The Masochist’s Lament: Why do I torture myself with underpowered things?
I swear it’s some kind of curse. In nearly every game I play I seem to gravitate toward the least powerful option as my favorite of the bunch. In a way, this sort of makes sense to me, because a lot of these characters and weapons have things in common, generally a certain level of complexity or versatility that just doesn’t quite mesh properly. Usually, this leads to things being very satisfying when it all comes together, but sometimes I’m not sure if the general frustration with how much harder I have to work to meet a certain par is worth the catharsis of doing really well with something that shouldn’t have worked.
To get a sense for what I mean, a history of this trend. I think it stretches back to Halo 3, to a very small extent. See, I hated the Battle Rifle. Still do, honestly. I’ve never liked burst-fire weapons of any sort. It was here I think my contrarian nature in competitive games began to take hold as I refused to use the Battle Rifle, instead opting to improve my aim with the basic Assault rifle. It sucked against people better than me, but I had more fun with a weapon that felt better, so that was good. I think my refusal to use the “meta” really solidified in Battlefield: Bad Company 2, however. Sniper classes were kind of the king of that game, .50 calibers particularly. Assault rifles and other rapid fire weapons, much like any modern-set shooter, were likewise favored for the other classes. I was not a big fan of how most of these weapons felt either, and gravitated mostly to the Engineer class because vehicles annoyed me greatly, leading to my threefold loves: The 870 MCS shotgun, Anti-Tank Mines, and my good buddy Karl Gustav, the rocket launcher. With these I became a pseudo-sniper, using shotgun slugs and long range recoil-less rocket launcher bullets to kill people I could have more easily capped with a .50. I had plenty of fun, though was frequently frustrated that an AN-94 had roughly similar time to kill as my shotgun, but more easily.
I played few shooters “seriously” after that, but I played a lot of Team Fortress 2, from 2008 to 2014 it was by far my most played game. I mained Spy, there. Even played a season of UGC Highlander and did pretty well overall (as recorded in bottom quality video). As time went on, however, it became clear that Spy is…in a bad spot. part of the reason I stopped playing actually. On top of the massive amount of counters to his disguise and invisibility, the class was saddled with bugs that made it nigh-impossible to play seriously and map design didn’t help matters (the map in the video is one of roughly three that caters to proper Spy play), but getting those game changing picks, back-caps, or satisfying chainstabs made it all worth it…to a point. I did eventually get fed up and swap mains to Demoman after that, but the game just wasn’t the same to me and led to me finally dropping it a few years back.
I had affairs with many other underpowered options over the years, in various formats, from Pathfinder’s Monks in tabletop to the Hammerhead Shark in Depth to Zaslamel in Soul Calibur IV, but what inspired me to write today’s retrospective on my bad (class) choices is Doomfist, of Overwatch fame. Man, I love Doomfist. But I hate Doomfist. There’s nothing in that game like a good Doomfist kill. The sound effects on his attacks are so punchy, the brutal animations as people are slammed into walls and pillars, and their realization of Impending Doom as they’re uppercutted into the sky (or off a ledge) is one of the primary factors that keep the game feeling good over long periods to me. But man, did this character get shafted. Even ignoring the laundry list of bugs the poor guy is saddled with, and the immense hitbox nerf his punch got, the guy has so many counters it’s insane. Any stun ability (Flashbang, Hook, etc.) will negate the punch. Any movement control ability will negate or diminish the punch (Lucio’s boop, Orisa’s gravity vortex thing, etc.). Any advanced mobility will negate the punch (Genji dash, Tracer teleport, Reaper shift, etc.). A couple of characters can even just negate the punch (Bastion in turret made, Orisa with her LShift ability up). And don’t even get me started on Sombra and Mei. Given this is a character that is mainly only capable of killing people with his punch, I think I may have found the pinnacle of my masochism. Not even Spy has this many hard and soft counters, and Spy has a lot.
No matter what I do I can’t seem to escape it. I only like things that suck, or are at least somewhat non-optimal. I can’t stop myself, it’s not even a purposeful “challenge mode” (usually) to prove how cool I am. I just happen to gravitate toward characters and things I identify with, and they almost invariably are inferior to other options. I’m beginning to think it’s some kind of subconscious cry for help. If so, I clearly need a support group. Any other masochists out there?
What do you think? Let us know in the comments below
#The Masochist’s Lament: Why do I torture myself with underpowered things?