Tactica Tuesday: Soldier’s rocket launchers in Team Fortress 2

I’ve spoken about Solider in Mann Vs Machine before, but I realised that I’ve never actually talked about him in regular play. He started out as a class I used to try and better counter, and has now become a fairly solid staple power class I turn to if the team needs more pushing / holding power.

VictorySoldier’s rocket launcher is a very versatile weapon, offering him high damage, splash damage and advanced mobility through rocket jumping. It’s a great weapon whether you’re with the team or roaming, but today I’ll be comparing the different primary options for Solider and what I find useful about each of them.

Spoiler alert: my favourite is the stock rocket launcher :P Sorry to be boring, but (as is the case with a few weapons in TF2), I find the stock launcher to be the most versatile and reliable of the launchers available. The rockets do decent direct damage as well as splash, and are great for juggling opponents. It suits multiple playstyles from roaming Soldier with the Gunboats or Concheror to a team-centric Soldier with the Shotgun or Buff Banner, and is effective against individual enemies as well as clusters. As such, I tend to roll with my killstreak stock launcher in most situations, and change to one of the other launchers if the situation demands.

The Black Box comes in as a close second for my favourite launcher. The loss of one rocket from each clip is surprisingly noticeable, but the +15HP on hit is often a lifesaver when there’s few or no Medics on your team. I usually pair it with the Shotgun or Disciplinary Action so I’ve got a fall-back weapon to rely on if I get caught reloading.

I do enjoy using the Direct Hit, as there’s nothing quite as satisfying as hitting someone mid-air with that mini-crit rocket. It’s particularly good on the offensive, where I find the increased damage per rocket is a boon against Sentry nests (especially with the recent sticky nerf). It also charges banners pretty quickly due to the damage increase, which makes it an excellent option when paired with the Buff Banner and a group of team-mates. However, the reduced splash damage severely hampers the versatility of the Direct Hit and, as such, I tend to only equip it when I’m facing a lot of Engineers (or feel a strong desire to mini-crit people in the air!). It’s great for accuracy and if you can get a direct line of sight to the enemy, but against a particularly well-placed Sentry nest (for example) the regular launcher’s splash damage is often more helpful than the extra damage.

The Beggar’s Bazooka is pretty much the polar opposite of the direct hit, trading in accuracy for power. I tend to find it a little too inaccurate and slow-firing for my tastes, and find that it works best with a banner when I stick with the rest of the team. This way, I can spam out rockets with impunity knowing someone’s got my back.

The Liberty Launcher is a good concept, but it never seems to really work for me. I suppose it boils down to the fact that, if I want to take less self-damage when jumping, I’ll just equip the Gunboats or Concheror. It’s a neat idea, but not one that really works for me since its niche is already fulfiled by other items.

And there’s the Cow Mangler. Maybe I just haven’t given it enough of a try, maybe the laser particles just confuse me when I’m used to seeing rockets, but I can’t seem to get the hang of this weapon so I’ll hold off really saying anything here. If any readers use it please leave a comment, I’d love to hear other people’s opinions on it!

Finally, we have the new launcher that was released as part of the Love & War update, the Air Strike! I haven’t really had much time to use this, but it seems to be a mix of the Beggar’s Bazooka with the Bazaar Bargain. The more kills you get the better it is, and this is particularly true for rocket jumping where this launcher really shines. It’s great fun paired with the B.A.S.E Jumper (these two were arguably intended for one another), but it also works well with the Gunboats to minimise self-damage. I’m really enjoying this weapon – any weapon that rewards you for kills is a good idea in my book – and it can lead to some mad bombing when the clip size is fully upgraded!

As always, when I do a TF2 post, I like to add in a short gameplay video of me showing off my mediocre game play :P I’m using the stock launcher, Gunboats and Escape Plan in this video, though the Escape Plan never comes into use. The couple of lives before this one I could’ve really done with it, and typically when I equip it I don’t feel the need to use it!

Finally, while we’re talking TF2, there’s the Love & War update! The short film ‘Expiration Date’ is fantastic, and even if you don’t play TF2 I’d probably recommend you watch it. I’ve already mentioned one of the new weapons above, and no doubt will talk about more of them in the near future.

Take care,

Ben

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