Go Team! Part One: The Heavy

Greetings, people who should be playing Team Fortress 2 but are for some reason reading websites instead. Below is the first instalment in a nine-part series of semi-reviews in which we critique (or at least babble enthusiastically about) the various classes of TF2. Don’t worry, they won’t all be by me – other members of RPS will be along to say something far cleverer than I very soon.

Currently, we’re arguing amongst ourselves about who gets to write-up what, but I managed to sneak my stand-out favourite out of the pack while the others were distracted by all the hair-pulling and face-scratching. I’m still pretty much stricken with the sheer joy of playing him, so the following is perhaps not the most objective discussion of him. Still, that’s love for you. Rearrange the words ‘more’ and ‘read’ into the correct order to continue.

I am Heavy Weapons Guy. And I’m in a bit of a bind. You see, there’s already no way I’m ever going to want to play as any other class. When I glance at the list of players on my side from now on, I worry I’m going to have the same sort of mentality I do if I pass a clipboard-wielding guy wearing a charity bib and a hopeful expression when I’m in a hurry. I have total sympathy, but I won’t break my stride because I’ve got other business.* Same when I look at my team’s Class roster. Boy, these guys could really use a Medic. Someone should probably be Scout if we want to successfully grab the enemy briefcase.

I’m not going to be the Medic. I’m not going to be the Scout. I’m going to be Heavy Weapons Guy. I don’t have time to stop and help other people, because I’m in something of a hurry. A hurry to kill.

The self-gratification of this is all the more shameful because the mega-murders I clock up with the Heavy and his stupidly big gun usually depend almost entirely on the Medic behind me. Even before the good doctor gets a full charge on and turns me invulnerable for a few seconds [an ability actually best spent on a frailer put pure-damage Class like the Pyro], my Heavy’s mountain of hitpoints is replenished faster than one or two enemies can whittle them away. Sheer bliss. Medic’s a bum rap in a great many games, but it’s much worse in TF2 because it’s so horribly apparent just how much fun the Heavy they’re pouring magic healing juice over is having. It’s like being the guy who presses the start and stop buttons on a roller-coaster.

But I don’t care how miserable my caddy is. When I’m a Heavy with a Medic at my back, I’m living the perfect wish-dream of First-Person Shooters. I’ve got the biggest gun in the game, and I’m essentially in god mode. Nothing’s gonna stop us now. It’s monstrous selfishness I know, but altruism be damned. Mercifully,the Heavy will often automatically bellow thanks to his surgeon in comically broken English, so I don’t even need to think about making an effort to express gratitude.

The Heavy’s significantly slower movement speed, exacerbated hugely when the gun’s firing, is, practically speaking, a bit of a drawback, but it suits the nature of the character entirely. Moving forward at a ponderous, stone-footed plod, it is a fearsomely purposeful gait that states I AM BECOME DEATH. Interestingly, the gun isn’t actually that powerful – it takes a good few seconds to mow down even a frail class like the Scout. It’s a helluva deterrent though, and its speed and fire cone means it’s impossible to approach the Heavy head-on without his attacker losing most of their health.

The obvious response for anyone running into a Heavy-Medic combo is “shoot the doc, fathead.” It’s not that simple. 20 stone of cackling, chaingun-toting Slavic madman isn’t something you can’t easily ignore. He’s such an intimidating sight that self-preservation instinct kicks in hard and you have to gun for him, whatever the logical part of your brain is screaming at you. His glacial gait is a further psychological trick here – he’s moving slowly, therefore he can be picked off easily, right? Not true. Shoot the doc, fathead.

Okay, fine, I’ll admit it. I’m a 5’7, 10 stone weakling. Of course I’m going to play as the guy built like a tower of brick shithouses. I find every class less satisfying because they feel so frail by comparison – and because they feel so much like familiar videogame characters. The Heavy has a distinctive profile and a satisfyingly odd feel that’s a lot more uncommon in games, so I enjoy the novelty as much as the empowerment.

