Class Hate

[I wrote this a while ago … and I have no idea why I never posted it before now.]

Greetings, in case you don’t know me, I’m C4Cypher. If you do know me you probably know that I hate a lot of things, most of which being spies.  I’m not alone in this.  Tell me about a class, map, game mechanic or other aspect of TF2 and I’ll give you a player that hates it.  I’ll leave most of the kvetching to other people for the time being, but I thought it would be entertaining if I could discuss each of the classes and why people hate them.

I might as well start with the Engineer, in all fairness … I should know why people hate this class more than anyone considering I play it so much.  People seem to have the idea that the class takes no skill … it’s not a class that seems to emphasize twitch aiming skills. The main point of contention seems to revolve around the sentry gun.  As the only truly computer-controlled combatant in the game, the sentry is immune to the pitfalls of lag (as it’s run server side) and boasts an unbelievable level of accuracy and damage output once it tracks on-target. Apparently all an engineer needs to do to rack up a bunch of kills is set up a sentry and dispenser right next to each other, wedge your butt in-between the two, and whack both as if you were playing a demonic game of wrench-whack-a-mole for the rest of the game … right … I’ll let you know how that goes.

Moving on to the Pyro … well, W plus mouse 1 … do I need to say more? Honestly though, the recent update has transformed the perception of this class from laughably underpowered to hair-pullyingly overpowered to the point to where the pyro has supplanted the soldier in the position of ‘noob’ class. I suppose the pyro should be proud or the soldier relieved, I’m not sure which.  I don’t think it’s a game breaker, personally, but I do think that the range on that blowtorch coupled with the damage output is a tad overkill, and the ‘puff-n-sting’ only adds insult to injury.

If you want people to hate you, start downloading the entire Lord of the Rings movie trilogy over bit-torrent, and then play scout.  The bugger is fast, and has a powerful primary weapon, which makes him the perfect vehicle for leveraging a dodgy network connection into a game-play advantage. Laggy-McLag Scout, I’m looking at you. And if you haven’t been victim or participant to an embarrassing surprise scout rush, you need to play this game more.

The heavy … is surprisingly balanced. The reining ‘Class noob hate’ champion of TFC leaves little for people to cry nerf about, his powerful primary weapon and massive pool of hit-points are very well balanced by his ponderously slow gait.  Don’t get me wrong, lard-butt is hardly gimp, but I rarely hear gripes about the class.

There’s never a medic around when you need one, and when there is, he’s off trying to ubersaw the spy in the back.  There is very little that can counter an effective uber … making him the centerpiece to any winning team, despite the fact that nobody wants to play him.

It’s easy to call the soldier a ‘noob’ class … he’s rather simple to pick up (ignoring the fact that he has a sufficiently high skill ceiling to seperate the skilled players from the chaff).  All you really need to do is point, click and possess some degree of linear prediction skill. Failing that, you can always shoot your own feet to kill anybody nearby … Maggots.

If you thought the soldier was a spammy pain in the ass, don’t get anyone started on the demoman. It’s ironic that the class that causes the most instagib surprise death is also the one that does so with projectiles that look like magic candy. Nobody likes getting one-shotted by a pipe, so if an angry drunk Scottish one-eyed black man offers you candy … just walk away.

The sniper is the quintessential choice for the camper … the best way of playing a game without actually participating it.  If you’re on two fort, I almost guarantee that the snipers on either side are playing in a completely separate game than the one you’re in … that happens to be running on the same server.  The annoying bugger brings instant death from across the map, conveniently placing himself in areas that make reprisals prohibitively difficult.

Ah, I love saving the best for last: The Spy.  Here we have the obligatory ‘stealth’ class. He has the benefit of both invisibility and disguises … he’s not too fast, doesn’t have too many hit-points, the sapper can even be forgiven … somebody has to have that role.  The problem is that knife … if it would work properly, nobody would argue … but for the love of god, if you’re going to give a weapon dodgy hit-detection, don’t make it the one that delivers instant kills? To make matters worse, his primary weapon is far from underpowered, giving the spy a choice between random victory in melee range or powerful ranged weapon with a blinding fast reload time.  I’m sorry, but the only thing I have for a class designed explicitly to break up teamwork and trust within a team is utter loathing and hatred. Spies should all die in a fire … and then re-spawn on fire …

td;lr All of the classes are overpowered, except the heavy.

