Home Editorial Balance Underdog Adventure: Just ’cause something sucks, doesn’t mean it isn’t fun

Complaining about overpowered weapons is something all hardcore gamers look forward to when a new game comes out.

While they’d never admit it openly, raging at those few weapons that outshine all others is a sort of catharsis, giving the players power over their developer overlords. Without gamers, the developer job is a moot point, but players have little, and oftentimes no, say in how the mechanics of any game are built. So when we get to whine and bitch and moan to the dev team about their choices, we control their destiny, in most cases consisting of future sales.

What I don’t see people doing is talking much about the underpowered weapons. I’m talking the complete trash that makes you lose gunfights you had every right to win. The stuff that forces your playstyle to shift just so you feel like the game isn’t trying to mess with you. Examples? Sure. The L’etranger for the Spy. The SKS sniper and MASS under-barrel shotty in Battlefield 3. The UZI in Black Ops. The F2000 in MW2. The M93R or the semi-auto snipers in Bad Company 2. More TF2 examples? The Soda Popper for Scout, Family Business for Heavy, the pre-patch Widowmaker for Engineer. I can go on. Few ever really want to see them buffed, and when they are, it remains that no one really uses them.

Here’s my argument for these piles of stinking detritus. Use them until you get good at them, then when you can put up numbers, get on the “OP” stuff.

He’s insane for asking this, right?

Nope. And here’s why, from a strategy standpoint. If you have the ability to use the filler weapons* and still kick ass, imagine how easy thing’s will be when you start using the same shit as everybody else. Again, here’s an example. Consider for a moment if the stock setup for Spy was the Saharan set, except that you didn’t need the hat to make it work and cloak sound was unaffected. All beginning spies would be required to learn cloak management, map control, lines of sight, sound control, acting, target acquisition, movement. They’d have to learn everything WiNG and stabby try to teach without the aid of a disguise kit. Now make that same disguise kit an unlock along with the watches. Suddenly “Saharan” Spies have a new, “overpowered” mechanic on their hands.

The truth, of course, is exactly the opposite of what I outlined above. The Saharan Spy set is a way to cripple yourself as Spy and it provides a whole new way to play. The best Spies around flourish in this new method of death dealing. But only because they already have a handle on the core mechanics of the class. Those who main the Saharan set from the get-go, however, have a leg up even on these experts, because they don’t have the “crutch” that is the disguise kit. Plus, since most use the Dead Ringer, cloak management and sound control are even more important.


Don’t forget the giggles!

Now, don’t get me wrong. I enjoy using the powerful stuff as much as any other solid player. I want to use that which allows me to succeed more times than the other guy. But when I hear people ask, “Why does he use that piece of garbage?” I find myself shaking my head in disappointment. My reason, besides challenging myself in order to improve, is that self-imposed handicaps are sometimes more fun. The reward is far greater when you beat a guy who’s using the best gun in the game with your pea shooter.

So you out-thought a guy in a fight where the outcome was evenly split. Good for you. Go get some more kills, kid. But dominating a Pyro using the Saharan set; taking down a guy holding a FAMAS in BO when you’ve got a sniper rifle or an UZI; taking out a tank with a M320 in BF3. Oh, yes, those are the moments to live for when you’ve got a shitty weapon in your hands.

I mentioned giggles, and there are certainly those to be had with the sub-par stuff. Most of them happen organically as you play. I mean, going on a spree with the Saharan set or the Kunai is fun in itself, but sometimes you need to make your own laughs. This can mean griefing, and believe me, I love taunting turtle Engies on 2Fort. But using “bad” weapons in unexpected/novel ways is also a good way to get that rush and those chuckles. Rush with the SKS, flank with the F2000, use a M93R primary, go only for facestabs. The great part about our hobby is that our enjoyment is ultimately up to us, and even when we play objective game modes, we can be an asset without having to put on those win pants.

* Those things the devs put in just so they could say, “We’ve got over 50 guns in this game!”

8 replies to this post
  1. For TF2, I highly suggest the Persian Demo set for pissing around with. It’s not only good fun but, if you do well with it, you piss absolutely everyone off.

    • I have to agree. Being shieldbashed by a demoman who flew from some perch far away is rage-worthy.
      If you want to really make your life miserable, use the cloak and dagger, kunai, and diamondback on a HUUUGE map.
      Dagger prevents going anywhere quickly, diamondback won’t help much, and kunai will get you one shotted by… Everything. Just about.

    • Hard not to be mad when it’s an instant 280 damage for running into someone and swinging your weapon. :P

  2. Very valid points. Perhaps a somewhat outdated example, but the same applies to CS, when your Deagle outduels an AK. Positioning and anticipation become key in such situations.

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