Team Fortress 2 Soldier Guide



Team Fortress 2 Soldier Guide by GhosTz

I’ve been meaning to do this for a while, and finally stopped being lazy.

This guide is mostly focused on Soldiers who either want to make the jump to competitive 6v6, or who just want an upper hand in pubs. However, there are quite a few things in here that apply to all classes, so even if you don’t like playing Soldier, you might still learn something.

This guide is very much a work in progress, so keep that in mind. I still plan on adding more sections specifically for 6v6, but I figured I might as well post what I have so far, and keep on editing it. I also plan on recording some videos for most (if not all) sections of the guide to demonstrate what I’m talking about.

I’ve been writing all this in a Word document, so if you would like the Word file instead (for offline reading purposes, or otherwise), let me know and I’ll format it up nicely and upload it.

So…without further ado:

Settings

HUDs
Customs HUDs generally make everything easier to look at, and remove some of the clutter of the default HUD.
Some popular ones are:
m0re’s HUDScreenshot
PVHUDScreenshot
Community HUDScreenshot
Brousel HUDScreenshot
Garm3n HUDScreenshot

Personally, I use m0re’s HUD, though I’ve recently been trying out Garm3n’s.

Crosshair
Ideally, you should go for a bright colored crosshair that is easy to see no matter what map or team you’re on. I use a yellow dot for my primary, but I know a lot of people like bright green as well. I also play without viewmodels, so I use Aron’s crosshair switcher to give different weapons different crosshairs, so I know which weapon I have out without having to check the ammo. It can glitch out occasionally, but generally it’s very useful to have.
Update: As I recently started using Broesel’s crosshair switcher instead, and prefer it over Aron’s because you edit the .cfgs directly. It can be found here.

Viewmodels
Again, I recommend Aron’s Crosshair Switcher for this. I suggest playing without viewmodels, as it gives you a larger view of what’s going on, although there are high level players who play with them all on (eMg’s Mackey uses viewmodels). In the end, it comes down to personal preference, so trying playing without viewmodels for a few days (it might seem awkward at first), and see if you like it.
Another thing I recommend doing is turning tracers off for your shotgun. They’re mostly just a distraction. To do this, I recommend installing Aron’s switcher, then going in and changing the shotgun viewmodel_fov to 0. If you don’t have the switcher, you’ll have to fiddle around with scripting a little, and that isn’t my strong suit..

Graphics
Using a custom graphics config generally makes things easier to see, and will increase your FPS (although keep in mind, if you got a 60hz monitor it can only display 60 FPS. There are many theories and arguments related to FPS that I won’t get in to, but as far as visuals go, a 60hz monitor can only display 60 FPS.) A popular config is Chris’ http://www.fakkelbrigade.eu/chris/configs/
If you have a good computer, I would download the High Frames config. If it’s not so great, go for the Max Frames. The configs have instructions in them, and comments on what certain commands do. You can open the config in Notepad and change things as you see fit (I added facial expressions and eyeballs).

Null-cancelling movement script
There’s quite a debate on whether to use this or not, but personally, I like it. It removes the ability to stop movement by holding down the opposite strafe key of the one you are pressing. So if you’re holding A, and start holding D as well, you’ll start strafing right instead of stopping. Here’s the script (put it in your class .cfgs):

Code:
// Null-cancelling movement script
// (prevents you from pressing two opposing directions, which causes you to stop moving)

bind w +mfwd
bind s +mback
bind a +mleft
bind d +mright

alias +mfwd "-back;+forward;alias checkfwd +forward"
alias +mback "-forward;+back;alias checkback +back"
alias +mleft "-moveright;+moveleft;alias checkleft +moveleft"
alias +mright "-moveleft;+moveright;alias checkright +moveright"
alias -mfwd "-forward;checkback;alias checkfwd none"
alias -mback "-back;checkfwd;alias checkback none"
alias -mleft "-moveleft;checkright;alias checkleft none"
alias -mright "-moveright;checkleft;alias checkright none"
alias checkfwd none
alias checkback none
alias checkleft none
alias checkright none
alias none ""

All credit to Povohat for creating this script.

