Over in Warframe, I’ve recently begun to encounter Nullifiers. Nullifiers have the ability to create shield-like bubbles which prevent them being damaged from outside the bubble. These enemy units are typically a bit of a nuisance to deal with, because they protect other enemies inside their bubbles. On the plus side, these bubbles shrink and power down, and there’s a clear way of dealing with them – you need to get into the bubble and punch them in the face. It’s not the best, but Nullifiers make for a somewhat needed roadblock to stop you completely steamrolling everything.
Back here in Team Fortress 2, we don’t really have anything like that, apart from Projectile Shields in Mann VS Machine, but we do have our own fair share of annoying gameplay mechanics. Some of which are needed, some of which are not.
Let’s take Sentries as an example. No one really likes fighting sentries. They’re annoying and automatically shoot at you, killing you pretty quickly if you are not careful. But the thing is, sentries do have a purpose. They’re the counter to Scouts and form part of the TF2 Counter Triangle. Scout counters Demoman. Demoman Counters Engineer. Engineer counters Scout. If we didn’t have Sentries, gameplay would be even more heavily dominated by Scouts, because a skilled Scout is nigh unstoppable. A sentry gun, however crude and slowing it may be, is sort of necessary so 5CP matches aren’t over in 120 seconds.
That doesn’t mean that sentry guns are properly skill indexed or truly balanced (although they are vastly better than they used to be!), but they do have a use.
Pyro’s airblast is another example. People don’t like fighting Pyros in general, so throw in a way to suddenly nullify your movement and you’ve got a real problem on your hands. But the problem here is that Pyro is useless without airblast. It’s basically the only tool Pyro has left, ever since fire became so… easy to deal with. It’s also a good opportunity to deal with normally un-defeatable things like Ubercharges. Pyro does have a lot of other problems, many of which I hope will be fixed in the update he earned for himself, but he’s a class so he’s got to stick around. Pyro also fits nicely into my Pyro/Spy/Sniper/Heavy balance square.
Snipers are also horrible to fight against. No one likes being killed by something they can hardly see. We do need Snipers though, because we need a safe way to take out highly valuable and well-protected targets. Without Snipers, Heavy/Demoman/Soldier and Medic combos would run rampant and make defense even harder to defeat. Sniper’s current problem is that maps are getting larger and larger, that Sniper’s counters are currently being countered and that Sniper’s main weakness – being weak at close range, is currently rather skewed.
But then you have Demoknights. People don’t like fighting Demoknights because melee hit detection is fucking awful. It’s also hard to balance them, so you end up with either super powerful Demoknights everywhere or super weak Demoknights everywhere. We’ve never really found a happy medium. Demoknights are a lot harder to justify though, because there’s not really a reason to have them. We already have three pick classes (Scout, Spy and Sniper, plus roaming Soldiers) and two ambush classes (Spy, Pyro), a high mobility class (Scout, plus Soldier and Demoman with the right weapons), a versatile explosives class (Soldier) and a pure damage class (Demoman). I suppose Demoknight makes a good Melee Only class, but we kinda have guns for all of that.
Trolldiers are annoying to fight against as well, and they’re completely unnecessary. There is no reason to have them when a Gunboats Soldier is more optimal.
Thing is, all these things are annoying to fight against, but some annoyances are required to make the game function. Other annoyances aren’t necessary but would be less hated if they worked the way they should. Airblast and Demoknight melee in particular are a royal pain in the backside and their being fixed could open up more avenues for both those playing as and those playing against these classes.
That would require actual work by Valve though.