During Tough Break, Valve reworked the Vaccinator again. As a Medic main, I felt it was my duty to try the thing out so I can see for myself if the poor thing has finally reached the lofty echelons of the other mediguns, or if it still sucked.

At the same time, I took my new Team Fortress Classic Medic out for a spin! Thanks for the Xmas present Medic!
At the same time, I took my new Team Fortress Classic Medic out for a spin! Thanks for the Xmas present Medic!

I first tried it out on King of The Hill, a game mode that lets me quickly switch from offense to defense. I found that it served its job decently well in both categories. If I were taking on a single enemy with my pocket, I could easily switch to the correct Uber and give us the edge to win. While it seems kinda weird to even consider a 2v1 a “win”, this still included circumstances where I was put in grave danger and managed to scrape through alive. Except Scouts. Scouts seem to be able to out-damage the bullet Uber.

The problem is, once there got to be multiple enemies it seemed to constantly disappoint. Ditto if one of those enemies was using melee; the Demoknight nerf may have indirectly buffed the Vaccinator, but I certainly couldn’t tell when they were still destroying me even with a pocket. I chalked it up to me being bad at the weapon and jumped to CP, where it could maintain the same role for a longer period of time. But somehow, I seemed to be doing even worse. 5CP is second only to payload in having large swathes of enemies that seem to all appear at once, and my two states of being seemed to be waiting patiently for the next wave, and then dying horribly once that wave began. I began playing super passively, avoiding the front lines and helping pick off any enemies who strayed too far from the main group. If that’s the playstyle Valve’s trying to encourage, it didn’t do horribly. I came away from playing with the Vacc feeling, if not impressed, at least satisfied with its performance on the battlefield.

Every situation I did well with the Vacc, I still think any other Medigun would have worked too.

But then I switched to the Quick-Fix and had a blast. Here was a Medigun with a solid definable role that it excels at. It became immediately apparent how to use the gun and it was a hell of a lot of fun even when I wasn’t sure what I was doing. The Vaccinator is missing that thrill on a fundamental level, the powerful simplicity that every other Medigun has in spades. At the moment I guess it could be considered balanced, or at least less underpowered than it was before. But it’s still extremely unremarkable and I can’t think of situations where I’d willingly equip it over its competitors. And after so many reworks I’m about ready to throw the whole concept away as unsalvageable, because I can’t think of any adjustments Valve hasn’t already tried.

I'm reasonably certain Valve wanted Medic to be able to do this. Picture by Gen. DeGroot.
Unfortunately the only concept I’ve ever really liked on any Vaccinator build was the crit-nullifying bug. Picture by Gen. DeGroot.

I know at least a few people on SPUF main the gun, and I’d love to hear from them. If I’m using the Medigun wrong, I’m totally ready to accept that, but I’d love some coaching on what the gun actually wants to accomplish. Because even after the rework, I’m not seeing it.