I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of the Pyro. The reason why is simple: Pyro is a close range class in a game filled with mid-range characters. That and the fact that the flamethrower just feels off compared to almost all other weapons in the game. Everything else shoots bullets or projectiles. Everything else is pretty clear that it hit you or damaged you. Flamethrowers are not the same. You get stray bits of flame that hit you or don’t hit you. Pyro overall is a jumbled mess of things that needs yet another complete rework anyway. So I might as well fantasize about how I’d do it, right?
Pyro doesn’t have a proper theme in TF2 apart from “fire”.
Every other class in TF2 has their pride and place in the game. Everyone else takes their niche and area of expertise and they all do their jobs well. Pyro seems to just try and fit in everywhere and… doesn’t. His only real theme is fire. That’s it. And fire in TF2 is both a pain in the ass and a vague nuisance, depending on how close you are to a Medic or a health kit. Airblast is still a pain in the ass. Sure, reflecting rockets is cool, but players just get pinned to walls or thrown off ledges with ease. Moving an enemy player in such a way takes far too little effort compared to other player-moving abilities.
But I don’t think we can really give Pyro his own niche. Fire will always be annoying. W+M1 will always be a thing. So maybe we just need to make Pyro MORE like everyone else? Take away his flamethrower and give him some toys that everyone else has. Or just, well, take away the flamethower and airblast. I dunno.
The way I see it, we have two options.
Make the Pyro a mid-range class like everyone else.
The idea here is simple. Take away the flamethrowers and give Pyro shotgun and/or flaregun primaries and utility secondaries. His secondary weapons would be the utility weapons that Pyro has now, as well as similar utility items that other classes have, like a Jarate-like item borrowed from Sniper, to a mad-milk-like item from Scout. Frankly, Scouts rarely use Mad Milk outside of MvM, so you might as well give it to Pyro as well.
Pyro’s afterburn would still be present in the form of flare guns and his melee weapons. All of Pyro’s melee would have the Sharpened Volcano Fragment’s ability to ignite people on hit.
This would make Pyro more of a jack-of-all-trades, someone who changes their loadout on the regular to match the situation. And shooting everyone with flare guns and shotguns when things go wrong.
Make Pyro into the Demoknight.
However I have a second option. As a Medic main, I always hate seeing Demomen, then realising that they’re Demoknights. Demoknights are among the worst things to pocket, as they will charge a defenseless Medic directly into danger. They’re also a waste of a spot. Demoknights can’t take out blockades of sentries and Engineers the way normal Demomen can.
But what if we move the whole Demoknight subclass away from Demoman and stick it on Pyro? I mean, Pyro needs a gimmick, and there’s no real reason why Demo needs two gimmicks, explosions and melee combat. So why not just take Pyro’s flamethrower away and give him the Demoknight shields? Flare guns could be Pyro’s main ranged attack, and you’d use them to combo with the shields?
In this case, everyone benefits. Pyros get a proper niche, Demoknights have their own true class to play, we can have more actual Demomen around and Medics have more useful people to heal.
“Why not just remove Pyro? That would be far better!” – that one Pyro-hating guy on my friends list.
Because then Valve would have to compensate all those Pyro mains. Reimburse people for all the money they spent on Pyro weapons and cosmetics. Not to mention the HUGE amounts of player-made Pyro cosmetics that are in the game. It’d be a legal and logistical nightmare.
The far easier task is to just change how Pyro plays, rather than deleting him completely.
But deleting Pyro would have more consequences. You’d have to edit basically every piece of TF2 media ever made. From Meet the Team videos to the comics, right down to the UI of the game itself. Team Fortress 2’s menu interfaces and so much more would have to be drastically altered.
So yeah, reworking Pyro would be easier. And probably more fun.