Right, time to write another post. It’s been a while and in honesty i’m only going to get more afk in the following months, but oh well.
This post intends to help you choose the perfect loadout for your Pyro, and should be updated any time a major change comes through. I’ve been playing Pyro pretty much exclusively for a few months now and i’ve tweaked my loadouts a number of times to try out different playstyles and to keep the class feeling fresh, and there really is a noticeable change when switching loadout; for example by changing your secondary, you can immediately see a difference in how passive your play becomes.
The most important thing here is that you need to define what role you’ll be performing as Pyro, and structure your loadout around that. A common mistake is to choose weapons based on their base traits – fine, but different weapons synergise better with some that they do with others. As an example, Flamethrower/Reserve Shooter is a combination which would possibly -not- synergise well, especially as with the RS you have only three seconds to deal minicrits.
As I touched on in my State of the Game: Pyro post, there are two main roles you can play with the class. The Defensive or Pocket Pyro will help defend an Engie nest or Medic/Offensive combo, reflecting spam and putting out ignited teammates. Of course, it would make sense for an Engie pocket to use the Homewrecker to destroy any sappers planted by spies, especially as their role is more passive and will be centered in one place. A Powerjack will be a poor weapon to choose – an Engie nest will no doubt have a Dispenser situated nearby, so the upside of the Powerjack (+75hp on melee kill) is irrelevant. For that matter, chances are that there will be few enemies within melee range of a level three sentry!
The Roaming Pyro is an infinitely more aggressive role – simply, it involves running around the map, setting up flanks and killing stuff. In a sense, it acts as the polar opposite to the Defensive Pyro – while the Defensive Pyro is passive, the Roaming Pyro has aggression, and as such weapons which work for Defense will have limited effectiveness for Offense and vice versa; the Powerjack in the hands of a Roaming Pyro may save his life if he is not close to a Medic, but a Homewrecker would have little use at all due to its crippled damage.
The best way to craft your loadout is to imagine what role you want to play. Are you intending to be an entirely self sufficient aggressive Roaming Pyro, at the cost of some damage output? Then maybe the Powerjack is for you. Are you a glass cannon; able to deal out massive damage very quickly, but may require healing? Take the Axtinguisher! Most importantly, test out your loadout in its desired role; if you’re running out of health a lot but you’re on a map with a lot of health packs, try out the Back Scratcher. Don’t be afraid to switch out weapons every so often – not only will you find out whether you use that weapon well, you can become more flexible in your play and adapt to situations a lot faster.
It’ll help a lot if you understand the mechanics of each weapon, and how they can synergise with other weapons. For the benefit of people who aren’t yet familiar with all of the weapons, i’ll list the benefits and disadvantages below, along with my recommendations.
Flamethower/Rainblower: Useful in Pyro vs Pyro fights when opponent is using Degreaser and Flare; additional damage means use of this weapon will help you m1 them to death. Using this weapon means being less reliant on your other weapons to finish enemies. Has ammo for 10 airblasts. Recommended!
Backburner: Flanking weapon designed so that the use of other weapons is not required. Crits when behind enemies. Has ammo for 4 airblasts; useful in a pinch, but don’t expect to rely on them.
Degreaser: Extremely versatile weapon which allows for more reliance on other weapons. Reduced effectiveness versus other Pyros. Has ammo for 10 airblasts. Recommended!
Phlogistinator: Useful when Mmph bar is filled, otherwise worthless. No airblast.
Shotgun: Very versatile weapon; unlike the Flare gun, useful against both Pyros and non-Pyros, and has a large ammo capacity. Can deal huge damage, but is limited by its close range. Recommended!
Flare Gun: Gives the Pyro immense range, and crits on hit (90 dmg) with burning enemy. Passive reload means Flare Gun reloads while other weapons are drawn. Ignites players and does 30 damage, but has extremely limited use versus other Pyros. Recommended!
Detonator: Slight variant of Flare Gun; does 45 damage on hit with burning enemy, but can be manually detonated. Promotes more passive play and allows for slightly more manoeverability through Detonator jumps. Passive reload.
Reserve Shooter: Variant of Shotgun; Minicrits airbourne enemies in the three seconds after it is drawn, but has an ammo capacity of three, effectively trading potential aggression for burst damage.
Manmelter: Crits can be stored by extinguishing burning allies: projectile travels faster than flare gun but does not crit on burning enemies. Rewards passive play with aggression, useful if airblasts are a commodity and you are willing to perform two roles. Avoid because Flare Gun already crits on burning enemy hit.
Scorch Shot: At time of writing, effectively worthless. Flare gun crit already deals knockback, and reduced damage means this gun is not worth using. Avoid until buffed.
Fire Axe/Frying Pan/Conscientious Objector/Third Degree/Sharpened Volcano Fragment: Useless, as your flamethrower does more damage and at range. Avoid.
Axtinguisher/Postal Pummeler: Does huge amounts of damage versus burning enemies in exhange for limited effectiveness versus other Pyros; but then using melee versus other Pyros isn’t very smart anyway. Recommended!
Homewrecker/Maul : Passive weapon, irreplaceably useful for pocketing Engineers. Recommended!
Powerjack: Grants health on kill, useful for Roaming Pyros on maps with few health packs or no medics. Recommended!
Back Scratcher: Passively gives extra health from health packs, and a little extra damage to boot. Can be useful in some circumstances, but usually better to use the Powerjack or Axtinguisher.
Neon Annihilator: Damages sappers but takes two hits to destroy them, also crits on wet enemies (such as jarate’d or mad milk’d enemies) at the cost of 20% damage penalty, meaning a smaller crit. Not really worth using over the Homewrecker, unless you’re being pocketed by a Milk Scout, and even then doesn’t do that much damage.