Game Breaker / Team Fortress 2

"Nevermind the bullets, how much all these coffins costin' ya?"
The Engineer

Team Fortress 2 has had at some point or another enough items believed to be a Game Breaker that it needed its own page. Usually each item is nerfed when there is enough of an outcry over the weapons in the general community.

Due to the vast range of player ability and sizeable fandom found with TF2, expect the usual Fan Dumb bickering over what is/isn't true about everything.

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  • The Sandman, introduced in the Scout update. This unlockable replacement for the bat tosses a baseball that stuns the foe (and until an update several months after its release, even in ÜberCharged state) for up to 8 seconds (the farther away you launch the ball from, the longer the stun duration). And after stunning someone, you can pick up your ball (or someone else's) and use it again. It became the first weapon in the game to be banned in competitive TF 2. In fact, the Sandman caused so much controversy that Valve has nerfed, then buffed, then nerfed it numerous times. Seriously, look at how many patches have been applied to it. An upcoming update to the game plans to remove the stunning ability entirely, and replace it with a slowdown similar to the Natascha. According to Valve themselves, the weapon is a Game Breaker simply because players hate losing control in games like this.
  • The Baby Face's Blaster was initially viewed as a high-risk-high-reward weapon, as it let the Scout build up boost through damage that would let him run 175% faster than usual, but one jump would drain all his boost and slow him to roughly as fast as a Demoman. But then a following patch softened the penalty, so that one double jump would only reduce 25% of the Scout's boost and at zero boost he'd move only 10% slower. This made the Blaster overpowered, as a zero boost Scout was still faster than every other class and it'd only take 99 damage to gain full boost; in other words, a single meatshot. The double jump penalty also wasn't so bad as a Scout skilled in aerial combat could keep dealing damage while jumping and so negate the boost loss. Thus the Blaster's only real downside compared to the Scattergun was the slightly smaller clip size. Eventually, the Gun Mettle update patched the Blaster to lose boost based on damage taken by the Scout, making him easier to slow and demanding he play more cautiously.
  • The Crit-A-Cola drew much ire during the Competitive Beta. Originally, it was pretty decent. The Scout would give and take Mini-Crits for the next 6 seconds after drinking it. Following patches made it last two seconds longer, changed the Mini-Crit vulnerability to 25% more damage, added a speed bonus, and eventually reduced the damage vulnerability even further to an extra 10%. That last one bewildered many vocal players, as before that patch the Crit-a-Cola seemed like the #1 "Well Duh" pick for big nerfs. While it isn't too bad in pubs, virtually every Scout player in the Matchmaking Beta and now in the full Competitive Matchmaking will use it for it being massively low-risk high-reward. Valve is planning to rectify this in a future update by making the Scout marked-for-death for 5 seconds whenever the Scout attacks for the duration of Crit-A-Cola's effect on top of removing the speed bonus, but has also removed the "extra damage taken during effect" and "marked-for-death after effect expires" penalties.

  • The Equalizer was practically the only Soldier melee weapon before its nerf. As the player lost more and more health, Soldier started moving faster and dealing more damage while it was the active weapon. The damage scaled to the point that a near-death Soldier could one shot 125-health classes like Scout while running as fast or faster than them. The flip side is that Medics couldn't heal you while it's the active weapon, which is easily remedied by taking out any other weapon, but when you're moving around so quickly and dealing so much damage, why would you want to be healed? As a melee weapon, it was limited in how game-breaking it could be, but most players considered it a pure upgrade over the regular shovel, and Valve spent several patches nerfing it. This culminating in splitting up its speed and damage attributes into two different weapons, with the speed portion going to the Escape Plan.
    • The Escape Plan was nerfed even further due to players still frequently using it as a scot-free escape mechanism whenever a fight went the wrong way. Now, having the Escape Plan deployed marks the Soldier for death, causing him to take Mini-Crit damage as long as he's holding it and for a short while after you switch weapons, making it tougher to make daring getaways.
  • The Soldier's Battalion's Backup was also this for a time, though for different reasons. You charged it up by taking damage from enemy attacks, and once you get to a certain point, you just let it loose and any teammates close by become immune to critical hits (including headshots) and got a 35% damage resistance buff. By itself, this wasn't so bad since the effect only lasted for 10 seconds or until the Soldier died (and smart players always target banner-wielding Soldiers as high-priority targets), but the Soldier only had to take 175 damage in order to fully charge it. The Soldier has 200 HP by himself, and even more given Medic support or by using the Black Box, and it was virtually guaranteed that a Medic-backed Soldier could have an active banner ready. In addition to this, fall damage still charged the banner, so it was possible to charge the banner during setup simply by rocket-jumping repeatedly just outside of spawn. The damage requirement was doubled to 350 damage later, though, and various methods of self-charging were also removed. Though map effect damage such as burning torches and drowning still charged the banner before its charge method was changed altogether to dealing damage rather than taking it.
    • Ironically, the damage absorption nerf ended up producing an inversion of this trope, namely that it was so high that players didn't want to take the risk of absorbing 350 damage without dying just for some minor buffs, so Valve eventually changed the weapon to make it charge through dealing damage. They also buffed it so that the boost has an additional 15% Sentry resistance, causing Sentries to deal only 50% of their normal damage to players that have been boosted with this weapon.
  • Upon its initial release, the Cow Mangler 5000 was very overpowered. Besides dealing almost no damage against buildings and its inability to be crit-boosted, it had no drawbacks compared to the stock Rocket Launcher. However, it has unlimited reserve ammo AND had 5 shots per magazine instead of 4, allowing Soldiers to do huge amounts of damage while away from support, and its damage ramp-up was unintentionally too high meaning that it did more damage than the Rocket Launcher at close range. On top of all this, it has a special charge attack that lands a guaranteed Mini-Crit (which also sometimes did more damage than normal on top of the increased ramp-up), ignites players hit by it, and disables Engineer buildings for 4 seconds. This allowed Soldiers to disable Sentry Gun nests from a distance while Spies would have needed to get close to it, and possibly kill the Engineer tanking it. Then there was the fact that it was a literal game breaker in that its model detail and particle effects were SO detailed, a single player using it could spam and single-handedly crash an otherwise reliable server. Even on a server that could withstand a Cow Mangler Soldier, its particle effects taxed some players's graphics cards and CP Us beyond their limits. Virtually all of this was fixed shortly after the update that introduced it, with some players sore over how ugly the new projectiles are, although later some of its penalties and bonuses (the extra shot per magazine and reload/damage penalties) were removed. Now the Cow Mangler's just a stock Rocket Launcher with infinite reserve ammo, terrible building damage, no crits, and an interesting but too-slow-to-overpower alternate fire.
  • The Air Strike is quite possibly the best Rocket Launcher to date. Originally, the Air Strike was just bad. It shot pitiful rockets and had a reduced clip size. Its main gimmick of getting extra clip size for every kill didn't matter, because kills with it were very difficult. The only real advantage it had over the stock Launcher was its increased firing speed in the air, and that didn't matter too much because you could only shoot 3 or 4 rockets at a time. However, the Gun Mettle update softened the penalties, making the rockets only 15% weaker and only having a 10% smaller blast radius (compared to 25% less damage and 15% smaller blast radius, previously). They also removed the clip size penalty. Now, once you get two or three kills with the Air Strike, it becomes very overpowering. You can rain up to 8 rockets onto a group of enemies, most likely killing them all. Pyros can't reflect all of those rockets, Engineers can't vaporize them quickly eneough, and Scouts can't dodge it due to the rockets covering a wide area. Tough Break Update nerfed it somewhat by making the blast radius smaller when the user is rocket jumping, forcing the user to be more accurate with it.
    • The Beggar's Bazooka had a glitch that probably inspired the Air Strike and made it very powerful. Loading in too many rockets causes the weapon to misfire and an explosion to occur. The problem was that this explosion could be used to rocket jump, then be used to Rocket jump again mid-air. When combined with the gunboats, this gave the soldier so much mobility he could practically fly. And when he flew wherever he needed to go he could simply stop flying and unleash a deadly salvo of three rockets. This was patched so that misfiring removes rockets from the clip every time it happens. So while the soldier can still perform the mid-air jumps, its no longer possible to do so and rain down hell on your enemies at the same time.
  • The Concheror is one of the best Soldier secondaries available. Replacing the Shotgun, it cannot directly deal damage - rather, the Soldier can deal damage to charge it up then deploy an area-of-effect healthsteal buff to nearby teammates. This alone isn't too bad. However, the Conch also offers up to 4 HP regen per second, the charge applies a speed buff, AND the Conch takes less damage to charge up than the other two backpack items (the Buff Banner and Battalion's Backup). This is, quite possibly, one of the most versatile secondaries for Soldier, as the regen makes him difficult to kill, the charge can be deployed more often than the other two backpacks, and the healthsteal combined with the runspeed effect can be applied to virtually any situation.
  • The Valve Rocket Launcher is an intentional game breaker. It's overpowering to a great level, with immense damage and rocket speed, on top of healing the user and giving them critical hits for every kill. The Valve Rocket Launcher is only available to TF2's director Robin Walker, who uses it only when requested and then merely for trolling opponents, not to constantly win matches. There were once other Valve weapons with various other overpowering traits, but all of them but the Rocket Launcher have since been deleted.
    • Ironically, its overpowering status was temporarily negated by the pre-nerf Short Circuit, as its firing rate and minimal metal consumption could let an Engy completely negate every Valve-Rocket. Since then it's been twice nerfed so the Valve Rocket Launcher once again reigns supreme.

