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A Critical Guide to TF2's New Demoman and Soldier Weapons

by: Nicolas Henrion ; edited by: J. F. Amprimoz ; updated: 4/17/2012 • Leave a comment

In December 2009, Valve released the WAR! update for the highly popular Team Fortress 2. After the Pyro, Medic, Spy, Sniper, Scout and Heavy, the Demoman and the Soldier finally received new toys to play with. But, should you trade your old rocket launcher and sticky bombs for them? Let's find out.

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    The Black Scottish Cyclops' New Arsenal

    Prior to the WAR! update, the Demoman's only weapons were the sticky bomb launcher, the grenade launcher and the good old bottle (broken or not).

    While the grenade launcher is still part of every Demoman's inventory, two replacements for the sticky bomb launcher and one for the bottle have been released. Let's take a closer look at them:

    The Eyelander

    First off, the Eyelander (Highlander... Scottish... get it?). This giant sword replaces the bottle as the Demoman's melee weapon and allows him to decapitate enemies and collect their heads for a cumulative health and speed bonus. Despite the fact that wearing it slightly decreases your health and removes critical hits, this weapon is incredibly more useful than the bottle. Like the Soldier and its new Equalizer (more on that later), this isn't much of a dilemma: Use the Eyelander instead of the booze, period.

    The Scottish Resistance

    This new weapon is the first of two possible replacements for the sticky bomb launcher. The resistance also launches sticky bombs but differs from the original weapon in a few interesting ways. While the original launcher only allowed you to lay down eight stickies at a time, the SR allows a maximum of sixteen bombs to be ready to detonate at all times. In addition, clusters of bombs can be detonated separately. To put it simply, alt-firing will only detonate the stickies you are looking at, leaving the others intact. This allows you to defend a control point more effectively, for example by detonating a first group of stickies when a scout jumps on the point and a second one when the next wave of slower attackers charges. The major drawback is that bombs can't be remotely detonated since you need to look at them to do so. This can be a problem for attacking. Overall however, if you are the kind of Demoman who enjoys defending a point or a choke point instead of pursuing assailants, the Scottish Resistance can be an interesting new option.

    The Charging Targe

    Finally, let's take a look at this small wooden shield, which is probably the most irritating of the new Demoman weapons and has arguably the most annoying associated sound effect (yes, even more annoying than the infamous "Need a dispenser here!" from the Scout). The Targe takes the first slot of your inventory, in place of your Scottish Resistance or sticky bomb launcher. In addition to giving the Demoman extra protection against explosions and fire, it allows the Scot to charge towards a target at a high speed by right-clicking. During the last few moments of the charge, the Demoman is given full critical hits. Unfortunately, you can only charge in a straight line, meaning that an enemy can easily dodge your attack by stepping out of your trajectory. It also forces Demomen to lose the ability to place stickies and completely rely on the grenade launcher.

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    Screenshots of the New Demoman Weapons

    The New Sticky Launcher, the Scottish ResistanceA Demoman With Eyelander and Charging Targe
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    Better, Faster and Deadlier: The New and Improved Soldier

    The slightly psychotic American veteran desperately needed a new set of weapons. Not that anyone ever complained about the rocket launcher, but the generic shotgun shared also by the Heavy, the Pyro and the Engineer as well as the dreadful shovel were getting a bit boring.

    Thanks to the support of his many fans, the Soldier received not three, but four weapons when the WAR! update was released.

    The Direct Hit

    This new weapon can be an excellent replacement to the standard rocket launcher, depending on the situation. This new weapon launches rockets at a much higher speed and deals extra damage in case of a direct hit on a poor and unsuspecting target (hence, its name). The trade-off is that it causes far less indirect damage than the standard launcher. In other words, forget about shooting rockets at your enemies' feet, hoping for the splash damage to send them to TF2 hell. As I mentioned earlier, the Direct Hit is a great choice in some situations. For example, in a map with many chokepoints such as Dustbowl, hitting targets is usually not much of an issue. However, on a map with large open spaces such as Badlands, direct hits can be much more difficult to achieve. Overall, a very interesting and well balanced weapon.

    The Equalizer

    It is probably the best new weapon in the Soldier's arsenal. This replacement for the much-hated shovel is a melee weapon with a twist. The lower your health is, the faster you will move and the more damage you will deal when wielding the Equalizer. A soldier with only 20HP remaining can, for example, move at approximately the same speed as a Scout and kill most enemies with one or two blows. This is a great way to quickly flee a difficult situation in order to reach the nearest medpack. However, medics cannot heal you when you are using the Equalizer.

    The Buff Banner

    This is one of the two possible replacements for the shotgun. Like the medic's ubercharge, this item, when equipped, allows you to fill a rage meter. The more damage you cause, the faster the meter goes up. When full, you can then sound a bugle to unleash the full power of the Buff Banner. You and all your friends in a small radius will then enjoy fourteen seconds of automatic mini-critical hits. This makes the Buff Banner a great secondary item.

    The Gunboats

    Finally, this other secondary-slot item provides you with a 75% resistance against splash damage when rocket-jumping. True, it can be useful if you are one of those flying soldiers, but is it worth losing your shotgun or Buff Banner? I think not.

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    Screenshots of the New Soldier Weapons

    The TF2 Soldier and His New Direct Hit.Meet the Equalizer, the Deadliest Pickaxe Ever.The Bugle of Death, aka the Buff Banner.The Soldier Gunboats from the Mann Company.