Of course, much of my celebration of the Heavy can also be a criticism. Paired with a Medic, it can seem like TF2’s balance is entirely skewed in their favour. I don’t think it is. Once the game’s bedded in, Shoot-The-Medic will be second nature, and the force won’t seem anywhere near as unstoppable as it does in these early hours of Team Fortress 2. It’s going to throw up some interesting teamplay strategies too. Treat the Heavy as a fixed gun emplacement, with the Medic out of sight around a corner. As well as forming a monstrously effective defensive setup, this would also reduce Heavy-envy, from hereon in to be known as Heanvy. If the Heavy’s a more stationary object and not this steamroller of forward progress, he won’t look quite as cool and the Medics shouldn’t feel so left out. He is, after all, grouped into the Defensive rather than Offensive classes, so I suspect that over time we’ll see him out on the frontlines less and less.

And now the moaning, or at least as much of it as I’m going to do about a videogame character I’m basically in love with. There’s a fair bit of debate in server-chat at the moment as to whether the Sniper can one-shot the Heavy or not. Well, I’ve suffered it enough to know it’s entirely possible when the Sniper’s at full charge-up, and frankly I don’t think it should be. It does take a while for The Heavy to get around, so to have to re-tread half a level because a single bullet took the big guy out seems a little unfair. Even if he spots the Sniper, he’s too slow to get out of the way, and his gun is too short-range to do them any damage, so he’s even more crippled against one than the other classes are.

I don’t want him to be the Hulk, but I think the nature of the class and the character is that it takes, or should take, a co-ordinated effort by a couple of opponents to take him down. By all means drop him with a Sniper headshot when he’s at 75% health, but just look at the size of the guy – if he’s at maximum, he really should be shrugging it off as just a fleshwound. I’m quite sure every Sniper will disagree with me here, but the Heavy is the one class I’m saying this should be the case for.

I save my final celebration for the Heavy’s right-click function. It spins up his gun, slowing down his movement further but meaning the ubercannon won’t take a couple of seconds before it lets loose the steel-jacketed dogs of war, as it would if I simply pressed fire. This works both tactically – approach a corner and spin-up before you go around it, just in case there’s a lurking foe – and thematically. It’s like cocking the hammer of a pistol – it just screams business. If you’re being followed by your pet Medic, performing this short floorshow makes you look absolutely in control of the situation. As an added benefit, it reminds me of the similarly impractical minigun in my all-time favourite FPS, Aliens Versus Predator.

I am Heavy Weapons Guy. Forever.

* Trite but necessary self-defence: I am not a heartless monster. Got a bunch of standing orders to a few good causes set up, some of my best friends are charities, etc.


  1. Grill says:

    You’re 5′ 7″ and ten stone? You must be all bone!

    My PC’s not up and running again yet and Lombardi just mailed me a press account. AAAAAAAAAAA. Iwannaspysomuchrightnow!

  2. Richard says:

    Jonty’s got our spy-bastardism covered. Big-time.

    HWG is great – up close, he kills like no other class. Although you see people sitting on the other side of 2Forts just pissing ammo away. Until you snipe them in the face and laugh.

  3. The Sombrero Kid says:

    :( I want to play TF2!

  4. Homunculus says:

    Heh. I’ve been playing as nothing but the medic, bar some time in the developer’s commentaries maps. I love that the various characters automatically bark their various expressions of gratitude after you’ve stuck with them for a while. The only other game I’ve encountered with a similar role that was half as fulfilling was Planetside, where you could bring big, bad, sadly crumpled MAX units back to life, repair them and reap a share of their subsequent kills tallies and incumbent experience for your pains.

    Is that AvP multiplayer still on for some indeterminate point?

    5’6″, 135 pounds, for the record (but I can deadlift more than twice that hohoho)

  5. dartt says:

    I’ve been playing loads of medic too. Having a pet HWG is a lot of fun, walking him around on his magic leash.

