It’s the start of the new UGC competitive season, and we’ve seen some new weapons come and go. The most prominent weapon though is the Loose Cannon, which has now been banned in Highlander and 4v4, but not in 6v6 in UGC. This is incredibly strange, especially since ETF2L has gone the other way in Highlander, allowing both the Pomson and the Short Circuit. ETF2L seem to have lost their mind, but with how Engineers took a pounding during Gun Mettle and what with the Wrangler, Rescue Ranger and Jag all being so good, perhaps the more insane weapons will increase variety.
But yes, back to the Loose Cannon. The consensus is that the Loose Cannon is fun to play with but awful to play against. Having played against 8 of these bastards during Demoknights VS Highlanders, yeah, playing against that wasn’t very fun. Would have been all 9, but one of the Demoknights was a killjoy and refused to play along, preferring to Loch N Load everything instead. Really, the Loch N Load back then was way less fun than the Loose Cannon could ever be towards enemy players, since its gigantic explosion radius made mincemeat of anyone who happened to be too close to your victims.
The Loose Cannon has two things going for it. The Double Donk and the powerful knockback it has.
Having knockback isn’t that big a thing normally. All explosive weapons have knockback, without it we wouldn’t be able to rocket or sticky jump. Knockback is also very good for disorientating enemies and, well, knocking people around. This is used to best effect with Ubercharges, throwing and even separating a Medic from his pocket and leaving both of them vulnerable. The Loose Cannon’s knockback can be seen as problematic because that knockback is generally easier to apply than most other weapons, and unlike the spammy pushing force of the Scorch Shot, the Loose Cannon also does somewhat decent damage and can’t be extinguished like fire can.
Then there’s the Double Donks and the explosive charges. Really, when you think about it, the Loose Cannon is like a poor man’s Sticky Bomb Launcher. You can charge your shots and airburst, blowing up your grenade mid-flight. Of course you don’t get actual stickies, that’d be silly. But airblasts do a lot of damage, and Double Donks, the act of hitting someone with a cannon ball and the cannon ball exploding just after, can really screw with people. Double Donks deal 141 damage, insta-killing light classes and putting Medics dangerously low. But consistent Double Donks require a lot of good timing and prediction, and missing can really screw over your damage output – roller damage is pitiful at best, and far less effective than Grenade Launcher rollers since they tend to fly past, roll along the ground and explode on their own in some corner.
Because of the charge up on each shot, the Loose Cannon also has a faster projectile speed. This is a bit of a necessity though, since a slow projectile speed would make your more ‘baked’ shots travel tiny distances before exploding – the range would be cut down to pretty much nothing.
I think the problem isn’t so much that Double Donks are bad or anything, it’s that enemies don’t know what’s coming. But this is actually pretty easy to fix.
Thing is, the cannon balls are only partly team coloured and move very quickly. If they were totally team coloured and had trails, they’d be much easier to see. Black projectiles are not very good on the eye but black and team-coloured stripey ones are much better. A big, bright trail would also help in seeing where the Demoman is, as well as giving people more of a time to dodge and move away. What would fix it better is showing how close an individual cannon ball is to exploding. A cannon ball should start off not glowing a lot, and it glows more and more until it glows team-coloured completely and explodes.
How would that help? It’d tell people whether they’ll be able to tank a grenade or whether they need to get the hell outta dodge.
There are more clarity changes that can be done too. Knockback isn’t a problem when it’s somewhat consistent, but the Loose Cannon’s is a little bit all over the place, so it’d be nice if that can be tidied up.
Finally, a small suggestion by Poptarts: If you manage to airblast a cannon ball, the timer before exploding should be reset. That’d give it a nice bit of counter-play, rather than Pyros airblasting cannon balls only for them to blow up in their faces anyway.
Because, after all, clarity is a big thing in TF2, and that’s the one place where the Loose Cannon falls down.