Heavy Thinking: Robin Walker on next TF2 Pack

A heavy, yesterday (trad)

Everyone and his dog mailed us about this – and we thank everyone, and especially dogs, as we 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 look at the thought-patterns of a heavy-weight design-group and worth considering while we’re heavy-waiting. Also, clearly, since he’s laid out what they want to achieve – make the Heavy more viable sans Medic without making him more monstrous when he is with one – we brainstormed what we’d do.

Kieron: Heavy’s actually one of my least played classes, so Alec’s experience is going to lead to him have better stuff. But when he was chatting he mentioned something anti-sniper… well, while the Sniper is the counter, I think you can make the relationship less pure Russian Brains On Floor/Sniper Laughs. Inspired by the Pyro getting the anti-Soldier move, something that allowed you to sacrifice offensive power to protect you from snipers may be interesting. If the RMB wasn’t already spinning up Sasha, I’d select something which hid behind the enormous gun.

Alternatively… how about swapping the Shotgun for a Riotshield. When you’re using it, you only move slowly – as if you’re firing the main gun – but you’re pretty much invulnerable from anyone shooting at you from the front. Clearly, you can’t return fire, but it’s a kind of moveable bulkhead. A sniper with people attacking from the flanks will counter it, but a sole sniper wouldn’t dominate in the same way. And there would be interesting dynamics with people taking cover behind you and moving in and out to take snap-shots,etc. But mainly I’d add a pose where he attempts to Fellate his minigun, because I’m wired badly like that.

Alec: Ammo’s the obvious weakness to cover, as those 200 bullets sure run out fast. There’s a lot of interesting ways they could do it. Simply bumping him up to 400 rounds and ditching crits is perhaps the most obvious route, though it’s not an especially fun one.

Perhaps he could have a slow trickle of automatic ammo recharge whenever he wasn’t firing, or better yet be followed around by a cute robo-ammo cart of his own – making good use of those “push little cart” soundbytes, y’know? Possible trade-offs could be a smaller targeting reticule, which would deal with some of the Heavy-is-for-noobs complaints, an even slower run speed (i.e. further emphasise that really he’s a human turrent) or that he’s left with, say, only 100 bullets if his cart gets killed.

Another alternative entirely is to decrease the spin-up time or remove the movement slow-down when he’s firing, but actually reduce his max ammo count to compensate for the increased speed/mobility – he’d be a bit more viable as a lone ranger that way.

The Heavy’s other great flaw is snipers, the dirty, camping little bastards. So some sort of headshot resistance makes a ton of sense – and if that’s what Valve are planning I hope and pray it involves a hat. There is nothing funnier than a hat. What about a Fez that renders headshots non-fatal, or an ushanka that adds 50 health? God, I’d love that. Again, slower movement could be the trade-off, giving snipers a chance to go for a second headshot before fatty’s out of range.

Another idea – have the bullet actually bounce off the Heavy’s thick skull at a random angle, even with a chance to hit the Sniper himself. Sweet, sweet justice.

John: Despite playing as the Heavy comparatively little, I still have my highest scores with him. I’ve no idea what that means. My suggestion would be for a Brick Shithouse mode, where he can enter a temporary state where he cannot fire, but can absorb massive amounts of damage. Human shielding with the lumbering man would be lots of fun.

Jim: The heavy should learn appropriate English enunciation.

Anyone else have any better ideas? I suspect we can safely assume in advance the answer is “Yes”.


  1. Noc says:

    Puns! We need to start thinking up puns. Forget all this mumbo-jumbo about the “design process,” the Heavy’s more likely to end up with a shield if it’s a diamond-shaped medieval thing called the Gesundkite.

  2. RC-1290'Dreadnought' says:

    I like the idea of a human shield. Maybe an ability to pick up enemy scouts and use them as human shields. With his hands full, he obviously can’t fire.

  3. Nick says:

    In a similar vein, replacing the punchy fists with a dead scout to swing would be the best thing ever.

  4. Richard says:


    And rocket punching!

    On Rollerskates!

  5. indirectx says:

    I want to see the heavy in a girdle. They can call it ‘The Gut-sucker’ and it (magnetically?) draws bullets towards his stomach. The heavy would be given a health boost and team members could be provided with protection when close by.
    Also, snipers’ headshots would be sucked downwards too (but they could still aim above the heavy to compensate!)

