The Tough Break update rolled out an extremely healthy list of balance changes to Team Fortress 2. Spanning the entirety of its class roster and with a general trend of making each class’ stock role more defined, it provides some very clear insights regarding the direction Valve is hoping to take TF2 in the coming months. SPUF is ablaze right now with questions attempting to make sense of some of the more extreme alterations, and since I’m stuck on a five-hour plane ride without internet I thought I’d take the time to comment on some things I’ve noticed and make a few predictions.

Firstly, Demoknight. Aside from Engineer, Demoknight was the subclass that got shafted the most this update, with a number of very clear changes designed to nerf various aspeccts of the subclass. Swords were given a blanket draw penalty, discouraging weapon switching, and the Persian Persuader, the Claid, and the Half-Zatoichi were scaled back to designs that most people agree are vastly inferior to their previous iterations. The Chargin’ Targe lost its fire immunity and the Tide Turner can now only deal minicrits on charge, meaning that every single slot of the poor knight has been hit in various ways, severely crippling the role-shifting and loadout versatility that made the subclass so popular in the first place. A lot of people are wondering why Valve stomped the subclass so hard, and personally I think it happened to prepare for the upcoming competitive matchmaking. When in a semi-serious environment with class restrictions, Valve probably doesn’t want some Highlander pub’s only Demoman to be some sword-swinging loony, which would hurt the team’s overall balance especially against the classes stock Demoman counters and is countered by. Valve in general seemed to single out subclasses for attention, with notable changes happening to the Huntsman this update and crit-farming Pyros.

“What’s that?” I heard you say, “Pyro doesn’t have subclasses!” Well, he does now. The other big thing I noticed in this update is that Valve appeared to be trying to nail Pyro’s role down more solidly, and that role is “W+M1 plus extinguishing”. The Degreaser changes, health-on-extinguish buff and most of all the huge Phlogistinator buffs are all testaments to that theory. I know that’s not what Pyro mains want to hear, nor am I saying I support Valve in this notion, but the patch notes seem to suggest that they were unhappy with the current state of Pyro and wanted to get him back on track, even if it wasn’t the track most SPUFers would have chosen.

Lastly, as a Medic main I cannot help but be fascinated by the choices they made to adjust my class of choice. The enhanced regeneration while healing wounded teammates is insanely powerful and seems to be designed to reward Medics who are doing their job and healing on the front lines. Much like the Uber-building medieval weapons, it wasn’t a buff Medic needed but I’ll take it because I suspect Valve’s hoping it will encourage people to play Medic in competitive, or at least reward amateur Medics who are doing their job.

In conclusion, there’s a reason Valve called this the “Tough Break” update. These changes were designed to stay and they were designed with a completely new iteration of TF2 in mind. If you don’t like it, deal with it.

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