Home Editorial Balance The Manno-Technology Update: Prediction and pontification

Over a month ago, I predicted the Manno-Technology Update. And while some people wouldn’t attribute the term “prediction” to an event that is perhaps best described as “dumb luck,” I’ll take all the credit I can get, thank you very much.

I was a tad upset to see that Valve had dedicated another promotional stint to the Soldier, granting him two of the most rage-inducing weapons in TF2’s rage-filled history.

After ranting about the Soldier’s excessive armaments, I made the following observation regarding the Engineer’s plight and his general lack of unlockable… well, anything:

The Engineer? He can only watch his constructions get blown to bits before giving up and whacking it behind a dispenser all day. If there really is an Athena, she better pull some deus ex machina pronto and rescue our best buddy builder before he blows his brains out from boredom.

Yes, that’s right, I called it. And while that has absolutely no impact on the update itself, it’s obvious proof that Valve reads Top Tier Tactics and plans its tie-in unlockables based on my opinion. This is the part where everyone starts being really nice to me, lest I start suggesting the Sniper get an M4A1 Colt Carbine assault rifle with a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive pre-order.

Don’t think I won’t do it if my hand is forced.

But speaking of terrible weapons, I’ve had the last week to thoroughly use the most recent batch of killing machines from the Deus Ex universe. And because I’m apparently their progenitor, I will now take it upon myself to assess their objective value.

The Diamondback

I thought I’d start with an obvious stinker, and the Diamondback is unfortunately one of them. While it sounds like a wet dream and looks like the sweet Nerf Maverick revolver, the gun just doesn’t deliver when it comes to gentlemanning one’s way out of a hairy situation. A 15% damage penalty makes all shooting instantly un-fun, as does the removal of random crits. As a trade-off, you can earn crits upon successfully sapping buildings. The problem? It just isn’t frequent enough to count on.

If you’re using the Ambassador or the Enforcer, you know when you’ll be getting your extra damage: always.* When you equip L’Etranger, you are sacrificing damage for meter that’s always useful. But with the Diamondback, your DPS is directly tied to how stupid the enemy Engineers are, and how many of them there are. It’s a situational gun whose drawback is simply too steep for crits that won’t even 1-hit light classes.

My suggestion: Because I have some semblance of constructive criticism, here’s mine, Valve: why not make it two critical hits per Sentry/Dispenser, and keep it at one crit for each Teleporter? Or just stop making cool-sounding guns that are weaker than Gaddafi’s taste in women?

The Widowmaker

Widowmaker TF2 shotgun

It's called the Widowmaker because you'll die from frustration using it.

Let’s cut the crap: I am not a fan of this… thing. In the simplest, most optimistic terms, it’s a shotgun that doesn’t need to be reloaded. Cool, right? But the downside is equally uncool: it’s a shotgun that can’t be reloaded. With bad aim, you’ll get a maximum of three shots, assuming you had 180 metal or more to start with. But even if you have impeccable precision and are some sort of combat Engy from hell, you can’t realistically land more than 7 or 8 shots in a row, and that’s only if you didn’t already die from being in direct combat that long!

In essence, even in its absolutely perfect usage, the Widowmaker is only 12-24% better than the default shotgun, and only if you measure it in terms of shots fired consecutively. In real life, Engineers are rarely in protracted firefights not because they run out of bullets, but because they failed to construct a Not Dying Machine first.

The Widowmaker has all sorts of other failings. It sucks for Spy checking, for providing light cover fire, or for Engineers who like to build useful things for their team.

My suggestion: Cut the per-shot metal cost to 45. This is still high enough to discourage random spamming, but it’s low enough to make a miss forgivable while still enabling aimbots to excel at stomping face.

The Short Circuit

I don’t even know where to begin. It’s got the strange, metal-to-ammo system the Widowmaker employs, but with a much more reasonable cost. It only deals five damage, but it autotargets any number of enemies, as long as they’re in very close proximity. In theory, it could do 60 damage a shot, hitting every enemy for five damage each, though it seems its primary purpose isn’t killing human beings.**

No, the Short Circuit is intended to evaporate enemy projectiles, and at that it excels. You don’t need aim, and barely require any timing, but with a single click, crockets vanish and sticky traps are no more. It’s not the greatest effect ever, but it give the Engineer something to do with the infinite metal of a Payload cart, and the pistol was never a particularly exciting secondary anyway.

My suggestion: This item is fine as-is, though I’d prefer if, instead of being unusable underwater, it instead did massive damage within its range to both enemies and the Engineer himself. Just for the entertainment of actually pulling off such a feat.

The Machina

Machina Sniper Rifle TF2

Is "eye candy" really a downside?

Let’s face it, everyone loves the Machina. It looks intimidating, its drawbacks are miniscule, and the sound it makes when it fires is trumped only by the sound it makes when it takes the lives of multiple opponents simultaneously. Godlike.

The cons of the Machina are so easily sidestepped it’s laughable. While you can’t no-scope players in the traditional sense, you can simply hold M1, then tap M2 to perform an instant shot.