  6. Seniath says:

    I played mostly as a Pyro today, and while I didn’t rack up many points, I caused a hell of a lot of chaos. Especially, as you say, when I got the uber heal thingy. Pure, utter carnage :D

  7. John P says:

    All about the medic for me too. I’ve also been enjoying the Medic/Technician in ET:QW. AND I had a priest in WoW back in the day. I care for the community.

  8. faceometer says:

    i’m still razzing around a bit. the engineer is what i’m most comfortable as but i had the most fun as a spy… some amazing moments there, the sort of stuff games are made for.


  9. Andrew Farrell says:

    Sni.Per. Particularly for the fucking fantastic acknowledgements when you get into a sniping war. “XXX is dominating YYY” “YYY has had REVENGE”

  10. Dan says:

    Soldier all the way!

    I haven’t quite mastered my rocket jumping yet but you can’t beat the killing power and flexibility of the soldier in an ever changing game like TF2. Perfect on the offence stealing checkpoints and spamming rockets into approaching packs of enemies. Still handy in the base though as nothing, bar the heavy weapons guy’s stream of lead, stops people rushing round the corner faster than an avalanche of explosives.

  11. Paul S says:

    Spy, bay-bee. You look mean. You sound mean. You are mean.

    I love Spy. Although with friendly fire turned off, it becomes ridiculously difficult, with everyone shooting their teammates in the face just to make sure, especially when you’ve been running amok for about ten minutes. This is a pain.

  12. Man Raised By Puffins says:

    Another medic here. I find the biggest threat to the HWG/medic combo is a spy knifing your charge from under you, although luckily most of them stick out like a sore thumb at the moment.

  13. Kieron Gillen says:

    Jim and I were just talking about the ethics of server friendlyfire/no-friendlyfire actually.


  14. Carey says:

    Gotta be FF on shirly? I’m SO getting in on this RPS TF2 server action, do you guys use in game VOIP? I have a Teamspeak server RPS is welcome to use as a alway-on chat and games lobby if you like?

    FF on defo, though i spose it depends if the RPS server is open to the public. Is it RPS readers only or do you get idiots dropping in?

  15. Jim Rossignol says:

    Scout and Demoman are my favourites so far – I think that’s the Quake player in me coming out.

  16. John P says:

    Yeah but with FF on playing a pyro becomes twice as difficult ;)! My “stand in the middle of a crowd and whirl around like a dervish spewing fire” tactic would become much more alienating.

  17. Alec Meer says:

    I think FF suits the game thematically as well. It’s this ridiculous cartoon thing, not ArmA, so doing things that absolutely defy reality feels only right.
    Also, no RPS server yet, sadly. We’re piggybacking our kissin’ cousins’ PC Gamer’s at the moment.

  18. MPK says:

    I’m liking both the Medic and the Pyro. The Medic makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside when I heal folk up, and the Pyro helps other people feel warm and fuzzy inside (and out!).

    Two sides of the same coin.

  19. Feet says:

    Sniper for me so far. It’s the first game I’ve ever been good at it seemingly and where I get the most kills.

    Engineer is great fun too, reminds me much more of being an Engi in W:ET and that can only be a good thing to my mind.

    If those roles are already taken up however, and there are spare Medics with no Heavy, or Heavies with no Medic then I will take up one of those two roles.

    It’s a testament to how well thought out and balanced the classes are really (nevermind their character). I can’t see how you could write so much and love so much the classes in QW: ET as much as you can in TF2 and W:ET before it.

  20. Jon says:

    I’ve played as Spy more than any other class so far but I’m starting to find his limitations, much like the other Spy players mentioned with everyone shooting each other in the face.

    Pyro is fun, although I wish he either had longer range or more armour or was faster, just something as he seems the weakest class.

    Engineer is fun, especially when there’s 3 or more of you and you all build sentries with covering fields of fire to form MEGA KILL ZONEtm.

    I initially thought the Sniper would be rubbish as the sniping spots are so obvious, and yet he seems to be over taking Spy as my favourite mostly due to the fun of Sniper Wars breaking out where it becomes a game of cat and mouse.