  6. sana says:

    I like the idea of a human shield. Maybe an ability to pick up enemy scouts and use them as human shields. With his hands full, he obviously can’t fire.
    Scouts won’t be an effective shield since they’re about half as big as the Heavy, don’t you think?

  7. Andy says:

    Give him a shield as alternative primary weapon and X2 cap speed like the scout when it is equipped. The shield can be used to bludgeon for low damage knockback attack. Turn him into a slow moving, base capping tank.

  8. mpk says:

    I like the idea of a human shield. Maybe an ability to pick up enemy scouts and use them as human shields. With his hands full, he obviously can’t fire.

    Eat scout for gief health!

  9. gulag says:

    Really like the shield ideas, because oddly enough they don’t transform him into a defensive class. An organised shieldwall of 2-3 Heavies pushing ahead of the cart on Goldrush would be a sight to behold!

  10. Kieron Gillen says:

    Gulag: Yeah, exactly. That’s precisely the image I was thinking of. It’s about breaching defenses.


  11. gulag says:

    Maybe one of the tradeoffs for a shield/protection from damage is to foresake Medic healing? Also, what does the Shield replace? Fists or Shotgun?

  12. John Walker says:

    Oddly enough I was thinking of the Goldrush map when suggesting the Shithouse mode.

  13. Richard says:

    Put spikes on the business end and turn it into a deadly ramming weapon for making enemies retreat. With suitable wind-up and cool-down times to stop it being a replacement melee weapon, of course.

  14. Malagate says:

    I like to imagine the Heavy with some kind of cannon instead of a mini-gun, you know the kind that fires cannon balls. Slow rate of fire, less ammo, but strong with the ability to knock-back and maybe only crits against buildings or some such thing.

    Also for a melee weapon, the obvious choice would be knuckle-dusters with suitable names.

  15. surprise says:

    I know they are different games, but think about the shields in Counterstrike…
    They didn’t work out, they are not really fun to play against and so on.
    No shields please

  16. Lorc says:

    An autocannon with a slightly slower rate of fire, but a much tighter shot spread would be interesting. You’d be giving up short-range accuracy and killosity for skill-dependent medium-to-long range performance. You might even stand a chance against a sniper if his first shot isn’t true.

    Or a snub nosed minigun that can’t hit for beans past my nose, but doesn’t need to spin-up so I can be agressive. Or a hand-held auto-loading artillery gun just to play the same old role in a different way. Or or or….

    The fists alt should be boxing gloves; the heavy would hop forward a short distance when he jabs to help him actually catch someone in melee, but be immobile for a half second or so afterward so that it can’t be abused to increase average travel speed.

    I’m especially curious as to what they can do with the shotgun that will make any heavy care about it. Since we’re unlikely to see any alt weapons that require new character animations, the possibilities are somewhat narrow. Solid slugs that cause knockback perhaps? But again, that wouldn’t be much more than a novelty.

    In conclusion – Valve probably knows best.

  17. Mr Pink says:

    Yes, yes, yes! I want a cannon!

    I don’t think it needs a pun name, just call it Alexandra or something.

  18. Wholly Schmidt says:

    Scouts won’t be an effective shield since they’re about half as big as the Heavy, don’t you think?

    Scouts as hats. Win-win.

  19. Kieron Gillen says:

    I admit, after Miniguns, cannons are the best of all the guns.


  20. John Walker says:

    Methinks someone is forgetting shark guns.

  21. roBurky says:

    The problem with a solo heavy is that once he commits himself to a fight, he is almost certain to die. Retreating without a medic to heal you is very very difficult.

    That’s what a new heavy ability/weapon ought to solve.

  22. Wholly Schmidt says:

    Oooh, maybe he could just drop his gun (or guns?) and run. A girly panicked running animation would be awesome. Make him go back to the resupply closet to get a new one. On the other hand, what’s the point? The only difference between that and dying is your pride. Man, thinking is hard.

  23. The Sombrero Kid says:

    i agree counterstrike has tarnised the shield idea in the minds of a thousand gamers and valve would be brave to go there i think, more likely they’ll give him a bike helmet of something to ward off head shots.

    they’ll probably give him an optional twist on the minigun too like more accurate but no crits or something

  24. Stella says:

    The shield, while defensive in nature, really increases the Heavy’s offensive power by allowing him to push past the enemies front lines and cap control points. A solid shotgun replacement.

    Since the Heavy is supposed to be a defensive class I think the minigun replacement should help with that. I was thinking maybe a minigun that takes 15%-20% longer to spin up and down, but grants a 100% crit chance as long as the heavy stands still. Maybe require the Heavy to stand still for 5 seconds or so before the 100% crit kicks in so it isn’t too powerful and only really useful for defense.

