The New Medics Are Nifty

September 22, 2007

To further expand upon my TF2 gushing:

They have built the perfect medic.

In Team Fortress Classic, the medic was essentially an upgunned scout who could heal people and start plagues. The medic’s weapons load out was virtually identical to the scout’s but bigger and stronger. He had a nailgun, a shotgun and conc nades, with the only difference being that instead of the Scout’s caltrops, the Medic carried standard frags. He wasn’t as fast as the scout, but he was still fast enough to give a most other classes problems keeping up with him if the Medic’s player was skilled with conc-jumping. But if you weren’t very good with conc-jumps, like me, then the Medic was more or less just a Scout who wasn’t fast enough to survive.

But what about his medkit? Well, it mostly sucked. If you wanted to heal somebody, you had to get up real close and shove a band-aid up his ass with a slow-healing melee “attack.” Because it took so long for a medic to bring somebody back up to full health and often required the patient to either disengage or the Medic to expose himself to enemy fire, the Medic was nice to have along during a push forward, but not really essential. This was especially true if there were no engineers around or red backpacks to pick up, as the Medic could not repair his patient’s armor, so he is never able to restore a teammate to full fighting condition.

On the other hand, the medkit could be used offensively to start an airborne plague amongst the opposing team. The problem with this was that you had to get so close to do this that you usually died immediately afterwards, and the plague was more an annoyance than a deadly threat. It didn’t kill very fast, but rather slowly whittled a player’s health down a sneeze at a time. And because medics were so rarely played, chances were that your team didn’t have one, so you would inevitably die once infected. So the usual solution to being infected was to initiate a mad one-man banzai charge into the enemy base. This allowed an infected player to take a few enemies with him and prevented him from infecting the rest of his team. It also had the side effect of getting the infected player killed by a rocket or grenade before the disease had a chance to claim him, so Medics rarely got credit for infecting anyone. The cumulative effect of all of these factors was that starting a plague was little more than a fancy way to commit suicide, while simultaneously encouraging your enemy to attack your base.

If if an enemy Medic got into your base and infected a noob, the dumbass would stand around in spawn asking “Hey, how come my health keeps going down?” until the whole team was infected.

Curing the plague got you points, but this was a rare event. Killing people with a plague got points, but this was even rarer. Regular healing didn’t get you any points, and killing your opponents with your gun was difficult. So all in all, the Medic wasn’t very rewarding to play and was very annoying to fight.

One of my real worries about TF2 was that this broken class would be ported from TFC, more or less intact.

Thankfully, they did no such thing. The new Medic is simply bad ass.

First and most importantly, he no longer carries his point-blank medkit, having traded it in for a cartoony kind of health cannon that lets him shoot a beam of healing power into his teammates. He can do this from about twenty feet away at the maximum, and the beam follows the patient around corners to a limited extent. Just this change alone completely revitalizes the class, but there’s so much more.

The rate of healing has been greatly increased, to the point where players who are being healed by a medic are virtually unkillable in a one-on-one match, being vulnerable only to weapons that do a LOT of damage very quickly, such as level 3 sentry guns, sniper rifles, and the like.

One of the big changes that has had people talking is that as a Medic uses his health cannon on his friends, he slowly builds up an “ubercharge” which when activated turns the medic and his patient invulnerable for a short time. Anyone who has been following this game’s development has known about that for a while, and there was some concern that this ability would unbalance the game. It doesn’t; it just adds a new element of strategy. The Medic has to be charging away for a good bit of time before he can go invulnerable, and the shield only lasts for a few moments. But those few moments are enough to knock down some sentry guns and break a deadlock.

Perhaps most importantly, the Medic is rewarded for healing players in the thick of the action by sharing credit for any kills their patient makes while being healed. A dedicated medic who can find a patient that is willing to get out there and fight can easily find himself being one of the highest scoring players in the game. I’ve been saying for a long time to anybody who’d listen to me, support classes should be designed in such a way that they get points for doing things to support their team. A good supporting player should be able to lead the map’s scoreboard. Thankfully somebody else has finally figured this out.


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