Out of the four new Pyro weapons added, the Gas Passer is probably the least-talked-about of the bunch. The Dragon’s Fury is a new primary that works differently from other flamethrowers and is a pretty good DM weapon, with cries of it being OP spreading across the forums like wildfire when it first appeared. The Thermal Thruster is a freaking jetpack that grant Pyros unprecedented mobility for the class. The Hot Hand is now the #1 joke weapon of the game, and in a good way. Running around slapping people and dashing off with the speed boost makes it a somewhat impractical but really fun weapon to use. The Gas Passer, meanwhile, aside from a few “mehs” for how underwhelming it is, isn’t really talked about as much.
So today, let’s look at the Gas Passer. Below are its stats:
The Pyro starts each match with a fully depleted meter. The meter is fully charged in one minute, but the Pyro can charge it faster by dealing damage. When thrown, the Gas Passer leaves a thick, team-coloured gas cloud at the spot that is about two Teleporters wide. Enemies that ran past the gas cloud will be coated in gasoline, and any damage they take when under this effect (even fall damage) will set them on fire for 10 seconds, even if they are otherwise afterburn-immune Pyros. One annoying thing is that players covered in gasoline are not considered wet, hence you can’t get Neon Annihilator crits off them.
So now, let’s look at the Gas Passer compared to the other secondary weapons. How does it hold up against all the other secondary weapons? Can it hold its own against the other secondaries?
While the Gas Passer works decently as a sort of area denial/team fight initiator tool, the fact that the Pyro needs to first charge it hurts its viability to initiate team fights by quite a lot. Generally, the start of the round is where most players will rush together as a group towards the objective. A well-thrown Gas Passer can apply a debuff on a large chunk of them, making it easier to clear them out. At the very least, it can help to drive them off the objective and disrupt that initial push, giving your team the initiative. Thus, the start of the round will be when the Gas Passer has the largest impact, but you can’t really use it then since your meter is not fully charged yet. Your meter carries over between rounds within the same match, however, so it helps if you managed to get a full charge in the previous round.
The Gas Passer is strictly a team weapon. While you can make use of the effects of Jarate, Mad Milk, or any of the Banners by yourself without much trouble, it’ll be hard to do the same with the Gas Passer. The Gas Passer is generally used at medium ranges, and once you threw it your only ranged options is your primary. Not only do your primaries already set people on fire but it is also a close-range weapon, forcing you to move into the enemy team after the giant gas cloud announces your presence to them, basically destroying any hope of you approaching sneakily. The Gas Passer’s viability is largely dependent on having other teammates with more range around, such as a Heavy or Soldier, to make use of the afterburn-on-hit attribute to deal more damage and hopefully secure the kill. You could use it in conjunction with your melee weapons, but your primary generally does a much better job in close range fights, and this thing is not allowed in Medieval Mode, so I don’t see what you’re going to achieve with that.
In terms of setting people on fire outside of flamethrower range, the Scorch Shot is just better. Not only does it have 16 shots right from the start, it has other utilities such as a (rather limited) Scorch Jump and stickybomb destruction, and it does not rely on others to set enemies on fire at mid-range. Having a lingering gas cloud and being able to set Pyros on fire isn’t that good a trade off when you consider the Gas Passer’s limitations.
And when compared to the other shotguns and flare guns, the Gas Passer just doesn’t offer enough to justify giving up Pyro’s only mid-range damage option for some rather unreliable area denial. As a utility weapon, it was surpassed by the Scorch Shot, Detonator, Manmelter, and the Thermal Thruster. So to answer the question, no. The Gas Passer doesn’t really match up to the other Pyro secondaries.
I can see where they are going with the damage charging mechanics. It’s a good way to prevent Pyros from hanging at the back and just idly flinging gas cans at the objective. However, I argue that Valve should at least grant it full charge at the beginning of rounds. It’s a rather small change, but it will improve the Gas Passer’s viability by quite a bit. Making it so that it can grant Neon Annihilator crits will serve to make both weapons more viable as well.
As a more support-based weapon, the Gas Passer really doesn’t work well on a Pybro loadout. Its lack of mid-range viability really hurts Pyros when they try to chase after and track down Spies, and the shotguns’, Scorch Shot’s, and the Detonator’s ability to destroy stickybombs is invaluable for defending Sentry nests. The biggest problem, however, is that the Pybro playstyle is generally more passive, meaning that you don’t have much avenue of dealing damage to charge your Gas Passer, unless there are just a whole bunch of suicidal Spies rushing in trying to sap the Sentry nest at all times. This means that for most of the time, the Pyro will not have access to a secondary weapon.
Aside from that, even if the Gas Passer uses the same charging mechanics as the Jarate or Mad Milk, I still do not see how it will work with Sentries. Sure, if you throw it at a bunch of people rushing in trying to destroy a Sentry you can definitely set them all on fire with it, but most people attacking Sentries are either Übered or staying out of the Sentry’s sightlines. It’s rather pointless for Pybros, really.
As for supporting the team on the offensive front though, the Gas Passer fares a bit better. The Pyro can either venture ahead along flanks routes, or stick closely with the main team (or just the Heavy-Medic combo), reflecting projectiles and guarding the flanks. The latter approach doesn’t really allow Pyros to do as much to charge the Gas Passer, since whoever you are with is generally more than capable of killing people before they get into flamethrower range. Either way, in both scenarios, you keep close to your team’s main offensive force. The moment you have a full meter and either team started a push, a well-thrown can of gasoline can serve to apply a debuff to the enemy team or at least disperse them.
Only problem is, the Scorch Shot does this job much better and easier, since its shots have knockback and you can set groups of people on fire, not to mention you have sixteen shots. Oh well.
So yes, the Gas Passer needs a buff. As mentioned before, it should start off with a full charge each round. The meter not being filled by Resupply locker and its current charging mechanic should stay to prevent spam, especially since it creates a gas cloud that lingers for 3 seconds, but starting each round with a full charge will serve to help this weapon a lot, and not really contribute much to spam since you’ll need to work for your charge after that initial can. Granting Neon Annihilator crits will also be a welcomed change.
Also, letting direct hits with the can on enemy players deal damage will be good as well. I personally can’t wait to knock a Scout’s teeth out with the Gas Passer, it’ll be hilarious.
And I have a feeling by the time this article is up, Valve might have buffed it so that it starts off each round with a full charge. Damn.