Not too long ago, I talked about underpowered cards in Hearthstone and the sorts of buffs that could make them more viable. The response was fairly positive, so I thought I’d try it with another game that has eaten hundreds of hours of my existence. Admittedly, Team Fortress 2 isn’t in dire need of a list like this given that the developers already spent the better half of 2013 rebalancing many of the game’s under and overpowered weapons. Still, there are some items in the game that still aren’t up to snuff and need some improvements.
The Pain Train, a melee weapon for the Soldier and Demoman, isn’t a terrible item, but only if you are using it in one of game modes it’s intended for. In any control point or payload-based game mode, the Pain Train makes you twice as valuable in completing objectives. However, in Capture the Flag, Special Delivery, and Mann Vs. Machine, the Pain Train does nothing other than make you weaker with its increase in bullet vulnerability with nothing to make up for it. It needs buffs available for these game modes to make it more viable or it might as well not exist for half of the game. A minor movement buff while carrying the briefcase in Capture the Flag and Special Delivery would make it worthwhile in those game modes, and some manner of buff while attacking a robot carrying the bomb would bring it into MvM.
The Homewrecker used to be one of the best items in the game and one of my personal favorites. The Pyro and Engineer have always been a powerful team, but giving the Pyro an option to destroy the Spy’s sappers, something that only Engineers are typically capable of countering, made them into a fearsome duo that can hold incredibly powerful defenses. Then the Neon Annihilator came along and was quickly seen as one of the worst items in the game. Valve quickly buffed the Annihilator, but doing so actually indirectly nerfed the Homewrecker drastically. They added the ability to remove sappers to the Annihilator, which rendered the Homewrecker obsolete. The Homewrecker may deal extra damage to enemy buildings, but you only really need that against a sentry gun and good luck getting within melee-range even with an Über-charge on you. What the Homewrecker needs to be viable in taking out sentries is increased resistance to knock-back so that you can actually reach the sentry with this thing. Otherwise, that is a job for the Demomen and Spies.
Here’s a gun that is so useless that the in-game manual actually doesn’t have an entry for it. The Cleaner’s Carbine is so bad that even the game itself is ashamed to acknowledge it. It sounds useful as its mini-crit buff can be chained off of multiple enemies, so slipping behind enemy lines and getting the drop on a cluster of foes can do some serious damage. The problem is that this is a Sniper-exclusive weapon and guess who is the absolute worst at getting behind the enemy. As a Sniper, you are best suited at holding back and picking off key enemies from afar and typically only engage one enemy directly at a time when they slip behind your lines. The Cleaner’s Carbine encourages you to charge directly into the fray with a class that is too frail to survive that much abuse. It is completely counter-intuitive to the Sniper’s entire play-style, and the only way it could be buffed in any meaningful way is to scrap its current mechanics and turn it into something else entirely. Make it something more suited to dealing with a single enemy at a time, such as giving it higher damage and accuracy while reducing the fire-rate compared to the default SMG, and it could be a lot more useful. The way it is now is purely a downgrade compared to all of the other secondaries that the Sniper has available.
This is a stupid weapon intended purely for stupid people. Yes, it sets enemies on fire at close-range, but you know what else does that? ANY OF YOUR FLAMETHROWERS. The only way I can see the Sharpened Volcano Fragment being used in any way is if you mindlessly hold down the fire button without paying any attention to your ammo count, running out ammo, and then still wanting to run directly into the opposing team’s faces rather than stopping to find ammo. It is designed to be used exclusively by idiots who charge forward nonstop without any level of strategy. I don’t even know how you can fix a weapon that is this inherently terrible. It might be best to just get rid of its unique stats and just turn it into an alternate model for the Axtinguisher.
Are you noticing a bit of a theme with this article? The Pyro has a lot of melee weapons available, but some of them are rendered redundant when compared to the other options you have available. Most Pyros go with the Axtinguisher, which can be combined with any flamethrower to quickly assassinate even a powerful Heavy. The Neon Annihilator helps support Engineers. And then you have the default Fire Axe, which does absolutely nothing. The Fire Axe has been the worst weapon in TF2 dating back to the early days before there even were alternate weapons to change your load-out. There was never any point to bringing out a melee weapon when a flamethrower can put out a more consistent stream of damage at a greater distance. As more and more alternate melee weapons have been released, the default has only become more and more irrelevant. The worst part was when they introduced the Third Degree, a weapon that is a direct upgrade to the Fire Axe without any drawbacks. That. Should. NEVER. Happen. The Fire Axe needs to have a point to it other than just being a fall-back for when your ammo runs out.
Which items in Team Fortress 2 do you never bother with? Do you disagree with any of my own entries? Leave a comment below and you suggestions could appear on a follow-up article next time. The next 5+ comes out July 17th.