The Rocket Jumper and the Sticky Jumper. Two weapons originally meant for training, twisted and re-purposed into something terrifying. No sane person uses these weapons seriously, unless they just want to gimp themselves. Fewer people still actually use these for any sort of training or practice, since it’s generally better to train with a real explosive weapon. There’s even better options available for Soldier, in the form of the Gunboats. Actually, to be fair, most of the hatred ends up going towards the Rocket Jumper, since, with the Sticky Jumper, you still have a perfectly usable grenade launcher to kill people with.
Before we actually discuss how to make these weapons useful, we should consider how they’re currently treated. The original training weapons used to have HUGE damage vulnerabilities, leaving Soldiers and Demomen with only 50 health. They also lacked any sort of skin and looked identical to their stock counterparts. If you didn’t have damage counters or hitsounds, you’d have no idea. Then the damage vulnerabilities were removed and people felt safer using the training weapons outside no-damage jump maps.
Of course, with no damage vulnerabilities, people were free to exploit the Jumpers. Maps like Doublecross found themselves flagless constantly, as people would jump across the map, steal the intel, leap away and capture before anyone had a chance to blink, let alone set up a sentry. So the two Jumpers had a Cannot Capture Intel downside slapped on them. This tactic was still possible, thanks to the Quick Fix, but it became harder to achieve. On top of the intel downside, the Sticky Jumper got kicked in the bollocks by a downside that meant users could only place two stickies at once – any more stickies placed would detonate, like when you already have 8 stickies out with stock. This extra downside ruined the trick of placing multiple piles of stickies around an area for a quick getaway. It DID save Balloon Race, but otherwise it seemed a tad silly. Limiting the Sticky Jumper to 4 stickies would have been more fun.
Thing is, even with their stat changes, these training weapons are always going to be used and abused. But despite this, they are still fundamentally useless. How can we make it so people who equip these weapons, purposefully or otherwise, can still be credit to team?
Idea the first: Jumper weapons must be used alongside weapons that deal damage via normal means. This means you can’t equip the banners, the Gunboats or the Mantreads with the Rocket Jumper, and you can’t use the Booties with the Sticky Jumper.
Idea the second: Jumper weapons deal no damage but can still knock back enemies. I’m not sure how this would help, but it’d be interesting. Combined with the first idea, it could lead to meaningful numbers of Soldiers using the Reserve Shooter and Panic Attack.
Idea the third: This is my personal favourite. Place giant flashing signs on the screen of anyone using a Jumper weapon whenever they try to attack an enemy with it. Preferably accompanied with a really annoying sound. Or just a generic message saying that the weapon you are currently using is useless, go and equip a better weapon. Although the latter might spur people on to being even more useless.
Idea the fourth: Make the jumper weapons do tiny amounts of damage. That way, you’re not rocket jumping for free and you may accidentally kill someone in the process. It’d be like the Fan ‘o’ War or the Short Circuit. This also means we could have killstreak/strange Jumpers.
Idea the fifth: Rework the weapons completely and turn them into something else. If Valve REALLY wanted training tools, they’d create a tutorial for explosive jumping or something.
Sad thing is, none of this will happen. Valve seems to be appealing to the exact people who use the Rocket Jumper on a regular basis.