Saxton Hale – The Tenth Class

The Mann, The Mythh, The Legendd.   Official Valve Image
The Mann, The Mythh, The Legendd. – Official Valve Image

Preface

You know, after all this time, I would have thought someone would have been able to come up with a legitimate class description for the one and only Saxton Hale.  I’ve searched the SPUF archives,  and while there are some interesting ideas for noncore TF2, as far as I know, there is no actual proposal for Saxton Hale to join the Nine on the battlefield!

This cannot continue.  Every day I ask myself: “What Would Saxton Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa-(breath)-Aaaaaaaaaale Do? (WWSHaaaaaD?)” and while the answer is usually “Grow a Moustache, you hippy!” today the answer to that question is “Try to Make Saxton Hale a Balanced Class in Team Fortress Twooooooooo!!!!!!” Besides, who better to take the title of the fabled 10th Class?

Strap yourself in for a long read, because here we go…

Official Saxton Hale Artwork by Makani
SAXTON HAAAAAALE! – Artwork by Makani

Crafting Saxton Hale

Saxton Hale is (arguably) the most interesting character in TF2 Lore.  So, we’ve got to do him justice by making him a class that fits his large and loud personality.  Now, it can be assumed that, in the past, a TF2 classes personality was based on their gameplay.  We can assume this because the current classes have actual fleshed-out personalities in comparison to their TFC counterparts (future retcon notwithstanding) and yet function basically the same ingame (with several notable exceptions, the largest being The Medic).

Let’s take a quick look at the characters personalities and the gameplay that influenced them (with a few picture links to spice things up):

  • Scout is jumpy and hyper with delusions of grandeur.  Nobody takes him seriously.
    • This reflects his speedy gameplay and high skill ceiling.
    • It also reflects how easily he is countered by some classes (engie).
  • Soldier is a crazy but reliable individual.  People still tolerate his antics.
    • His madness is reflected in his “sacrificing life for mobility” mechanic.
    • The fact that he is still tolerated mirrors his generalistic nature.
  • Pyro is an easily manipulated, unthinking psychopath.  Others fear him/her.
    • His personality is obviously a parody of classic W+M1 behavior.
    • Others’ fear reflects how much more effective he becomes at close ranges.
  • Demo is a passionate but over-indulgent mess.  People still respect his abilities.
    • In-game explosive spam reflects his in-and-out-of-game alcohol spam.
    • His weaknesses to alcohol reflect his shortcomings outside a specific range.
  • Heavy is a sleeping giant. Calm most times, but loves the thrill of battle.
    • Slow movement speed and a required spin-up embody those traits.
    • He has umatched killing power if he’s in the right position.
  • Engineer is a friendly tinkerer, helpful but preferring others to stay out his business.
    • Dispensers and teleporters reflect this, as they help both himself and allies.
    • His sentry guns, like himself, are reliably effective, but predictable, machines.
  • Medic is a sadistic genius, using the lives of others for his amusement.
    • In-game medic playstyle is mostly passive, taking place behind his allies.
    • His ubercharge gains more ubercharge the closer allies are to death.
    • He revels in the culmination of his genius when a plan comes together.
  • Sniper is a composed professional, detaching himself from the emotions of his job.
    • He has always been the odd man(n) out among his people/comrades.
    • His odd weapon choices reflect his fiercely self-sufficient personality.
  • Spy is a saboteur, subdued while working, but driven to a frenzy upon his success.
    • Spies must be close to invisible while infiltrating, or face a spy-check.
    • After backstabbing, there is no need to be silent when pursued by enemies.
    • His immense joy upon success also reflects how reliant on luck he is.

So there’s our nine, with their personalities tailored to reflect their playstyle.  This time, however, we have to do the opposite: We have to craft a gameplay style based on a character’s premade disposition. So, for this exercise, we start with his personality and create gameplay from there.  Hints towards his personality will be taken from official sources only, and links will lead to the Official TF2 Wiki’s archive of the pages.

Based on the feats we present above, we can get a basic idea of what kind of class his character would imply: strong, melee-focused, and durable.  However, since we have to start somewhere, let’s design him specifically in comparison to the other classes.

