Not everything Valve playtested for TF2 made the cut. From the moment Brotherhood of Arms and then its replacement Invasion was completely excised, Valve showed themselves committed to the possibility of axing whatever needs to be axed in the name of quality. Through avenues such as item schemas and the TF2 Beta, us players have had the ability to witness a lot of these ideas get introduced and later bite the dust. Thing is, we don’t always get to hear the rationale behind why they didn’t make the cut. For every Repair Node and Facestab Knife that got a blog post describing its downfall, there are a few generically-named beta weapons that didn’t even get a custom model.
So for this article, I’m going to dig back into the annals of Valve’s unexplained-but-rejected concepts and try to discuss why I think they weren’t up to snuff. I won’t discuss the Beta Overdose because I already did in this older article.
1. Overhealer – A double-barreled Medigun, the Overhealer would heal teammates same as the regular Medigun but its overheal wouldn’t decay. As a consequence, it couldn’t Uber. While that balances it out on paper, in practice I can definitely see where both of those stats would lead to incredibly stalemated matches. Teammates with permanent Overheal would very badly break the delicately-balanced health economy in TF2. People with doubled health could appear anywhere, at any time, not just when the Medic is actively focused on them.
It almost makes the Medic less useful as a presence on the battlefield, especially since he can no longer deploy the game-changing Ubercharges. The ultimate stalemate-breakers that can destroy the most entrenched sentry nests, mow down an entire defense with endless crits, or suck if it’s the Vaccinator. Their absence deprives the game of an amazing form of jumpstart that punctuates the gameplay with high moments of awesome where a single worthy player takes center stage for eight glowing seconds.
2. Instant Teleport – A secondary weapon that would allow the Engineer to teleport directly to his teleporter exit. The plan was that he could leave his teleporter entrance for teammates and not take up a charge himself (or alternately, get his charge stolen from him by an oblivious scout). In practice, playtesters quickly abandoned these noble gestures of teamwork to just plop it somewhere that benefited only them and then never build an entrance, aka the exact same playstyle I endorse with the new Eureka Effect. See, the thing is that if you really think about it, teleporters are a major weakness for the Engineer creating them. As shown in this STAR video, your teammates are like oblivious breadcrumbs betraying awesome teleporter placements to eagle-eyed enemies.
3. Ludmila: A Minigun alternative. Instead of the Heavy being able to spin this gun up without firing, it had a secondary fire mode that did less damage but had the same vampire effect as the Blutsauger. Definitely a remnant of TF2 past, because at the time this was being considered, Heavy’s rev time was something notable. Nowadays after the buff, it revs far too quickly for its absence to bother anyone, especially when you can leech health from your enemies to augment your bulky 300 count. I’m honestly a bit bummed they didn’t try to find a way to balance it, surely the secondary fire could have some sort of additional downsides that balanced the health gain? It would have been hard and people would complain about it no matter what, but heck that didn’t stop them from adding Natascha.
4. Beta Pocket Soldier weapons: Medic hits these in this article, but I want to tackle these weapons too because the concept is just so interesting. A Rocket Launcher that steals your health on hit? I just wish there was a way to make that work because it’s so counter-intuitive. Of course the fact that the only upside pops once your Medic dies is something of a problem as well. The shotgun is even wierder, punishing you with a longer weapon switch time when not healed, and damage bonuses while healed. Is a damage bonus on a secondary weapon really worth a permanent downside? I mean, Soldiers use their shotgun a fair amount in competitive but even if I were dedicated pocket I don’t think I’d use that. However the meta has shifted too much for such a weapon to work these days; as the reasons listed in this Reddit thread note, top-level scouts have gotten so good at this game that they’re often filling the role of non-Demoman pocket, and the two soldiers are slowly shifting to be dual roamers. This would make these two weapons useless in the current comp scene, the only place where Valve anticipated it would be used.
5. Fire Retardant Suit: This one’s kinda obvious, and I’m really just including it because it’s one of the few to get it’s own icon, adding a much-needed picture to all this text:
In exchange for their Revolver, spies could choose to be permanently immune to afterburn. I’m pretty sure Valve nuked this one just because it completely destroys a class’ primary counter even worse than the Razorback does. Not to mention that the absence of a revolver would severely dampen the skill ceiling of spy’s playstyle.
6. Catcher’s Mitt and Backpack – Two versions of the same weapon concept for Scout. Either one would have involved Scout being able to pick things up (either enemy projectiles or map pickups) and run them around to their teammates. Catcher’s Mitt would have also let the Scout throw the projectiles back at the attacker. This concept is perfectly fine on its own, but since the introduction of airblast it would too heavily encroach on a now-integral part of the Pyro’s identity and playstyle. Scout steal too much from Pyro already. And the backpack would have filled the Scout’s role of scouting extremely well, it would possibly be the most scout-relevant item TF2 ever got. It even promotes teamwork and references Team Fortress Classic. As a matter of fact, Valve should totally revisit this concept and add it. Bring back the backpack!