The Engineer has possibly the saddest pool of weapons in Team Fortress 2. Not to imply that they are inferior, but only that he has fewer options and ultimately has received a bit less love from Valve over the years. Some of Engineer’s alternative weapons are so powerful that they have become an essential part of keeping your nest of buildings alive. However, many of his weapons instead focus on running head-first into battle and leaving your buildings behind you. Unfortunately, our Texan friend also has a few weapons that are just horrendous, providing one very small upside and many downsides.
Engineer’s Primary Weapons
The Shotgun is Engineer’s “ol’ reliable”, and it is capable of a surprising amount of damage. Dealing 50-90 damage per shot and 6 rounds in a clip, you are capable of two-shotting unsuspecting enemy Medics if you go unnoticed. An Engineer is often ignored in fights and not considered a deadly enemy, but he is capable of extreme damage at close ranges like many classes. Dealing chip damage with the shotgun is somewhat effective but the Pistol is significantly more effective. Unfortunately, the Wrangler and the Pistol cannot be used simultaneously, so using the Shotgun for chip damage is required for most engineers.
The Rescue Ranger is a primary weapon for the Engineer that actually provides a bit of utility as opposed to dealing very much damage. When it comes to protecting your nest of buildings, this is the optimal choice. If you are not worried about survivability or killing with your primary weapon, this is the best option. That being said, the damage output from the somewhat slow projectile bolts is still reasonable, but still much weaker than the Shotgun. It does have a more effective range than the shotgun, although hitting every shot on a target moving erratically with slow projectiles at long range is almost impossible.
Right-clicking will pick up your building if it is in your crosshair regardless of range, but it will cost 100 metal to retrieve using the Rescue Ranger. Firing bolts instead of shotgun shells, these bolts can be used to either damage opponents or repair friendly buildings. Metal is consumed at a 4:1 ratio when the Rescue Ranger is used for repairing buildings, making it a less efficient option than your wrench. But if your buildings are too far to hit with your melee, this can save your nest. If you have a consistent supply of metal then you can keep your nest relatively safe from a distance, allowing a variety of different nest positions.
The Frontier Justice has 50% clip capacity and gives 2 guaranteed crits for each kill from your sentry, and these crits are rewarded after your sentry is destroyed. One critical hit is granted for each sentry kill assist, and this “crit bank” caps at 35. These crits are lost if you die with them, or if your building dies while you are already dead. This is a risky primary with a steep downside that requires extreme accuracy and patience. Missing a shot is much more of a punishment when you have half as many shots per clip, and missing a guaranteed crit is an even greater gut punch.
But if you are willing to mount the risk, then the reward is dealing up to 180 damage at close range per saved crit. These crits are more deadly on servers that have bullet spread disabled. With this option disabled, the shotgun spread is locked to a consistent pattern. With this consistent pattern, it is easier to hit all 10 pellets, especially at a distance. With damage ramp-off disabled for critical hits, the Frontier Justice turns into a sniper when in crit mode, and this effect is stronger with bullet spread disabled.
The Widowmaker has a similarly high-risk high reward playstyle. The weapon design comes from Deus Ex: Human Revolution and was a promotional item for the game. Rather than using traditional ammo reserves and a 6-round clip, it loads directly from your metal reserves with no reloading required. 30 metal is consumed on hit, with metal rewarded on damage dealt. For each damage point dealt, you are rewarded with an equal amount of metal. Therefore, metal can actually be generated if you are consistently accurate. It does have a cool stat that is often forgotten, which is dealing 10% increased damage to your sentry’s target.
This is a pretty minor stat, if it was greater than 10% increased damage then it would be a remarkable stat. However, given that you are using your metal for bullets, you likely will not be constructing and defending large nests of buildings. With this in mind, when will you be shooting at your sentry’s target? Likely only when attacking offensively with a mini-sentry, but fighting in this manner is a bit risky given you will have half of your metal capacity upon constructing the mini-sentries. This only gives you half of your weapon’s clip, given that metal is your ammo. Being able to infinitely deal damage until you either take a bad shot or die is a cool idea, but it is difficult to maintain dealing at least 30 damage with every single Shotgun shot. For this reason, the Widowmaker is not picked up over the stock Shotgun very often outside of very specific and aggressive playstyles.
The Panic Attack is not necessarily a bad Shotgun, it even does some things better than the stock Shotgun. The main issue with the Panic Attack is that it really only thrives at extremely close range, so it is only worth using if you are closing that gap. Closing this gap is possible as Engineer, but it is very difficult and often relies on luck and the mistakes of your enemies. Outside of a very aggressive and slightly suicidal playstyle, this primary is not as effective as a regular Shotgun, especially when it comes to mid-range and long-range damage.
When paired with the stock Pistol it can be a strong Battle Engie option. At point-blank range with a perfect shot, this behemoth can deal 108 damage. If strictly used at the most effective range, the Panic Attack is very powerful. The damage fall-off and spread are so tremendous that using it beyond point-blank can unfortunately be very weak. With a pistol sidearm, you can deal effective damage at all ranges without the use of any buildings.
