Unlockable weapons. Team Fortress 2 has a LOT of them. And aside from the occasional overpowered(Machina, Baby Face’s Blaster, Darwin’s Danger Shield) or underpowered(Sun-on-a-Stick, Eviction Notice, Panic Attack) ones, most of them work really well. Heck, certain unlocks have even become synonymous with Stock, like Sandvich and Ubersaw, or completely change up a class’s playstyle, like Chargin’ Targe and Huntsman.
To honor these excellent weapons, I thought it would be appropriate to list my 9 favorite Team Fortress 2 unlockable weapons. A few ground rules before we begin:
1. No Stock weapons, for obvious reasons
2. No reskins of existing weapons. Sorry, Frying Pan lovers!
3. I’ll do my best to limit myself to only 1 weapon per class, otherwise half of this list will be Demoman weapons
4. To me, fun to use and utility are more important than sheer firepower and damage
5. This is all solely my opinion, so don’t be mad if your favorite weapon doesn’t appear on here, or if your least favorite weapon DOES appear on here
With that in mind, here are the 9 runners-up before we get to the actual list:
Jarate: The utility aspects of this weapon cannot be underestimated. Giving out mini-crits, extinguishing teammates and revealing cloaked and disguised Spies, not to mention the ridiculous synergy it has with the Bushwacka. The best April Fools Joke to have ever become reality
Kritzkrieg: THE original sidegrade. When most people think of TF2 unlocks, Kritzkrieg is usually brought up alongside Flare Gun as one of the most balanced unlockable weapons in the game.
Bonk! Atomic Punch: This thing has saved my life so many times, especially when there have been Sniper sightlines nearby, and it really helps you either get away from a fight or get behind enemy lines mostly unharmed.
Winger: An awesome little pistol that gives Scout great amounts of mobility thanks to the increased jump height while active, and a full clip can easily destroy Snipers at point blank which is always a plus.
Gunboats: Rocket jumps galore. Not really much to elaborate on here, I just wish it was available to Demoman as well as Soldier…
Powerjack: Pyro’s number 1 melee weapon of choice ever since Valve decided nerfing the Axtinguisher was a good idea… Gives Pyro more mobility, which is really important for him/her/it, I only wish there was a Festive variant VALVE PLZ
Ullapool Caber: Jump or charge across the map, land next to an enemy Sniper, enemy Sniper goes BOOM! unless the Caber decides to glitch out and deals explosion damage only to you, which is the reason it didn’t make the cut.
Sandvich: So moist and delicious. Heals you to full health in 5 seconds, extinguishes and heals teammates, it is awesome.
Sticky Jumper: Sorry aabicus, I love Sticky Jumper as much as you do, but I feel like Demoman has one greater weapon amongst his arsenal. Though the main reason it didn’t make the cut is it’s uselessness in Capture the Flag.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to my ACTUAL favorite Team Fortress 2 unlocks!
#9. The Huntsman
To start off this list, let’s go with a rather controversial pick. I know a lot of people dislike the Huntsman, but it honestly is my favorite Sniper weapon. It’s the only one of his primary weapons that doesn’t make me feel like a dirty unfair bastard for using it, and that is solely thanks to the fact that it’s projectile-based instead of hitscan. Even Hitman’s Heatmaker, the other awesome Sniper primary, makes me feel guilty thanks to the fact that it still operates like a Sniper Rifle. Some people like to make the argument that the Huntsman is unfair because it makes the long-range class not weak at closer range, but let me ask you this: Why do we NEED a class that excels at long range in a game where 99% of the combat happens in close quarters?
Let me put it this way: If you walk into a Sniper sightline, and the Sniper is using any of the other rifles, you know you’re doomed: All you can do is jump around like a maniac and just pray he doesn’t manage to bodyshot you. Now, replace that rifle Sniper with a Huntsman Sniper, and you feel a lot safer: He could still potentially kill you, but you at least have a second or so to fight back. You can physically dodge the arrow.