  • Compared to Scout:
    • No one should be faster than scout at a base level.  Period.  That’s his thing.
    • However, since Saxton is a melee-range , he should get decent speed.
    • Melee-only is ONLY effective at extremely close.  Scout at least has options.
    • Perhaps give him higher damage output?  Lower burst, higher rate?
  • Compared to Soldier:
    • Soldier’s gimmick is his losing life for high mobility and tactical advantage.
    • Soldier should retain the highest mobility, since he sacrifices so much.
    • In Vs Saxton Hale, he does have a “High Jump,” so it seems appropriate.
    • There must be a heavier restriction on his high mobility.  Out-of-combat only?
  • Compared to Pyro:
    • Fire is obviously the Pyro’s thing, so Saxton should probably not get it.
      • Not that he hasn’t used it before (bears can burn!) in special examples.
    • Airblast has 2 functions: pushing enemies and reflecting projectiles.
      • Pushing: Some punches do throw people through buildings in movies.
      • Reflecting: Punches do not reflect rockets, however cool that might be.
    • Pyro also has the most “combo-centric” playstyle.
      • Hand-to-hand combat is common in fighting games.
      • Pyro should probably have the better use of combos
      • Fire is such an obvious status effect.
    • Saxton will have less crowd control as well, so give him better mobility.
  • Compared to Demoman:
    • Traps are not Saxton’s style, though ambushes are not unheard of.
    • Saxton is pretty much the opposite of Demomen in execution
      • His only effective range is close, demo’s main ineffective range.
    • The other thing demos specialize in is crowd control, like pyro.
      • What about a small splash area with each of his attacks.
      • It’ll punish crowded enemies, but have no real game-changing effect.
    • What about knocking enemies into walls for bonus damage, or something?
  • Compared to Demoknight:
    • The Knight’s the main inspirations for Saxton’s class, being melee-only.
      • The point will be to differentiate the two from each other.
    • The main class feature of demoknight is his charge/extended melee range.
      • Charge: An increase in speed isn’t a bad idea for melee-only’s.
      • Extended Melee: Saxton uses his fists, so that wouldn’t fit logically.
    • Demoknights are basically w+m1s at close, and have little variety up close.
    • We should give Saxton more versatility at close range.
      • Perhaps different attacks? (punch/kick)
  • Compared to Heavy:
    • Like the scout, heavy has his thing.  No one should have more health.
    • Heavy should retain the most health, to make up for his slowpoke speed.
    • Being melee-only alone doesn’t justify having more health than the heavy.
      • Give him 200-250 HP?  Seems appropriate.
    • So, make him have less HP, but more Speed, and no spin-up penalty?
      • No spinup?  Restrict his maximum effectiveness somehow.
  • Compared to Engineer:
  • Compared to Medic:
    • Don’t let Saxton heal others, or heal himself much.  That’s medics thing.
    • Should he be as fast as medics, or faster?  Melee-only and all.
    • What about medics base regeneration?  Should he get it?
      • Just for a bit more survivability when he disengages
      • It doesn’t make him not need medics, but gives him lastability.
    • Does he need that lastability?  Should it remain medic-only thing?
  • Compared to Sniper:
  • Compared to Spy:
    • Heavy is soft-countered by Spy, but Saxton won’t have that issue.
    • Melee-effective classes (pyro, demoknight) have an easier time with spies.
    • We don’t want another class that Spy can’t disguise as due to speed.
      • So if Saxton’s higher than 100%, it can’t be by much.

So, after all that in mind, I had to come up with some unique gameplay concepts that would both fulfill a role not already fully handled by other classes, and also does not make other class roles unimportant.  Here’s what I came up with…

Picture Credit - mxdirector
I’ve got places to go, and butts to kick.  – Picture Credit mxdirector

Class Overview

The Brawler

Type: Support
Health: 250 (375 Overhealed)
Speed: 105%

Bio

Name:   Saxton Hale
Location of Origin: The Jungle, Australia
Job:   Getting into fights.
Motto:   “SAXTON HAAAAAAAAALE”
Special Ability: Austrenaline, Grappling Hook, Warcry
Emblems:  Burly Pecs emblem RED.png,  Burly Pecs emblem BLU.png

Description:   Born as the heir to a wealthy weapons manufacturer,
the Brawler detested every waking moment he spent sitting behind a desk,
deciding instead to live a life of adventure and danger. Having recently
lost his company to a scrawny old man due to some legal mumbo jumbo, he
must join his former employees/customers on the battlefield to take back
his company.  Even if he has to do it with his damn bare hands.

Model and Look:

There hasn’t been an official model of Saxton Hale created yet, though there appears to be hints of one.  In the absence of an official model, we’ve gotten a lot of interesting stand-ins, the most popular being what appears to be a remodeling/reskinning based on the soldier’s model.  Not knocking it or the much-more-talented-than-me individuals who created this, but I don’t feel like the current model completely captures the look and personality of the Mann.

This one looks a lot closer to having some personality, so whether or not that is the same model as FlaminSarge’s, great work by the individual behind it.  In my mind, however, I would prefer a Valve-made model complete with unique facial and body animations for the colorful variety of situations he tends to get in.  The voice on Vs Saxton Hale, however, is absolutely fantastic, and should be the official voice for the man.