  • The Pyro's Phlogistinator was a very controversial weapon. In exchange for having no airblast, Pyros gain a "Mmmph" meter that tracks how much fire damage the Pyro has done. Once it's built up enough, they can activate a taunt that gives them guaranteed critical hits for 12 seconds, while restoring them to full HP. Normally, this wouldn't be too bad, but for the duration of the taunt, the Pyro gained 90% damage resistance, essentially making them invulnerable. This allowed players to stop in the middle of the battlefield and taunt without any repercussions until after the taunt finished. Additionally, the required fire damage in order to activate the taunt is a mere 225 points, which is easily achievable (just kill one or two enemies and ignite a couple others), and the critical hit boost is longer than the Medic's Kritzkrieg ÜberCharge. Since fire damage wasn't limited to igniting enemies with the Phlogistinator, using a flare weapon could guarantee that you would have a full meter before even getting within flamethrower range of an enemy. In addition, "Mmmph" gained from fire damage was not affected by fire resistance; for example, a Spy equipped with the Dead Ringer (see below) could completely fill the meter despite not having enough health to do so normally. Valve toned this down over various patches, with the crit boost being 10 seconds instead of 12, Pyros not being healed upon activating Mmmph, 300 damage filling the meter instead of 225, and full invulnerability instead of damage resistance during activation. That last bit means the Phlogistinator is an even greater Game Breaker to inexperienced players, but ces't la vie.
  • The "Puff and Sting" combo was a very controversial moveset for the Pyro requiring both the Axtinguisher and Degreaser. The Axtinguisher guaranteed crits on its melee hits if its target was on fire, the Degreaser reduced the time to switch weapons. This meant that Pyros could kill any non-overhealed class minus Heavies in less than 1.5 secondsnote  by igniting their target then quickly stabbing them with their axe for a critical hit kill. Supporters of Puff-and-Sting argued that it was balanced because the attack is very short-ranged, and because the Pyro is an underpowered class overall. Opponents to it argued that it was nearly impossible to fight back against once the Pyro was in range, diminished the role of fire, and that Pyro's airblast further increased Puff-And-Sting's juggling and trapping capabilities. Valve reduced the Puff-and-Sting's effectiveness by having the Axtinguisher deal crits from behind but mini-crits from the front, encouraging Pyros to ambush for crits.
    • In the Tough Break update, the Axtinguisher was changed back to dealing crits vs burning targets regardless of angle of attack. However, it now has a slower switch-to speed penalty, so players now have some time to react to an incoming Axtinguisher crit, and the weapon took an overall damage penaltynote  - the crit would definitely hurt, but couldn't one-shot most classes by itself. Along with the ability for players to now be able to air-strafe to counteract the pushing power of the airblast, and an alteration to the weapon switch speeds of the Degreaser, the entire Puff-and-Sting combo was essentially killed. Most Pyros just use the Powerjack now.
  • The Reserve Shooter, despite being usable by the Soldier as well, is much more powerful in the hands of a Pyro with the Degreaser. The weapon mini-crits note  airborne targets, in exchange for 4 shots instead of 6. This essentially lets Pyro pull off the Puff-n'-Flare combonote  while still retaining most upsides of the stock Shotgun. Oh, and because it mini-crits airborne targets rather than ones launched by airblast, a Reserve Shooter Pyro can punish any class for jumping.
    • The fact that mini-crits aren't affected by damage fall-off gives the Reserve Shooter a longer effective range, as long as it hits airborne targets.
    • And now with Tough Break, the Reserve Shooter was indirectly nerfed via directly nerfing the Degreaser. The Degreaser now has increased airblast cost and slower switch-from speed (though still faster than default). It was also changed to only mini-crit enemies launched by explosives, airblasts, or by using the grappling hook.
  • As of this writing the Third Degree is the only weapon in the game to be a pure upgrade over its stock counterpart. Its still something of a Lethal Joke Weapon as its special ability is to deal damage to anyone connected by a medigun beam. Not an ability you will use all the time, but there is still no reason at all to use the fire axe or the Lollichop in its place.

