The other day, I was browsing the Team Fortress wiki when I stumbled across the Short Stop. To me, the Short Stop has always been one of those ‘in between’ weapons. It’s a scatter gun and it’s a pistol. It’s a good idea and I used to use it quite a lot in the Milkman set, but the poor hybrid gun is rather sickly, due to all the changes it has endured. Then it occurred to me, what if we had in between weapons for other classes?
I continued to ponder this idea when I realised we actually already have a few other hybrid weapons. The Loose Cannon is a prime example of a hybrid weapon, incorporating ideas from both the Grenade Launcher and the Sticky Launcher, to the point that it could work as a replacement for either weapon. In the end though, it’s a Grenade Launcher replacement, but one you can charge up like Sticky Launcher.
The Rescue Ranger is another example of this, being capable of repairing buildings like a wrench, but also being able to shoot things like a shotgun. In exchange for this extra utility, the weapon takes a large hit in the damage department. The Rescue Ranger also borrows from the Build tool and the teleporter, but moving buildings requires having enough metal to do so.
The idea of hybrid weapons continues between weapons of the same slot. The Man Melter is built like a flare gun, but its dual-usage and its faster projectile also bring it closer to its hitscan Shotgun relative. You could also categorize the evolution of Pyro secondaries in four stages, Shotgun, Reserve Shooter, Man Melter, Flare unlocks, each one regressing in clip size. Unfortunately, the Reserve Shooter might be a bit broken, but that’s a thought for another article.
Sometimes, though, there’s a spot for a new hybrid weapon. Medic primaries come in two flavours, syringe guns or crossbow. As much as I like both weapons, I’ve always thought it’d be interesting to have an in-the-middle primary, with a slower firing rate like the Crossbow, but maybe with a larger clip. In my head, I’ve always called this the Scalpel gun, but it’d probably be more like a more-than-1-clip-size crossbow, firing bags of medicine or something.
But hybrid weaponry isn’t just the blurring of lines between unlocks and stock, or even different slots. Some weapons manage to blur the lines between classes too. The most prominent form of this is the Ambassador, which suggests for Spies to act more like Snipers, using headshots to weaken opponents and cause them to run away, as well as making it much easier to assassinate enemies if they 1. can aim and 2. the enemy has low health. There’s also the case where many classes have healing weapons, oozing their way into the role of the Medic, although this is generally only in a small way. The worst offender though is Soldier, who, depending on his loadout, can merge into the role of any other class with ease, whether it’s efficiently destroying enemies with the Direct Hit, disabling sentries with the Cow Mangler, buffing the team with one of his banner items or spamming everywhere with the Beggar’s Bazooka.
Then again, the Soldier is the jack of all trades, it’s his job to be able to do all that. As for hybrid weapons? Well, they’re certainly an idea for new future unlocks.