Again, all of the currently-made models are awesome, and way better than I could even fathom, but, all in all, I still believe that the perfect Saxton Hale model is still out there.

Gameplay Overview:

In my mind, the most important part of any new class should be the kinds of feelings that playing the class gives you.  Very few other things matter if playing the class doesn’t feel good at a basic level, and that is usually dictated by the mechanics that the class brings to the table.  The Brawler combines many mechanics that have already been explored in prior games, beta weapons, and beta tests, and hopefully the mechanics presented here will be both effective and fun to use.  I will cite my the inspiration for each mechanic next to it, to (hopefully) give a better idea of what my vision of the mechanics are.

Here are the Basics of how Saxton Plays:

  • No ammunition or weapons.  No switching weapons at all.
    • Being exremely close to ammo packs/drops, however, upgrades them.
    • Upgraded packs become Australium ammo and function as a large pack.
    • This purely-teamwork mechanic takes absolutely no effort from the brawler.
    • The range at which they are upgraded in is large enough so that touching the nearby health pack (usually right next to it) upgrade the ammo pack.
  • Only two active weapons at all times:
    • His fists and his mighty boot.
  • Special abilities activated by newly freed-up buttons:
    • Reload and Previous Weapon.
  • His abilities function with various new and old mechanics:
    • Charge-ups, cooldowns, and one that is like the ubercharge.
  • He still has a primary, secondary, and melee slot:
    • They are now passive items with passive effects.
    • Hat: The only clothing any man needs located above the waist.
    • Shorts: For carrying the essentials: Grappling hook and moustache wax.
    • Boots: The Australian Man’s most reliable all-terrain vehicle.

Controls Overview:

Button |    Common Action      | Saxton Action
================================================

(LMB)  Primary Attack:  Fisticuffs
(RMB)  Secondary Attack:   Footycuffs
(R)  Reload Current Weapon:  Austrenaline
(Q)  Previous Weapon:   Grappling Hook
(G)  Taunt Enemy:    Outback Taunting

Property Damage! - Art by Michael Oeming
Property Damage! – Art by Michael Oeming

Mechanic Description & Unlocks

Now, you might have noticed under the “controls” section that there were a lot of fancy new Australian words, some of them made up.  Well, each of those have a more in-depth description, so let’s get into this.  Hopefully I can convey exactly what I am imagining for the mechanics of the class.

New Mechanic: GentleMannly Fisticuffs (LMB)

What would Saxton Hale be without his damn bare hands?  Probably something like the most handsome hippie in the commune, or something else equally depressing (but no less shameful).  So obviously Hale’s got an impressive set of dukes, but as anyone who’s played videogames know, a fist must be properly charged to deliver a particularly impressive blow, and our favorite brawler’s power-paws are no exception.

The Brawler’s primary attack incorporates a charge mechanic, where the longer you hold the LMB, the more damage and horizontal knockback you can do.  The charge maxes out after 3 seconds, which you can hold until just the right moment.  The downside is that you are slowed 20% while charging, making you as slow as a soldier until you unleash it.  At minimum charge, the damage is the average base damage of 65, but at maximum charge you will do a solid 124 as well as leap forward a little bit before the strike.  These attacks can hit multiple opponents if they are too close, and the charge level is drained when the button is released and the action is performed.  While charging, a steadily-growing brighter team-colored glow can be seen emanating from his fists.  This is visible to both teams, to give enemies a heads up as to what they’re in for.

While regular hits can be used for standard melee combat (attack interval is standard 0.8 seconds), charged attacks are best used for initiation, suprise attacks around a corner, or in combination with his other skills.  Also, as a side note, there will be an advanced option which allows you to switch the charging mechanic to be toggleable, like the medic’s healing toggle!

New Mechanic: Rough and Tumbly Footycuffs (RMB)

There are very few journeys that can be completed without a decent set of shoes, and our favorite Australian has tromped through enough outbacks to know these truth words: a pair of boots are as lethal a weapon as your fists (and perhaps even moreso).  Not only do they get him from place to Australian place, but he can attack with them in the form of a devastating kick.  Like his primary, attacks from Saxton’s Stompers can also be charged just like his fists!

Like his primary attack, charging his secondary attack increases the damage it will do on hit.  Unlike his fists, though, charging his foot increases vertical knockback.  Just like his primary charge mechanic, he is slowed when using it, but there’s an added mechanic: you can charge both your fists and your feet simultaneously, allowing for a devastating 1-2 combo where you pop your enemy into the air with your boot, disorienting them, and follow up with a charged punch, sending them flying.  The damage isn’t as impressive as his fists, though, starting at a base of 45 and maximizing at 90 after the 3 second charge.  The height at which you can kick the enemy is the size of a jump at minimum charge (72 HU) and about half the size of a good rocketjump at maximum (288 HU).  Also, like the fisticuffs, charging your foot creates a steadily-growing visible team-colored glow at your feet.

