The Soldier is an all round class that has no particular strengths or weaknesses, because of this he is well equipped to deal with all of the classes to a certain extent (although he is more effective against some, than others), this is why in competitive games he is the one that normally protects (or pockets) the medic. He also has some of the best taunts and domination lines in my opinion.
The Soldier‘s basic weapons consist of:
The Rocket Launcher
This has four rockets already loaded and a further twenty in reserve. This is the soldier’s main weapon and it will enable him to deal a lot of damage in a short space of time, it can be used to rocket jump which trades health for horizontal and vertical movement. Rocket jumping can allow the soldier to move forward very quickly, or to get to a particular position or perch from where he can attack better.
This is a good finishing weapon and can be used in combination with the rocket launcher; you can pop the enemy up into the air and then kill your opponent with the shotgun. The shotgun also makes a good weapon to defend the any high ground due to it’s knock-back effect. A good place that this can be put into use is the spire on badlands, it is better than using your rockets because unless you are really good at air-shots you will most likely miss and by that time the jumping soldier will have the height and most probably, health advantage as well. However, if you use your shotgun you can normally push the jumping soldier away and by doing so, you will keep your height advantage. (which you should always look for as a soldier)
This is the Soldier‘s melee weapon and generally is only used when in dire need or if neither the shotgun nor rocket launcher is loaded. It’s also good when you don’t have your shotgun but want to do a close range attack without taking damage from a rocket.
Thanks to various updates the soldier now has a variety of unlocks in his armoury, these unlocks are:
These handy boots (despite being called boats!) protect you from 60% of the damage you take whilst rocket jumping, they allow you to do many more jumps than you would be able to have done before. These are good for roamers in competitive play because they reduce the amount of damage taken from rocket jumps and therefore it reduces the amount that the medic needs to heal him, which in turn means that the medic can spend more time healing the classes that need it more. (pocket and demo) Also, the loss of the shotgun isn’t a big blow to a roamer because most of the time they won’t live long enough to use it. The gunboats mean that you won’t have to rely on your medic or put a lot of pressure on him as the only significant amount of damage that you’ll take is from the enemy. (You can pretty much negate fall damage by making long, low jumps)
The Buff Banner
It is a handy banner which builds rage up as you do damage, and when you do enough you can sound a bugles and all of your teammates in the immediate area will get mini crits and you will get the assists. The buff banner is a good way to complement an uber, or to mop up after an uber has gone, because the mini crits will make short work of the already damaged enemy. The thing to remember is that if you die you will lose all of the rage that you had built up, so try to play slightly more conservatively and stick with your team mates or medic. Finally, by using the buff banner you are making yourself vulnerable to scouts as you lack an effective way to kill them (i.e. the shotgun)
The Battalions Backup
This builds up rage like the buff banner, however this is a defensive unlock and when it has built up enough rage it can protect some of your team mates and nullify 35% of the damage they receive and stop them from taking crit damage. A really good time to use this is when the enemy has just popped a kritzkrieg, as your banner will negate the effect and also protect from damage.
Nb: If you have a banner charged and you are about to die it is a good idea to use the banner anyway as it will give you a better chance of surviving. Another point is that you shouldn’t hold onto you banner for a long time, you might as well use it and get onto charging another. This also applies to ubers!
This nifty pickaxe does more damage as you lose heath, it also increases your speed so that you can get away quickly or make a last stand when it seems hopeless. When you are at low health and there are more enemies than team mates it is probably a good time to make a last stand and try to do as much damage as you can before you die, however, if it is the other way around you should try to get some health so that you can push up and pressure the enemy team.
The Pain Train
This an unlock for the Demoman as well as the Soldier, it allows you to captures the point twice as fast (scout capping speed) at the cost of becoming more vulnerable to bullets (10%). This makes you more vulnerable to hitscan classes such as the Scout so you should keep your shotgun when you are using this unlock.
The Direct Hit
This new rocket launcher fires its rockets 80% quicker, it does 25% more damage and it mini crits when you hit someone that you have knocked up into the air, all this and the cost of a smaller explosion radius, no more aiming in the general direction of the enemies feet, you now have to hit their feet or come very close. It can take down a sentry quicker than the default rocket launcher due to the extra damage. Also, due to the extra damage it can also one shot the lighter classes (Scout, Engineer and Sniper) when they are at close range.
The Black Box
This is the latest primary unlock for the Soldier, at the cost of a rocket, the soldier gets 15 health every time that he hits an enemy, this is good when there isn’t a medic nearby or if, for example you’re on the roof of point B at Gravelpit, you can regain the health that you lost from rocket jumping. The loss of a rocket means that you will have a harder time beating other Soldiers in prolonged duels as they’ll be able to do more damage than you will.
The Soldier is very different to the majority of the other classes in the game and therefore you need to take a different approach when you play the class. The most basic thing is ensuring that you keep you weapons reloaded, simple you may think, however, there is a way to go about it; in most situations you should reload your rocket launcher first as it is your primary weapon and as such it is capable of dealing with most threats. It also does more damage at all ranges than the shotgun so if none of you weapons are reloaded you should reload your rocket launcher first. If you can’t reload all of your rockets, at least try to get one reloaded so that you can rocket jump away to live another day.