  • Since the game's release, Demoman has been labeled a Game Breaker in one form or another. On top of being the only character with true indirect fire, he had the mobility of a Soldier but could also rapidly spam his 6 grenades and 8 stickies. Whereas the Soldier could only fire off at most 4 rockets (Even less if he rocket jumped to the fight) before a lengthy reload, a Demoman can kill any class or even small groups he sees before he needs to reload. Also unlike the Soldier, the Demoman's normal walking speed only has a 7% penalty (as opposed to the Soldier's 20% decrease and the Heavy's 23% decrease). All of this combined meant that a Demoman had no real weaknesses, making the only way to counter one to either catch him off guard or play a Demoman yourself. The Demoman's Grenade Launcher would be later nerfed to only 4 grenades in the magazine instead of 6, and the Stickybomb Launcher's ammo reserves reduced from 40 to 24.
    • The ability to detonate sticky bombs in the air was later also toned down - while still a viable tactic, any sticky inside a certain radius to the Demoman that had been launched in the past five seconds dealt less damage. Later, stickies were altered so they only reached max potential damage after being primed for two seconds. These changes were placed to limit airburst sticky bomb spam. Previously, a Demoman could quickly fire, then detonate sticky bombs in the air at mid to long range to dish out damage. However, much complaint from the competitive community led to the nerf being reverted a week later (airbursting stickies while advancing is a common offensive tactic). Valve promised to continue examining the issue and balance the Sticky Launcher some other way. Smissmas 2014 made stickies in the air have reduced blast radius for up to two seconds or until they landed, whichever came first. The then-freshly-introduced Quickiebomb Launcher was not subject to the nerf, as it was designed for airbursting.
  • The Sticky Jumper, a Joke Weapon intended for training how to sticky-bomb-jump quickly proved to be a Lethal Joke Weapon in the right hands. While it deals no damage, and initially had a damage taken and max health penalty, Demos using it can fly through the map so quickly that it is nearly impossible to hit them. Additionally, it replaces the secondary weapon of the Demoman, compared to the Soldier's Rocket Jumper which replaces his primary weapon. As such, a Sticky Jumper Demo still has a Grenade Launcher, and could quickly make a mockery of game modes like Capture The Flag. A glitch was also present that made the player immune to self-damage from other weps, removing the primary drawback of the Ullapool Caber combined with the ease of flying back to spawn to replace each caber. Valve eventually blocked players from carrying the flag while having the Sticky Jumper equipped, reactivated self-damage from other weapons, then reduced the amount of active stickies usable at one time from eight to two, reducing Demos' flight distance while enforcing more realistic sticky-jump practice, as a Demoman will not be able to reasonably survive the blast if trying to jump with 3 or more stickies.
  • The Tide Turner, released in the Love and War update. It gives FULL control over your Shield Charge, allowing a Demoknight to keep his Grenade Launcher yet turn incomparably better than if he had Ali Baba's Wee Booties or the Bootlegger on. Worst of all, it completely recharged your charge meter if you kill someone with the Critical hit the shield gives at the end of a charge. Putting it simply, if you know how to play Demoknight effectively, then you can VERY easily chain your charges to slaughter half a team and still get out. Add in combos with the Half-Zatoichi (which refills your health upon a kill) or the Eyelander (which increases your max health and speed based on kills) and Demoknights can become basically unkillable to all but Sentries. Oh, and a glitch gave it the benefits of the Splendid Screen as well, letting you deal "shield bash damage" from point-blank, as if it didn't have enough going for it. The glitch was quickly fixed and the weapon was Nerfed in the Smissmas 2014 update, to where it doesn't restore all charge on a charge-crit-kill by itself, just 75% (meaning a Demoman has to use the Wee Booties, Bootlegger, and/or Claidheamh Mor, which give 25% charge meter on a charge-crit-kill, for the previous effect), and taking damage while charging reduces the charge duration.
    • The Tough Break update nerfed it farther, by making it unable to perform charge crits, only mini-crits.
  • The Loch-n-Load became a favorite of Demomen and hated by every other class. It was intended to be the Demoman equivalent to the Soldier's Direct Hit, dealing 25 percent more damage upon hit but only having two shots and no splash damage on miss. The difference was that the Loch-n-Load traveled much faster than the Direct Hit, and the Demoman's grenade properties made it so it would deal monstrous damage at close range, as much as 150 damage per hit, letting the Loch-n-Load one-shot Medics, Scouts, Spies, Engies, and Snipers, more than half of the available classes. It also would deal wide splash damage on hit, meaning a single direct shot (especially if it crit) would blow up tons of enemies if they were all close together. All in all, a very frustrating weapon to fight against unless you were incredible at dodging.

