Pyro Pyro Pyro
In a bit, Valve, will be revealing the Pyro update here - 7pm GMT, if that holds. But the men of the press were able to look at it earlier here. We were among those pen-wielding men and then wrote this news up as quickly as possible. Except one of the men of the press leaked the link early, the 7pm thing went out the window and Gillen has to swiftly alter Walker's beautiful prose to make the post vaguely work. Oh no! Our wives!
The bit you want to know: they have tweaked the flamethrower. Hit alt-fire and the regular Pyro weapon will send forth a blast of compressed air, capable of knocking enemies away, and deflecting enemy projectiles. Oh, and a Flare Gun, the Backburner, and the previously mentioned Axtinguisher. Much more below.
Valve give some thoughts on the role of the flamethrower's new ability:
"It’s a highly versatile tool, allowing Pyros to get away from nearby enemies after igniting them, to kill enemy soldiers with their own rockets, or to separate enemy Medics from their healing targets. In particular, it allows a skilled Pyro to contain an enemy invulnerability push, and even to separate the Medic completely if the surrounding terrain supports it."
This will be fascinating. The Pyro is now a far more tactical tool in any battle. And invulnerability suddenly got a bit less invulnerable. Expect to see a lot of pissed off Medics in the next couple of weeks. But onto those new weapons.
The first thing you'll unlock, and cunningly sneaked into Meet The Sniper yesterday, the Flare Gun replaces the shotgun. It's the means by which a Pyro can set someone on fire from a distance, but only if their aim is good enough. Valve point out it's particularly useful on Snipers and Engineers who are trying to stay away from the fray.
Next is the Backburner. It's an ambush flamethrower, losing the newly added alt-fire compression blast, but guaranteeing critical hits when used from behind. Missus. And by some mystical property - perhaps the Pyro covers her face because she's entirely made of fire or something - it heals the Pyro for fifty as well.
The final unlockable, the Axtinguisher, is a critical hit machine, guaranteeing a heftyy blow when your opponent's on fire. But it's lame-o when they're not. Valve suggest Pyros work in pairs to use this effectively, one setting people on fire, the other chopping them up with an axe. Ahhh, videogames.
Of course, to get all these you'll need to unlock them. And that's where the 35 new achievements come in. Just look at these names: Dance Dance Immolation, Next Of Kindling, and best of all, OMGWTFBBQ. Head to the Pyro's page for details on all of them.
The two player-made maps included in the pack are given pride of place at the top of the update information. Congratulations to Arttu "skdr" Mäki for his CP_Fastlane, and to Bill Johnston for CTF_Turbine, being picked as Valve's two favourites. It would seem a fairly big deal for Valve to rate your map design.
In conclusion? Well, you do that bit. What are your conclusions? Absolutely certain that the entire game is now ruined, imbalanced, and likely to cause all players to get genital warts? Delighted that one of the perceived weaker classes is now endowed with some fairly essential tactical abilities? Or sure that this is the second coming of videogaming, and will heal all war?