The Closet Sniper Rifle

A Sniper about to be struck by a crossmap crit rocket.
Eviction notice.

So, almost a year ago now, I talked about finally finding a way of playing Demoman that I enjoyed. I mentioned discovering a Soldier play style too as a footnote, but I wanted to give him a spotlight of his own! Figured he’d earned it after the amount rocket jumping around I’ve been doing as him recently. But more accurately, I want to talk about the Direct Hit. I used to see Soldier as a slow, boring and clumsy type of character which I just couldn’t find the appeal of. But the Direct Hit (and a lovely shiny pair of Gunboats, of course!) changed that stubborn impression I had of him.

A pile of body parts amassed from many Direct Hit kills.
Hamburger Hill.

While the other launchers pump out decent damage at a consistent rate with their generous splash damage, I found it dull. It didn’t feel inherently rewarding in the same way a headshot or meatshot did, but the Direct Hit scratched that itch. Both in the satisfaction of landing the hit and the aftermath of the insane damage. It hits like a truck, attached to another truck, being propelled by a rocket at specifically 84mph… And it shows. Anything unfortunate enough to get in your way will either be severely wounded in a single rocket or gibbed into pasty, red chunks.

A soldier smiling at his accomplishment.
As fun as a rabid raccoon!

But it doesn’t just obliterate through flesh. It’s an Engineer’s nightmare. I almost feel guilty seeing an Engie finish his Level 3 sentry, looking at it with a proud smile, a single tear rolling down his face as he turns to fetch some metal and then I blow it up with two quick rockets before he can even consider retaliating. Never has it been so easy to wipe out hordes of sentry nests from such a safe distance. It’s funny seeing bunches of turtling Engies sprint around like headless chickens as you easily clean up the scourge they left on the map. Schadenfreude is the word I’m looking for, I think.

Soldier enjoying Engie's dismay at the loss of his sentry gun.
“Stop hiding behind your little toys and FIGHT LIKE A MAN!”

But the moment I truly fell in love with the Direct Hit was only a couple of days ago. I was holding my own, capping the point and getting kills here and there, but we were ultimately losing after the middle point was recapped for the umpteenth time. As I was defending the fourth point, the same old Medic-Soldier combo came around the corner, stomping as they went, decorated in unusuals. As the fully overhealed Soldier flung himself toward the point with a rocket jump, little did he know that Air Supremacy was about to make flying colours out of him, WITH flying colours.

My first double airshot on an enemy Soldier.
It’s a thing of beauty.

My first shot met his feet as he descended, sending him keeling skyward to the right and with one swift flick I delivered the second mini-crit infused rocket into him, popping him like a gory firework as his body parts rained down. The Medic turned heel and ran like the wind, but he could have walked honestly, I was too busy freaking out over the double airshot to care. The rest of that match I was on fire, that moment had invigorated me into decimating the enemy team with rockets and market gardens alike and we eventually won when a friendly Kritz Medic ubered me into the final point.

Soldier performing an explosive getaway!
Hang on, little buddy!

To think a year ago I wouldn’t have touched Soldier with a 10ft pole… Now I’m playing him as an explosive, sharpshooting speedster. With enough practice, this beast of a weapon can be tamed. It may not be the most suitable weapon against Scouts and Pyros but the mobility provided by the gunboats makes up for that shortfall if things go south, as well as allowing you to chase enemies or return to the frontline quickly! Otherwise, the raw power and speed will obliterate everything in its path. The Direct Hit may not be for everyone, but I love it. Sorry for the year-long wait, Soldier.


P.S. – I forgot to add Gunboats to Soldier in some of the screenshots but I can’t fix it due to not saving the SFM project. I’m clever like that!



Don't worry... My articles are worse than my bite.

5 thoughts on “The Closet Sniper Rifle

  • September 22, 2017 at 3:15 am

    “Shaudenfreude” – I think you meant Schadenfreude. Yes, I remember that by memory.

    I honestly only use the Direct Hit for taking out buildings. Two very fast rockets at incredibly high speeds can destroy a max-level automated turret gun from across the map. What’s not to love about it?

    Of course, it doesn’t offer the splash potential of normal rocket launchers that let the Soldier damage multiple buildings AND the Engineer all at once, but it’s a fair trade-off when you can’t get in a position to kill the Engineer and can only spam rockets at buildings through a gap or around a corner.

    Do you think Direct Hit airshots are more or less satisfying than normal rocket airshots? Like the Loch n Load, one may say that the airshots take less skill because of the faster projectile speed. As normal rocket kills feel too easy, airshots help fill in the skill ceiling. Thoughts?

    • September 22, 2017 at 11:09 am

      The issue always was that the Loch N Load could easily one-hit light classes, and often did so at random. Weapons that reward accuracy over spam are fine, but the original LnL was just not fun.

      • September 22, 2017 at 3:46 pm

        Yeah. Lots of people are complaining about the Loch n Load taking less skill right now though just because of the faster projectile speed.

    • September 23, 2017 at 8:15 am

      ” “Shaudenfreude” – I think you meant Schadenfreude.” Damn it… I swear I corrected that before posting but seemingly not 😐 Aw well… (Ah, thanks for the correction, editor!)

      On the topic of the stock launcher, I think if you’re good enough to get those airshots consistently it would be just as satisfying and I can totally respect anyone who can. I typically dislike the stock and others because of how crude they are in general combat. It can feel pretty aggravating to be killed by someone with sloppy aim. But, if you have the finesse to pull off moves like that, I can definitely look the other way! 😉 As you said, it fills in the gap.

      Although the rockets move faster, making things like airshots easier, I think it’s the reverse of the stock. Where the gap is filled in when fighting in general combat. It’s far harder to be consistent with thanks to the practically non-existent splash damage, especially when you don’t run a shotgun. (I like the gunboats too much…) It basically puts your life in the hands of your precision. I find the idea of accuracy as a lifeline an exciting challenge, ESPECIALLY compared to left clicking repeatedly at a maps bottleneck. Faster rockets also increase your effective range, meaning you can kill targets both on ground or in the air at longer ranges before they got away where the stock couldn’t. Granted, pretty situational, but worth pointing out! 🙂 Thanks for commenting.

      • September 23, 2017 at 2:39 pm

        Yeah, it’s a nice weapon if you can aim, which is why I rarely use it…

        You know those clips where a Scout jumps around a million times and a Direct Hit Soldier misses his entire clip? Yeah, that Solly’s me.

        It’s still a nice weapon though. I should practice with it more. Props to you for being able to hit people with it.

        Thanks for writing.


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