    In the first nerf attempt, Valve nerfed the Loch-n-Load to not exceed more than 124 damage per hit, giving weaker classes a Last Chance Hitpoint to fight back... except they also gave it an extra shot per clip, making it just as easy for players to keep spamming the weapon and so blow up any survivors. Gamer Muselk then showed it was extremely easy to chain the Loch-n-Load with the Eyelander, turning the supposed weakness into a strength so the Demoman could keep gaining health. Finally, in another patch Valve nerfed the weapon to only deal extra damage to Engineer buildings, making the speedy grenades the only reason a player would choose it in combat over the Grenade Launcher.
  • The Half-Zatoichi, despite being available for Soldier as well (like the Reserve Shooter), is much more useful for a pure (boots and shield) Demoknight, as its one downside (can't be sheathed until you kill with it) is inconsequential, as a pure Demoknight only has a melee weapon anyway. And while it lacks the increased range that the other swords have, it also lacks the "no random crits" attribute, meaning that if he misses the guaranteed crit swing from the charge, he can still get a random crit, kill an enemy and get his health back anyway.
    • As of the Tough Break Update, this weapon has been changed considerably. For one thing, it can be holstered without drawing blood, but doing so will make you lose 50 health. It is also considered a sword in-game, meaning that it has a longer melee range in exchange for deploying and holstering slower. Finally, the Half-Zatoichi now only gives you 50% health on a kill (though this health can overheal you) and it no longer deals random crits.
  • The Loose Cannon. Its main gimmick, the Double Donk (that is, timing the fuse to hit an enemy once with the projectile and then the projectile immediately blowing up for mini-crit damage) would fall into Difficult but Awesome territory, were it not for the fact that, unlike many other weapons with situational mini-crits (i.e. the Cleaner's Carbine and the Back Scatter), it retains the ability to roll for random critical hits, which is not fun when they happen.
    • Due to the ability to shorten the fuse on the projectile, the Loose Cannon is also reviled by Pyro mains, as it presents a Morton's Fork to Pyros who try to airblast the projectile; those who fail to reflect it get Double Donked and blown up, but those who do reflect it may end up with the projectile blowing up in their face anyway.

  • Natascha was highly controversial for a time. In theory, it was supposed to be weaker because it did less damage per bullet than Sasha, and its "slowdown" effect was meant to make it a support weapon that made it easier for teammates to hit people you were shooting at (or for you to land more bullets on them). In practice, the slowdown effectively became a tractor beam, making anyone that been shot ONCE, regardless of distance, become a statue, allowing even more shots to be landed. Thus, the second weapon to be banned in competitive leagues. The Australian Christmas update tweaked the slowdown so that it's reduced at long range, and increased its spin-up time so that Natascha-wielding Heavies were easier to ambush.
  • The Über Update gave the Heavy the Tomislav, a minigun with a silent and fast spin-up that does slightly more damage than Natascha. In effect, the faster spin-up time turned the Heavy into the most powerful ambushing class in the game, even moreso than the Pyro, who was designed specifically for ambushing enemies, because the slow spin-up time and the loud whirring of the Minigun's barrel were supposed to be the Heavy's greatest weaknesses. Immediately after the update hit, Heavies could sneak up behind their enemies and mow them down effortlessly, to the point that the reduced damage output didn't matter at all. Another problem was that since it spun up faster, the slower firing speed didn't matter at all since the time saved spinning up could be used to kill most weaker enemies faster (which makes a large difference in the case of a Medic) versus the regular Minigun. So trying to sneak up on a Tomislav Heavy to perform an ambush was futile, since they could turn around and mow you down half a second after you land your first hit. A patch which lowered its spin-up time reduction from 75% to 40% somewhat rectified this, and an additional patch almost completely eliminated the spin-up bonus.
  • The Gloves of Running Urgently, originally released in the Polycount Update, gave the Heavy unprecedented mobility for virtually no penalty. While it was the active weapon, the Heavy lost 6 HP per second, but had his movement speed boosted to match that of other classes, allowing him to keep up with teammates and move to the front lines much more quickly. The health penalty was originally intended to penalize the Heavy and force him to work with teammates, especially Medics, in order to maximize its usefulness. But pocket Medics and Sandviches made the lost HP a moot point entirely, and Heavies could additionally simply equip the GRU and make a fast getaway for no penalties if a fight turned the wrong way. In addition, the health drain could be exploited to effectively provide a very small Double Jump, slightly increasing jump distance even more than the increased running speed already did. The health drain penalty was eventually replaced with taking Marked-For-Death Mini-Crit damage while the weapon was active and for 3 seconds afterwards, forcing Heavies to utilize them more strategically. A future update plans to do away with the Marked-For-Death effect in favour of re-implementing the health drain, but now its 10 HP a second which is regenerated once the player switches away from the gloves.
    • If a Heavy were to jump and switch away from the GRU, he would retain his running speed until he landed, without being subjected to the full health drain. Many players would use scripts to automate the process of GRU-hopping with perfection, allowing them the speed boost with none of the disadvantages. Coupled with a pre-patch Tomislav, the main disadvantages of the Heavy nullified. The Mini-Crit debuff was added to circumvent this exploit.
    • Prior to nerfing the interaction, a Heavy who just ate a Buffalo Steak Sandvich would have its speed boost stack with the GRU's innate speed bonus. While the GRU still had a damage penalty, the heavy was fast enough to blaze through enemy fire and punch them to death—faster than the Scout, evennote . That's right. He was a better Demoknight than the Demoknight. The GRU's speed bonus no longer stacks with the Buffalo Steak Sandvich.
  • The Heavy's Sandvich was somewhat overpowering for quite some time. Its initial alternate fire threw the Sandvich onto the ground to act a Medium Health Pack. It was intended to have Heavy be a Support-lite who heals buddies, but Heavy could also pick up the Sandvich as a health pack. A fleeing Heavy who is able to heal himself for 150 HP instantly basically killed any reason of eating it the normal way. Combine this with the Gloves of Running Urgently, and you suddenly have a very mobile Heavy that can get to the front lines for negligible penalties. The devs later removed the self-healing feature, only allowing a Heavy's teammates to pick up the Sandvich for health, while the Heavy must physically eat it in order to regain health.
  • The Fists of Steel when first released. Sure, you take double damage when hit by melee weapons (usually resulting in OHKO when engaged in melee battle, especially against a Pyro with the Axtinguisher), but the fact that it provided 60% damage resistance against ranged weaponry allowed Heavies to survive fully-charged headshots, as well as Sentry barrages. Add on to that the fact that everyone instinctively backpedals and shoots at a melee equipped Heavy usually. This was later reduced to 40% ranged resistance, and a weapon switch time penalty was implemented as well.
    • At one point, it got bad enough that a Heavy equipped with the Fists of Steel, while backed by a Medic, could wade into Sentry Gun fire on Capture the Flag maps, grab the Intelligence, and simply waltz back out, as the combination of overheal and damage resistance meant that the Heavy had a total effective HP of over 1100, and was being healed for effectively 60 HP/second, just under the fastest rate at which a Medi Gun can normally heal players. The same thing could be done with carts on Payload maps, completely shutting out most push or defense attempts, with exceptions such as an Axtinguisher Pyro. A future update plans to tone down this combination by reducing the healing rate and the amount the Heavy can be overhealed by while the Fists of Steel is equipped.
    • Things got hilarious when a glitch was discovered, where disconnecting from the server after playing the Amputator (which gives a small amount of healing to everyone in the Medic's radius) would cause the healing effect to stay. It was possible for a Fists of Steel Heavy to wade into point-blank minigun fire and punch the enemy Heavy to death with health to spare.