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I never really was on your side …

Sometimes it’s hard to appreciate how greatly the English language fails to convey context and meaning behind words at times. I figure that you all would have much less to read here if this was not the case.  Let me give you an example.

I hate the spy class.

It’s not a simple matter of not enjoying the class when I play it, or disliking the class when other people play spy.  I have a deep, irrational hatred and utter loathing for not only the class, but everything it stands for, to the point where I can not honestly justify in any rational terms or argument, any real justification for such hatred.

I think that more than anything else, the spy serves as some kind of freudian object for me to vent dislike and negative emotion into.

With all that said, I’d like to separate all of that from my real criticisms with the class.  Some people who have seen my hatred of the class might be surprised to find that such criticisms aren’t all that great.

As much as I hate to admit it, the spy does have a purposeful role in the game, and is somewhat balanced.  I’d rather not go into too much detail  defining what I feel that role is, preferring to focus more on where he seems to be too strong in the context of spy versus engineer.

First is the revolver.  The revolver is unique in the fact that it is very effective at everything up to very long range.  It is very accurate, holding about the same spread as the pistol, but inflicts around 50-60 damage per shot before damage drop-off.  The shotgun will out-damage the revolver at point blank range, but suffers far more from damage dropoff than the revolver, giving it the edge at close/medium range.

One might point out the engineer’s answer for this is to engage a spy at point-blank, but the engineer rarely engages the spy on his own terms.  Added to this is the fact that all a skilled spy needs at point-blank is a swift strafe movement and a little lag and he’ll get himself a nice side-back stab, rendering the confrontation over instantly.   Defending against a side-stab is almost more a matter of having good ping and luck as it is a matter of skill.  Most good spies I know will simply disengage, heal up and come back again if they don’t find a fight to their liking.

Should they nerf the revolver? I’m not sure.  I just find it very frustrating to usually have myself out-gunned by a class that can disable at-will my primary assets in a game, assets that took anywhere from ten seconds to two minutes to establish.  I would be in much less of a situation to complain if the spy was the only class that was effective in countering a smart sentry setup, but I also have soldiers, demomen and medics who can just blow through my stuff, and for the most part, are supposed to outgun the engineer class.

Fine, so I have to rely on my team to help me kill spies, as I’m not completely balanced to always deal more damage to a spy  than he can to me. I can accept that.

I cannot accept the dead ringer in its current form.   I would be fine if the spy got away scot-free from the hit that triggered the dead-ringer.  But why the hell does a class have access to the effective equivalent to an Uber shield that lets 10% of the damage through and lasts for six and a half seconds.  To add insult to injury, this shield makes him invisible and allows him to heal himself and recharge said shield from metal pickups.

With enough map knowledge and planning, a spy can antagonize an engineer at his choosing almost indefinitely, given that engineers prefer locations that have plentiful metal drops, usually accompanied by health drops.   It’s hard enough to kill these bastards with a pyro, much less as an engineer.  What incentive does a spy have to take any other cloak when he can simply make himself almost impervious to damage almost limitlesly, given enough thought and metal?

Statement of purpose.

“Put it in a blog.”  Fine, I’ll start one, and I’ll start by telling you who I am and what I’m doing here.

I am C4Cypher … if you know me, you know that I’m an opinionated person. I’m also someone who would like to think that he’s intellectually honest with himself when he isn’t being a raving lunatic.

I am also a PC gamer.  This means that one of the largest hobbies and interests in my life is video games on the PC platform, and to  a somewhat lesser, but related extent, the entire gaming industry as a whole.

