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".