As for the tracer rounds, they’re almost useful enough for aim adjustment that they’re not even necessarily bad. There is no real downside to using this sniper rifle, but I don’t expect Valve will nerf it any time soon. (Good) Snipers still don’t see nearly enough play, and anything that encourages stylistic assassination is okay in my book.

My suggestion: Make an out-of-scope misfire “jam” the gun for half a second, rendering faux no-scopes impossible. Sorry to spoil the fun!

Aesthetic items

In addition to drops that actually do something, Valve added three hats and a miscellaneous item to Team Fortress 2. As is the rule with multiple offspring, they are all very appealing except one. In this case, it’s the well-meaning but utterly atrocious Nanobalaclava. At first glance, everyone thinks it looks cool, but upon seeing it in game, winces of real pain are produced. What should be a svelt future-mask instead causes the Spy to put one foot squarely in the “I look kind of like Strong Bad” camp.

And that is not a good fucking camp to be in.


* Assuming you can aim the Ambassador. Or that, you know, you can aim at all.
** But then why did Valve give it such a hilarious kill animation?.

17 replies to this post
  1. Oh yeah. And the company man is the worse hat. It’s a baseball cap… That is craftable. Now, when crafting two hats together, you might get a slightly different Ellis cap. :|

    Lastly: Grammar!
    It’s not the greatest effect ever, but it give the Engineer something to do with the infinite metal of a Payload cart,
    Should say gives, after effect ever.

  2. I really don’t get how using metal instead of ammo is an upside, even if you don’t have to reload.
    So, let’s say you’ve got your base on top of a full ammo crate and a full lvl3 dispenser in your back.

    You shoot something, expensing 60 metal. 5 (I’m lazy) of your pellets actually hit, giving you back 30 metal.
    So you could fire 6 shots without any restore. Given the enemy is stupid enough to be continously hit.

    Then, you pick up the ammo crate, or rather stand on it while firing, which puts you but half a shot higher. as you’ll have 170 metal already.

    However, then a heavy comes in, so you have to contionously shoot (at long range). So you get one shot per five seconds off (dispensers give 60 metal/5s) and barely fight off the heavy. However, your sentry is severely wounded and you want to use your short moment of rest to…not reload, but repair your buildings.

    And guess what? Your dispenser and you are both empty, wing comes in, saps all and destroys it before you can get the second hit off and then blows his load as a consolation prize into your face.

    So your team is left standing with one dead noob, a non-existant engie nest with nobody to fill the place because one is enough. And wing’s lovely, but underpowered gun still has 2 crits in it. Congrats!

    The Short Circuit does sound pretty nice, though. Apart from the fact that this thing draws your lifeblood too. I can already see a hero engie saying nope.avi to a crocket trying to kill an innocent spycrab.
    However, I can also see its auto aim mechanic worked into premium weapons for fags that donated towards a server. Yes, those servers still exist. Lol indeed.

    brb, gotta set up a replay.

  3. Am I the only person that thinks these four weapons were made to have faults that newer players wouldn’t notice significantly yet have an ability that would satisfy them and make them think as if they accomplished something with an awesome sounding weapon? How would you feel if you were an amateur spy and you killed a heavy-medic pair with six direct crits, all of which you earned from a few fail engis? How would you feel if you managed to get the metal for a sentry by shooting a heavy and then running, and then catching him by surprise in an ambush? How would you feel if you managed to, well, shoot THROUGH people even if they saw you coming? How would you feel if you trolled the hell out of demos, sollies, huntsmen, sandmen, etc and saved teammembers from stickytraps/incoming fire? The downsides to these weapons are unnoticible to newer players yet their upsides seem like heaven (machina’s a bit of an exception. It almost doesn’t have any downsides, same OMG I’M BADASS feeling though). Yes, the examples above, with the exception of the short circuit (GOD of a pistol imo) are extremely situational, but they happen, and they make users think like they made the right choice picking that weapon.

    Personally, I like all 4 of the weapons. They may not be direct buffs to stats with some stats removed, but they all introduce and remove an intricate mechanic in the game, which is definitely heading in the right direction. (except for the diamondback, which is a new mechanic at the cost of 15 something. Reminds me of one of my favorite scout melees.)

    Ok, mission 1 completed. Thank you Athena. Now let’s take pyro out of the tribal era when it comes to items and abilities and give him something that makes him a viable main in comp already!

  4. Wing – In the hands of a good Engineer in the right situation, a Kritz/Widowmaker strategy is actually surprisingly effective and downright terrifying. With crit damage, you’ll almost always get back full metal, and without the need to reload, it’ll be taking down several surprised enemies that weren’t expecting the Medic to kritz the Engie. An unlikely situation? Yes, but I’ve seen it once and it tore apart the better chunk of our team.

    And the Diamondback is plain and simple for use against Gunslingers that won’t bother to un-sap Mini Sentries. Get crits off them, feed them to the enemy Medic from a distance with no fall-off. Insanely situation? Yes. Useless? Definitely not.

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