I am here to use this place as a platform to share my thoughts on the major issues that affect this hobby, that and stuff that has my attention when it comes to gaming. I am not here to tell you what is right, and what is wrong, only how I see things. It’s up to you to decide whether or not you agree with me.

I’m going to explain in no uncertain terms where I come from when it relates to the subject of gaming, give a background to the positions I will take on the various subjects I address here.  This will mean a lot of self-exposition in crap you may not be interested in.  You’re more than welcome to skip to the next post, but if you want to know who the hell I am to say the things I am saying, I’m putting it all right here.

I’ve been an active gamer since 2002.  Although I have been gaming for far longer than that, 2002 marks the point at which I began funding my own hobby and took complete, adult ownership of such.  In 2002 I became a paying customer to the gaming industry.

My experience up until that point defines my perspective on gaming as a whole, so I might as well share it. During the 90’s I played a lot of PC games, Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, SimCity2000 … I have a soft spot for Borderbund, The Learning Company (rest in peace) and pre-EA Maxis.  I played on both the Nintendo and Sega platforms … when I had the opportunity to visit a friend’s house … and as such, I bore witness to the console wars of those times. Mario is a timeless classic, Sonic USED to be awesome, and Zelda will forever hold a place in my heart.   Then I discovered Half-Life, and it changed my world.  Sadly, I missed the Quake era almost completely, although I feel the influences of it to this day.

From 2002 to 2006 I owned three platforms, four if you count the GBA. Most of my time gaming was on the PC with titles such as Half-Life, Team Fortress Classic, Max Payne and various other shooters, mostly single player.  I’m ashamed to say that I lost two years of my life to World of Warcraft, and I view the experience somewhat bitterly, but with fond memories.  City of Heros was, and still is an excellent game.

I also owned a GameCube and a PS2.  I have mixed feelings about the black sheep of the main Nintendo line, but good games such as Eternal Darkness and Metroid Prime are difficult to forget. I don’t even know where to start with the best of the PS2 catalogue.  The Jak & Daxter Trilogy, Ratchet & Clank series, MGS, Devil May Cry 1 and 3, Silent Hill 2 … need I say more?

Needless to say I loved many of the games available only on the console, and as such I would be a hypocrite to denigrate anyone for owning one, even one made by Microsoft.  My primary vice with the console community today is one of willingness to accept treatment that would be unacceptable as a PC gamer, but that will be addressed later.  Long story short, the consoles are excellent platforms, to which I have certain criticisms.

In 2007 I looked at how much I was playing, and spending, on various platforms, and realized I did not want to bother trying to wade through the associated prices and catalogues of four different platforms when I spent the vast majority of my time playing on the PC.  I got rid of my cube and my PS2 and my television, and I do not own anything from the current generation aside from the DS.

These days I spend most of my time focusing on quality single player experiences on the PC.  I am not good at RTS games but I respect them, my interests lie elsewhere.  I enjoy retro style shooters and platformers, and I’m an avid FPS/3PS player.

For multiplayer I focus mainly on a tight-knit player community devoted to Team Fortress 2 … I also play Left 4 Dead and its sequel.   It is extraordinarily rare for me to enjoy a multiplayer experience for longer than a month before I bore and go back to TF2. The only thing keeping me playing TF2 is the solid community I’ve become a part of. For me multiplayer is less about the game and more about enjoying the game with a set of people you know. This is the reason the concept of dedicated servers is important to me.  Left 4 Dead feels like an enhanced single player experience … I completely fail to enjoy versus mode as a result.

It should be apparent at this point that I’m an avid user and fan of Valve products and the Steam platform.  I would not support Steam to the extent that I do if it were not for the fact that Valve has spent years earning and keeping my trust as a customer.  Steam is a good, convenient platform for gaming, DRM and all.  It’s not perfect and not for everyone, but it fits my needs perfectly.

I think you’ve got a pretty good picture at this point, and it will save me from having to explain some of this later, when I’d rather be discussing a topic at hand.  If nothing else, I’d like to welcome you to my little slice of the gaming world.

td;lr:  I’m C4Cypher, and this is MY HOUSE!