Why Grenade Slots are a bad idea in TF2

Hey look! An article about Team Fortress 2! This is actually quite a surprise, because there’s not really been much to write about lately apart from cosmetics. But there’s been a thread on SPUF talking about grenade slots, from a person who is a fan of Team Fortress Classic (a.k.a Grenade Hell) and really, really wants to get that grenade slot in the game somehow. And I’m going to tell you why that is wrong.

If you’ve ever played TFC with actual people, you’ll see a lot of grenades. Almost everyone in TFC has two grenades, a normal, bog-standard blow-things-up-in-an-explosion grenade and a secondary grenade with a class-based effect, the most important of these being the Combat Medic’s Concussion Grenade. On top of all these grenades, there were still Soldiers and Demomen. Demomen in particular had even more explosives than today’s drunk Scottish cyclops. The vast number of grenades meant that leaving Dustbowl’s spawn was, well,  nearly impossible. That’s not saying that TF2’s Dustbowl is any better, but at least you can leave the spawn room occasionally.

I wonder if BLU ever managed to win at all?
I wonder if BLU ever managed to win at all?

But that’s just one of the more obvious problems.

When you’re in a Dustbowl spawn room, you need to know what is flying at you, where you need to dodge and whether you can take a couple of hits. TF2 has a couple of projectile weapons, but the majority of them work the same way. A rocket will hit you for around 90 damage on a direct hit. Demoman weapons are similar. You can tell the difference between them mostly. But throw in extra grenades and you’ve got no idea what is going on. Nine unique grenades, which is what we’d get, would be a pain to learn and understand. TFC was born with grenades, TF2 would have to relearn them. They’d also be hell to balance. We have enough trouble with Demoman’s weapons, not to mention things like Mad Milk and Jarate.

The biggest issue by far with grenades is visual clarity. We already have nine classes with three weapons each minimum spamming stuff down a choke point towards you in your spawn room, we don’t need an extra 9 grenades on top of that, all doing different things. Yes, different models and the like can help differentiate between what grenades do, but unlike other projectiles and bullets, which are fired from unique guns for every class, a grenade has a generic throwing animation and the only things that easily make each grenade different visually are the model of the grenade itself, the trail that the grenade leaves when thrown and the explosion it makes at the end. But the last one is a moot point because you need to know what the grenade is before it explodes, and there’s only so many variations of trails one can have.

More importantly though, grenades are frustrating to fight against. When it’s restricted to one class, Demoman, who has weaknesses in his lack of walking speed, accuracy, smaller clip sizes and lack of hitscan weapons, grenades are manageable because you know exactly where they are coming from. The same applies to Soldier, his rockets are distinct, and when you get killed by a rocket and see your killer in the freeze cam, you go “ooooh that Soldier killed me. I get it.” Grenades though are much more invisible. You throw it then ignore it and hope it kills someone maybe. How confusing would it be, being killed in an explosion from around a corner, from a grenade throw by a Scout? Or any of the myriad similar situations involving non-explosive classes?

This is something that the original TF2 developers believed in. They wanted players to know why they died. They didn’t want stalemates to happen or for deaths to be cheap. Adrian Finol sums up why there are no grenades in TF2 perfectly well in the developer commentary of Hydro.

One of the main changes between Team Fortress Classic and Team Fortress 2 was the removal of thrown grenades.Most classes could carry a standard hand grenade along with a secondary grenade, tied more closely to the class. Team Fortress 2’s focus on unique class roles led us to notice that the standard hand grenade was a more powerful combat decider than some of the primary weapons. This made the classes more similar in combat-not a desired effect. In addition, when we looked at some of Team Fortress Classic’s map stalemates, they often resulted from large amounts of grenade spam. Two cases were particularly problematic: That of players throwing grenades repeatedly through doorways, hoping to kill any enemies who might be there, and players on the verge of death throwing all their grenades in rapid succession, hoping to get a kill after they die. Removing standard hand grenades made the game more fun almost immediately, especially for new players who were often confused as to why they died, when a grenade went off at their feet. When we examined the class-specific grenades, we found similar problems. Eliminating them from playtests gave us yet another boost in making the game more fun. Once we’d decided on removal, we analyzed each class to see what capabilities might have been lost as a result of the decision. In some cases we added other capabilities, where we felt a class had lost the ability to make some interesting decisions, related to its special grenade type.

Not only was not having grenades more fun, but their removal made Team Fortress 2 into the heavily class-based game it is today.

There is a reason we don’t have grenades in TF2, and we really, really don’t need them back.


Also known as Doctor Retvik Von Schreibtviel, Medic writes 50% of all the articles on the Daily SPUF. A dedicated Medic main in Team Fortress 2 and an avid speedster in Warframe, Medic has the unique skill of writing 500 words about very little in a very short space of time.

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