Meet Your Match Weapon Rebalances!

There are so many new weapon changes that came out with Meet Your Match, and for the most part I’d say the changes are a net positive. I’m not even sure where to begin, so I’m just going to go through the list and highlight the weapons I care about, and say my piece.

First of all, the Sydney Sleeper is awesome! Two huge changes that buffed this weapon while raising its skill ceiling and its support capabilities, now it can extinguish teammates with scoped friendly-fire and deal area-of-effect jarate splash on scoped headshots. The former ties in with the “support sniper” role and only strengthens my personal favorite sniper playstyle, and the latter rewards headshots in a way the rifle completely lacked originally. I cannot be happier with the new Sleeper, and considering it was my favorite gun before the buffs, these changes get two thumbs up from me.

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But what did they do to my beloved Sticky Jumper??? It looks laughably, unbelievably, atrociously bad. And the new firing noises sound like you’re shooting wet wads of toilet paper onto the ground. Thankfully these changes are only cosmetic, the gun still performs just as well as before, but I think Valve is trying to subtly shame players into remembering that these are not real weapons. But I’m not backing down, Valve. The Sticky Jumper is a legitimate weapon and no amount of ridicule is going to convince me otherwise.

Let’s move onto the Shortstop. Its rework granted it a strange new ability to shove nearby enemy players with alt-fire, basically the emergency attack from Left 4 Dead 2, though TF2’s was clearly coded with the airblast mechanics and not the L4D2 ray system so it’s a bit more finicky at landing. It also requires you to be really close, and it doesn’t shove them very far. I appreciate it as a quirky and genuinely new mechanic, but I worry it’s not particularly useful, especially considering the “increased health from pickups it replaced. One SPUFer mentioned: “I think the idea is the Shortstop is supposed to work best at mid range so the shove puts your foes in the best place and it helps vs scouts with shotguns,” and that might be right. I need more playtime before saying for sure how well it works in practise.

Sun-on-a-Stick now grants a 25% fire resistance when held. Nice try, but it still sucks.
Sun-on-a-Stick now grants a 25% fire resistance when held. Nice try, but it still sucks. Picture by Ownage. 

Some weird stuff is going down with the Pomson and Righteous Bison. The Bison’s damage has been “normalized” to a degree, nominally to fix a bug where it dealt wildly variable damage. As some people on SPUF have pointed out, it appears Valve’s referring to its penetration ability, which is the core mechanic of the weapon and pretty much not a bug by any definition. Said weapon has lost a pretty big part of its appeal with the flat damage, and the same goes for the Pomson which no longer fills the long-range spam role I described before. RIP playstyle, but it was a bull playstyle so good riddance. In general I’d avoid these two weapons now, the shotguns outdamage them in most ranges where you’re going to fight enemies.

Speaking of Engineer, let’s move onto the passive class abilities, because Valve added a lot of them. Starting off, Engineer can now drop teleporters for only 50 metal, meaning he can deploy everything but his sentry without replenishing metal. This is going to have huge effects on games, letting Engineer get lvl 1 nests up extremely fast, especially if he uses the Eureka Effect which gets an additional 50% metal cost reduction for teleporters. Considering there’s a Eureka Effect playstyle that focuses on dropping teleporters in weird places, I guess I can enjoy the increased likelihood that my team’s engineers will have teleporters up to the front lines.

Course, those engineers will have to deal with spies that now run at base 107% speed! Medics better beware too, they can no longer outpace bloodthirsty spies intent on getting the backstab. Since spies spend so much time disguised, this is basically a buff to their ability to survive after losing their disguise for whatever reason, which means the Big Earner will probably become more popular (and no complaints here, I use it because its the only knife that accepts the Critical Kills strange part). Pyros were given a passive ability to reduce healing from mediguns via direct flame, which they’re gonna need for the upcoming Pyro vs. Heavy War. In general, I have no protest because Pyro and Spy can use whatever buffs they can get. Medics also have no reason to complain with the Quick Fix’s “share the speed of your heal target” mechanic given to all mediguns. What. Why in god’s name would Medic need that? I mean, I main Medic and that sounds fun as hell, but I can’t in all honesty see any way that’s fair. The other change is way better; dropped Mediguns now slowly really quickly drain their stored Ubercharge until someone picks them up. Seriously, a fully-charged Medigun is drained in ten seconds. I have not once successfully picked up a Medigun, even my own after dying, to find that there’s any charge left. I think they can finally allow Medigun pickups in comp because for all intents and purposes the Ubercharges are completely wiped on death. Finally the Overdose also grants more of a speedboost at the cost of damage, turning Medics who equip it into even more fragile speedsters.

One of the few speed reductions hit my beloved whip, now the boost only lacks 2 seconds. It's still pretty good but you can really feel the penalty.
One of the few speed reductions hit my beloved whip, now its boost only lacks 2 seconds. It’s still pretty good but you can really feel the penalty. I’m not unequipping it. Picture by The Medic. 

So many speedboosts in this update! In general, the main theme of the balance changes is just throwing around mobility enhancements. So many different ways to go fast were added to various classes, and I think this is Valve trying to play to its strengths. As an arena shooter, TF2 wants to award good player positioning, and mobility is a huge way to do so while increasing the skill ceiling. Once they fix the problems with Quickplay that are preventing me from finding any matches (or, god willing, just add the old system back as its own option) I’ll be able to write more in-depth articles on specific weapons

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