Pew! Off went my purple splat of slowness. I aimed it perfectly, right between the minions, splitting the purple splat at just the right moment to catch the enemy Ryze. The splat landed, Ryze was slowed and my team mate scooped up the kill. “Nice work, Vel’Koz!” my team mate smiled.
Now, slows are really common in a lot of games, particularly MOBAs. And Skyrim, since everyone up north has a frost spell or three. But here in Team Fortress 2, the only slows we have are all hated. Scum of the earth. We scream and swear because of them. But why? Why can’t TF2 have some fancy slow mechanics?
When you think about it, the idea is really simple. There’s quite a few fast-moving classes. Scouts in particular, but Powerjack Pyros, many-headed Demoknights, explosive-jumping classes among others are all quite fast too. Surely some way to slow down enemies would be great for those who move at a snail’s pace, i.e. Heavies and non-explosive-jumping Demomen and Soldiers. Heck, slows would be great even for the average-running Spy, trying to nip in and get that backstab.
The general problem is that TF2 is actually a rather chaotic, fast-paced game. The only thing that slows down a game of TF2 is an Engineer. Everyone hates Engineers (apart from Engineer mains) so being slowed down is annoying, especially when you can’t fight back. That’s an obvious thing though.
But used correctly, slows could work quite well. In Team Fortress 2 though they’re not used correctly. Let’s take the Sandman stun ball for example. Alright, it arcs quite a bit, but you can chuck it randomly into a crowd and easily hit someone. This monster used to be able to stun through Ubercharges. Being stunned means being completely robbed of the ability to attack and giving you a very limited movement speed. Stand near a resupply cabinet and you can spam forever. The stunball is also incredibly fast, it’s actually one of the fastest projectiles IN THE GAME. The only things that match it are Manmelter flares, the Wrap Assassin’s ball and the Flying Guillotine. Why does Scout even need to slow people when he’s the fastest class in the game? Good thing they got rid of the stunning while Ubered.
On that note, the Skewer Taunt from the Huntsman still stuns through Ubercharges. That may seem fair, but let’s not forget that the Skewer Taunt is the fastest taunt in the game, it stuns you completely and it has a very large area of effect despite being a thin little arrow, meaning you can sometimes look at the arrow stunning you. Oh yeah and it’s pretty much an instakill.
Anyway, moving on, what about the other slow weapons? What’s wrong with Natascha? Or Pyro’s airblast?
Natascha is one of the go-to weapons when it comes to nerfs and buffs. It’s all over the place. Why? Because it slows. By quite a bit actually. How much does it take to slow someone? One bullet. If Natascha was, for example, a flare gun, people wouldn’t mind so much. Thing is, Natascha is a mini gun. It fires 4 bullets every second. And it only takes one bullet to slow you down. One bullet from across the entirety of the map that scrapes your leg and cripples you for a few seconds. It actually wouldn’t take much to fix this gun. How? Make it so it only slows you if you take x amount of damage. Simple.
Then we have airblast. Airblast is a form of slow. The concept is sound. The cost is okay. It’s just that airblast doesn’t, well, blast you. You just sort of stop whatever you were doing and bump into the air. In a slightly more technical term, being airblasted cancels what movement you were doing and makes you jump awkwardly into the air where Pyro is looking. You’d think that a huge blast of air would 1. react to how you were already moving, knocking you back further if you were jumping or knocking you at an angle if caught at said angle and 2. would possibly affect Pyro too. You know, actions and equal reactions and all that.
In the airblast’s case, the problem with the slow isn’t that it’s a slow, it’s that the slow doesn’t work how players would expect it to. The physics are all wrong. Although that’s not to say that the annoyance of being helpless isn’t there, it really is, especially if you get airblasted into a wall with no means to escape.
Slows could theoretically work. They could work extremely well, especially for slower classes that lack advanced movement. But the current implementations of slows in TF2 have put players off them completely. Which is a shame, when you think about it.
Because a tranquilizer gun for Spy would be really cool.