This is a statement that often gets flung around the forums around big update time. With solly’s new parachute being hinted at last blog post, it was no surprise seeing that statement arise once more. Is this opinion that unfounded, though? Let’s think about it.
It is undoubtedly true that soldier has the most weapons available to him. He has about 22 weapons, compared to medic, whom has 13, or engie, whom has 14 to his name. That’s quite a gap. Scout also has 22 weapons, pyro has 21, Heavy has 17, sniper and demo have 16, and finally spy has 15 weapons. The weapon distribution is all over the place.
One of the main way to explain this phenomenon is that soldier is comparatively easier to design for. Its hard to make sidegrades to the medigun or the stickybomb launcher that can compete and also remain balanced. In demo’s case, they went so far as to say “screw it” and gave him a sword and board and called it a day. So far, only the kritzkreig truly matched the medigun. The quick-fix is close yet so far, and nobody remembers poor Geoff. Most every engie unlock these days is controversial in some way.
It also helps that soldier has a strong base design to work from. The shotgun has enough opportunity cost to be seen as a balancing point in non-gun items, such as boots and bugles, so far that they need little else as a downside. The rocket launcher at its base is quite simple. The class as a whole is somewhat newb friendly, yet scales with skill very well. Compare this to the pyro, which has many problems at its base, and to some, needs certain unlocks just to be competitive. Compare to the medic, whom needs to adhere to a certain design to be balanced. He needs to have overheal, he needs to be feeble and vulnerable, he needs a considerable uber to punch through chokes and stalemates.
Consider also that soldier is a generalist. It seems to be easier to make a generalist a specialist than the other way around, and still remain somewhat balanced. Soldier can be made into a support with a banner, a powerful roamer with the gunboats, or a bursty pick or clearer with the bazooka. Whereas when the heavy is made into a generalist, we get the mess that is the tommislav, sandvich, and GRU combo. It seems that more success is had focusing a generalist into a role than it is allowing a specialist to cover up its weaknesses easier.
From a design standpoint, it can be seen that soldier getting the bulk of the unlocks is a probable outcome. Is it fair? Probably not. It pains me that several classes just lack variety, like the heavy. Problem is, that doing so and also making it viable on top of that would be an uphill battle for some. In some ways, making new stuff for solly is just the path that gives more success, and less of a chance to mess things up big time.