In my article on Heavy secondaries, I commented on how I don’t want shields to be added into the game. To be more specific, I don’t want the Overwatch-type shields, because to me, it will lead to a huge damage sponge covering off a whole chokepoint or shielding a whole team, grinding the game’s pace to a halt. A giant damage-blocking wall that can be deployed at will is not fun to play against at all.
However, such a shield may be a great idea as an Über for a Medi Gun. For one, the Medic will need to earn that Über and stay alive until you get to the moment where such a shield is useful. Secondly, assuming we are using the same Übercharge rate as the stock, it’ll take at least 40 seconds to get a shield. This reduces the amount of times it can be used in the game.
Aside from that, we do already have a shield mechanic for the Medic in MvM. Thus, that’s a large amount of development work done already.
However, what will the impact of adding such a Medi Gun be? For this analysis, we will assume the shield works mostly in the same way as the MvM level 1 projectile shield: absorbs and neutralizes all enemy hitscan and projectiles, invincible for the time it is up (we’ll leave it at 8 seconds for now), and damages enemies that touches the shield.
Before that, we should look at another possible type of shield. A dome shield that completely covers an area around the source of the shield.
Personally, I will hate to have this shield in this game.
In these two pictures, the problem with such a dome shield is clear. It grants the Medic and his allies full protection against all damages from every single direction. To take out anyone that is protected by this shield, you will need to get into the shield, meaning that only Scout, Spy and possibly Pyro can have a chance to play against this shield even if the shield does not damage enemy players. Unlike a standard Übercharge, this shield can protect multiple people at once. It is not complete invulnerability like the stock Über is, but for anyone who cannot get into the shield to destroy it from the inside, it might as well be.
Thus, the current front facing shield wall is the best possible shield we can have. While it completely blocks damage on one side and also deters divebombers jumping in from the front, it still leaves room for counterplay by leaving spaces for flankers to take out the Medic and his team while his shield is up.
However, what is the impact of adding this shield into regular gameplay?
First up, this shield will be almost mandatory for games with a setup time, like Payload and Attack/Defend maps. A Medic on BLU can block off the whole spawn door with the shield at the start of a game to protect everyone by that spawn door, allowing them a decent amount of time to take note of enemy placements and take potshots at RED. However, a Medic on RED can also use this to block damage for Sentries and Snipers, or use it to cover a large number of his team from damage. Either way, the stock Über is too weak since it can only protect one person at a time, Kritz is nullified since all damages to a large chunk of the enemy team is eaten by the shield, the Megaheal becomes even more useless than usual for an initial push since the enemy team has a better chance of outlasting you with their giant laser wall of damage denial and the Vaccinator … well the shield gives 100% damage resistance to multiple teammates for 8 seconds, the Vaccinator is completely outclassed here.
Even when BLU is out of spawn, the shield proves to be extremely valuable at guarding chokes. In fact, it might be too valuable. For a lot of the narrower choke points like Gold Rush’s Tunnel, the shield can completely cover the choke. Even if the shield can be depleted before its time is up, the enemy team will still need to get through a large bullet sponge before they can shoot anyone on the enemy team.
And in more open areas like, say, Viaduct‘s and Lakeside‘s capture point, the shield will be fairly easy to get around, but it is still easy for teammates to use to save themselves from spam unless you are being surrounded. It is still decently strong in open areas, but when there are beneficial map elements around, like chokes, walls and such, it is grotesquely powerful. The enemy team could be clumped up together and ripe for explosive classes to take them out with one swoop afterwards, but that is assuming there’s enough people still around to exploit it by then.
I went into this article thinking that this will potentially be a great sidegrade for the Medic. However, after this I am thinking otherwise. A large shield wall is too powerful and requires the enemy team to jump through too many hoops to play against it. Even the stock Über, which grants complete invulnerability to the Medic and his patient, can still be knocked around by explosives and any other methods of knockback. This shield denies such play by simply blocking any knockback source form one direction, and if that direction happens to be the only possible direction of approach, well that’s not happening. No to mention the fact that the shield protects more than one other person.
Shame, I had high hopes for this.