldier’s weapons like the Black Box, the Liberty Launcher, the Cow Mangler, the Reserve Shooter, the Half Zatoichi, the Market Gardener and so on add little need for a change of play and function almost the exact same as the Stock Soldier. Even when there was a weapon that breathed some change to the Soldier’s repertoire such as the Gunboats or the Beggar’s Bazooka, the change is so minute that nobody notices the difference and it starts getting a bunch of + / – stat variants or Valve ends up nerfing the weapon and nips the change in the bud rather than perhaps tweaking it to help let the weapon stay fresh without perplexing everyone.
It seems weird that a class like the Medic or the Engineer seem to have a tightrope for weapon balancing, and yet rarely if ever does Valve settle with a bunch of statistical tweaks. The sheer quantity of these weapons for the Soldier, worst of all, not only gives the Soldier nothing fresh or exciting playstyle wise, but it causes fans of the supposedly neglected classes to cry foul and ridicule the Soldier just so they can get weapons, which are often while low in number, certainly better in quality than all of the weapons Soldier gets combined.
Yes, this is me essentially saying that the Detonator was better than the Liberty Launcher, Mantreads, Market Gardener, the Reserve Shooter AND the Disciplinary Action! As a fellow Soldier, I am pretty sure I have burnt the bridge with all my peers bar those peculiar few that like the Pain Train!
Well, so what if you have a point there? It doesn’t explain your disappointment with the comic books’ Soldier!
Actually you’d be surprised by how these two correlate if you ask me. You see, recently the Soldier in the comics has been given a lot of panel time in the comic books, far more than the other classes. The only problem is, the Soldier has had his character suffer for comedy significantly as of late.
Look back at the War Update comic, there we got the impression that the Soldier is a proud man with an absurd obsession with American military to the point of trying desperately to emulate a stereotypical military officer’s living conditions. At the same time though, he wasn’t an idiot! Sure, he fell for the Administrator’s trap, but that was through exploiting a sensitive issue of his and causing the Soldier to fly off the handle. Think in his perspective, only two people know his secret, the Administrator and the Demoman, and the former is planting seeds of doubt in Soldier’s head over the latter. The outcome was tragic and inevitable.
…No, the Demo and Soldier would NOT combine forces to war against the entirety of TF Industries, although that would make an interesting update.
Then there was the Smissmas Story, where Scout, Soldier and Spy combine forces to
kill a holiday ico save Smissmas! Here, we see a little bit more levity with the Soldier, but unlike the next case, here it is still controlled and somewhat believable to the character. For one, we get that he is hopeless as a lawyer and a mall Santa (even when the former was crafted by the power of a certain room mate wizard) with some portion of his ineptitude being due to him being a stereotypical US military officer, causing him to have no perception of needing to make himself functional in civilian life (after all, why would he need to? It’s not like he’s a civilian or anything) hence the comedy. In spite of this, he still gets to prove himself as a character like the Scout and Spy, and unlike those two, the Soldier didn’t have an update tie-in weapon to show off, Valve just let Soldier be Soldier.
But then, Doommates! Oh boy, this took the comedy from the Smissmas Story and ran it too far in the wrong direction. First of all, the treatment of Merasmus’ castle. I get they are trying to imply that Soldier has no understanding and / or care for most conventional home appliances beyond very basic stuff, but why make him a complete imbecile when considering the function of the refrigerator? Then there’s the raccoons. Look, I am sure there are many of you that love Lieutenant Bites, heck you just have to vaguely reference him on your Workshop submitted models and I bet it’ll get up voted like wildfire! The thing is though, his treatment of the raccoons seems very out of character.
Really Stick? What, you were wanting him to have the raccoons all disciplined and trained and that?
Well no, but surely that would make more sense than him snuggling one as it vainly tried to eat his arm off. If you really wanted Soldier to still be friendly with the raccoons, why not do something like they did with Soldier’s “war friends” in the comic introducing the Cow Mangler? A tea party with wild animals and a military theme, surely that would still be humourous and get the point that Merasmus is so peeved with Soldier that the events of Scream Fortress 2012 would transpire right?
And the fact that Soldier is a ranger now? Why would Soldier ever WANT a job like that? Forget how, which I guess was the point of the joke, just why would Soldier want such a tree hugging job?
The worst part still, is Valve’s justification and the discontinuity that Soldier’s latest comic behaviour causes with Soldier’s actions in the main game. Why do you think Soldier has been acting so idiotic recently? Is it because of late developing PTSD starting from his betrayal of his friend the Demoman that has recently escalated as the existence of Gray Mann’s robots made Soldier question if the Demo that outed his secrets was not his friend but in fact a metallic impersonator that he should have known from the Demo’s voice due to its robotic quality? Nope.
It was something in the water…
No joke, “Unhappy Returns” essentially blames Soldier’s recent stupidity on the lead poisoned waters of the game maps. Forgetting what this means for whenever players take a dip in the waters of Well, why would Soldier drink the non-bottled water and NOBODY ELSE? Was bottled water too “hippie” for him?
Not to mention, this does not sync with some events in the game’s updates. Can you seriously tell me that the Comic Soldier, the same idiot who buries a wizard’s fridge would also take initiative in the reveal of the robots invading Mann Co, try to make a decoy Mann Co to fool the robots into bombing there?
Call this a rant but I really felt like getting this off my chest concerning the Soldier, my main class, a man would deserves more respect than he seems to get from the TF2 community and Valve.