Go Team! Part 8: The Scout

By Jim Rossignol on September 28th, 2007 at 4:16 pm.

We’ve been having a bit of a chat about the scout’s character. Well, more precisely his apparent lack of it. Unlike the other grizzled, weird, or exuberant Team Fortress classes, this is a character with a distinctly indistinct mannerism. He’s just some skinny guy. There are no towering personality traits to latch onto, no cuddly cartoon charisma to grab hold off. In fact, he’s not loveable in any way: he’s an nasty little thug.

Think about it: while even backstabbing bastard Spy has a certain panache, the scout is a dude in a cap and T-shirt who sounds a little too smarmy and self-satisfied.

And really, what does he have? His gimmick is nothing more than his pace. He can run faster than the others – he can get across the map in half the time of his larger chums. But that’s it. Nothing doing.

This is why I love the scout best.

If Kieron is right about the soldier’s Quake roots, then the scout too is based in that time – particularly the breakneck paced Quake 1. Seriously – go back and play Quake 1 now and anything slower than the scout will feel positively ponderous. Yep, I really feel like I’m wading in molasses with just about any other character – only the scout has the pace you need to really feel like you’re playing the game. You hit the ground running, and never stop.

This is where the scout’s smarm-turned-snarl really comes in: totally outpacing the characters means that you’re just better than they are. They rely on tricks – big guns, health-projectors, disguises and tools – you’re just physically faster than everyone else. Hell, a good scout can get across Two Forts before an engineer can even get set up in the basement: and how’s that for natural talent?

Then there’s the fact that the scout can rely on the flexibility of videogaming to bend the laws of physics. I mean sure, the double jump does kind of make sense within the suspended reality of a game world but still: what other character is able to make such an unlikely move? It’s almost (but not quite) inconsistent with the solidity and predictability of the rest of TF2′s world. Used correctly, it’s a touch of genius.

All of which acrobatic antics mean that the scout is only really satisfying up close. I mean you can hang back and get pistol shots in, especially against short-ranged foe (I’ve killed a couple of rather optimistic demomen like that), but what matters is the close encounter. Really, if you’re going to do it properly as a scout, you’ll need to beat down your enemy with a bat.

I guess that’s just another aspect of the scout’s lack of personality: that the most irritating, humiliating death (ooh, recollections of Quake III’s “HUMILIATION!” for hand-to-hand kills) is what he’s best at. Zooming behind a heavy to batter down the medic, or flooring a sniper as he’s taking aim, or simply getting past a sentry, and smashing it up: this is what the scout is good for.

Ultimately, you don’t need to impress with a booming personality or phallic hand-cannon, because as the scout you’re going to be the one doing the winning. You’ll be capping, evading, killing, and intelligence-grabbing better than anyone else.

Just, well, just watch out for those bastard turrets.

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28 Comments »

  1. Dan says:

    Hear, hear! I can’t say I’ve been getting on too well with TF2 until this morning when I had a great session as the scout. Simply bouncing around, gunning down the more static classes and spewing quotes at every opportunity gave me a great sense of satisfaction.

  2. Monkfish says:

    A single scout is fun, but consider an entire army of scouts…

    I was playing at the weekend, and the map had just changed to TC_Hydro, when a voice belched forth from my speakers, “Right then lads. Get your scouts out. Let’s scout rush ‘em – they won’t know what hit ‘em.”.

    The voice was calm and authoritative and you just knew that there was more than a little experience behind it. So we all complied.

    Nothing quite prepares you for the sight and sound of 10 scouts spawning at the same time. All chirping, “Woo!” and “Play ball!” as we set off for the first capture point. And like the voice said, they didn’t know what hit them. Scouts were scurrying everywhere like ants, except we were ants with shotguns. We took the first couple of capture points very quickly, and with Mr. Voice piping up between captures to give us further encouragement, we were unstoppable. For a little while, at least.

    Of course, once the opposition had wised up to our “tactic” and organised their defences, we had to diversify but the earlier scout rush had planted a grin on my face so large, it kinda resembled the Heavy’s.

    And that’s how I got my “Relentless Offense” acheivement.

  3. Richard says:

    We did the scout thing yesterday, although it was a joke. The other team was absolutely incompetent – not using turrets for defence, using Spies as physical defenders and the line – and kept whining about our line-up of Good Players.

    So for one attack round on Dustbowl, we all went Scout, just to take the piss. We swarmed right out of the dug-out, right past their heavies and absent turrets, and took the map in under a minute. The voice-comm was just ten or so people laughing hysterically, especially as the other team started scrolling “WTF?!”, “OMG!” and similar into text-chat.

  4. Theory says:

    Scout spam is indeed devastatingly effective. Make the most of it before it’s fixed! ;-)

  5. Anti-Bunny says:

    I hope Valve does a ‘Meet the Scout’ video. I picture him leaning against a riced-up honda civic and spewing a non-stop tirade of trash talk.

  6. Cargo Cult says:

    The scout’s air of insufferable smugness is what makes him so nice to kill – I’m usually grinning from ear to ear when my sentry takes down another of the little bastards, or if I manage to toast one as a pyro…

    Speaking of videos and pyros, that’s the one I’m most looking forward to. Hearing his (?) muffled opinions on life, the universe and everything – and perhaps learning the truth about the handbag?

  7. Homunculus says:

    Not so tough now are ya, are ya?.

