The Infinite Zenith

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The Huo-Long Heater

The Huo-Long Heater (火龍, literally ‘flaming dragon’) is an antique wooden machine gun with a traditional Chinese dragon’s head is mounted on the muzzle of the gun. While deployed, a flashing ring of flame and smoke surrounds the user, lighting enemy players on fire and inflicts afterburn damage. Maintaining this ring of fire costs the weapon six ammunition units per second while spun up, even if not firing. In addition, the Ring of Fire will not take effect if the weapon is out of ammunition.

  • The Huo Long Heater was introduced during the Sleeping Dogs update. As a new heavy weapon, I was tempted to craft one because of its unique attributes. Unfortunately, the drop system did not provide me with one, nor did it provide me with the three Family Businesses required to craft it. I eventually traded a for one from a fellow who was interested in acquiring a Beggar’s Bazooka and had a spare Heater on hand.

  • The Heater is an incredibly amusing weapon to wield, setting fire to that which is still alive, but chews through ammunition very rapidly. A heavy wielding a Heater can nonetheless use this weapon to great effect on smaller maps if they kill groups of enemies and picking up their weapons.

The Huo-Long Heater deals the same amount of damage as the Minigun and offers some protection from most spies (skilled spies may jump over the ring of fire to perform a Backstab without being ignited). Because the weapon consumes ammunition while spun up, it is advisable to pay attention to nearby resupply kits or stay near an engineer’s dispenser. I typically carry a shotgun or Family Business as a secondary weapon to engage enemies rapidly, switching to the Heater when in close proximity with a group of enemies. The ring of fire provides additional firepower at close range and deters spies from closing the distance for a backstab. Given that the Heater runs out of ammunition extremely quickly, it is suited as a defensive weapon at close quarters close to a dispenser, or for payload, where the constant resupply offered by the cart makes it viable to use this weapon almost non-stop.

Kong King

Kong King is a King of the Hill (KOTH) map released in the August 10, 2012 Patch. The first urban map in Team Fortress 2, it is set in the middle of an unspecified Chinese city and is based on the video game Sleeping Dogs. The goal is standard fare for KOTH to capture the control point and seize it for a duration of 3 minutes, while stopping the other team from doing the same. Kong King is one of the widest KOTH maps in Team Fortress 2, allowing players several alternative routes to the hill at the map’s center. The hill is unique in that it can be accessed from two levels, the upper and lower levels. This forces players to pay more attention to their defensive strategies, as flanking the hill is more effectively conducted from the lower level. The urban landscape also permits creative jumping opportunities owing to all the clutter.

  • A soldier is best suited for providing long-range covering fire to defend those capturing the point and restrict the movement of the other team. Rocket-jumpers can easily reach the pagoda roof and start raining down rockets from there: from this position, a strategic view of the enter upper level is found, allowing soldiers to decimate high-value targets, such as Sentry Guns.

  • Engineers will make a world of difference on this map with their ability to make teleporters, allowing team mates to rapidly reach the capture point. Sentry guns are less useful, as there are no defensive positions from which to deploy them. Instead, a mini-sentry is preferred, given that it is built more rapidly and can be wielded as a distraction.

  • Medics play no differently than they would normally. The medi-gun is probably the best option: once another player is Über-charged from a safe position, it is possible to storm in and destroy all obstacles, whether they are sentries or other players. The clearing afforded may allow one’s team to recapture or revert the capture of the hill. Owing to the sheer amount of firepower being thrown around on the map, the Crusader’s crossbow might be a viable option.

  • The heavy’s firepower is less effective in defending the control point because there are four points of entry. Thus, heavies should circle the upper level and keep an eye on the narrow corridors, where it is significantly more difficult for the opposition to dodge the minigun rounds.

Whereas other community members may not necessarily share my views, the name “Kong King” is likely a combination of “Hong Kong” and “King of the Hill”, reflecting on Sleeping Dogs’ location. There are numerous Chinese character signs scattered around the map: RED team has the name 可靠的开挖破坏 (“Reliable Excavation Demolition”) and BLU team is 建设者联盟联合 ( “Builders League United”). Other various signs on the map include: igns read 油炸鱼排加炒薯条 (“Fish and Chips” ), 傳統的餐廳 (“Traditional Cafeteria” ), 紅色藥房 (“Red Pharmacy”), 酒吧 (“Bar”), and 土木工程產業公司 (“Civil Engineering Industrial Company”). This latest addition to Team Fortress 2 is most welcome: the map is a highly amusing replica of Hong Kong, right down to the signs, building style and clutter. The dimensions of the map makes teamwork especially important: the difference between victory and loss could be as simple as the presence of a lone engineer and well-placed teleporters.