Multiple attacks (fists and feet) can be charged at once, but keep in mind that charging multiple attacks also stacks the amount of slowdown, meaning that charging both fists and feet leaves you at 60% movespeed.

Old Mechanic: Random Crits on Fists and Foots (Randomly)

I never planned Saxton Hale’s class with Random Crits on my mind, and so when I was reminded about them, I was a little stumped.  Luckily, other posters were there to help me through this, and it was decided that when chargable attacks successfully roll for a Random Crit, the damage output would function like the sniper rifle.  If you score a random crit, the damage just ends up being three times what it would have been.  Easy solution!

So here are the numbers:

  • Uncharged Punch (Critical): 195
  • Charged Punch (Critical): 352
  • Uncharged Kick (Critical): 135
  • Charged Kick (Criticial): 270

New Mechanic: Jumpies (SPACE)

It would be a major disservice to the man to leave out his impressive jumping ability.  Even the unofficial mod, Vs Saxton Hale, incorporates a jump mechanic into their incarnation of the man, so he just has to have one.  I’m going to incorporate it differently than Vs Saxton, though, simply to give him less vertically mobility than the soldier or demoman (click for official jump-height comparisons).

Guess what?  It’s another charge mechanic!  Just like his fists and foot, Saxton can charge his jump by holding down spacebar.  Unlike his attacks, his jump has two uses!  When releasing the jump button while standing normally, Saxton will jump vertically, to a maximum height of half a rocketjump (same height he can boot people!).  However, if he he crouches before releasing the button, that momentum is transferred horizontally, and he does a long jump (similar to half-life’s long jump).  Unlike his attacks, charging a jump does not give any visual indication to the enemy.

This can be used for approaching the enemy, taking alternate routes, or escaping.  This can be charged while charging the other abilities, but also adds a stack of 20% slowdown.  As an added ability, you can charge jumps while currently in the process of jumping!  This can lead to an interesting form of advanced movement completely unique to the brawler, but similar to chaining multiple rocketjumps.

New Mechanic: Grappling Hook (Q)

So, the recent Mannpower update introduced the Grappling Hook by giving it to every class that played on a Mannpower server.  This really threw the balance of the game out the window, not because of the inherent mechanics of the grappling hook, but because Valve gave it to every class.  Obviously the grappling hook changes the very core of balance, and needs to be given to a specialized class who can’t use its advanced mobility to make up for every weakness the class has.

I decided that the grappling hook would fit best on the Spy as a Watch Replacement or something like that, but then someone suggested giving it to a brand new class, so here it is!  A “thrown” grappling hook fits so much better on Saxton Hale than on the spy, anyway, because the spy’s probably never thrown a damn thing in his life (spy would get a gadget that fires it from a cartridge, or something)!  In terms of gameplay, it functions similarly to the Mannpower grappling hook, except this one has, you guessed it, a charge mechanic (noticing a theme?).  Unlike the infinite-range projectile that the current grappling hook has, this one will increase the speed and range of the projectile the longer the hook is charged.  However, unlike the other mechanics mentioned, this one does have a cooldown as well!  After use, the grappling hook cannot be used for another 10 seconds, so make it count.

Though not as versatile as his jumps due to the cooldown, the grappling hook excels at getting Saxton into and out of sticky situations.  While charging the grappling hook, you cannot charge your fists, and, visually, Saxton pulls out the grappling hook and begins swinging it steadily faster until fully charged.

New Mechanic: Austrenaline (R) + Outback Taunt (G)

Here’s the big one: Australian Adrenaline.  When designing a new class, I knew that I needed to include something flashy; something new; something that people can point to and say “yeah I’d like to give that a shot.”  Besides being a terrible pun, “Austrenaline” functions mechanically similar to the ubercharge.  Unlike Saxton’s other abilities, which are charged up by holding a button (or using the toggle if preferred), Austrenaline is built by taking damage while taunting (G).

Saxton’s taunts are special in that he can move normally while he is taunting.  During those taunts (which last the standard 2-3 seconds and rotates randomly between 3-4 different upper-body taunts) he cannot build any attack charges (punch/kick) or jump (well, maybe he can jump, but not charge a jump.  I’m not positive about that one yet), and he also takes 50% less damage from all attacks for the duration of the taunt.  The big kicker is that any damage he receives during that time also adds to his “Austrenaline” meter.  Austrenaline takes 500 damage to completely fill, but can be activated (R) at any percent.  Once activated, it will drain completely over the course of up to 8 seconds (like Uber).

