It seems to me that many people are of the opinion that certain pieces of weaponry in Team Fortress 2 are underpowered or useless by the nature of not being optimal at all times. If something is generally going to serve you better than all the other options available, why would you ever bother to use the alternatives? Is it really worth it to attempt to engineer a situation where your situational alternative will potentially outperform the typical best choice?
I would argue that yes, it is, and my reasoning is as follows:
First of all, there are many times where those situational weapons will do something that the more reliable general option just flat out can’t pull off, and even if you typically run the “best” option, it will serve you well in the long run to know what can be used for a temporary advantage. For example, lets consider the Degreaser and the Backburner. The Degreaser is almost always the more reliable of these to allow a Pyro to fulfill their job of keeping pesky projectiles away and forcibly re-positioning members of the enemy team while applying a little bit of damage. There is absolutely nothing wrong with keeping the Degreaser as your primary choice of primary, but what if you see a situation where the enemy team is pushing repeatedly as a tightly packed group with a convenient flanking route giving a nice path to their rear ends? Swiftly equipping the Backburner can allow you to punish this mistake in far more devastating fashion than the Degreaser would. Once they learn their lesson and cease to proffer a target for back-criticals, there is nothing to prevent you from re-equipping the Degreaser and going about business as usual. Bam, a weapon often viewed as subpar has shown its ability yo conditionally outperform the alternatives.
Okay, sure. Perhaps there are some times that a less commonly used weapon can shine, but aren’t there some weapons that are just outshone enough that they won’t provide any advantages whatsoever? Why should I use THEM?
My reasoning for this is as follows: Things can change. Lets use the example of the recent Stickybomb Launcher nerf and un-nerf. To put it simply, Valve can often do things that are pretty darn unpredictable. The drastic change brought about in the nerf meant that the vast majority of Demomen had no way to deal with the sudden lower damage output they were saddled with. On the other hand, there were a relatively small amount of people who often made use of the Scottish Resistance were suddenly able to outperform those who had never touched it. Before the sticky nerf, the ScoRes was almost definitely the lesser choice, but one change shot the underdog into the spotlight. Now of course this isn’t really true anymore (because let’s face it, the sticky launcher is a tricky one to get right without a great deal of care) but who knows what might happen next?
Finally, as a last defense of the concept of situational weaponry, I would like to point out that it is most likely impossible to design a game where weapon choice is at all meaningful without some degree of it happening. Given a large selection of different-statted items with a limited number of slots to fill, there will invariably be one that has greater efficiency than any other. I have found this to be true in every game I have played that includes weaponry selection of any sort, from our beloved TF2 to the card game Magic: the Gathering. If there is going to be one overall best, why should the others be crammed into the category of still-always-usable-but-not-quite-best? It is my firm belief that the better and more rewarding choice is to accent the differences and solidify the niche of each weapon, allowing the choice of loadout changes to flow dynamically to meet the needs of a game state of constant flux.