  • The Engineer Update set a new standard for turtling. One of the Engineer's new weapons was the Wrangler, which allows an Engineer to take personal control of where his Sentry Gun shoots. Not bad by itself, but this also gives the Sentry infinite range (along with the fact that it has no damage falloff, meaning it does full damage at any range), and among the Wrangler's features is that it doubles the Sentry's fire rate (which is basically double damage), and projects a shield that causes it to take only 33% damage, tripling its HP. With no downside apart from disabling the Sentry for three seconds when the Wrangler is un-equipped or when the Engineer is killed. Instantly banned in competitive play. Over the years it was nerfed to reduce the repair-rate of the Sentry by 66%, same as its shield strength, and for the wrangled Sentry to be less accurate and have damage falloff. Now a few compeititve rulesets allow it.
    • Among the new features in the Engineer Update is the ability for an Engineer to pack his buildings up and move them. Which was a very welcome change as Engineers could move Dispensers and Teleporter Exits with the team without needing to rebuild everything. But when you can move your Sentry Gun as well, and combine it with the Wrangler, you could take over and lock down an entire area given about six seconds of nobody noticing you.
    • The Engineer can also use the Sentry's knockback to shoot himself into otherwise unreachable locations with the Wrangler (called Wrangler-jumping or Sentry-jumping) and set up nigh-impassible choke points, especially not when supported from traditional Engineer campsites by other Engineers. Additionally, some of these places could still be built on prior to some major map overhauls, so was possible to build a Teleporter Exit that cannot be reached by the enemy team.
  • The Gunslinger made quite the splash, creating a new breed of aggressive Engineers which, unlike before the update, was completely effective and caught players entirely off guard. It replaces the Engineer's wrench with a robotic hand that grants him more health, and instead of his giant Sentry he builds a tiny Mini-Sentry. This Mini-Sentry has a lower damage-per-second and health than even a Level 1 Sentry and can't be repaired or upgraded. So what makes it so powerful? Its tiny size. The usual anti-Sentry classes like Heavies and Soldier have trouble against Mini-Sentries because of their lower accuracy, having to compensate with a wide area of damage. Against a tiny Mini-Sentry they can't land enough hits on it unless they get closer, which allows the Mini-Sentry to get more hits on them. Combine this with its 3 second deployment and low metal cost, and you find yourself struggling to break a Mini-Sentry only to find the Gunslinger Engy deployed another just after you destroyed the first. Things weren't helped by various bugs that let sentries heal themselves while doing their construction animation, or the one that let it become a Level 3 mini-sentry. Valve eventually patched all the bugs, increased its hitbox to make them easier to destroy, and adjusted its building process such that players can destroy the mini-sentry before it finishes construction. While the Gunslinger is still hated, the community has more or less adapted to it.
    • The Gunslinger itself is also a point of contention. It grants the Engineer 25 more health points with the only downside it has as a melee weapon is that it can't randomly crit. Instead it has a quirky mechanic where it does a guaranteed crit after successfully striking an enemy three times in row. As can be expected, there were bugs that allow an Engineer to "store" swings on teammates and grant a guaranteed crit whenever needed (until said bug was patched).
  • The Pomson 6000 got a lot of hate for its low risk vs. reward and capability to easily counter two of the Engineer's counters. Its normal attributes weren't anything to write home about, and its ability to penetrate targets was only really useful when holding down a corridor due to its mediocre damage at long range. The main problem came from its ability to strip 10% ÜberCharge from a Medic for each shot landed; just hitting a Medic twice (which is really easy to do given the projectile's large hitbox detection) was enough to set their charge time back by 16 seconds, long enough to create a window with which to kill the Medic while he's helpless; this becomes a major problem when a Medic has a full ÜberCharge meter, charges forward, only to have it taken away the second before he's able to pop it, completely shutting down a push attempt. Teammates trying to body-block these shots, the natural tendency when trying to protect a Medic, were also wasting their time, given the Pomson's ability to penetrate targets. The Mann vs. Machine update removed its penetration ability, greatly reducing its spammability. Gun Mettle further neutered it by applying falloff on the Uber and Cloak drain, and once Meet Your Match fixed invisible Grordbort weapon projectiles, the Pomson was declared less worthwhile than the stock shotgun (in fighting Medics, at least).
    • The same weapon also made Spies ineffective. While it didn't affect Cloak and Dagger Spies (although they could be found much more easily simply by shooting everything with a pistol), it heavily affected the Dead Ringer Spy. The Dead Ringer can only activate upon a full cloak, so being glanced by one shot meant you had to wait several seconds before you could actually cloak. A sharpshooter Engineer could hit potential Spies long before they realized what had happened and deny them fake deaths in enemy territory. It also didn't help that the Pomson made a tell-tale noise whenever it drained Cloak or ÜberCharge, whereas every other hit-related sound in the game is disabled if you hit a disguised Spy. Suddenly Pyros were no longer needed.
  • The Short Circuit, a secondary weapon that disintegrates projectiles and does Scratch Damage to enemies when fired, and before its string of nerfs, was one of the only weapons on this page that was genuinely a game-breaker. Released as a Deus Ex: Human Revolution promo, it was widely shrugged off as being a gimmick weapon for turtling Engineers, since it had a high metal consumption rate of 36 and piddling damage, limiting it to being used when hugging spawn or Dispensers. Additionally, it took the same spot as the Wrangler, and even with the 2013 Summer Update (half metal cost on hit, full for miss), it still didn't manage to make a dent in its chances. Enter the 2013 Winter Update, which gave it the firing rate of the Pistol, and made all shots cost only 5 metal; now Engineers were running into the battlefield, even in groups, vaporizing enemies as quickly as the Pyro's Flamethrowers, and rendering Soldiers and Demomen helpless by vaporizing their ammo as fast as it was fired.
    • Due to the fact that the Short Circuit was so powerful against classes that normally counter engineers, and fact that people were abusing a defensive tool to wipe out enemies and even destroy Robin Walker, the Short Circuit was soon nerfed. A minor patch (1/9/14) increased metal cost for destroying projectiles (to 15 metal) and lowered the damage even further. A second nerf the next month prevents Engineers from gaining metal from dispensers while the Short Circuit was the active weapon, reducing the Engineer's ability to camp at a dispenser and spam the weapon. While the firing rate was still left untouched, these nerfs encourage Engineers to time it on projectiles, especially if the dispenser is not full or there are no ammo crates nearby.
    • In the end this still wasn't enough, and in the Gun Mettle update the gun was tweaked again by splitting it into two firing modes. Primary fire only uses 5 metal per shot and shoots 6 times a second (same as before) but can't destroy projectiles anymore, while secondary fire does destroy projectiles but costs 15 metal and only fires twice a second.
  • The Rescue Ranger allows you to remotely move your sentry at the cost of Metal, if it's within your range (as in, you need to be aiming directly at the sentry). Combine that with the Wrangler and its ability to Rocket Jump, and you're suddenly much more able to deploy your sentry where you're not supposed to). In addition, you can remotely repair the sentry by shooting at it, which is meant to make it last a few extra seconds until you get to it and smack it with your wrench, but it can be very easily abused if you know what you're doing. An upcoming update is attempting to solve this by giving each long-range repair a metal cost.
    • Oh, and there's also the "Sigafoo Save" - a technique that allows Engineers to make their sentry survive the full duration of an Uber Heavy. It's simple: when the Medic pops an Uber, pull out the Wrangler briefly then switch to the Ranger, healing any damage done to the sentry while switching back to the Wrangler periodically to keep up the sentry shield. This was eventually remedied when the Wrangler's shield also reduced the ability to heal or repair the Sentry, even via Rescue Ranger bolts.