During Austrenaline, all charge meters (Fisticuffs, Footycuffs, Jumpies, and Grappling Hook) will now charge passively, not causing the character to slow down or requiring the player to hold down a button to charge them.

Now, when a player clicks a button corresponding to one of his chargable actions, it is automatically performed at whatever charge level it was currently at (instead of when the player releases the button) and then resumes charging from 0 again.  Basically, during Austrenaline, the Brawler is at his top performance and will be able to perform fantastic feats.

Here's your new job description: FIGHT ME! - Art by Makani
Here’s your new job description: FIGHT ME! – Art by Makani

Interaction and Unlocks

Enemy Interactions:

Classes have always had certain advantages against one another, especially in a DM situation.  How would our favorite Australian stack up agains the other classes?

  • Scout: The Brawler would be a trivial opponent for a decent scout, especially if he didn’t have any Austrenaline.  Scout can easily evade melee range if he sees him coming, and is unlikely to let Saxton get the drop on him with his higher speed.  Now, Saxton can employ “pyro vs scout” techniques and camp a corner and charge a punch while waiting for the scout, but this is less likely to work due to the small pause before a charged punch.
    • Advantage: Scout
  • Soldier: A soldier is a lot more likely to charge the Brawlers Austrenaline due to the splash damage, but a smart soldier will engage from medium range, outside of the Brawler’s effective zone.  The soldier can also disengage at any time with the rocketjump, though a well-timed grappling hook might turn the tables on the soldier.  Still, long range soldier explosive spam will be the easiest way for the Brawler to gain Austrenaline.
    • Advantage: Soldier
  • Pyro: Pyro would be in an interesting relationship with the Brawler.  On the one hand, getting puffed with a flame can give the Brawler a free 60 points into his Austrenaline if he’s free to taunt, but in close range the pyro obviously has an advantage due to his streaming damage and airblast.  Of course, at full Austrenaline, the Brawler can strike down the pyro with a well-timed fist, but that will be more difficult since he’s up against the airblast.
    • Advantage: Pyro
  • Demoman: Demoman, like the pyro, will have the advantage in his particular zone, but unfortunately for him, that is not close range.  With multiple methods of closing the distance (jumping, grappling hook and Austrenaline), the Brawler will be tough to box in with stickies.  Plus, the added health will mean that it would take at least 3 stickies at mid range to take him out, similar to the heavy.  Of course, he can be caught by traps like anyone, but the brawler will, for the most part, act similarly to the scout.
    • Advantage: Brawler
  • Demoknight: Demoknights will be on an entirely different plane than the Demoman in terms of effectiveness.  While his range is close, he doesn’t have quite as much versatility as the Brawler when he gets there.  Missing a charge means that the demoknight has to wait for his charge to refill (up to 12 seconds).  Meanwhile, Brawler has the advantage of not having his damage reduced by the shields’ resistances, as well as more options of engaging and disengaging.
    • Advantage: Brawler
  • Heavy: As usual, heavy will shred anyone too close, and the Brawler will be no different.  However, also like the soldier and demoman, he can utilize his advanced mobility to outmaneuver the heavy and either escape death or get the drop on him.  In the end, the Brawlers zone of engagement is equivalanet to the Heavies, and Sasha’s.  Without some serious outplaying, the Heavy will always have the advantage.
    • Advantage: Heavy
  • Engineer: Engie is in another interesting relationship with the Brawler, as a smart Brawler will use a sentry for free Austrenaline, thus making him more effective.  Unfortunately, the advantage ends there, and without an ubercharge, the Engineer will absolutely shut out the short-range fighter.
    • Advantage: Engineer
  • Medic: Medics rarely travel far from their allies, so he will rarely be stuck in 1-on-1 combat with a melee class like the Brawler, but if it happens, the Brawler will function similarly to the demoknight, and would probably come out on top, due to the Medic’s low self-defense and the Brawlers ability to approach the faster medic with a well-executed long-jump or grappling hook.
    • Advantage: Brawler
  • Sniper: Due to the differences in mechanical design, Sniper’s zones of effectiveness (Extremely Far for rifles and Extremely near for Jar-Whacka) would seem to indicate that the Brawler would be at a major disadvantage against the sniper, but the Brawlers other traits more than make up for it (health and speed).  Anything much shorter of a kill shot from a rifle would be survivable, due to his higher health, and a single swing of Jar-Whacka won’t finish him off either (195).  Because of this, the Brawler will likely always be dictating the combat against a Sniper.
    • Advantage: Brawler
  • Spy: The sneaky saboteur’s engagement with the Brawler, like in all of spies engagements, will come down to whether or not the Brawler is aware of him.  It won’t go unlike engagements between demoknight/soldiers and spies, largely depending on the skill of both parties and a hefty amount of luck on the spies part.
    • Advantage: Neither