    Or maybe a kind of rocket mini-gun that spins up/down slower or makes you move slower but has a secondary fire that shoots rockets (or something long-range and accurate) only when the gun is spinning. It would consume ammo just like the pyro’s compression blast.

    As for the fist replacement, I was thinking some kind of brass knuckles that decreases firing rate but increases crit chance. Obviously couldn’t be 100% crit or you could just go around 1-shotting people.

    My personal choice would be to go the other way. Boxing gloves that perhaps can’t crit but have a vastly increased firing rate. Such that you could land 3-4 punch combos in a fairly small amount of time that could kill anything including another heavy.

    Or maybe some kind of fist apparatus that gives health back to the heavy or causes the enemy to drop more ammo/metal when killed.

  25. Kieron Gillen says:

    I’d also point out that ideas aren’t often the problem, but executions. It can take a few tries in games before someone gets something right.

    (It does help that TF2 is a lot more incredible game than CS. There’s solutions that they can use which would never sit in the Quasi-realism of CS)

    I also suspect that Valve prototype a load of stuff to see how it works.


  26. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    Yes, Heavy’s my least played, too, and I’m probably not a good source of input. But as a dedicated happy camper, I can honestly say the idea of an unstoppable Heavywall terrifies me to the very core of my being. Even if they can’t kill anything, they’d stop me from killing things.

    And, honestly, I’d rather see the big guy’s each of his unlocks be restricted to something that either functions as a weapon or could feasibly take the place of one of his weapons. Replacing his gun with a shield would really change the Heavy to something a lot less fun to play, I imagine. If it were a dedicated shield, anyway. If it were something designed to basically make him less “killable” while not firing the big gun, that’d be easy enough to swallow. Even if that means he can take a fully charged headshot or two, that’s fine.

    Spring-loaded boxing gloves, caked in blood and with a “POW!” crudely painted on them, basically putting a coagulated happy-face spin on Pentadact’s knuckleduster idea.

    Trick is, the most interesting ideas are hard to twist around, seeing as Valve doesn’t want the unlocks to make Heavy-Medic pairs any stronger than they already are. While it’s possible to think of an unlock that makes for a strong Heavy that’s not quite an ideal healing/uber target through stats and design decisions, it’s much easier to simply give it a special ability that requires he not be at full health to function (or at least not be healed by a Medic).

    Am also iffy on the idea of an anti-building Heavy. That kind of takes away a lot of the reasons to play a Soldier or a Demo, dunnit?

    An anti-Sniper “flak cannon” that does very little damage but packs a mean knockback and detonation radius would be mean. And being a flak cannon, the rounds wouldn’t need to directly hit anything to detonate–just have to come near enough to a target that isn’t cloaked or disguised.

    Problem is, it’d be natural to offset the lower damage by giving him a Kritz.

    Then again, not like anybody uses Kritz. Give Medics a reason to whip out their unlock for something other than novelty value.

    I kind of like the flak cannon idea. Is good heavy weapon, yes?

    [EDIT: The idea of a Shield replacing the Shotty doesn’t sound too bad. A big honkin’ riot shield. Perhaps with an amusing decal on the front. The decal would sell it, yes. And a flak weapon designed to stop snipers from killing the crud out of a Heavy probably doesn’t need too bad a knockback effect. Just continually tapping them with “OW!” would be enough to keep a Heavy alive. Unless dealing with one of those ace snipers I’m so terrified of.

    … Hmm.]

  27. Lorc says:

    A “berseker” minigun that had a crit chance directly proportional to the amount of damage you currently have would certainly even the field for medic-less heavies. And (obviously) wouldn’t usurp the utility of current medic/heavy pairing.
    Wouldn’t take much of a drawback to balance, since there’d be so much risk involved in taking advantage of it. Perhaps 30-50 less max ammo?

    But then again, Kieron’s right; this is all so much fan-wank without being able to actually try it out in the game to see what plays well and what doesn’t.

  28. Anonymous says:

    I actually like the shield replacement for the shotgun idea [because obviously the last thing we want is for the Heavy to be punching less].

    The way I concieve of it, its advantage is clear: by blocking all damage from the front, the Heavy, oddly enough, becomes a frontline defensive wall, protecting his teammates and blocking bottlenecks through his sheer size. If he gets the Scout’s x2 ability for caps and the cart, he has even more reason to be up front. He can face Sentries and distract them for his teammates, and with a Medic on him, he can laugh at what little splash and side damage happens to hit him.