Advanced options
A few things you want to turn on are: autoreload, damage numbers, and hitsounds.
Autoreload: One less thing to worry about.
Damage numbers: Great for calling out to teammates how much damage you’ve done, and you can quickly add them up in your head to figure out if your target is near death or not.
Hitsounds: Very useful for knowing where enemies are. Fire a rocket around a corner, and if you hear a “ding”, you know someone’s there.
I’m not a huge fan of the default sound, so I use the Quake one, which can be found here (among others):http://tf2dingalings.com/sounds
cl_interp: No one seems to fully understand what the best setting is for this, but the majority of soldiers set it to 0, which (usually, depends on the server) will default to 0.0152.
Fast weapon switch: Fairly straightforward; makes switching weapons quicker. Enabled by going to Options-Keyboard-Advanced, and check the “fast weapon switch” box (..and while you’re there, check the developer console box too, if you haven’t already).

Video showing my crosshairs/viewmodels

Unlocks

Primary
Rocket Launcher: The most used by far in 6v6, and for a good reason. Four rockets, versatile, and handles everything very well.
Direct Hit: Some teams will get their roamer to switch to Direct Hit if the other team has extremely aggressive soldiers, as it can pluck jumping soldiers out of the air with relative ease.
Black Box: Fun to combine with Gunboats in pubs, but I would not use it for 6v6. As a Roamer, I think having one less rocket is very hindering, and as Pocket it’s completely useless.
Liberty Launcher: I’ve always viewed this as a crutch for bad Soldiers. Almost a Huntsman with explosive damage. Again, one less rocket as well.
Cow Mangler 5000: No.
Rocket Jumper: I obviously would not use this in a scrim/match, but it is nice to have while you’re waiting for players to join/ready up, as you can jump all over the map without taking damage. Although you are bound to run into people who still try their best to kill you, which can be annoying.

Secondary
Shotgun: The most used secondary. Does good damage, and has 6 bullets ready to fire at your command. Great for finishing off enemies, as you can hit them with a good rocket or two, then switch to your shotgun to land the killing shot.
Buff Banner: I have not used this enough to form a solid opinion on it, though I have seen it used at times. (Proved to be popular on Viaduct, if I recall correctly.)
Gunboats: A lot of higher level players think this unlock makes playing the Soldier more forgiving, as you can screw up and still manage to jump to safety. Which, as it happens, is a good reason to use it. :P It’s very useful when attacking, as you can get around fast without taking much damage. If your team is being pushed back far, I would recommend switching back to shotgun, as it’s more effective on defence. Gunboats would not prove to be all too useful on your last point of Badlands, for example.

The other secondaries are banned in most leagues, as far as I know.

Melee
No reason not to use the Equalizer, really. In the same way as the Gunboats, it occasionally lets you get out of sticky situations, and if you’re at full health you probably shouldn’t be using melee anyways.

Gameplay

Rocketjumping
An essential skill to learn. There are plenty of video guides out there, but I shall give the basics. If you’re completely new to it, I recommend starting simple. Look down at the ground, jump and shoot almost at the same time, but keep the shooting after the jump. Do that several times until you’re used to the motion and timing. Once you’re comfortable, add in the crouch. It’s basically the same as the first jump, except you put in crouching between jumping and firing. You should gain much more height. Once you can consistantly do it with jumping and crouching, try the following: walk forwards, then turn your mouse about 100 degrees to the right (hold A to keep going straight when turning), and do the usual jump/crouch/shoot. The moment you do that, snap your mouse back to where direction you’re headed in. You might want to start out slowly with the mouse movement, but try to quicken it when you’re comfortable with motion. You do not want to be one of those Soldiers who walks backwards for 10 steps, does an awkward jump, then slowly turns around in mid-air. When you’ve got all that down, you can try other jumps. One basic step up is using a wall to jump from, instead of the ground. Another one I frequently use when spawning and catching up to my team is the skip jump. You do this one by starting a low jump (jumping off a wall instead of the ground), then as you’re passing over the ground (or a prop), fire down at it, and you’ll get a big boost. One example of this is when you have the forward spawn on cp_granary. You come out of spawn, rocketjump off the wall to your right, and then do a skipjump off the little building with the slanted roof. This should land you around the chokepoint to the middle point. Then you grab the healthpack on your side, jump off the healthpack wall, and do a skip jump off the middle point, which will land you at the other healthpack, which you then grab and keep moving.

