I’ve talked about Pyro a lot in the past. While I don’t play much Team Fortress 2 at all any more, most of my friends do. And because of that, I hear a lot of… varying criticisms about the game. Mostly about Pyro. The Pyro has always been a pretty polarizing class, but also a somewhat spoiled class. While Pyro’s game balance may be all over the place, Pyro has by far the zaniest and most varied cosmetics and is probably one of the more popular characters. Despite being a short-ranged menace in a game that isn’t designed with close quarters combat in mind.
But Pyro is mediocre in another way. In the TF2 lore. And it’s actually rather annoying.
Pyro is a one-trick pony.
There’s nothing that deep about Pyro. A mute psychopath who loves fire and hallucinates. That’s honestly pretty much all there is to Pyro. Sure, Pyro is crazy but in an adorable way, but everyone else (apart from Engineer I guess) sees Pyro as a monster. And that’s all there is to Pyro. Fiery lunatic with a cute side.
You can criticize all the classes like this. Soldier is just an idiot. Scout’s your stereotypical loser kid. Sniper is a stereotypical killer. Medic is just a mad German doctor. But unlike Pyro, there’s some nuance and depth to all of these characters. Scout’s not just a stereotypical loser kid, he has his own past and future and things going on. Sniper isn’t just a cold-hearted killer, he has his own life and existence. Even the next craziest character, Soldier, at least has some history to him.
But no, Pyro has none of that. Pyro is the “lol random” character who does what it wants. Pyro just IS.
The Pyro’s powers are too magical, even for Merasmus.
I’ve always believed that one of the most powerful superpowers is “cartoon power”, being able to do and survive in a cartoon. A character like Roadrunner from Loony Toons, or, for a more recent example, Spinel from Stephen Universe, has the ability to basically alter their body and their reality so they can win.
Pyro doesn’t go that extreme, but it’s clear that reality is biased towards Pyro, so he/she/it can do basically whatever it wants. For example, when the TF2 team are fired and split up in the comics, everyone has their own troubles and misery, but Pyro’s fine. He’s magically the CEO of some big business. Because why not? Or how about the comic that introduced the Heavy VS Pyro Meet your Match update? We see the process of Heavy slowly and precisely making his way in, only to be told that Pyro made it 3 minutes faster.
How, you ask? We never know. Because Pyro has “cartoon powers” and gets whatever the fuck it wants. We’re not allowed to get an explanation for how Pyro can do all these things because there isn’t one. Pyro is the “lol random” guy and logic is not applied to it.
Pyro has NOT grown at all as a character.
I think this is Pyro’s biggest problem. Pyro hasn’t grown, either in personality or lore. Compared to the other classes, Pyro has absolutely nothing to his name. Not even Meet the Pyro does anything to really… give Pyro new life.
When compared to the other “lol random” characters Scout and Soldier, you’ll find that they’ve actually grown a lot. In particular, we’ve seen Soldier grow and change a ton over the years, from a crazy military guy to someone driven mad by leaded water, to completely losing his marbles with Merasmus (and going through a “cartoon power” stage similar to Pyro), to someone who’s actually capable of falling in love. Scout has also grown as a character, not just with clarified lore (somehow Spy IS his dad, even if he doesn’t accept it) but also willing to learn and grow as we saw in Expiration Date.
All the while, the Pyro we see today is basically the same as the Pyro we saw back in 2007, except with some “lol random” happy hallucination stuff thrown in. Pyro has not changed or grown at all as a character. Instead of character development, all Pyro has are gags and tropes. And not in a good way.
This is why I dislike the Pyro as a character.
Pyro is stuck in the “lol random” gag past. Every other character has developed around him. Even the more background characters Medic, Sniper and Spy have had far more growth, and, in the case of Sniper and Medic, have done so in far less time.
When it comes to being the “poster child of TF2”, Pyro actually ties second alongside Scout and Soldier, lagging behind Heavy. Yet, rather than changing at all over the years, Pyro has completely leaned on the “random mysterious guy” crutch for years, while everyone else has slowly evolved into their own character, having moved on from being nothing but amusing parodies and stereotypes.
But sadly, that’s not going to ever change, because Pyro being the “lol random” class seems to be why most people like it. So Pyro will remain without any real development for… well, ever…