    The disadvantage is also quite clear: His back is completely open, he may as well have a Kick Me back there. He also has no offense tactics with the shield; if a Pyro, or heck, even a Scout with his bat charges the Heavy, he has to make himself vulnerable again by switching to his Minigun [which takes time to fire] or his fists [which don’t hit out of short-range]. The shield also requires to know and be facing the locations of the enemy team. If the shield slows him down as well, then that would be a perfect trade for the mild encroachment on the Scout’s goal-oriented abilities.

    Of course, with the shield it is still a good idea for a Medic to stay on the Heavy, and the shield also offers no protection against Spies, his other worst enemy. In that case, I suggest a Minigun alternative that simultaneously protects him against Spies while making it less attractive for a Medic to pair with him.

    Then, of the four possible combinations of Minigun and Shotgun alternatives, two remain an attractive choice for a Medic, and two do not. I think it would work out great.

  29. Alec Meer says:

    I’ll admit that I’m really bloody distressed about the Heavy being next for unlocks. I’d presumed he’d be one of the last classes they tinkered with. There’s a simplicity to the guy that I really dig, so I’m worried about over-complication. I also wanted to stay free and clear of achievement-hunting, but suspect I’ll be properly dragged in this time.

  30. Walsh says:

    Solo heavy > anything at moderate range except for soldier/sniper in my experience.

    Riot shield would be awesome; the reason it didn’t work in CS is because most of the weapons require accuracy while a lot of weapons on TF2 are area effect.

    Another unlock could be “bullet eater”, you could trade ammo for health but it saps ammo from everything including shotgun to lessen the impact on minigun ammo.

  31. Flubb says:

    If you must give the heavy a shield, then at least make it so he *can’t* turn around until a certain cooldown has occured, otherwise 4 heavies will just walk around testudo-like and nobody will get a crack at them unless you can wedge enough demo bombs in them.

    Really dislike the bottleneck idea- as a spy life has already become difficult enough with pyro’s spamming prolifically. My invisiblity barely makes it past the tunnel in goldrush and having heavies clam up the entrances isn’t my idea of balance.

    Give the heavies a mortar.

  32. roBurky says:

    Actually, an invulnerable shield would be far far too powerful against sentries, even if the heavy himself couldn’t attack it. There would be no need for ubers ever again.

  33. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:


    We already have mortars. They’re called Demos.

  34. encloser says:

    The pattern so far has been, Secondary Upgrade, Primary Upgrade, and Melee Upgrade in that order.

    Secondary Upgrade (idea 1): Shotgun & Shield. He’s a big guy he can one hand a shotgun right? The other hand is free to hold a shield then. Lose some accuracy, secondary pulls the shield up maybe blocking the heavy’s view, maybe decreasing movement speed, but prevents headshots and maybe crits and maybe flame resistance.

    Secondary Upgrade (idea 2): Shotgun and Construction hat. Simple, just a hat that prevents headshots when using the shotgun. Nothing else really special about it.

    Primary Upgrade (idea 1): More accurate minigun that loses the ability to crit, at least from the front.

    Primary Upgrade (idea 2): Light-weight machine gun. Less movement penalty, lower spin up time. Less damage or lower rate of fire.

    Melee Upgrade (idea 1): Brass Knuckles, each hit returns ammo. (I can’t think of any way to rationalize this from a reality view point, but I think it would make the heavy more effective on offense since he won’t need to run back to find ammo every as much.)

    Melee Upgrade (idea 2): Brawler, increased movement speed when melee weapons are in use.

  35. Kieron Gillen says:

    Roburky: I do see the concern, I’m not sure I agree – clearly, the heavy couldn’t shoot with the shield, and people behind it are as vulnerable as if they were skirting around any similar invulnerable object, like a wall. Equally, it’d have it directional.

    Yeah, it’s definitely a useful offensive tool, but I’m not sure if it’ll beat everything.


  36. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    If it’s one-directional it’s certainly no match for a Stickyfield. And that’s a good thing, in my opinion.

  37. Kieron Gillen says:

    That’s what I like about the idea – it’s got its uses as a counter, but there’s a clear counter to it already.

    Man, I’m a backseat designer here.


  38. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    All of us are. We’re gamers.

  39. Flubb says:

    Mortar explosions = rocket explosions, !stickybombs

    Give it an AOE with a healthy dose of shrapnel, and a beggar to aim.