Another big part of rocketjumping (and control while in the air) is airstrafing. It’s a simple concept, and you shouldn’t have much of a problem learning it. While you’re going through the air, you want to hold A and slowly and steadily move your mouse to the left. Hold D and move the mouse right to go right. The faster you turn your mouse, the sharper your turn will be, but keep in mind that if you turn too fast, you’ll just keep going straight, and only move your crosshair.
If you really want to improve your jumping capabilities, I recommend practicing on the Jump It server. It runs jump maps 24/7, and is a great way to take your jumping to the next level. The ip is 64.74.97.15:27015

Rollouts
I’m not going to cover them in detail here, as it would take too much time, and there are plenty of videos on YouTube covering it. Details aside, the roamer will usually take two jumps during freeze time to get out of spawn, then switch to equalizer to run to mid with 50-80 health. Once close to mid, the roamer will switch to his rocket-launcher and reload it as the medic heals him to 300, before he jumps off and does his own thing. The good thing about this method is that it takes advantage of “crit heals”. Because the last time you take damage is the last little jump during freeze time, you will receive crit heals by the time the med-beam touches you, and so will get up to 300 in no time. Here’s a good video explaining how it works: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XL7Tzq168Bs

Aiming and Prediction
The “shoot feet, get kills part” of the guide. For the most part, prediction really comes down to playing against good players and learning their general movement patterns, both when they’re aware of you, and when they’re not. Competent players will do more than alternate mashing A and D. They’ll switch it up and throw in some W and D in their strafing as well. For example, when you jump a Medic, you’ll probably expect him to start backing up, so he might decide to move towards you, resulting in your rocket missing by a mile if you fired it at where he was going to be if he backed up. Of course, if he backed up, he could’ve jumped as your rocket hit and surfed the explosion to safety, so it really comes down to snap/instinct decisions. I recommend watching demos of some high level Medics to see how they move, especially when under fire (If you’re brand new to 6v6 and don’t know any names, look up demos of PYYYOUR, TheFragile, and Harbleu, to name a few. However, since you’re reading this guide you most likely will not be playing against players of their caliber, so watch some lower level games as well).
To keep it simple: the further away your target is, the more you will have to take his movement into consideration. Because of this, I do not recommend firing all your rockets at someone across the map who is aware of you. Unless you’re spamming a choke point or trying to spam them back, you’re just wasting ammo. Which, conveniently, brings me to my next point…

Ammo management
This was the main reason I refused to play Soldier back when I mained Scout. It may seem like a small problem, but it can become big quicker than you think. If you’ve been following this guide through, you will already have taken the first step by turning auto-reload on. Next, it’s important to try to always keep at least one rocket loaded. Never arbitrarily spam rockets without a good reason. Learn where the ammo packs are on the map, and how many rockets they give you. Always try to keep your ammo count at 4/20 (hur-hur), so unless necessary, don’t fire rockets when you’ve just taken an ammo pack but are at 4/8.
If you’ve just finished an engagement where you used your rocket-launcher and your shotgun, always switch back to your rocket-launcher to reload that first, then your shotgun (there are exceptions, but those are up to you to decide).

Juggling
Juggling is another important skill to master, as it lets you control the enemy’s movement until they’re…well…dead. It basically comes down to place rockets in positions that hamper the targets movement, and continue firing rockets where you can keep him bouncing around. I think the best way to learn this would be to 1v1 someone in MGE mod, which I’ll cover later on.

High-ground
Always take it when possible (and when strategically sound…don’t abandon your medic). If you’re on the ground and the enemy has height advantage on you, he’ll have a huge advantage over you, as he can rain rockets down on you, and you’ll have a much harder time hitting him. Another advantage of high ground is that you’ll be able to see more of the map and react on time to threats. When taking height advantage away from an enemy by jumping up to where he is, keep in mind that he might be able to rocket you out of the air, so throw in some airstrafes to throw him off. If you do get hit while jumping, don’t just freeze up and go “hurrrrr..”, ‘cause you’ll be easy pickings for a second rocket to hit you. Instead, hold crouch (which you should’ve been doing already), and immediately start strafing out of the way.

Airshots
Overrated at lower levels, but still good to learn. From my own experience, and from watching newer soldiers come across airshot opportunities, I think the one major factor of basic airshots is muscle memory. If someone randomly flies up, you want to develop the muscle memory to almost instinctively snap your aim up and fire. Two good maps to practice this are tr_rocketshooting2 and tr_airshot_v0

Roles of the Soldier

The soldier is broken up into two “sub-classes”: the roamer and the pocket. The roamer is the soldier who is often on the flank operating without heals, and can be called in to make a play to create an opening in the enemy’s defence. The pocket is the soldier whose main task is to defend the medic, and (usually) with the demo, be the driving force of the team.

