Custom Weapons in TF2

While transferring files onto my new computer, I stumbled across some very, very old pictures buried deep in my hard drive, and I found a TF2 weapon idea that I’d made back in 2012. In hindsight it was a terrible concept, but I’d made a model for it and even mailed it in a letter to Valve, so my noob self apparently got pretty invested. And  now I’m inspired to spend an article talking about the custom weapon community in Team Fortress 2, because I am far from alone in that department.

Seriously, how did I think this was balanced?

TF2 has had a long and thriving modding community that used the game’s flexible engine to create all sorts of user-made unlocks to enhance the user experience. The most popular is the Advanced Weaponizer plugin, which ambitiously creates a whole custom ‘backpack’ for every participating Steam account that stores their owned custom weapons across servers. And there are a lot of custom weapons available. The very first one I unlocked was the Chamomile for Medic, which was based off the Sniper Rifle and milked targets. At the time it could headshot, which caused me to break my record for headshots in one life as Medic, though it appears the newest version of the plugin has removed the Chamomile’s ability to scope in.

I can’t find one of my favorite weapon concepts in the Advanced Weaponizer’s wiki page history, so it might have been part of the other famous custom weapons plugin Custom Weapons 2, but it was a secondary weapon called the ‘Pocket Rocket’ that carried a single stock rocket and quintupled weapons switch speed. In practice it basically felt like you sacrificed your secondary weapon in order to increase the clip of your primary, a concept I think is balanced for regular TF2. Black Box and Beggar’s Bazooka users gain a compensation for their primary downsides, Cow Mangler’s gain an anti-building rocket, and stock launcher players can discover new 5-rockets strats. Shame the Pocket Rocket doesn’t seem to exist in the current version of any weaponizer.

A 2013 guide I made on SPUF regarding a weapon concept. It was a weird time.

Team Fortress 2‘s focus on unlocks and unique balance system make it a fertile breeding ground for weapon ideas because it can accept anything from any degree of craziness. Those who can’t mod TF2 themselves can still theorycraft their own weapons and suggest them to other TF2 players, like we did for two “Dear Aaby” questions back in the day. I could link to many, many, many unlock suggestions in SPUF’s history if Valve hadn’t deleted the forum. The ones I was most familiar with on SPUF were the many Medigun theorycrafts in the Medic subforum, the only weapon slot where ideas were consistently seen as underpowered. Most of this comes from the fact that almost every Medigun idea has this framework:

The New Medigun
Unique Ubercharge idea
Some sort of downside

Here’s the problem with this setup: The default Medigun turns its patient invincible for 8 seconds. It’s pretty tough to beat invincibility. Therefore, its likely that any other Ubercharge would be more situational than a stock Ubercharge. And if that downside affects Medic’s regular gameplay, that’s hurting the player during the 97% of the game he’s not Ubered. There’s a reason the most popular Medigun unlock, the Kritzkrieg, doesn’t come with any downside.

The last community of fanmade weapons are the hardworking modelers who create stunning 3D models for the Steam Workshop in the hopes that their ideas might one day be added to the game in a Community weapon update.  The luckiest, like ChemicalAlia, have had their ideas immortalized in the base game. The rest have given us some amazing models for people to post stat ideas in their comment sections. If you really like a weapon model (like I love dem choppas) you can even extract it into your TF>Custom folder and run around with it on non-sv_pure servers! Though if you find any of those that are halfway decent, be sure to let me know.

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