The Pomson 6000 is a monstrosity on par with the Righteous Bison, it almost seems like it actively trying to not kill your opponents. Your shotgun shells are replaced with a single slow-moving laser beam projectile that cannot be deflected, does not require ammo, drains Medi-gun by 10% and spy Cloak by 20% on hit, deals 80% less damage to buildings, fires 28% slower, and has 4 rounds per clip instead of 6. Dealing 60 damage per projectile sounds good on paper. It even sounds downright fun to use, the Cloak and Medi-gun charge drain on hit is just icing on the cake.
But in practice, your projectiles are stopped in their tracks by teammates if they make contact with the projectile within the first 128 hammer units of their path. Firing this into choke points would be extremely effective if the friendly fire interaction worked correctly, but using it near teammates is nearly impossible. If these projectiles did not disappear after coming into contact with teammates, then it just might be a good weapon. Clearly, this is not a bug, as they pass through teammates within 128 hammer units for the firing point. Greatly increasing this “teammate safe” range would also be effective at making it stronger and less likely to disappear into the void.
The Wrangler has seen a small set of nerfs and changes since it has been introduced, but it is still an extremely powerful weapon and gives the Engineer a much higher skill ceiling. By left-clicking with the Wrangler, your sentry will fire at your crosshair. By right-clicking with the Wrangler, you will fire rockets from your sentry if it has them. Did you know Engineer can rocket jump, and many jump maps can be completed by an Engineer using a wrangled level 3 sentry? Keep this in mind when building an Engineer nest.
Many positions that can only be reached by explosive jumping are areas where buildings can be built. This is how entire teams can find themselves running along the tiered circular roof of cp_nucleus, despite the fact that you can only reach this area by explosive jumping. There are many other “silly” spots that an Engineer can bring his whole team to, and the Wrangler is what makes it possible. Spy-checking is much easier with the Wrangler, especially when used in conjunction with a level 3 sentry. A barrage of rockets has a much larger radius than a Shotgun, making it much easier to sniff out invisible Spies.
The Engineer has a lot of potential movement tech, and one is constructing a sentry on top of himself. This will lock him in place and firing rockets near himself will build momentum despite the fact that he cannot move. When picking up this sentry, the momentum from the rockets and being pushed by the physical object that is on top of him will send our Texan flying. The concept of crushing yourself with an object to send your character flying is in many different video games and is referred to as a “stuck-launch” inside of Source Engine games. This is an important mechanic in Portal speedrunning. Team Fortress 2 Engineer Enthusiast Uncle Dane made stuck-launching as Engineer a popular movement tech and also created a tutorial.
Wrangle jumping into an unusual spot and using the Rescue Ranger to relocate your nest to your new silly spot really never gets old. Wrangling a sentry gives it a temporary buff of taking 66% less incoming damage, but while this buff is active, repairs are reduced by 33%. When switching out of the wrangled state, the sentry is disabled for 3 seconds but the buff is still active until the sentry is active. The firing rate of your sentry is also increased while manually firing with the Wrangler, with a different percentage increase depending on your building’s level.
Engineer’s Pistol is remarkably better than Scout’s, but it still struggles to measure up to the Wrangler. Scout has 36 reserve ammo for the Pistol, and Engineer has 200. This allows an Engineer to spray across the map with his Pistol basically constantly, provided he occasionally gets some ammo. This is a decent form of Spy-checking, as it is difficult to get past a constant barrage of bullets without being hit a single time.
The Short Circuit’s primary fire deals 10 damage for 5 metal and can be fired as fast as the Pistol. The effective range is point blank, or basically melee range. The secondary fire shoots a slow-moving energy ball with a limited range that destroys all projectiles it comes in contact with, aside from Medic syringes and the Righteous Bison/Pomson 6000 lasers. This costs 65 metal and can be fired every 0.5 seconds. If timed correctly, this can shut down a short segment of a Kritz projectile attack. Unfortunately, the metal cost, firing rate, and movement speed combine to make it ineffective at shutting down a complete Kritz attack as it once was able to. However, being able to delete even a few Kritz sticky traps is lifesaving for anyone within the radius of the mentioned glowing explosive.
Each energy ball impact with an enemy deals 15 damage, and damage ticks again if the energy ball hits a surface. It cannot crit, and mini-critting with primary fire deals 14 damage, and a secondary fire mini-crit deals 20 damage per tick. The Short Circuit can be effective in shutting down a Kritzkrieg Demoman or Kritzkrieg Soldier push provided an ample metal supply, but it is much more effective and safe to rely on a Batallion’s Backup buff as a counter. Like many laser weapons, it is able to tick opponents that are running in the same direction multiple times. This detail makes it an effective killing weapon against backtracking opponents, and many opponents will also instinctively backtrack when confronted with a glowing orb of projectile deletion.
