Seven years after it was first introduced, the Vita-Saw received its first change in the Jungle Inferno update.
The old Vita-Saw’s stats are rather easy to understand. In exchange for a 10 Hp reduction to the Medic’s maximum health (150 Hp → 140 Hp), the Medic gets to keep up to 20% of his Übercharge meter upon death. This means that the Medic gets to respawn with the amount of Über he had before he died, capped at 20%. Sure, it’s a bummer to die at 100% Übercharge and respawning with only 20% of your hard-earned Über, but it’s better than respawning with nothing.
In pub play, the Vita-Saw proved to be rather useful for the average lone pub Medic, who frequently dies while his teammates rushed off somewhere. Not completely losing his Übercharge progress upon death proves to be rather valuable. And in the chaotic mess that is public games, while the impact of Übers can be felt, it was never an overwhelming presence that the whole game completely hinges upon. After all, what is one Übered pair able to do against 5 Sentry nests at the last point of every Payload map?
But in competitive play, where communication and coordination is key, and the Übercharge being the ultimate winning move, being able to keep up to 20% upon death is an extraordinarily huge advantage. It devalues Medic picks since it reduces the Über advantage the team can stand to gain by picking off the enemy Medic. Thus, the Vita-Saw became a must-pick in competitive play simply because of the edge it grants the team utilizing it. Or would be, if it wasn’t banned in all competitive formats. Having 140 Hp isn’t really that disadvantageous compared to 150 Hp, and compared to the large bonus it grants the downside is negligible. Unlike the Übersaw, which requires the fragile Medic to get a hit on the enemy player to gain 25% Übercharge, and potentially dying and losing the Übercharge due to him being as combat-ready as a baby rabbit compared to the rest of the mercs, a Vita-Saw Medic barely risked anything to secure a huge Über advantage.
And in fact, the Vita-Saw also doesn’t see much play in public servers as well, despite how good it was for pub Medics. Medic wrote about this situation where one of Medic’s most powerful melee weapon ended up being possibly one of the most underused. To summarize that article, new players were intimidated by the 10 Hp reduction to maximum health, comp players were banned from using it, and everyone else didn’t use it because it felt cheap.
But now, after seven years, the TF Team finally reworked the Vita-Saw. Below are its new stats:
Instead of storing up to 20% Übercharge upon death, the Medic now has a new Organs mechanic, where every hit with the Vita-Saw grants one Organ. Upon respawning, the Medic gains 15% Übercharge per Organ collected, with the amount capped at 60%, or 4 Organs. The unique trait of the weapon – gaining Übercharge upon respawning – in kept intact. Which is far better than the original rework for the Claidheamh Mòr, where the weapon’s unique trait of extending shield charge time was gutted and it was turned into a discount Half-Zatoichi. And by discount, I mean a 90% off plus free disappointment. Thank goodness the Jungle Inferno update reverted that.
In a sense, compared to the Übersaw, you are guaranteed to get a boost to your Übercharge meter out of a melee fight. If an Übersaw-wielding Medic were to die before getting to deploy Über, his efforts will be wasted upon death, no matter how many Übersaw strikes he got in. As for a Vita-Saw Medic, even if he died in his melee assault he’ll still stand to gain a boost to his Übercharge meter as long as he got at least one strike in.
However, as mentioned earlier, every merc in the game is far better in direct combat than the Medic. For a Medic to rush in for a suicidal charge to get that Über boost will be foolish, since almost all classes will be able to kill a Medic before he can even make it into melee range. If a Medic decides to actually make use of the Vita-Saw, he needs to either set himself up to get 4 swings in and die afterwards, or just draw it out and frantically mashing M1 when cornered. It’s now a last-ditch weapon for desperate Medics to try and gain something out of a hopeless situation, instead of being a free Über provider upon each respawn like before. Of course, if the enemy team is massively incompetent, a Vita-Saw Medic is going to have a field day collecting those Organs. But if that’s the case, he probably won’t even die, so all those collected Organs are wasted.
Is it more fair than the old one? Probably yes. Being able to respawn with 60% Übercharge is absolutely monstrous. However, letting the Medic get 4 strikes in is a colossal blunder by the enemy players getting hit by a non-combat class. Besides, you no longer get a guaranteed free Übercharge up to 20% upon respawning for a rather negligible downside. You’ll need to earn it.
Besides, assuming a Vita-Saw Medic got a strike in before dying, he’ll be stuck in respawn for 10 seconds. If instead of dying, he was actively healing an ally, in 10 seconds he could get at least 12.5% Übercharge, if his patient is fully overhealed. He could’ve gain 25% Übercharge healing his injured team at the frontlines for 10 seconds. And assuming he respawned alone, he’ll need to jog up to his teammates to start building Übercharge again, further diminishing the benefit of his swing. Of course, if he got two swings in before dying or more, he’ll get a much better yield, but that’s going to take a either a highly competent Medic or a rather incompetent enemy team for that to happen, and both scenarios aren’t exactly conducive for getting the Medic killed in the first place.
The Vita-Saw, in my opinion, can never escape being a contentious unlock. Considering the game-changing power of Übers, Medic picks are extremely valuable as it forcibly resets a Medic’s Übercharge progress. Being able to negate that effect diminishes the value of Medic picks and thus make it extremely valuable, and to some, maybe even most people, too valuable. But now that the Medic is actually required to do something with it rather than just kick the bucket to get its benefits, it is more fair than before. But really, 60% upon respawning is rather ridiculous.