Cleaner’s Carbine

Joining the Hitman’s Heatmaker in the rank of supressed weapons, the cleaner’s carbine is sniper’s latest secondary weapon and was introduced in the Meet the Pyro update. A submachine gun with a suppressor and folding skeletal stock, this weapon grants three seconds of guaranteed critical hits when it kills an enemy, similar to Killing Gloves of Boxing. To offset this boost, it has a reduced magazine capacity that is 20% smaller than the SMG and is further handicapped by a 35% reduction firing speed. Killing someone during a crit buff will reset its duration time to 3 seconds instead of adding it. When critical hits are active, the user gets the bonus for all weapons, rather than for just the cleaner’s carbine.

  • In practise, a suppressed SMG is immensely useful for defensive purposes: weakened opponents can be picked off, giving the weapon increased firepower. The weapon doesn’t always glow: it’s typically a sleek, black colour.

  • I’ve found the cleaner’s carbine to resemble the MP7 to some extent with respect to its appearance. The suppressed fire isn’t too much for stealth, but gives the carbine a heavier firing sound.

The cleaner’s carbine is more suited as a finishing weapon rather than a close quarters weapon for the sniper, given that it deals less damage per unit time compared to the standard Submachine Gun. The guaranteed critical hits for three seconds upon killing an enemy gives it utility in opportunistic situations, allowing for a handful of opponents to be dispatched. Given that the cleaner’s carbine fires more slowly, precision is more effective; reloading will consume a little over a second of the weapons’s critical hits.

The Original

Inspired by the original rocket launcher from Quake, the Original is a bulky, tan rocket launcher with a metallic tubular exhaust port, metallic and tan handles, as well as a distinctive oversized barrel. While the weapon is statistically identical to the soldier’s standard rocket launcher, it fires straight down the crosshair rather than an angle like the standard rocket launcher. This means that all rockets fired will be accurate, contrasting the small deviation experienced by standard rockets.

  • The Original’s first-person view model is at the bottom-center of the screen, and its rockets are launched straight ahead of the Soldier, as opposed to being fired at an angle. The Soldier holds the weapon normally in third-person view.

  • Accuracy means that I typically prefer the Original over the other rocket launchers. The launch sounds are particularly impressive, having a significantly deeper and more powerful feel to it compared to the standard rocket launcher. I’ve casually noted that one of the guys I’ve killed here with a lucky critical rocket is the same guy who was on my team many moons ago.

These traits make the original ideal for situations involving long-range bombardment, such as assaulting sentries or distant enemies. The main disadvantage is a minor one: the rocket trajectories mean that one cannot fire from cover. Thus, the Original is probably optimised for maps with open spaces. Then again, I’ve consistently fielded the Original over my other rocket launchers in most successful games, suggesting that the Original is every bit as versatile as the rocket launcher, making this a preference more than a strategic option.

The Hitman’s Heatmaker

The Hitman’s Heatmaker (affectionately referred to as the heatmaker) is the latest of the rifles to grace the Sniper’s loadout. It is a suppressed rifle outfitted with a sleek scope and features a wooden stock with a brown leather rest. The heatmaker is unique in that it decapitates the enemy on a successful headshot. The heatmaker also incorporates focus, a system similar to the Bazaar Bargain’s Headshot system: this time, the bonus is simply gained on kills or assists, rather than on successful headshots, and does not disappear on missed shots or body shots. Once the meter is full, the subsequent shot will activate the Focus state, granting the wielder an increased firing rate and  removing the necessity of unscoping after every shot. Like the Bazaar Bargain, the Hitman’s Heatmaker is made for accurate Snipers; bodyshots from this weapon suffer a damage penalty.

  • My initial impressions of the heatmaker are that it is a direct upgrade from the standard sniper rifle. While bodyshots are nowhere near as powerful, it compensates for this by being able to decapitate opponents on a headshot. When the focus meter is filled, a player will be able to prolong focus indefinitely by getting continuous kills. Another aspect I like about this rifle is that it fires suppressed rounds, giving the impression of a rifle optimised for stealth missions, not unlike the M21 suppressed from the CoD4MW mission All Ghillied Up.

  • The heatmaker is generally more useful than the Machina and the Baazar Bargain for the sniper with less experience in combat, given that it can fire while unscoped, unlike the former, and missing won’t cost the operator anything, unlike the latter. The only real disadvantage is that tracer shots are fired while focus is active, revealing the operator’s location to the other team.

The weapon requires 3 kills (or 9 assists, or any combination of those) in order to fill the Focus bar entirely. It triggers automatically if it is filled with a killing shot. While focused, the weapon will charge 25% faster, fire tracer darts similar to the Machina, and will not unscope after firing. This does not increase rate of fire, but the weapon will still charge while reloading.