    I despise the mouthy scout, and his non-scattering scatter gun, mainly because he’s so good at squishing Medics right from under an inattentive Heavy, and can drop a Pyro in the time it takes to realise that you need to switch to the shotgun because he keeps dancing just out of the flamethrower’s effective reach and OH GOD I WAS TRYING TO SWITCH TO IT BUT NOW I’M DEAD. AGAIN. This is compounded by the guys that are pretty blimmin’ good at the faster paced FPSes that tend to choose them, and some maps (I’m looking at you, Granary) that just seem tailored for a scout rush; a recipe for humiliating domination for us less good types.

    That all said* it is immensely satisfying to catch them in close quarters and flambé the bastards.

    Think the truth about the Pyro’s choice of fabulous accessory is that he’s, wait for it, flaming.

    *yeah, whinged, I know.

  8. Homunculus says:

    Addendum: Although a Metroid-style reveal at the end of the “Meet the Pyro” video, but less Samus Aran and more Roseanne Barr would be awesome.

  9. schizoslayer says:

    I have just relised that none of the TF2 classes are female. Also given my tendancy to play females in online games and my natural love for the Pyro this must make it FACT!

  10. Kieron Gillen says:

    Homunculus: You may be RPS’ first certified genius.

    KG

  11. Stick says:

    Wait, wait – bash the sentry? I’ve got try that. But. Not. Now. Oh, damn it all…

  12. miser slim says:

    I’ve always seen the scout as the skinny redneck sort. The way he runs and holds his gun is just dead on.

  13. Arathain says:

    I love the melee weapons in the game. The Scout makes pretty devastating use of his bat, but one of my favourite kills so far is coming up behind an unsuspecting Heavy with a bone saw.

  14. MPK says:

    The more I play the more I’m attracted to the Scout. He just about perfectly fits my own Leroy-sensibilities, and has the added bonus of looking like a ned/chav/wossname, so also fits my sado-masochistic side.

  15. Bobsy says:

    Dear Valve,

    Must implement: using the baseball bat* to knock back a demoman’s grenades, preferably in their faces.

    Thanks,

    Bobsy xxx

    *actually, it’s a little small to be that. Wiffle bat or something, surely? Or is the truth of the Scout that he was so rubbish at baseball they put him on the other field to play rounders with the girls?

  16. Thelps says:

    The scout resembles a mail boy or a cycle courier to me, especially with the shin-length trousery-shorts things. Had a complete nutter of a friend who worked as a cycle courier. He carried a spray can of paint stripper, and he’d spray his name or any quick four letter blessing on the side of cars that cut him up on the roads. I see the scout’s baseball bat as the equivalent. Sure, your opponent might weigh many times as much as you, have weaponry that fires faster, louder and harder, and generally gets more fear/attention from the enemy when the bullets are flying, but, like a cycle courier, you’re the quick nimble little bastard with balls of riveted steel that dashes between two of these monsters and makes it to his destination in half the time. Not to mention if they challenge your right of way you can make a total ass out of them by dancing circles around them wielding your aluminium bat of shameful chastisement.

  17. Gozer says:

    The scout aint a New Yorker, but he does remind me alot of New Jersey types, with his attitude. Once when I was in a particularly bad team that had gotten owned three matches straight I heard a scout say at the beginning of yet another bad match: “. . . no seriously, you guys SUCK.” Absolute hilarity, his context sensitive voice chat is a crack-up. Once, I ran up behind a Heavy and beat his head in- “how’d you like that, fatty?”, right after that I ran around and bashed in three more heads, and I heard my scout laughing hysterically like a Heavy on a killing spree. He’s a crackpipe psycho if ya go on a batting rampage.

  18. Pentadact says:

    He also says “This sucks on ice.”

  19. GB says:

    Oooh, Scout, Scout, what was it about scouts I liked again?

    Oh, right.

    They make fine Skeet.

  20. riddick says:

    Scouts i dont got yeh tfc2 but ya gotta kno i hear lots of him in videos “Say goodbye to ya ???kneecaps??? chucklehead” “Ya a friggen badmagnet

    • dragon_hunter21 says:

      I know I’m horrendously late on this, but if the scout were to go on the internet, this is how I imagine he’d communicate.

  21. itsallcrap says:

    I only play as the scout when I know that capturing a point / the intel is possible without encountering too much resistance.

    Normally, they’re just kind of like mosquitos.

  22. sana says:

    Now he isn’t as soulless anymore, is he? Annoying little bugger.

  23. RGNDR says:

    Im pro with scout with the force-a-nature! just try to pwn me! username redgander!

  24. r000t says:

    I could have just shrugged this off and gone about my day, but I feel I need to say something.

    The Scout’s “thug” personality is the very reason his fans adore him. He’s quick witted and is always ready to add insult to injury after a domination.

    He very much has a personality. It’s cool if you don’t like it, but don’t go saying he doesn’t have one. He’s standoffish and self-centered. That’s very much a personality. You want to talk about not having a personality, go rip on the Pyro. I haven’t read that part yet, but I’m sure “OMG (S)HE’S SO MYSTERIOUS THAT’S WHY WE LOVE HIM/HER” appears a few times.

    He’s satisfied with himself for a reason, because he’s just that fucking awesome. He doesn’t need to validate himself with the backstories the other classes have.

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