The Vita-Saw is a truly unique weapon. The only item in the entirety of TF2 that can carry an effect over from respawn, it brings up so many questions on a fundamental canonical level that I could make my entire article on that.
Instead, I’d like to talk about its practical usage. In-game, it’s far and away the best Medic melee, hands down. Competitive Medics who run the Vita-Saw force their opponent to run the saw as well or be at a constant disadvantage just because dropping the Medic doesn’t automatically equal Uber advantage. How quickly did he respawn? Has he had enough time to start building his next Uber faster than our Medic?
At any level of play, the ability to retain 20% Uber no matter what else happens, even death, is nothing to sniff at. Medics don’t tend to survive at less than ten hit points, and a faster Uber is one of the four unequivocal upsides a weapon can grant, along with higher base health, straight damage bonuses and faster move speed. Even when used with something like Geoff which charges at an insane rate, leaving spawn with one of your mini-Ubers pre-charged can only get you back into the fray faster.
However, at the same time, it’s paradoxically the least represented melee when Medics are showing off their loadouts and describing their favorite bonesaws. Ubersaws are the king favorite due to the perceived badassedry of earning your Uber through the blood of the enemy, Amputator is the weapon of choice among survivalists like me who want every possible longevity tool keeping them alive, and Solemn Vow strikes a nice balance between the two philosophies. The Vita-Saw somehow doesn’t appeal to any crowd. Perhaps it’s the constant downside forcing you to wonder after every close death, “Would I have survived that…?” Perhaps it’s the fatalistic attitude it implies on your own life; by equipping this saw, you’re admitting to yourself that your favorite contingency plan involves your own death.
Ultimately, I think it may be the only weapon in TF2 where the stigma of being “dishonorably OP” somehow inhibits the weapon’s equip stats among the class community. Unlike the Baby-Face Blaster and Wrangler and other widely-criticized unbalanced weapons, the Vita-Saw is a novelty and not a nuisance whenever I actually see a Medic using it. It’s not my fault he’s looking forward to getting killed.