No, this article isn’t about any personal bias of mine. As much as I truly loathe Scouts, I’m a Soldier main when I’m not playing Medic, so there’s no bias here. Well, maybe a little. But still. But if I’m truly honest, Medics could probably do with a little nerf as well. More on that later.
Back when early competitive TF2 started, the community quickly worked out that having too many Demomen slowed down the game, so he was limited to one. Same as Heavy, Medic, and Engineer, but with way more power. Demoman was always a troublesome class, and eventually he got nerfed to a point where he’s more manageable. Of course, nerfing the main damage dealer around meant that Soldier and Scout would start catching up with Demoman.
While Soldier has always been THE generalist class, Scout has always nipped at his heals and torn other classes a new one by being THE 1v1 class. Both have tons of damage, tons of mobility and tons of utility. My thought is, perhaps Scout and Soldier are simply too generalist? Maybe they’re just too good? Yes, they’re both high skill cap mercenaries that take time to be really good at, but even a shit Scout or Soldier can still do a lot of work for their team, whether it’s the X2 capture rate for just being there, or mindlessly spamming rockets down hallways, far more than a shit Sniper can do.
Of course, if the generalists are used all the time, everyone argues “buff the under-used specialist classes!” but that is a bad idea. Sniper is a really, really good specialist class, he has presence and a long range threat, someone you switch to in order to force the enemy team to move away or react in panic. As a class, Sniper is in a very good spot right now. Do we really want to buff Sniper?
The same can be said for other classes. Heavy has had a few random nerfs that have done fuck all to help him over the years. Despite those nerfs and his rather boring gameplay though, Heavy isn’t in that bad a position. Revert the nerfs he got, yes, but we don’t really want to buff Heavy either. The same goes for Engineer, who is finally sitting in a happy little medium – he can’t just whack his Jag by a sentry any more or spam mini sentries the way he used to, he needs to be more active in his duties and exploit the no-longer-hideously-broken-apart-from-maybe-the-Wrangler tools he has.
Spy and Pyro are not quite as lucky, but again, they don’t need buffs. They need fixes, which is something completely different. Many Spies rely not on skill, but on luck and unusual problems with the game engine. If every bug that hung over Spy players’ heads was fixed, the class would be way more fun to play as. Pyro would be way more fun if the flames you see on your screen remotely resembled where the actual damage was.
There is a problem here though. Even with fixes, reworks, all of that, Scouts and Soldiers will still dominate gameplay. Heck, even with buffs, Scouts and Soldiers (and Demomen and Medics) will still be better than the specialist classes 90% of the time. But if we can’t buff the specialist classes in fear of making them too generalist, then our only course of action (apart from redesigning half the classes in the game) is to nerf the troublesome generalist classes.
Plus, this is Valve we’re talking about. They are often unwilling to do massive changes, and when they do, they always mess up some of it. Just look at the Love and War Demoman nerfs, Scouts and Soldiers completely and utterly fucked over Demomen, and they could barely cope against their easiest targets, Engineers. Soldiers and Scouts wouldn’t need much to bring them into line with everyone else, and it’s easier than actually taking the time to rework everyone else around them.
As to how we’d nerf the two classes? I’m not sure. With Medics, it’s easy, you just make us squishier or tougher depending on how balanced we are, but there’s so much more to the two most powerful classes in the game.