The Jag has reduced damage to enemies and buildings, which requires an additional whack to remove a sapper. It does have a 20% slower repair rate, but a 15% faster firing rate essentially increases construction speed and repair rate by 15%. The increased firing rate appears to completely negate the decreased repair rate.
The most powerful stat, however, is the speed boost to the construction of buildings increased by 30%. This stat combined with the firing rate makes your construction speed look a bit like Starcraft 2. Being slightly less effective in combat and requiring slightly more effort to remove a sapper is a small price to pay for being able to build fast.
The Gunslinger is a monster of a wrench and is probably the most hated by other players who have to fight against it. It provides an additional 25 max health, bringing Engineer to 150 total health and making him a bit safer in actual combat. Replacing the traditional sentry with a mini-sentry seems like a potentially bad idea at first, but the increased construction speed and the firing rate of the mini-sentry make it perfect for a more aggressive combat Engineer playstyle. Keep in mind that with this playstyle, you still have access to building dispensers and teleporters for your team!
The Gunslinger also has some real killing power as well, and that is in reference to punching with the glove itself! Each punch deals 65 damage, and the third consecutive punch is always a critical hit, dealing 195 damage. This makes Engineer somewhat of a pick class, almost a Spy. Put in a 9v9 Highlander scenario, charging this crit punch and landing it on the enemy Medic can be game-changing. It is unlikely you will get that close to the enemy Medic without dying, but the very fact that Engineer should not be able to one-punch kill is why you may be able to get in close enough.
It really is unexpected and quite hilarious when pulled off, however, it may be more consistent to try and two-shot the enemy Medic with your Shotgun. Perhaps the most potent combo for Engineer is the Gunslinger and Wrangler combo. The Gunslinger’s mini-sentry already fires 50% faster than a level one sentry, and the Wrangler doubles the firing rate. This creates a powerful laser beam of bullets that is surprisingly fast, and extremely effective at denying opponents from flying through the air. However, many “Battle Engies” or “Combat Engies” prefer to use their mini-sentries more passively, throwing them up and running into combat. With this playstyle, a pistol is often a better option.
Stock Wrench is not a bad option, it is certainly what many Engineers prefer to use over the Jag. Increased hardiness against spies is helpful, but against an actual team, your sentry will likely fall as soon as it is sapped. In casual play, you may find that being able to remove sappers slightly faster is actually important.
The Eureka Effect is the funny Engineer’s best friend. Constructing and upgrading teleporters is 50% cheaper, and the construction hit speed boost is reduced by 50%. Metal received from ammo pickups and dispensers is also reduced by 20%. These downsides are a bit annoying, but nothing that prevents it from being a viable option. By pressing reload with this wrench out, you can choose to either teleport to spawn or at your teleporter exit. This allows you to get out of sticky situations easily, or get back to your nest quickly.
But for funny Engineers, this has another use! Provided you can create a sneaky teleporter exit in a spot that puts you behind the enemy, you can use this to repeatedly sneak up behind them. The ensuing killing spree will convince the enemies you are a wizard because your teleporter exit does not need to be active! This means your teleporter exit will not be glowing and spinning but instead looks almost like a regular piece of the map geometry.
Speaking of map geometry, many maps have long and flat objects resting on the floor that are not physical. This is in order to prevent players from bumping into them, but also to allow explosions to spread naturally. This is why stairways are actually angled surfaces, stairs will interrupt the path of an explosion and allow nearby enemies to take no damage. These non-physical objects resting on the floor can be used to hide teleporter exits, which are very hard to find when they are not spinning and glowing. A good example of map geometry that is non-physical and can be used to try and hide buildings (or sticky-traps) are the logs on cp_granary mid. In competitive play, it is somewhat common to hide traps in this spot.
When doing sneaky tactics as an Engineer, they can be foiled by teammates who bumble through your teleporter and start shooting at the sky to alert the enemy.
The final weapon to speak of is the Southern Hospitality, and there is not much good to speak of. Doing no random crits is not very important unless you are playing casual where random crits are enabled (and are also extremely likely with melee). But 20% fire damage vulnerability on the wearer is a very bad downside for a class that only has 125 health to start with. This wrench makes you squishier than really any class other than maybe a Scout with a Sandman, or a Spy with the Kunai or Big Earner.
For this squishiness, you are able to make enemies bleed for 5 seconds, which deals 8 damage per tick, 40 damage total. This, in addition to the base damage of 65, will deal a total of 105 damage, provided they do not interrupt the bleeding by receiving health from a health pack or resupply locker. This is not bad, but it is still less damage than your Shotgun can put out. This is only really worth using in combat provided you also have the Rescue Ranger and Wrangler equipped, because that makes it your last resort. If you find yourself being targeted by Spies, this can seem useful. But the increased risk of dying to fire makes it not really worth it, especially because Engineer nests are sitting targets for flare guns.