Pyro is, as of now, my go-to class when I play TF2. However, why do I like playing Pyro so much?
I enjoy Pyro’s gameplay, both the ambush, flanking style and the more support-based style. But no, that isn’t the only reason why I like playing Pyro, although it is the main one. And it definitely isn’t Pyro’s character either, since Pyro is my fourth-least favourite merc character-wise. Demoman, Medic, and Heavy are my top 3 favourite mercs character-wise, in that order. And it most definitely isn’t Pyro’s cosmetic options, since I prefer Medic’s and Spy’s.
What I love most about Pyro is afterburn. No, it’s not because of its damage potential, which is decent at best. It is because of how it is presented.
When you set someone on fire, they are visibly engulfed in flames, like the head of a lit matchstick. And they’ll start screaming, from Demoman’s drawn out “Fiiiireeeeeeeee!” to Heavy’s “My flesh, it burns!“. The mercs very obviously do not appreciate being set on fire. Never have I seen damage over time being depicted in such a visceral manner in a PvP game except for Loadout, which really went above and beyond in depicting bodily harm. I once said that TF2 is the most satisfying game for setting people on fire, and that is because of the audio and visual feedback from the enemies when you set them ablaze. And no, I am not a serial arsonist, what is wrong with you.
And now, to playing Pyro. I usually play Pyro as a flanking class.
Being a close-range class that has limited mobility and mid-range coverage, my only option is to be sneaky. Which I can’t do so easily, because unlike Spy I’m a big, lumbering, mumbling humanoid with no stealth tools. Not as bad as Heavy, but not really that good either. I do have more bulk and better firepower, which gives me a better chance of surviving when I got caught, but that means nothing if I cannot position myself at the right spot, at the right time.
So, I need to be far craftier and knowledgeable. I need to know all the routes, all the sightlines, and all the hiding spots. I need to have a rough idea on enemy placements, and keep an eye on the enemy respawn timers to gauge their movements and position. In short, my gamesense needs to be sharp. Sure, there are times I got caught due to sheer bad luck, but I still have 175 Hp and a Backburner. And, depending on the occasion, a Shotgun as well.
And when the time is right to strike, oh man the fun begins.
The moment someone catches fire, they’ll panic and start spinning around, trying to find the Pyro. Throw in one or two airblasts and they’ll be a couple of ticks away from death by the time they finally saw me. They may be able kill me, they may not, but seven out of ten times they’ll die. Some of them died so quickly, they only saw me in the deathcam.
Afterburn is a great ally here. Not only did it deal damage even after I die or they escape, it forces enemies back to safety. They start to hunt for healing sources, or run back into their spawn room if it’s close enough. This will delay them greatly, since afterburn is pretty hard to ignore. Not to mention, since I normally attack the enemy team at their backlines, they’ll be taking Medkits from their side, draining their healing resources. Sure, the Medkits respawn, but one Medkit used to heal a burning Scout means that the same Medkit is now locked away from a dying Medic for ten seconds. And said Medic would have died before the ten seconds are up and the Medkit respawns.
With me running amok in the enemy backlines, I’ll swiftly become the biggest nuisance to them. And when the enemy team started to hunt me down, I win. I have managed to stall a significant chunk of the enemy team, giving my team an easier time to contest the objectives. Even if I don’t manage to kill more than a couple of people, I’ve already greatly reduced the amount of enemy team players my team needs to fight.
So tell me, why shouldn’t I play Pyro?
And sometimes, I play Pybro. Generally, that’s when I saw a lone, unaided Engineer trying to defend an objective by himself. Sure, it is a lot more laid-back than my usual guerrilla Pyro plays, but it is necessary, and helps the team hold a point. It’s not exactly engaging most of the time, but someone’s got to do it. And besides, fending off Übered Heavies and Demomen with a automated turret by my side is pretty exciting.
I play Pyro to be a hunter. Slithering sight unseen to my hiding spots, then leaping out with scorching flames when the enemies walked right into my reach, that to me is how Pyro should be played. Do not blame me for burning you alive, blame yourself for not spotting me earlier.