Yes, the hitbox is ridiculous. Yes, it still deals stupid amounts of damage. Yes, it’s nearly impossible to dodge from closer ranges. But I can’t help it, I shall always love this bow for the fact that it gave Sniper the option to NOT be a rotten cheating camper from the other side of the map.
The Huntsman: It doesn’t make me feel dirty for using it.
#8. The Rescue Ranger
The hardest thing for this list was to come up with my favorite Engineer unlock. I mean, think about it: Most of his weapons are either not that impressive(Southern Hospitality, Frontier Justice) or seen as some of the most annoying weapons in the game(Pomson, Short Circuit, Wrangler, Gunslinger). That left me with only 2 real weapons: Jag, which is pretty good but not really that interesting. And then we have the Rescue Ranger.
Oh man, the Rescue Ranger.
Just like Huntsman, it solves my biggest gripe when it comes to playing the class in question. I’ve never really liked playing Engineer, unless it’s out of obligation: You stand in the same place, build up your things, protect the area until a Spy, Soldier, Demoman or Sniper gets you, you lose all your buildings, rinse and repeat. The Rescue Ranger helps in both of those things, making Engineer actually fun to play.
First of all, you can repair your buildings from afar, which is great since you don’t have to worry about splash damage anymore. True, it doesn’t work if your buildings are being sapped, so you still have to watch out for Spies, but if it did it’d be even more ridiculous than Pomson. But most importantly, you can teleport your buildings across the entire map, as long as you can physically see them. So if you notice a Sniper dot on your Sentry, just move back, teleport the Sentry to your hands, and move that gear up. It comes especially handy during Mann versus Machine: The amount of times I’ve fooled Sentry Busters into detonating themselves just before teleporting my Sentry to safety…
The Rescue Ranger: Not of the Chip and Dale variety, but still pretty good.
#7. The Crusader’s Crossbow
I don’t know about you guys, but I personally think Syringe Gun is one of the worst non-melee weapons in all of Team Fortress 2. Those needles deal pitiful damage even if they do hit, keyword being if: The thing is damn near impossible to aim. The only thing Syringe Gun seems to be good for is dealing with Scouts, since the syringes fly in such an unpredictable way that it’s actually harder for Scouts to dodge them. So, the Crusader’s Crossbow is a godsend to me.
It answers one of my biggest Medic-related questions: What if, just what if, I want to be able to actually hit my enemies? The Crossbow bolts fly mostly straight, instead of flying 2 feet to the left of where you were aiming and then immediately descending Syringes do, and deals considerable damage if you fire at an enemy from a distance: Combined with random crits or a Kritzkrieg Medic to heal you, you become quite a sniper capable of killing anything except Heavy. Also, it has a lot of utility in that it can heal teammates from a distance. See that Demoman almost burning to death on the other side of the map? Fire one or two arrows, and he’s as good as new.
The Crusader’s Crossbow: Healing teammates from afar since the crusades(or 2010, whichever you prefer)
#6. The Disciplinary Action
Soldier really seemed to get shafted when it came to his melee weapons: Equalizer and Half-Zatoichi aren’t really worth using, Pain Train is useless if not playing Control Point or Payload, Escape Plan has been nerfed into oblivion and even then is ironically one of the better options, and you need to be a rocket jumping god to perform effectively with the Market Gardener. I don’t think anyone is going to disagree with me when I say Disciplinary Action is Soldier’s best melee weapon by far.
As you’ve probably noticed by now, utility plays a big part when it comes to me liking weapons, and Disciplinary Action is very utility-oriented. Smacking any of your teammates with it is going to give both you and them a speed boost for approximately 3 seconds, which can be prolonged by repeadetly hitting your teammate. Also, it has a longer reach than any other melee weapon in the game, even more so than the Eyelander so it’s pretty good for melee combat as well, especially because it crits like 90% of the time when random crits are turned on. The only thing kind of hampering the Disciplinary Action is that it’s buggy as hell: Sometimes you can smack a teammate, you will hear the hitsound, but it will not actually give you a speed boost. I’m willing to chalk that up to Source Engine’s wonky melee hit registration, though.
