I’ll be frank, I don’t like Mann Power, because it utterly sucks if you’re not one of the 9 people with a power up. You just get your backside handed to you unless you’re clearly skilled enough to outplay them. But on the other hand, the Grappling Hook, the second stock all-class action item after the Spellbook Magazine, is tons of fun. Why? Because everyone can use it whenever they want, as long as the server allows it. And I, being the antisocial offline player that I am, decided to experiment round with it.
First off, to enable the hook, you need to enter the following command: tf_grapplinghook_enabled 1
Now, this command IS very temperamental. On a listen server, it will probably not work the first time. Using the retry command generally seems to sort this out. But then you may find that you still can’t use the hook, even if the notification comes up. You need to equip the hook before you actually create the server, otherwise you’ll be hook-less. I know, it’s annoying. It’s worth joining a server and putting a hook on every class before you go out there, because sometimes the hook doesn’t work if you equip it when prompted. The Grappling Hook uses the same pose as the Spellbook Magazine or Fancy Spellbook, with one hand in the air. You can see this on the player model in your HUD (if you have it enabled) by trying to hook somewhere inaccessible, like the sky.
Secondly, if you want power ups, you need the command: tf_powerup_mode 1
Small problem with this, that command will ONLY work on ctf Gorge and Foundry, because the map needs to have special entities built in to place them in the right starting positions. But even sans powerups, you DO get the Ubercharge when you spawn. It’s worth noting that bots CAN pick up powerups, but only if they accidentally walk over them. Watch out for Haste Medic Bots.
Anyway, back to the grappling hook. For the sake of space, I’ve been testing everything out on gm_BigCity. It’s a popular sandbox map for Garry’s Mod. You’ll need the BSP file though, as all mods from the Steam Workshop come in a format that TF2 can’t read. Any large map will do. Amusingly, Hydro, particularly the Dam stage, works quite well.
The first thing I learned with the grappling hook is that it can go a really, really long way. Not as far as the Sniper Rifle can fire, but still pretty far. I counted the maximum distance as about 6 seconds waiting for the hook to connect, taking me 11 seconds to pull me to the hook’s destination. You can play with the distance by moving around as you fire the grappling hook.
The next interesting thing is how the hook plays with your momentum. You can travel in any direction you like, but once your fired grappling hook grabs something, you will be dragged in that direction. The speed is constant, you travel at the same velocity whether you’re going up or down or left or right, and the hook ignores your previous momentum. If you grapple towards the ground, you don’t take fall damage, but you will if you let go of the hook and are at a high enough height to hurt yourself. Interestingly, if you are traveling in any direction, as long as you’re not dragging yourself along the ground, if you let go before you reach the end of the hook, you’ll retain some extra momentum. You can use this to scale buildings with ease and can pick up a lot of speed. You can also use this to increase speed horizontally, but if you drag along the ground, you’ll always come to a halt or return to your normal speed.
When it comes to weapons, generally you can’t fire when using them. Medics, no matter their Medi Gun, will be dragged alongside their patient, so not everyone is forced to use the Quick Fix. The only exception to the no shooting while grappling rule is Spy, who can use the hook while disguised (the hook will be the colour of the disguise, so it doesn’t give him away). Amazingly, Spy can also grapple WHEN INVISIBLE. Yep. The Spy will NOT grapple when holding out the Dead Ringer – you have to grapple when your feign is activated. Fun fact, Spy’s left (by default) arm will shake if you try to grapple while holding the Dead Ringer out.
Last but not least, it’s interesting which projectile they used for the hook. Currently, the hook is a giant syringe, the same size as the Crusader’s Crossbow. But once you’ve let go of your grapple, the previously fired hook will shrink down into a normal syringe. Why? Probably to help you see which hook you’re attached to.
There’s loads of cool stuff you can do with the grappling hook. I’m looking forward to seeing how people will use it in the future.