    In my mind I’m starting to form a “X beats Y” list in my head…

  21. Kieron Gillen says:

    Alec: You mean no-FF, not FF, yeah?


  22. Paul S says:

    Alec: But no-FF (if that’s what you mean) makes it even harder to Spy. The best spy in the world is easily uncovered by paranoid engineers shooting everything that moves. This must be stamped out!

  23. Feet says:

    FF is referred to as On or Off. FF off (as it currently is) does cause problems for Spies staying disguised. Having said that, I think they would be too powerful if there is no way to determine if someone is a spy until they unmask themselves, you guess right or spot that there are two of one player anme on your team all of a sudden. This is especially true on publics.

    In organized clans it’s not so bad as you can work out that a certain player is a Heavy class and shouldn’t be in the sewers on 2fort and so therefore they are an enemy Spy.

    In W:ET you could join a fireteam which would put an icon over genuine team members heads. The disguised spy however would look like your team with no icon on his head. A bit ungraceful, but it worked, but again not on publics.

  24. John P says:

    the fireteam thing is in ETWQ as well, and I love it. Means I can chat to the people I actually know using the in game chat rather than having to shift-tab out to steam, or talk over the public team channel. Hurrah.

  25. Kieron Gillen says:

    FF on is primarily for clan play, I always think. Spys would have it doubly hard.


  26. Pentadact says:

    Weirdly I had just the same thing with the Sniper – I’m usually a rubbish one, and don’t much enjoy it, and TF2 just reversed both. I was sometimes topping the scoreboard against Valve guys with the Sniper.

    Since launch, though, it’s been all-Spy, all the time. I feel the same guilt, Alec, when my team so obviously needs an Engineer of my unique talents, or an unstoppable Demoman as I would so clearly be. But… Spy! He’s got the stabby-stabby!

    Friendly Fire would be absolutely absurd, by the way. The game’s not designed for it, and the Spy nigh dominates even without. If you turned it on, he’d be an utter nightmare. I like stabbing people, but not when it’s easy.

  27. Feet says:

    Perhaps they could give certain classes (like Engineers) Spy vision which blurs everything else out but the white outline of spies. You can’t leave it on all the time since it leave you blind to all other classes, but it allows you to pro-actively reveal spies. Something like that anyway, then maybe you could turn FF on. Still wouldn’t help the pyro class though. TKs a-go-go.

  28. Alec Meer says:

    Whoops, yes, I meant FF off. As everyone correctly guessed anyway. You all, er, passed my test.

  29. Rock, Paper, Shotgun - the PC gaming site says:

    […] our class-by-class ranting about Team Fortress 2. See here, here and here for the story so […]

  30. Yargh says:

    A Heavy isn’t just a killing machine with a Herr Doktor at his side. On defense rounds try pairing him up with a dispenser behind him at a choke point for total carnage and infinite ammo. No more holding back for fear of running out here, so getting that maniacal grin on his face becomes really easy.

  31. Rock, Paper, Shotgun » Blog Archive » Go Team! says:

    […] 1: The Heavy Part 2: The Medic. Part 3: The Demoman. Part 4: The Pyro. Part 5: The Sniper. Part 6: The Engineer. […]

  32. Kadayi says:

    “On defense rounds try pairing him up with a dispenser behind him at a choke point for total carnage and infinite ammo”

    Amen brother.

  33. Jesse says:

    How about a comment on the article:

    I know that I should fire at the medic, but instinct does kick in and cause me to shoot at the heavy first. At least 1 shot will go the direction of the heavy before my logic kicks in. The paragraph describing this is totally true. Good job.

  34. Jason says:

    Dont scouts and other spies have the ability to uncover spies of the opposite team?

  35. Man Raised By Puffins says:

    Nope, but shooting a suspected Spy usually does the trick.

