When someone says ‘ balanced weapons’, people always have the habit of turning to us Medics and our rather small inventory. Four Medi Guns, four syringe-shooting weapons and five limb-destroying melee weapons. People say to us that our weapons are all fine and dandy, the only bad syringe gun is the Blutsauger, since it promotes Battle-Medicing, and the Bonesaw, which is useless.
But hang on a second. The most useless Medic weapon is the stock melee one? I thought we were supposed to be balanced? This thought made me look deeper into Medic weaponry. And deeper, and deeper. I quickly realised that I’d been staring at my Bonesaw for twenty minutes, but in that time, I’d come to a startling conclusion. Medic weapons were overpowered! Or useless. Nothing in between.
The obvious part here is the Bonesaw. What does it do? Nothing. You can use it for amputating limbs. But why, when you can amputate limbs with the Amputator? As well as increasing your natural regenerating health while being held, the Amputator has a beautiful taunt that heals nearby allies. Yes, the Bonesaw can taunt, but it can’t HEAL people! Alright, there’s a damage penalty, but no one notices.
Even the most common of Medic melees, the Ubersaw, is vastly superior to the Bonesaw. 25% Ubercharge on any successful hit? You just saved yourself a good 10 seconds! Alright, it’s risky, going in for a melee hit, especially when everyone else is so good at killing, but it’s totally worth it if you pull it off. The only downside here is a swing-speed penalty, and that’s barely noticeable! You look at all of Medic’s melee weapons, you see the same thing. Vita-Saw offers Uber insurance. And the Solemn Vow? Don’t get me started. I love that bust of Hippocrates, but it’s just too good.
“Just too good” seems to describe most Medic weapons. The Syringe Gun is an okay weapon, the sort of thing you use when you’re desperate or are about to die or are in some other dire situation. Then you have the Overdose, which gives you a speed boost depending on how much Uber you have, in exchange for a 1 damage per syringe downside. Then you have the Crossbow, which is a completely different weapon, allowing you to both heckle AND heal from a distance. AND it reloads passively, in exchange for a clip size of one. The damage isn’t too bad either.
The same can’t always be said for Medi Guns. The Kritzkrieg, with its really simple changes, is generally considered the closest thing to a pure sidegrade, alongside weapons like the Flare Gun. The Quick Fix on the other hand has a habit of breaking competitive since it offers not only protection and health, but speed, mobility, immunity to knockback AND the ability to capture control points while Ubering. Luckily for stock, invulnerability is bloody hard to beat, but somehow, in more situations than it should, the Quick Fix somehow wins, rather than being a sidegrade weapon like the Kritzkrieg.
But with Medic weapons, it’s feast or famine. While almost every other option is just as good, if not better than stock, the two weapons that are left out are, well, left out forever. The Blutsauger, when it came out, only had the downside of no random critical hits, but these days, it has a distinct downside – lowered regen. And it’s enough to warrant its upside, +5 health on hit, completely useless. You can stand still as a normal Medic and regenerate 3 health in one second, so spamming syringes to get health seems fruitless.
Then there’s the Vaccinator. The concept is sound but the execution leaves much to be desired. Currently, there is little reason to use it unless you’re going against an entire team of Demomen or simply want to piss off the Snipers on the enemy team. The Vaccinator as is is simply not strong enough to make its own niche.
That brings us to the big problem. Medic is inherently hard to balance, as he is the backbone of a team. Too weak and you might as well switch him out for another Engineer, too powerful and you end up with an unkillable team. The same applies to stock. Buff or nerf too much and you’ll have some pretty nasty consequences. It’s tempting to just leave Medics with their slow, steady power creep, but we’re better than that.
Then again, none of us have any say.