When you see an enemy it may be very tempting to fire off all of your rockets at once, however, this leaves you in a bad position as you either have to reload at least one rocket, or change to your shotgun. Secondly, if you are facing a Pyro and you fire off all of your rockets as fast as you can it is easier for the Pyro to reflect them as they will know when the next rocket is coming. In order to stop this you should break up your firing pattern by waiting for a bit until you let off your next rocket. This has two advantages, as well as making it harder for Pyros and other enemies to predict when you fire your next rocket it also allows you to see where your last rocket went and you can adjust your aim as necessary.
You should always try to keep to the high ground, the main reason of this is because when you are using your rocket launcher it is a lot harder to fire up at someone and hit them than t(han) is to fire down, this is because when you are firing up you have to hit the person directly as you can’t rely on hitting their feet. One way to get around this problem is by finding something that you can fire rockets at that will cause the enemy to take splash damage. When you are attacking from the low ground you have two choices, either push up to the high ground or retreat. If you have support or there are only one or two light classes then it is advisable that you push up and attack them, however, if the odds aren’t in your favour it’s still best to retreat.
When you are faced with an opponent, a good tactic that you can use is to fire a rocket at their feet in order to bounce them up into the air, then, when they are in the air you can shotgun them, if you are really close then you can get 80 damage in with the shotgun which, together with the rocket is nearly enough to finish off a Soldier.
When you are looking to bounce an enemy into the air you should try to bounce them into a wall or other obstacle so that you can get an easy second rocket in, and if they are against a wall it will be a lot harder for them to escape. The only class that this doesn’t work very well against it is the Heavy, the reason why is because he is so heavy that he doesn’t bounce very much easily and he can continue to fire his minigun, which is devastating at close range.
As a Soldier your main role is to push towards the enemy and take and hold ground, you are most effective when you have a medic who can keep you constantly overhealed (even if you aren’t fully overhealed it can still help). If you are being healed by a medic it is important that you keep an eye out for Scouts as they are a big threat to any medic due to their ability to kill a Medic (and most other classes) in two hits.
If you and your Medic are attacked by a scout it is important that you stay with your medic rather than running off to try and kill the scout, the reasons for this are twofold, firstly the Scout is faster than you so you could be outmaneuvered and you have left your medic open, secondly, by staying with your Medic you are being healed and buffed which makes it harder for the scout to kill you.
The Soldier Versus the Sentry
Although not usually the first choice for destroying a sentry, Soldiers have their advantage over other classes when doing so. Like the Sniper, he can remain out of a sentry’s range and shoot from afar. The Soldier’s advantage is that with a fully loaded rocket launcher he will be able to destroy an engineer’s set-up faster than a sniper.
Number of rockets needed to take down a level three sentry:
Rocket launcher: 3
Direct hit: 2
The trick to taking down a sentry, (especially a level three) is to kill the engineer first. No amount of rocket fire saturation from a single soldier is enough to kill a sentry that is being constantly repaired by an Engineer. Try to get a direct hit with whatever rocket launcher you’re using, or if the engineer is hiding behind his buildings, use splash damage to your advantage (walls, floor, ceilings, even the dispenser or sentry gun). Once the Engineer is down, you can progress to take out his buildings with relative ease.
The direct hit is probably the rocket launcher most adequate for taking out a sentry. The justification for this is that it deals more damage than the other launchers, the projectiles fly faster and has a clip-load of four rockets. Since it only requires two hits, from a direct hit’s rockets, to destroy an unwrangled level three sentry gun it leaves the soldier two extra to kill the engineer and any other team-mates.
The Art of Rocket Jumping
Despite sounding like a suicidal move, rocket jumping is a skill any serious soldier must master. There are several handy uses and advantages of the rocket jump:
- The Soldier can appear in unexpected places, such as the top of buildings or Capture point C in Gravelpit
- A Soldier could use “mini” jumps, to move quickly across a map (these, ideally, should only take 27hp off)
- Many players forget to look up, and if that is the case, you have rather easy pickings, strafing side to side will reduce the risk of being hit.
- As a Soldier, you can do some aerial recon to see where the enemy is and if they have any sentries set up
- Depth of field is easier to distinguish when given a height advantage
The Role of the Soldier
The basic role is to take ground and control points, the class is the best suited for this job (unless you have amazing pipe skills) for a number of reasons:
Alright movement speed
Good weapons (projectile and hitscan)
Good health (2nd highest in the game)
Ability to rocket jump
The Soldier isn’t really weak or strong against any class, so it is hard to really counter him, the ability to deal out a lot of damage and his relatively high health add up to a good assault class. His weapons allow him to be effective at short and medium range.
The rocket jump is a key function in the soldiers arsenal, it allows him to cover a lot of ground in a short space of time, this is especially useful when you take into account the soldiers slower than average walking speed. It can also allow you to get onto ‘perches’ which are bits of scenery that you can land on, perches give you a height advantage over your enemy, making it harder for them to hit you with projectiles, although you do sacrifice movement for height. They can also be used to hide from the enemy, so you can play sneaky soldier. An example of this is the last or first point of badlands, on the lower left hand door (as if you were going to the spire) there is a sign above the door which can be stood on, this allows you to drop down behind the enemy and hopefully kill them.