Roamer
Some of the important elements of playing roamer are positioning, timing, health management, denying the enemy territory, rocket jumps, and being able to effectively switch to playing pocket when your main pocket soldier goes down.

Positioning: Fairly straight forward in theory; your position on the map. Most roamers will play on the flank with a scout, though some teams keep the roamer closer to the combo. It would take too long to go over specific areas to be in, but basically you want to hold an area that prevents the other team from flanking you. That is what I would call the “macro” of positioning. The “micro” would be how you move and position yourself in combat. For example, one common roamer technique on the badlands mid rollout is to jump on the enemy train immediately so you have the high ground and can rain down rockets on them.

Timing: With timing, I mean choosing when to move in, bomb the medic/demo, and all that good stuff. If you hold off too long after your team moves in, your team is basically one down. If you go in too early, it’ll be you vs the other team, and you’ll get focused down in no time. Ideally, you want to go in the moment the two teams engage each other. Sometimes the team caller might decide to send you in to make the medic pop his uber to gain the advantage, but on my team I usually go in once I get the call that my team is fighting the other team. Distractions are king.

Health management: Since you’re the soldier who isn’t humping the medic, you need to learn how to play with no buff and low health. Always try to go for healthpacks first, before hassling the medic for heals. The medic should have his hands full keeping the pocket and demo alive, without having to worry about healing you as well. However, that doesn’t mean you should never get buffs from the medic. As long as your team isn’t taking a lot of damage, I think it’s important to get that buff to 300 before your team pushes, and if you’re damaged while fighting and your pocket is 300, you can always “rotate” your soldiers, which means the pocket jumps to where you are to take over the fighting, while you fall back to your medic to get healed up.

Denying territory: This just comes down to enforcing your presence on the flank, and not letting the enemy push you back. For example, when you’re holding the stairs on granary 2nd, you have the advantage because you have a healthpack and ammo on the stairs, so the enemy flank should not be able to push you back. However, if the combo decides to take the flank, it’d probably best to spam them down and gtfo out of there.

Jumps: I covered the basic in the RJ section, but in the “macro” sense, I mean deciding where and when to jump. For example letting a team who’s just sitting around building uber see you jump into them is probably not the best idea. The best offensive jumps are done so that the enemy team does not know you’re jumping until your first rocket hits. This mostly comes down to jumping from where they can’t see you and airstrafing around, and jumping when they’re distracted.

Pocketing: Basically, you want to take over the pocket role when your pocket soldier goes down. I’m not a great pocket soldier so I can’t give amazing tips, but I’ll give you two basics:

  • If there’s a lull in the game, build your medic’s ubercharge faster by damaging yourself with rockets. If the medbeam leaves you to heal another teammate, stop damaging yourself until the healbeam is back on you.
  • Protect your medic. Since your pocket is down, you should probably hold back a little bit so the enemy team can’t push in and overwhelm you. (Provided they have the man advantage.)

Practice and Improvement

DM servers
Deathmatch is a pub server with 10 slots, with limits of 2 scouts, 2 soldiers, 2 demos, and 1 sniper. Everyone spawns near one point (mid for 5cp maps), and whenever you die, you instantly respawn. This is for improving your raw DM capabilities, which is just your aim, reaction time, movement and all that good stuff. It’s also good for learning how to fight multiple enemies at once (this will happen a lot in DM), or for surveying a fight and quickly determining who is weak and targeting them first. Keep in mind, this is NOT about points or your KDR. It’s about improving. Don’t worry about a terrible KDR, because that really does not matter at all in DM.
Here are two DM servers:
96.8.112.104:27015
96.8.114.10:27015

MGE servers
Same idea as the DM servers, but now you’re 1v1 in a small arena, most of which are based on actual map points (badlands mid, granary last, gullywash mid, etc). As in DM, you’ll instantly respawn when killed, but you spawn with a full buff. First to 20 kills “wins” the round. Again, this is for improvement. You’ll run into plenty of “MGE heroes” who do stupid things to win which they would never (I hope) do in a match or scrim, but if you’re reading this, I assume you’re not one of those fools.
Few servers:
206.217.136.201:27015
64.94.101.38:27015
206.217.140.146:27015

Jump servers
As mentioned in the RJing section, Jump-It is a great server for RJ maps:
64.74.97.15:27015

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