I’ve previously talked about how I play my main class of Scout in Mann Vs Machine, running as a money collector and assassination-style class. Today I’ll be looking at one of the other classes I really enjoy playing in MVM – that crazed war-obsessed patriot, the Soldier. I consider Soldier’s role in MVM to be that of the classic power class, quickly eliminating large groups of robots, combined with a team support role through his banners. He can put out a lot of offensive firepower, but also works well by buffing other front-line classes such as Heavy and Demoman.
Taking a look at his primary weapon first, I’m going to have to be unimaginative and go with the default stock Rocket Launcher. It provides consistently high damage, and can be tailored through the upgrade system to minimise the downsides such as slow firing speed and reload. The damage can become pretty monstrous too, to the point where it charges a full banner in only four rockets and one-shots most robots. I do like to pick up the ‘health on kill’ upgrade whenever I have a few spare credits, since it stops you having to rely on your Medic / dispenser and helps improve survivability, particularly when used alongside the Buff Banner – more on that later.
The other launchers kind of fall short for me in MVM. The Black Box doesn’t quite have the damage output needed due to the lower clip size, forcing you to reload more often which lowers your damage output. Also, it takes fewer credits to upgrade the regular Rocket Launcher to mimic the Black Box than it does to upgrade the Black Box to that all-important fourth rocket. While the Beggar’s Bazooka is good against hordes, it loses out against giant robots, medics and the like, where you’ll want accuracy over power. The Direct Hit provides the opposite: it’s great against tanks and giant robots, but sadly falls against the hordes of Scout robots each wave is inevitably accompanied by – and if you’re going to try and snipe the big robots, you might as well play Sniper and take advantage of his Sniper Rifle upgrades instead. I haven’t used the Cow Mangler much, but its inability to be crit-boosted really doesn’t lend the weapon well to the world of crits-on-demand that is MVM.
I’ve already briefly mentioned the Soldier’s role of team support through his banners, and firmly believe that the Shotgun should be left at home when Grey Mann’s robot hordes attack (because, let’s be honest; when you can upgrade your Rocket Launcher to such devastating levels of firepower, why would you want a Shotgun? :) ). I personally favour the Buff Banner, since it suits the MVM meta (as much as I hate using that word) more than the others. The Concheror’s buff, for example, can be easily and permanently achieved by the movement speed and health-on-kill upgrades, while the Battalion’s Backup is less helpful due to the low number of robot Engineers, and can similarly be achieved through resistances. The Buff Banner’s mini crits, on the other hand, aren’t as easily replicated due to the low number of charges your canteen can hold, and helps to provide a withering barrage of firepower from both the Soldier and his teammates at regular intervals. When the Rocket Launcher’s damage is fully upgraded, four rockets hitting a tank are more than enough to charge it, and since you can upgrade the buff duration time it’s relatively easy in later waves to spend more time with the buff active than you actually spend charging it. I’ve used the Buff Banner in the pretty much every MVM game I’ve played as Soldier, and it’s always performed well and been a good help to the team.
When it comes down to melee, it doesn’t really matter as much as it does for Scout. If you have to get your melee out as Soldier in MVM, something’s probably gone seriously wrong! Personally, I tend to just stick with my trusty Escape Plan, since if things do go a bit pear-shaped it’s a good way to fall back as your team respawns and regroups. The one weapon I would mention, though, is the Half-Zatoichi. While I’m fairly ambivalent about most Soldier melees in MVM, the Zatoichi stands out as one that shouldn’t be used simply because of the Honourbound mechanic. Getting locked with your melee out can be disastrous, leading to one-sixth of the team letting the others down as he desperately tries to land a melee kill in order to sheath the darn thing.
I hope this has been an interesting little post – please leave a comment letting me know what you use for Soldier in MVM, or if you’re in a game alongside a Soldier what you like to see him wielding.
Thank you for reading, and as always – take care,