Possible Unlock Ideas:

  • Hat (Affects Punches + Austrenaline)
    • Akubra:
      • Pro: Fisticuffs charge 2x faster.
      • Con: 50% Less Austrenaline Capacity.
    • Slouch:
      • Pro: Fisticuffs are always fully charged.
      • Pro: Enemies take damage when pushed into obstacles.
      • Con: -60% Max Punch Level.
    • Croc Cap:
      • Pro: While Austrenaline is active: Allies take 25% less damage.
      • Con: 25% less fisticuffs damage.
    • Headband:
  • Shorts (Affects Grappling Hook)
    • Stubbies:
      • Pro/Con: Replaces grappling hook with a forward charge.
        • (Pretty Much Demoknight’s Charge, but chargable)
    • Trackie Dacks:
      • Pro: 50% less slowdown while charging abilities.
      • Con: No grappling hook.
    • Tweeds:
      • Pro: Grappling hook has no cooldown.
      • Con: Grappling hook cannot be charged.
  • Boots (Affects Kicks and Jumps)
    • Runners:
      • Pro: 15% faster base movement speed.
      • Con: Cannot use Footycuffs attacks.
    • Uggs:
      • Pro: Taking fall damage creates a damaging shockwave around you.
      • Con: 50% shorter jump height.
    • FootThongs:
      • Pro: 25% faster swim speed on user.
      • Con: 10% Slower move speed out of water.
    • Air Saxtons:
      • Pro: 25% Higher Jump Height.
      • Con: 25% more pushforce taken from enemy attacks.
Space-Making Picture of Saxton!
Litigation Attack!

 

Reasoning + Resources

Arguments Against the Class:

There will always be contention, and while I’m not so egotistical to believe that my idea is anywhere close to perfect, I do have what I believe are rational reasons for proposing all of this.  I hope most of my reasoning behind has been made clear within my posts, but I can also address some of the more common replies I’ve already received from similar ideas.

  • “Any purely melee-centric class would never work in TF2.”
    • I’ve heard this criticism leveled against people proposing the Melee-Knight as its own class, and I definitely agree in the case of the Melee-Knight.  Melee-Knight is not balanced well for TF2, basically turning him into a w+m1 with very little variety.  Many of my ideas for the Brawler stemmed from making a melee class more interesting and fun to play, as well as more interesting to fight against.
    • Any class could work well if balanced correctly.  Among FPS’s, TF2 has some of the most support for close-range combat, so it shouldn’t be so outlandish to consider the possibility of a melee class.  The fact that melee is such an intrinsic part about class balance alone means that more can be done with the concept.  Hopefully the mechanics I propose are interesting and effective enough to result in a fun and viable class.
  • “We don’t need 10 or more classes, that’s why “The 10th Class” is a joke.”
    • I’ve seen this one leveled at literally everyone who proposes a 10th class.  It’s an old argument, seemingly supported even by Valve at times.  My answer to this is pretty simple: you know what would revitalize the communityA 10th class.  The legendary 10th class.  That Bigfoot-like legend that is only spoken of as a punchline or from a head covered in nostalgic tinfoil.
    • Good or not, the moment that the 10th Class is released would be one of the most important moments in the history of TF2.  It would bring TF2 back into gaming headlines.  Sure, some of you would prefer TF2 die in calm and quiet dignity, surrounded by only oldschool fans, but I would much more prefer it not die at all.  You know what will kill TF2?  Stagnation!  We need fresh content to bring in fresh blood!  Do not go gentle into that good night!
  • “Charging an ability (Austrenaline) through damage taken is just asking for trolls.”
    • I’ve heard this one thrown around a few times.  Just about every time someone suggests a new mechanic that relies on gaining a bonus from enemy actions (or is just discussing what’s wrong with the current diamondback) a version of this statement arises: “I should not be punished for my teammates mistakes!”
    • On some levels this is absolutely true, because then all it takes is one troll to ruin a team’s push (tee hee I’ll just make this medic waste his uber on me while I do nothing!)  Of course, there is always a balance that must be struck.  Bad teammates will cause you to lose, because TF2 is a team-based game.  When designing these new mechanics, we just have to make sure you don’t give the trolls too much power.  Sure, you can give a spy 102-damaging crits for backstabbing bads or trolls, but you can’t give him instakills for it.
    • The case of Austrenaline falls similarly to the Ubercharge, as a medic gains an ubercharge faster from injured allies.  Are his enemies “trolling” by injuring the medics teammates and giving him an ubercharge faster?  No.  Are enemies that are attacking the Brawler trolling by damaging him?  No, they’re trying to kill him.  Trolls won’t make Saxton Unstoppable, just like trolls won’t make Medic unstoppable.