Given how much benefit a skilled medic is to his team, Valve have been overall rather cautious with granting new weapons to the Medic. However a few of his weapons are at least better than their piers that they deserve mention here.
  • The Vaccinator's ability to heal its user was an incredibly strong asset in a game where Shoot the Medic First is in full effect. As long as the Medic kept the vaccinator on the right damage type that was being dealt, it would heal the medic a large portion of damage that his patient took. On top of that the Vax grants a small damage resistance to the selected damage type, and could deploy its version of the ubercharge more frequently. In shorter more violent game modes like king of the hill, it eclipsed the other three mediguns. The healing ability has since been removed.
  • You see Medics equip the Ubersaw more than any other melee weapon. It bestows 25% Ubercharge on every hit in exchange for a 20% slower swing time. Technically, the stock Bonesaw offers better melee DPS, but if you're reaching for melee in a firefight the extra swing speed is not going to help much. Due to players using the Ubersaw either for spychecking or for sneaking in melee hits for bonus Uber, this "downside" of a slower swing speed is practically nonexistent.

  • Believe it or not, the Darwin's Danger Shield, albeit only in PUGs and competitive play. The largest threat to a Sniper is other Snipers, and the Danger Shield's bullet resistance and extra 25 HP allows the wearer to tank a quick-scope headshot, or a fully charged body shot, even offsetting the Machina's damage bonus. An upcoming update to the game plans to rectify this by removing bullet resistance entirely and redesigning the Shield to provide afterburn immunity alongside 50% fire resistance.
  • Similarly to the Danger Shield, the Razorback is disproportionately useful in higher level play. While a mere nuisance in standard play (where a Spy can easily gun down a Sniper and a second Spy could finish the job), Snipers are arguably the most powerful class in high-level Highlander matches, and is the focal point of a class-combo. Since the combo includes Medic (who almost always overheals the Sniper so he doesn't get quickscoped) and Pyro, this means that it's nearly impossible for a Spy to kill the class that he supposedly counters. To counter this, the Razorback was given a unique stat that made it impossible to get overheal, with the intention of making sure at least enemy Snipers can counter the combo.
    • Ironically, many leagues, such as UGC, ban the Machina due to the damage it deals when fully charged, even though the only reason Snipers can get away with the constant tunnel vision that entails is because they don't have to worry about Spies.
  • The Bushwacka was extremely powerful when first introduced. The weapon crits whenever it would normally mini-crit, almost doubling its strength. The Sniper has Jarate and the Sydney Sleeper, weapons that can force minicrits on the target, which essentially gave the Sniper the ability to easily assassinate anyone at close range - the opposite of where a Sniper should be capable. It initially only had the penalty of 20% fire damage taken, which didn't really matter against Pyros, as a Sniper within flamethrower range is screwed with or without the damage increase. It could also randomly crit, so there was almost no reason a Sniper wouldn't carry one even if they didn't use Jarate. It was initially nerfed so that it couldn't randomly crit, giving the Sniper at least some reason to use the Kukri over it. Finally, it was nerfed again so that the wielder had a general penalty of 20% extra damage taken while the weapon is out, which made the "Jarate-Chop" into a high-risk high-reward maneuver if the enemy could react.