The Disciplinary Action: When a problem comes along, you must whip it.
#5. The Ambassador AND the L’Etranger
I said I’d do my best to limit myself to only 1 weapon per class, but I cannot choose which one of these two Spy revolvers I love more. I use them equally often, but both for different reasons.
Let’s start with the Ambassador. I like weapons that reward you for performing well, and Ambassador does just that if you have good aim. If you’re able to consistently pull off headshots, you can 2-shot any class in the game except Heavy. True, it’s really hard to aim the Ambassador from longer distances, thanks to it having no scope, but it’s still doable. Why I love the Ambassador despite hating Sniper as a class is because one Ambassador headshot isn’t going to 1HKO anyone from full health, so it still gives your foe somewhat of a chance to fight back or get away. Oh and I don’t hate Sniper because of headshots anyway, that’s kinda important too.
Next up, the L’Etranger. Not only does it give you 15% cloak on hit, it extends your cloak duration by 40 percent, meaning Cloak and Dagger is going to be as long as default Invis Watch cloak, and Invis Watch is going to cloak you for 14 SECONDS before it runs out. 14 seconds is plenty enough for you to get pretty much anywhere you need to be, and the L’Etranger pairs well with any of the three watches(probably the best with Cloak and Dagger, since you can’t rely on ammo pickups anyway).
The Ambassador and L’Etranger: Two equally awesome revolvers for different situations.
#4. The Detonator
Flare Gun may be one of the most balanced sidegrades in Team Fortress 2, but I have always preferred it’s little brother, the Detonator, which sacrifices the Flare Gun’s firepower via crit flares for improved mobility.
The main draw of the Detonator is it’s ability to launch Pyro into the air, alá rocket jumps. It is not quite as effective as rocket, sticky, grenade or Sentry jumping, but it still gives Pyro a great amount of mobility especially when paired up with the Powerjack and Degreaser. Mobility is one of the most important aspects of Team Fortress 2, and lack of mobility is one of Pyro’s greatest weaknesses.
True, the jumps aren’t always that impressive, but you can still reach the Sniper balcony on 2Fort by Detonator jumping from below, which is pretty cool. There are quite a few spots in the game where you can do that, such as reaching BLU spawn as a RED merc on Gravel Pit, or jumping to the raised platform in Turbine’s main hallway. Who even needs crit flares when you can ambush people from places they’re not expecting a Pyro to be in?
Another great thing about Detonator is, well, just that: the ability to detonate your flares mid flight. It does require precise timing to do, but you can light multiple targets on fire with it, or you can light someone on fire without having to be exact with your flares. Not to mention, while flares on burning targets do not deal critical damage, they can still mini-crit, so flare punching is still sort of an option.
The Detonator: When you need that extra boost at the start of the day.
#3. The Flying Guillotine
Scout has perhaps the greatest array of Secondary weapons when it comes to utility and fun to use. It was hard to choose between his lovely assortment of awesome tools, but I eventually settled for the Flying Guillotine.
Flying Guillotine is perhaps one of the most unique weapons in the came. It works as sort of a hybrid between Mad Milk and Wrap Assassin: A throwable blade that deals bleed damage to whoever it hits. And the damage it deals packs quite a punch: Just the cleaver itself deals 50 damage, add the bleed damage on top of that and it is capable of dealing 90 damage to whoever is unfortunate enough to be hit by it.
It may not seem that powerful, but here is where the upsides kick in. The Flying Guillotine is going to deal guaranteed critical hits to targets that have been stunned by the Sandman’s baseball. When you combine the two, the combo is going to deal at least 150 damage just by the cleaver alone, enough to kill all of the light classes in the game as well as Medic. Throw in the damage dealt by the Sandman ball and the bleed damage dealt by the Guillotine, and you’re going to be able to kill every class in the game except the Heavy with this 1-2 combination.