Inspirations:

  • Demoknight Gameplay: Demoknight has been given a lot of legitimacy over the years.  I remember how much ridicule he got when he first came out, decried as a joke class.  And while he’s not the king of the mountain by any means, he is seeing much more usage with increased number of shield unlocks as well as developed his own Meta.  The demoknight himself, however, will always be constrained by the existence of the hybrid-knight.  The demoman cannot be given proper melee-oriented gameplay because it will then be combined with the primary and secondary weapons into an even more powerful hybrid-knight.  Thus, my solution was just to create a brand new class.
  • The TF2 Comics & Other TF2 Fluff: The comics are obviously the primary source of content relating to Saxton Hale, and are always an absolute joy to read/research.  Really, the comics are Saxton Hale’s story more than any other characters, and the team behind it has provided so much content to enjoy.  Heck, Saxton Hale actually beat Dr. McNinja, who is a Ninja!  And a Doctor!  I believe that the currently-released comic content is more than enough to craft a nice suite of gameplay mechanics, and hopefully I’ve come up with some interesting interpretations of the Original Mann’s ability.
  • Mega Man and Chargable Attacks: I must admit that a chargable attack is one of my favorite gameplay mechanics.  This comes from a long history of playing Mega Man games, and has been incorporated in other ideas of mine.  I believe a charging mechanic is a very good incorporation of action and execution, rewarding an evasive style of encounter for big, fully-charged shots, and yet still leaving the player something (small, rapid-fire hits) in case the situation goes south.  I really would like to see it incorporated into a game like TF2.
  • Overwatch, Blizzards new class-based FPS:  It can be considered the first true followup of TF2 to come out.  While it incorporates so many mechanics (sentries, dedicated medic class, ubercharge-like ultimates) and aspects (distinct silhouettes, class personalities, slower engagements) of TF2, it also is bringing many new aspects to the game.  Most importantly, it is striving to prove that the class-based multiplayer shooters do not have a “Golden Nine” number of classes.  TF2 tried to bring new mechanics into the game by introducing unlocks, but all that did was blur class boundaries and turn more classes into generalists.  Introducing new classes will not necessarily “break” TF2, just like introducing new throws to Rock Paper Scissors doesn’t “break” RPS.  It just throws more variety into the mix.  Overwatch provided the main influence for adding new abilities to the class, rather than just relying on weapon choice.
  • A Visit from Dr. Boredom: TF2 has gotten boring to me.  I’m almost 4,000 hours into the game, having gone through different phases of competitive, pub, and trading experiences.  TF2 no longer offers anything to me anymore, and I believe it needs a big change to bring me back.  Stop me from moving on to Overwatch, please, Valve!  Add something new!  At least start working on TF3, or something else amazing!
  • Threads and Posters on SPUF: That’s right, this thread has been brought to you by Viewers Like You.  My favorite posters here on SPUF are the ones that are the do’ers and the dreamers, but there is something to be said about the posters who are always so kind to provide the knee-jerk reactions.  Thank you all for your kind words and your feedback over the years, and thanks in advance for any thoughts you have on this.  TF2 brought me here, but SPUF kept me here.  Thanks for reading.  Special shoutout to the following people who contributed in the SPUF version of this thread:
    • TailsTheeFox: Reduced Damage from Taunting and suggested removing “King of Australia” mode.
    • The Medic: Also commented on the damage-from-taunting, and suggested the multi-jump ability.
    • Archmage MC: Solved the RandoCrit problem, One-Shotting Lights, Movespeed, and resistance while taunting.
    • d4m0: Gave inspiration for the Advanced Option: Toggle Fistie/Footie Charging rather than by holding.