  • When the Spy vs. Sniper Update came out, the Spy got two new invisibility watches that could (1) let the Spy stay invisible indefinitely, or (2) fake his death and become essentially invulnerable for 6.5 seconds while ignoring the bump-into-reveal-cloak penalty. Not so bad by themselves since they also had significant drawbacks, but at the time of the update, the Spy also got his own taunt kill, which could still be performed while invisible. And killing the Spy mid-taunt could mean nothing. Valve spent several patches fixing these oversights.
    • The first release of the Dead Ringer let him cancel it immediately. Add the fast recharge and as long as you constantly clicked to keep it active and cancel any faked death, you had about 1200 HP (ten times the normal amount or so). Compared to the 300 HP Heavy being the tankiest class by Valve's design, the Spy was basically immortal until a patch fixed this. Now it drains down to 40% every time you cancel with more "Cloak" than that, as well as having a cooldown of sorts.
      • It was still reliable when it started draining at cancel, because you could decloak (loudly) right before touching a big ammo box, and then immediately ready it up again. Combine this with the typical player mentality of "kill enemy > capture objective", and you could take an easy MVP on defense with virtually no kills by just being an unkillable pest near the attacking team's spawn. In particular, Gold Rush stage 2 point 2 was virtually impossible to lose because of the abundance of ammo back near point 1. This was eventually fixed by severely reducing the amount of cloak that can be gained from large ammo boxes while holding the watch in question.
      • Despite all that, the Dead Ringer still got reworked, because the feign death feature was used by Spies for the damage resistance rather than any attempt to fool enemies. This promoted reckless play, with Spies running around as a very specialized assault class looking for backstabs, and using the damage resistance to get away scot free. The new Dead Ringer as of the Gun Mettle has a new speed boost upon trigger, playing into it being used as an escape tool. But as a trade off, the damage resistance is overall lower, and after 3 seconds the Spy takes has the normal damage resistance when cloaked and flickers when shot or bumping into enemies.
      • All of the above was still not enough of a nerf to stop a Dead Ringer from frequently and repeatedly feigning death, with the next planned change intended to prevent Spies from regenerating the watch by collecting ammo pickups.
  • The Enforcer was another Über Update weapon that was controversial upon release. With a 20% damage increase, its only disadvantage was taking a little extra time to become invisible. The Dead Ringer instantly cloaks the Spy upon taking damage. The additional damage allowed Spies to fight on the front lines and deal a surprising amount of damage to pursuers, which completely eliminates the Spy's class disadvantage of not being able to handle a direct fight. Add on the Spy-cicle, from a Smissmas update, which let the Spy backstab enemies without them screaming and extinguish fire on himself, on top of the pre-nerf Dead Ringer, and you get Dr. Enforcicle, a loadout who terrorized pubs for years. This got especially terrible when a certain glitch with the Diamondback allowed players to exploit infinite crits with the Spy's primary weapon. However, the Enforcer has since been nerfed and now has a slower firing speed, only causes the damage bonus when the Spy is undisguised, and can't deal random critical hits. The enforcer still lets the Spy 2-shot classes with 125 health, in contrast to the 3 shots of a revolver, still giving Spy a good tool against Scouts. The Spy-cicle was nerfed to have victims scream when backstabbed, and reducing its fire immunity to 1 second with 10 seconds of afterburn immunity.
    • The Gun Mettle update nerfed the weapon even further, this time changing the damage bonus to only apply when disguised. So if a Spy misses that first shot, he's stuck with a standard Revolver that fires slower.
  • The Red-Tape Recorder ruined the game for Engineers to the point it was patched the day after its release. It didn't destroy buildings the normal way, instead it reversed building construction on buildings; downgrading Level 3 buildings to Level 2, then 1, before slowly deconstructing Level 1 items into ammo. While interesting on paper, Engineers soon realized that it was removing a level once every 1.6 seconds — the exact time it takes to swing the wrench twice and remove it. In other words, an Engineer needed to swing his wrench at the exact second the sapper was placed, or his building lost a level (a.k.a. 200 metal). Even if Engineers synchronized their hits perfectly, the Sentry would still be sapped and remain completely inactive until the Spy was killed.
    • This was alleviated when the downgrade time was extended from 1.6 seconds to 3.0 seconds. While the change was completely understandable, the RTR is now frowned upon as a direct downgrade to the Sapper. Since the RTR takes 14 seconds to finish off a Level 1 Sentry (or 7 seconds for Level 1 Dispensers and Teleporters), the fact it will almost never fully kill a building means that it's only good for weakening guarded buildings for allies or paralyzing mini-sentries.