  40. Feet says:

    link to pentadact.com

    Scroll down to the Heavy section. His ideas are pretty good I think.

    Tatyana: mini-gun with an electromagnetic coil built around its motor which sucks in weapons from fallen enemies (or friends) any time the barrel is spinning. The added weight leaves the Heavy unable to move at all while firing. He can still move while spinning the barrel.

    Why? Lets the Heavy perpetuate a winning streak by avoiding running dry on ammo, but hinders his rate of advancement so that it’s not easy to exploit this on offense.

    Sonya: very obviously stolen Scout Scattergun to replace the standard shotgun. Obviously in that the Scout’s ripped-off hand and forearm are still danging from the triggerguard.

    I have no good ideas of my own, so I’ll just pimp someone elses.

  41. roBurky says:

    Alec: That’s a good point. The joy of the heavy is spinning your gun and unleashing death wherever you point it. Then laughing like a madman. You can’t do anything that would lessen that.

  42. Alec Meer says:

    While I like the concept, a literal shield just doesn’t seem Heavy-esque, somehow. It’s too cowardly. There’s surely something similar that can be made of the fact he’s already a big old mountain of meat.

  43. roBurky says:

    Kieron: The sentry just shoots the closest enemy. Heavy with shield just has to run towards it, and anyone can shoot the sentry with ease. It’s like how an uber from a medic kills a sentry by getting the medic to run up to it and draw the fire so the guy with the gun can attack it without getting knocked back.

    Except no need to wait for an uber.

  44. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:


    Mortars are indirect fire weapons, in that they’re designed to get over and around obstacles in order to hit the target, preferably from above. Demos already do that, and with their grenade launcher, they can do it indoors, too–an ability a presumable mortar shell would lack. So that’s why I think it’s steppin’ on the (poorly accented) Scotsman’s toes.

    And nobody’s shot down my flak cannon idea yet, so I’m sitting here, humming “Phantom of the Opera” in oblivious self-content.

    roBurky: That’s a good point, actually. Though the Heavy isn’t truly invincible, and he can’t take out the sentry unsupported. If the Engineer had support as well, then the Heavy-shieldecoy idea becomes more risky.

  45. Legandir says:

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

    That pretty much rules out shields imo. If you have a shield your one weakness is damge from the sides or behind you, a medic would take that away and leave the heavy almost invincible

    “It shouldn’t significantly change the Heavy’s role, relative to other classes. In particular, it shouldn’t significantly encroach on another class’s role.”

    That rules out X2 point capping as that takes the scouts main advantage over other classes away.

    tbh I cant see how to make the heavy stronger without affecting the heavy/medic team. It might not mean new weapons, rather an ability that is only available or only useful when the heavy isnt being healed. Maybe he can shot without slowing down as long as he’s not being healed?

    The heavy might get an ability like that as well as the weapons, similar to the pyro’s airblast

  46. MisterBritish says:

    Robin Walker notes that the Heavy’s role souldn’t change significantly, or encroach on another class, so mortar is almost definately a no.

    I’d love to give him a portable dispenser; I’m not sure how you’d balance it or what it would replace, but the image of a heavy carrying a full-size dispenser, ‘boom-box’ style or just having it strapped to his back seems very TF2.

  47. Theory says:

    Someone on the Steam forums thought up this:

    We decided brass knuckles would be pretty fun to use.

    We also decided that having the separate hands have separate effects would also be awesome. While incorporating the Heavy’s personality.

    We came up with Brass Knuckles where the Left hand says “LOVE” in Russian and when you hit an enemy you leech X amount of life.

    The Right hand says “HATE” in Russian and when you hit someone your crit chance soars for X amount of time.

    Yes please, Valve.

  48. Kieron Gillen says:

    Roburky: Change the turret’s aiming system to “If there’s a next-nearest target to heavy with shield, shoot him instead”.

    Legandir: Invulnerable… but useless. The medic can’t defend you. You can’t defend you.


  49. roBurky says:

    Actually, I think possibly the simplest boost to a medicless heavy wouldn’t be a change to the heavy, but a change to the engineer.

    Give the engineer an unlockable that lets him deploy multiple dispensers. And make the ‘need dispenser here’ voice command put a little wooden ‘need dispenser here’ sign where you’re looking when you press it.

  50. Ginger Yellow says:

    “Methinks someone is forgetting shark guns.”

    Sharks don’t have very good range when fired out of a gun.