Scrapped Ideas:

  • Building Austrenaline whenever damage is taken (No Taunting Required): I decided not to go this route, mainly to give more readability to the classes behavior, as well as to keep his Austrenaline from popping up too often.  Requiring the taunt means that both allies and enemies will be able to tell just what his plan is (time to soak up damage).  In 1v1 situations (which he will likely get into often due to having little crowd control) I think it would be frustrating to attack Saxton and he just lets you so he can gain Austrenaline.  It makes much more sense contextually to require some action that indicates to the enemy that Saxton is looking for some Austrenaline, and the taunt makes much more sense.
  • Grappling Hook functioning identically to the standard one in Mannpower, but with cooldown or not cooldown at all: Leaving off the charge-up mechanic felt like a wasted opportunity.  Since the Brawler is limited by his prep time for each action, allowing him to just “fire” a full-powered grappling hook felt thematically inconsistent.  I decided to keep the charged, arching projectile mechanic.
  • Grappling Hook Pulls enemies toward Saxton rather than the opposite: While this sounds like a logical and feasible idea, people really Hate things that mess with your movement, and who can blame them?  Rather than even dip into that can of worms, I decided to scrap this idea in exchange for the less believeable, but also less frustrating, mechanic of just drawing him towards them.
  • “King of Australia” Mode when killed at Full Austrenaline: This was an idea I even put in the original thread because I thought it was so cool.  The explanation was this: if killed while at full Austrenaline, he would get 4 seconds of invincibility and austrenaline before unavoidably turning to a statue of Australium.  It was a cool idea, but it’s crutchy at it’s base level, encouraging players to overextend and not punishing people for bad tactics.  It’s definitely a cool-sounding mechanic, similar to the often-suggested medigun unlock (upon taking lethal damage, activate ubercharge, but at 50% faster ubercharge consumption), but making it a base class feature is probably too much.  It could be reworked into one of Saxton’s hat unlocks, but I’ll just leave that off the table for now.
  • Giving Saxton Hale the Medic’s Base Regeneration: I seriously planned on adding this (as I mentioned in the initial character comparisons) but decided against it at the last minute.  Saxton Hale already has better-than-average survivability, so adding any more would probably make him frustrating to fight against.  You already have to carve through 250 health and deal with the damage resistance from his mobile taunts, why make it that much more confusing by allowing him to regenerate health passively?  So I scrapped it.  Health will be either picked up or received from medics, just like everyone else.

There were also many more ideas.  These were just the ones I bothered to write down.

OBJECTION! - Art by Makani
OBJECTION! – Art by Makani

About Me and Other Credits

 

About Me

TF2 is, without contest, my favorite game of all time.  A lot of people show their love for a subject by cosplaying, making artwork, creating models, or making Erotic Fanfics about Fellow SPUF Members.  As a full-time software programmer and small-time indie game developer, I show my love for games like TF2 by writing long-winded summaries of what I believe would be fun mechanics to add to the game.  If you’ve seen any of my posts, it’s likely about stuff like this.  So if you’ve seen my work in the forums and sub-forums, maybe you liked them, and maybe you didn’t, but either way, as long as you gave feedback I greatly appreciate it!

I have been lurking SPUF since the inception of the game forums, created a little-used account almost 5 years ago, and have lurked ever since.  Only lately did I really start posting wacky ideas, hopefully to the amusement of at least one or two people.  My goal has always been to try and carry on Valve’s tradition of not being afraid to try new things, and I have always thought TF2 was their product that best exemplified this mentality.

I spent the better part of a month constructing this post, specifically for SPUF, because SPUF has always had a special place in my heart.  Aaby then mentioned posting ideas to The Daily SPUF, and then I spent the better part of a day editing it for the Daily SPUF.  I believe that the SPUF Community has always been the most under-appreciated TF2 community out there (Where’s our SPUF Cap, Valve?), but I still hold out hope for us.  I know that there are still many creative and passionate people who wander those old halls, and this post is dedicated to them.  Hopefully this post, long as it was, ignited your imagination and reminded you of a time when TF2 was new and exciting, and anything could happen.

If you have better ideas, don’t be afraid to share them!  I know my ideas suck, but I had to get them out, and hopefully I at least made them readable!  Also, feel free to point out any spelling errors you find, I’m OCD about that sort of thing, but have already spent too much time editing this and am ready to get it out there!

Again, thanks for reading.  Cheers, and Long Live Team Fortress 2.
– Answers

Non-Comic/Non-Wiki Credits:

Sassy Scout – cyntiastitches
Silly Soldier – Corvo
Pretty Pyro – JayAxer
Drunky Demo – Gonzossm
Humongous Heavy – Unknown (Please let me know who it is!)
Eccentric Engie – BigGreenPepper
Maniac Medic – ramida-r
Solitary Sniper – doubleleaf
Sly Spy – clickmon
Jump Height Guide (Interesting Read)
Australian Clothing Names (LOL Budgee Smuglers)
Saxton Hale Model – FlaminSarge
Custom Saxton Portrait – Dreager1
Voice of Saxton Hale – Dreux Ferrano
Pyro Cosplaying – Corinne
Whiskered Pyro – TheMinttu
Ubersaw Model – TF2 Craftables
Nope Engineer – Jimbomcb

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