  • The first Polycount Update (along with Australian Christmas) brought this with the 'set bonuses.' Having an entire set of equipment grants bonuses and flaws on top of existing ones. While bonuses and flaws aren't exactly new, what made it game-breaking is that some of these first sets didn't come with any flaws at all. Somebody with the item set hat had a pure advantage over someone who didn't (A player with the Special Delivery set while wearing the Milkman has 25 more HP than a player without the hat, while carrying the exact same weapons). This was eventually rectified by making future sets purely cosmetic or having small enough bonuses that they didn't matter, and the initial Polycount Sets had their bonuses merged into the weapons.
    • The Polycount item sets drew a lot of hate and ire since they required players to wear a hat alongside the items, and hats are a Hell of a lot harder to come by than weapons. Both in random drops and in crafting. So until the set bonuses were merged into the weapons themselves), the only ones who were able to take advantage of the item set bonuses were the ones that either got lucky in item drops or crate openings, were willing to grind out the Refined Metal needed to craft the hats, or simply purchased the hat from the Mann Co. Store.
  • The Halloween Spells ran into balance issues when it became possible to add them to non-Helltower maps. Teleport was the worst: the nature of Helltower's design made it impossible to teleport outside of the map note , but on just about any other map, it was child's play to teleport out of bounds. A canny Engineer could easily build a Sentry nest under the ground, making it impervious to attack by anything except a Spy that managed to reach your teleporter, but entirely capable of insta-gibbing you the second you left spawn. Valve eventually removed Teleport from the spell list for non-Helltower maps.
    • Carnival of Carnage, another spell-enabled map, has a similar problem. Acquiring the rare Minify spell or being under the effect of Merasmus' shrinking curse and being in the right place when it wears off allowed you to get inside the rock wall under the giant Merasmus head. You could then build a Sentry nest inside the stone, sit back on your Rancho Relaxo, and watch anyone who goes near the Strongmann machine die and not be able to do a thing about it. This exploit lasted for nearly a week before it was fixed.
  • Exploits in general seem to come up frequently and are excruciatingly difficult to deal with fairly. While a complete list would fill up this page, one particularly grievous exploit early in the game's history allowed players to get under the map, making them invincible while they shot up through the floor at unsuspecting players. Engineers could build Teleporters to facilitate this, then build Sentry Guns directly under the enemy spawn to keep enemy players from doing anything, leading to ragequits. This was quickly patched.
  • The Gun Mettle Update and the Love & War update both showed, in varying ways, that designers of Payload maps are very lax when it comes to determining what sets off the bomb explosion at the end. note  The Love & War Update added bread objects which occasionally spawn when using a Teleporter; on Upward, a crafty Engineer could build a Teleporter Exit near the pit which would cause a bread object to spawn, triggering the explosion. Thankfully, it was patched soon afterwards. However, a year later, the Gun Mettle Update changed the way dropped weapons work, so that now they were physics props rather than pickups, and also added medium ammo boxes on death that are also props. People found various ways of spawning ammo boxes inside the pit via High-Fiving someone and then committing suicide (caused by the High-Five pose causing the ammo box to spawn in an awkward position) and tossing weapons, especially oblong ones such as the flamethrower, on the last point until it clipped through. It took three patches to fix all this. And again, shortly after the Touch Break Update, it became possible for a Pyro to pick up and drop a Flamethrower repeatedly to set off the final capture point in Borneo.
  • Many weapons become this intentionally in Mann vs. Machine, due to the horde-mode nature of the game mode and the fact that most weapons can be upgraded. Weapons with unique and useful abilities can often have their drawbacks all but eliminated with upgrades.
    • The Kritzkrieg replaces its Ubercharge with giving the patient guaranteed Critical Hits and has a faster charge rate than the default Medigun. Medic can create barriers to block damage in this mode to substitute for an Ubercharge, and canteens for Uber are cheaper than canteens for Crits, so there is no reason to use the default Medigun.
    • If your team is running a Sniper instead of a Demoman, chances are he will use the Hitman's Heatmaker. It grants the Sniper a damage boost by charging its damage while reloading and allows the Sniper to continually aim down his scope when "Focus" is enabled. It only takes three kills to activate Focus, and kills made under Focus refill the bar. The Sniper Rifles can be upgraded to deal splash damage on headshots, so a Sniper using the Hitman's Heatmaker can stay scoped in and mow down waves of robots until he's out of ammo.
    • The soldier's banners, especially the buff banner, are what make him such a valuable team asset in Mvm. In exchange for a shotgun that you will never use, you get the ability to boost you and your teams mates damage every time you fill the rage meter which is quick often in MVM.
    • The Demoman's bootlegger/ Alibabba's wee booties normally are only used by dedicated demonights, but here the added health more than makes up for loosing the grenade launcher even without using a shield. Its highly impractical to upgrade both the sticky launcher and the grenade launcher and the sticky launcher's proficiency in eliminating medic's is what makes him great in Mvm. So the cost of a weapon you will hardly use for added durability is a no brainier.
      • combining the above with the Eyelander is even more powerful. The bootlegger offsets the eyelander's initial hp loss, and once you get even a single kill with the eyelander you will be at an advantage. The eyelander gives a nice hp and speed boost for everykill, capping out at four. With four measly kills you can eliminate the demo's two biggest weaknesses in Mv M his fragility note  and his lack of speed.
    • The Heavy's Holiday Punch. Whenever the weapon crits or strikes an enemy's back, it forces the enemy into a long laughing taunt. Not only did this work on robots, but it worked on giant robots. Instead of having to fight giants the hard way, the team Heavy could just repeatedly tickle them while his team shredded the giant. The Holiday Punch had its ability outright removed in Mann vs. Machine, which was the first time a weapon was nerfed only in Mann vs. Machine.
    • The heavy's brass beast gives extra damage and durability at the cost of spool up time and mobility. In MVM the heavy spends most of his time near a dispenser and doesn't need to move around much unless something goes wrong. If the speed reduction bothers you, you can just buy more speed anyway.
    • The scout has the fan-o-war which marks an enemy for death. Slap a giant with one and the extra damage your team does will outweigh what you could do with any bat.
  • Playing on a "Randomizer" fun server gives you a random class and random combinations of weapons/gear from different classes every time you respawn. Depending on RNG and luck, you can get some obscenely broken combinations - such as a Heavy who can run as fast as a Demo and heal half of his health (on each hit) with a Black Box, or a Scout with a Minigun and a Jag which lets him build sentry guns instantly.

With how useful some class and powerup combos are, it's no surprise that the gamemode was in beta for ten months.
  • Haste works well with certain classes and weapons, in some cases, a little too well. For Scouts and Heavies, it also helps that with the ammo bonus also comes a doubling in lunchbox items that can be used at a time.
    • Scouts become even faster, and can swing their bats about as rapidly as an insect uses its wings, causing their DPS to skyrocket when they get in close. And if you thought the Force-A-Nature was already bad enough, it can now unload 4 shots in one second, meaning they don't even have to send you into a pit to end you.
    • Heavy gets this even more if he combines Haste with the Gloves of Running Urgently. The GRU brings him up to 100% normal speed, combined with Haste brings him up to 130%, almost as fast as the Scout, and also increases the rate he can throw punches. With this, you could probably take Fat Scout seriously.
    • Medic can combine this with the Blutsauger to become nigh-immortal, as the draining is very capable of outpacing any damage he might take.
    • Huntsman Snipers with Haste can effectively bolt out fully-charged arrows at a ridiculous speed. Given the arrows' odd hitbox they don't need to take time to aim to roll into a headshot.
  • Agility with a Pyro. You thought they were Demonic Spiders before? With Agility, they have the speed and maneuverability of a Scout, and combined with the flamethrower, you get an unhindered force of fire that you can't get away from.
    • Can also work with the Spy. If you're good enough, you can backstab someone, cloak, and get away before anyone else realizes what happened. Rinse and repeat. If you have enough practice, it can almost seem like he's teleporting around the place.
  • What's that? You can't get the hang of Soldier? Precision is your friend here, as it makes all of his rocket launchers (well, except for the Rocket Jumper) fire very quick missiles that are devastating at any range. Oh, and they all get a clip size increase, which is pretty nice.
    • Any class with the Shotgun and Precision can become a threat at long range, as it eliminates bullet spread and damage fall off, to the point where you may as well be using slugs instead of shells. Nice aversion to Short-Range Shotgun, eh?
    • The Heavy with Precision might as well be cheating. The Grappling Hook, when used right, already negates the Heavy's problematic mobility, leaving only his limited range as a weakness.......until now.
  • Knockout to any class setup that relies on ranged weapons is very easily avoided. To a pure Demoknight, however, it's a must-have. The melee damage increase is nice, but the real prize is the immunity to knockback, meaning that, no matter what, you will get your target. Pairs especially nice with the Eyelander, as it does 108 on a regular hit, and 323 on a crit, one-shotting even a non-overhealed Heavy.
  • Plague for the Spy is pretty strong. Touching an enemy player will cause them and anyone nearby on their team to permenantly bleed until they can find a health kit. This'll work even if you're disguised. See that big cluster of the whole enemy team? Tap the Medic on the shoulder and they'll all be dead pretty quick.

And so on and so forth. Every time an update ships, you can be sure that somebody will be complaining that the Metagame has been completely ruined.