However, what stops this from being blatanty overpowered is the fact that hitting both the ball AND the cleaver takes quite a bit of skill: Even when stunned, your enemy can still move, meaning they have a great chance of dodging your cleaver if they’re moving unpredictably. This makes it so much more satisfying when you manage to hit both the ball and the Flying Guillotine at your target, and that feeling of satisfaction is nearly unmatched in TF2.
The Flying Guillotine: I’m running out of subtitles for these weapons.
#2. The Loose Cannon
Just like with Scout, picking my favorite Demoman weapon was a tough choice, as he has probably the most fun collection of weapons in the entire game. As I said, I could have filled almost half of this list with just Demoman weapons, but in the end I went with the Loose Cannon.
Loose Cannon is probably Demoman’s most powerful primary weapon, and I say that with full knowledge of Loch-n-Load. If you’re consistent with your shots and can Double Donk effectively, the Loose Cannon has the potential to deal 130 damage per cannonball(61 from impact, 69 from the mini-crit Double Donk): Compare that to the Loch’s 123 max damage and add in the extra 4th grenade that the Loose Cannon has, and you’ve got quite a beast in your hands.
Again, what keeps the Loose Cannon balanced instead of being monstrously overpowered is similar to the Flying Guillotine: Hitting both the cannonball and the explosion at the right time requires quite an amount of skill; because of this, double donks are again very satisfying to get thanks to that awesome noise it plays. And thanks to the bombs being on a timer, it gives Demoman a fair chance in fights against Scouts and Pyros, his 2 main counters. And you can knock enemies off cliffs. Oh, and cannon jumping is way more effective than grenade jumping and also a lot more fun, if it does deal quite a bit of damage.
Really, the only negative thing I can say about the Loose Cannon is it’s ineffectiveness versus buildings, but compared to the downsides of my other favorite Demo weapons(Sticky Jumper deals no damage and is useless in CTF, Ullapool Caber has a glitch which can render the whole thing pointless and Tide Turner has been nerfed to hell), it’s nothing major really, and you can still deal with buildings by using your Stickybomb Launcher should you not be a Demoknight.
The Loose Cannon: Do what you want ’cause a pirate is free, you are a pirate!
#1. The Holiday Punch
To all two of you who scrolled down to number 1 just to see if it was going to be Holiday Punch, OF COURSE IT WAS!
I have been praising this awesome pair of mittens to hell and back ever since it came out, and I even dedicated a section of my “Why Heavy is my favorite class” article just talking about it.
Even with the risk of sounding like a broken record, let me reiterate: It is tons of fun to use and really silly, it is probably the most effective weapon for taunt killing people, and it can stun key targets even while they are under the effects of an übercharge.
I don’t care about GRU’s speed boost. I don’t care about Fists of Steel’s resistances. To me, Holiday Punch is always going to be the perfect mixture of fun to use, effective in melee combat and utility. But, with that said, I am painfully aware of it’s few flaws. So, since this section is going to be so short, I shall list my 3 major gripes with the Holy Mittens of Awesomeness:
1. They don’t work against targets who are jumping or underwater(or disguised/cloaked, but those 2 are understandable)
2. If a Heavy crit punches someone and they start laughing, and the Heavy prepares up a taunt kill but the laughing enemy either suicides via the “kill/explode” console commands or gets killed by a teammate beforehand, the Heavy doesn’t get properly credited for the kill or assist
3. It doesn’t work in Mann versus Machine(well, not anymore at least…)
But yeah, despite all of those things, I’m always going to be in love with the Holiday Punch. It’s probably the biggest reason why Heavy is and always will be my favorite and most played class.
The Holiday Punch: My favorite unlockable weapon in all of Team Fortress 2.