There is one main reason why I pick Soldier: I can’t go wrong with it.
It is rarely a bad time to go Soldier. Even Medic can be a bad choice if your team does not have a heavy class or you somehow already have three Medics. Soldier is just so versatile and powerful that you can have four in a team of twelve and you’ll still have a solid team. No matter the occasion, Soldier is a good pick. Offense, Defense, Payload, Capture Point, Soldier can shine in all of them. Whether you need someone to hold off the enemy, contest an objective, or lead a charge, you can count on Soldier to do all of them.
Except if that Soldier is me, since I can’t perform any sort of rocket jumping aside from the basic “blast straight up and maybe land on a higher platform” jump. Because of that, I can’t do speedy captures or last-minute saves. However, Soldier still has a lot to offer me despite my lack of ability in that regard.
I still have a rather solid weapon, the Rocket Launcher, which lets me deal respectable AoE damage and grants me a degree of crowd control. I still remembered when I first got the timing of the rockets down and managed to juggle a bunch of Scouts around in a 2v2 game, when my friend was coaching me on the basics of TF2 years ago. It is really satisfying to be able to reduce your opponents to helpless ragdolls drifting in the wind through carefully aimed rockets.
However, the stock Rocket Launcher is not my current weapon of choice. My current go-to primary, aside for the times where I need the Direct Hit to take out Sentries, is the Cow Mangler 5000. I like the charge shot mechanic, since it allows me to force the enemy team off the objective with a high-damage incendiary rocket. The inability for it to deal critical hits doesn’t bother me. If you think Medics are rare, Kritzkrieg Medics are basically non-existent outside of MvM. I’m not a fan of CTF either, so I rarely had a chance to get crits anyway. The 80% damage reduction on buildings does make it rather bad for Sentry Nest busting though, making the Cow Mangler strictly an anti-personnel weapon.
The true advantage of using it, however, is that it allows me to use Banners whenever necessary without running out of ammo. And the Banners are one of the best Soldier unlocks for me. There is nothing quite as satisfying as deploying a banner right before a choke and see the kill feed fill up with my assists. Guess you can take the Medic main out of playing Medic, but you can’t take the Medic out of the Medic main.
It’s kind of like an Übercharge, but I get to actively earn it by blowing people up instead of healing teammates that may or may not group up with you. The Banners’ ability to turn the tide of fights are second only to that of the Übercharge, and you get to spread it over multiple people as long as they stay close to you. Not to mention, I actually get to actively use the Banners’ effect rather than desperately hoping that my Über recipient has a functional brain. It sucks that not many people in pubs seem to appreciate it though.
Soldier is always a reliable and solid pick, even if you strip him of all his unlocks. And even then, it is still always a fun class to play. Perching on high ground and raining rockets down on unsuspecting enemies, bouncing helpless enemies around like puppets attached to a jackhammer, and blowing the Scout up into a million bloody pieces, Soldier is rather enjoyable despite its simplicity. Or maybe it is fun because of its simplicity. Without needing to worry about charges, cooldowns, combos, or passives, there is nothing between you and endless shooty funtimes.
I’ll be honest, this is the article I agonized the most over. I am not a great jumper, so that’s a large part of Soldier’s gameplay I can’t really talk about. And most of the time, I pick Soldier mainly because he’s the “can’t go wrong” pick. Even with Sniper, my least played class, I get to write quite a bit about since I really loathe Sniper. But as I started thinking, I realized I do have things I really enjoy about playing Soldier, and there is actually quite a bit of things I can still talk about.
Soldier. The reliable one. The one safe choice. Also the second most insane person among the nine mercs.