I was browsing around the official TF2 wiki when I remembered the old TF2 Beta. Originally, the beta was a separate, 12GB download, in which Valve occasionally tested stuff like the Overdose, a bunch of pocket Soldier weapons and the Detonator. A lot of stuff that happened in the beta stayed in the beta, never to be seen again. One of those things was a souped up Vita-Saw.
Yes, a Vita-Saw. One of the beta patches gave the Vita-Saw the ability to see enemy health. I never got to try this ungodly combination, but it must have been somewhat amusing. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you see things), incredibly low player and server counts meant this never truly saw the light of day in a way that could really cause problems. But what if this monster had ended up in TF2 proper? Who knows.
This got me thinking. The Vita-Saw, despite how broken it is, rewarding a Medic for doing one out of two things he shouldn’t do (you know, dying), doesn’t really get used much. Many dislike the -10 health. Many don’t use it because they KNOW it’s too good and have some sort of weird honor thing. Others don’t use it because the Ubersaw is just way too awesome. Weapon under-usage is a good sign that there’s a problem with a weapon. Multiple under-used weapons means there’s lots of problems. Perhaps we can solve some of them by combining them?
Well, call me backwards and a pain in the ass, but no. This would only work in very isolated cases. In fact, when I started brainstorming ideas, the only two weapons I could think of that combining them might work was the Big Earner and the Kunai. There’s also the case of splitting weapons. This never goes down well. Just look how messed up the Equalizer is.
Okay, there are a few cases. Perhaps the Brass Beast and the Natascha could work? Alright, you can fire a gun that slows people, but you yourself are slowed. But still. You might as well just rework them.
The Beta also suggested other weapons and perhaps it still does. Within the old beta were Soldier weapons, designed to be used alongside a pocket Medic. Perhaps this was an attempt to do something for competitive players, but all the downsides and upsides were a bit, uh, scary. One upside, attached to an otherwise stock rocket launcher, offered critical hits if the Medic healing him was killed. What’s that? You just killed their Medic and have Uber advantage? CROCKETS! The downside for this was losing health every shot, like the Boston Basher except it doesn’t matter whether you miss or not. Then again, if you have a Medic strapped to your backside, then -5 health per shot isn’t going to do much as an actual downside.
To be fair, a lot of the ideas in the Beta were relatively tame. Just tweaks to current weapons or small bonuses. The Beta Syringe Gun for example offered Mad Milk syringes. I personally still want this in-game, but in the form of a Crossbow or a less spammy ‘Scalpel Gun’ that fires larger projectiles and has a smaller clip size. There’s also the Beta Detonator, which was awesome, if a bit too good, but we ended up with a very watered down version.
Then we have the Grappling Hook. Now that’s something different. A made up weapon that people have hinted at for years. It’s always interested me how people want weapons that scale the third dimension. People love jumping and all that, so how about the ability to climb walls? Advanced Weaponizer, the TF2 modded game mode, had a weapon that allowed Snipers to climb up walls with their melee weapon – hitting a melee weapon against a wall would throw you upwards. The downside was a much slower swing speed, so you wouldn’t be able to travel far. When the grappling hook came out for Mann Power though, people wondered whether this might hint to a future Spy watch. It makes sense, the sneaky secret agent getting all sorts of cool gadgets.
The whole idea of Mann Power actually leads to an interesting idea. What if Mannpower power ups are ideas for future weapons, particularly Medi Guns? A Vampire or Haste Ubercharge would be quite interesting. Heck, there are so many things that you can make weapons out of.
Now if only we had a real beta to test these things in.