Nitpicking the Heavy Update

by Steve Bowler on August 19, 2008 · 2 comments

in critique,design,nitpicking

Okay, it’s finally here, so what do folks think about it?  I for one am somewhat non-plussed about it, but then I don’t play the Heavy anyway (so feel free to dismiss).  But more to the point, reviewing their decisions from their own design requirements, I don’t really feel that they flexed any superior Valve game design muscle on this one, especially compared to previous class updates.

Just for review purposes, run over here and take a quick look at Valve’s stated overall design goals for the Heavy update to familiarize yourself with their goals.

The first update:  Sandvich.

The Sandvich replaces the shotgun and gives the Heavy 120HP over 4 seconds, leaving him absolutely vulnerable while he eats it (I imagine it’s like a 4 second taunt then?).  While hilarious, and perfect for their fiction, I kinda feel let down by it.  Does it meet their design goals?  Does it deepen the skill curve of a Heavy player?  Uh, no.  But my biggest beef with it is that it’s nothing more than a deliciously dressed health pack with a time constraint on it.  More importantly, it seems to break the very first design goal of:

It shouldn’t have a cumulative effect when being healed by a Medic as well. Heavy/Medic pairs do pretty well as it is.

How does the player electing to give himself 120HP while being healed by a medic not stack?  Does it ignore the medic’s beam for those 4 seconds?  I don’t know, it’s cute, and it’s funny, but in my opinion, it’s a complete cop-out given their lofty design goals.  “Make a Heavy more viable when there’s no Medic to pair with.”  Just give him a health pack?  C’mon, I expect more from you guys, especially after an entire community dumped ideas at your doorstep.

The Second Update:  Natascha.

At first I really didn’t like this one, but I think it actually meets the majority of their design requirements.  While I don’t think it makes a Heavy any more viable without a Medic to pair with, it does deepen the skill curve of the Heavy without changing his role, and it’s an easy model to make (just change the paint job and tweak some stats knobs).  I know a lot of people might question the “deepen the skill curve” of the Heavy, but I have news for you, he’s not designed to be just a sentry buster.  The Heavy’s primary role is wide area flow control.  If you want to keep an entire team from crossing a large area of a map, you park a Heavy on it.  Now that you can have a Heavy who can not only do flow control, but slow the flow of the enemy and not just threaten it with death, well, that is a winning combination.

The third update:  Killing Gloves of Boxing.

I kinda like them, at least their visual design, anyway.  I like that the Heavy can award himself some mini critz ubers, and that to do it he has to land a point blank punch (almost impossible in high-end team play).  I’m not sure how much it deepens their skill curve (how much do Heavys really box when it’s not a fun sudden death mode?), not like how the melees of the previous class updates do (Medic’s Ubersaw and the Pyro’s Axetinguisher).

So the bottom line is that the Heavy’s update is a pretty neat Mini-gun update, some boxing gloves that won’t see much serious use (unlike the Ubersaw and the Axetinguisher), and a fucking Sandvich.  I don’t know, for a class which they claimed was “the most broken” at one point (wish I could find the post, but can’t), I don’t really feel that they changed how he’s used, or really made him a more viable non-Medic tethered character.  They’ve just made him pause to get healed rather than shoot on the run with a medic tether, and made him a bit more effective at controlling flow.

What’s your opinion?  Are you a heavy Heavy user?  I’d love to hear from the folks who use the class and see what they think about the update.

In the meantime I think I’m going to go patch up and see if I can snipe all of the Heavies out there (they’re my second favorite juicy headshot after the glowing Engie helmet).  Especially if I can find one eating a sandvich.

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