    In other news, ‘Meet the Heavy’ has been redone in Russian (although the Heavy’s voice is a little off):
    link to steampowered.com

  36. Spacegirl says:

    I’m Mainly play Soldier, but do Mix it up some. I agree with an above poster on the Flexibility of the Soldier. With the Rocket, Shotgun and the 2nd most health in the game, you are basically ready for anything. I shoot rockets everywhere at all times. Before I go through most doors / around corners, I’ll throw rockets all over an area as soon as i enter it. It’s an indiscriminate rocket holocaust. An I.D.H. Why have it any other way?

    Space, out!

  37. Garth says:

    Just thought I’d weigh-in here on the FF on/off theories.

    Spies are already tough to spot (putting 5 shotgun rounds into them and having them not die means ‘not an enemy’ to me, and I am often wrong), and even harder to spot. With their Sap ability, they can quickly annihilate a defensive setup with wisp-away just as fast.

    I think Spies and Scouts should reveal opposing spies, as now, you HAVE to shoot them. How else would you discover them, shy of dying to them?


    PS. I played a Pyro in QTF, and I insist on doing so now. The fact that they are the weakest class just pushes me to do so even more.

  38. NiceMissMayonnaise says:

    I’m learning that the Heavy, while fun to play straight off, can be even more fun and destructive if played really skilfully…

    Having done the rounds and played most classes for a bit, learning some skills then applying them elsewhere can be invaluable. For example, playing as a Spy, then learning how a Spy thinks and using that to spot them. For the Heavy, play for a few days as a Pyro. If you play a Heavy like a Pyro you can dish out some serious PAIN!

    The key to Heavy is all about learning when NOT to fire. That extra boost of movement suddenly regained from stopping your minigun can get you out of all sorts of situations most people don’t expect a Heavy to avoid, letting you hide, heal up, and burst out again with another hail of death-bullets.

    For example, classic Heavy play is to wade out in the face of an enemy assault, gun blazing, medic at your back until you or they are dead. In the same situation, the Pyro will wait at the corner for the attackers to come past, and toast them at point-blank as they do.

    Combine the two, and have the Heavy boosted up to full medic-limit health lurking at a critical corner, barrels spinning. Then, as the front assault (usually another Heavy with a medic behind him) comes into view, firing wildly at people ahead of him, flatten the unsuspecting duo with a melee-range fusillade, then advance past them into the (sometimes 6 or 7) enemy troops following to back them up, perhaps dropping the medic ubercharge as you do, and you’ve wiped out their entire assault instantly and soared to the top of the scoreboard!

  39. NiceMissMayonnaise says:

    Friendly Fire off is definitely for clan play – random people will just set you on fire the whole time, the Pyro, Soldier and Demoman do way to much area damage for uncoordinated teamkilling avoidance and it hugely increases the difficulty of spy-hunting.

    But it can be fun! I’ve played on a few FF servers and had a great time. Particularly memorable was coming round a corner as a medic, Syringegun ready, and finding two players with the same name, one a Demoman on the control point, the other a Sniper heading for the frontlines. After a moment’s thought, I reasoned that the Sniper was behaving shiftily, running forward instead of hanging back to snipe, while the Demoman was doing his point-guarding job, and unloaded a pharmacy’s worth of bad medicine into the Sniper’s back. Die spy!

    TEAMKILL! Errr, woops. It’ll, uh, be the Demoman then. Pockapockapocka – Die spy! There we go. Sorry about that Mr Sniper.

    He respawns and promptly shoots me in the face, despite my apology, but hey, it was fun!

  40. Heavy Thinking: Robin Walker on next TF2 Pack | Rock, Paper, Shotgun says:

    […] don’t get enough canine mail. Robin Walker has confirmed the next pack for TF2 will deal with Alec’s favourite, the Heavy. He also talks about the design issues they’re weighing up, which is a fascinating […]

  41. Not Being A Spy, by Pentadact, who is secretly Tom Francis says:

    […] people seem to really enjoy playing Team Fortress 2 as a Heavy, or a Medic. Me, I just like not being a Spy. Pretty much anyone but the Spy. It’s nothing […]