Team Fortress 2 still stands tall as one of the best online shooters ever made - especially on the PC where it continues to go from strength to strength thanks to community content and an outrageous amount of unlockable hats. In fact, we love absolutely everything about TF2, but nothing more so than its character classes.
We love the Scout for his slippery speed and cocky attitude. We love the Engineer for his deadly turrets and handy teleporters. And we love... to hate... the Spy. Stop sapping my sentries, damn you! However, when it comes to paying tribute to a single class, there's only one option: a character who you'll barely notice if he's doing his job right. But without him on your team, you can kiss your capture points goodbye.
I'm talking about The Medic. Natürlich.
Let's start with a little history lesson. When designing Team Fortress 2's primary support class, Valve decided that existing videogame healers (in RPGs etc) were too passive, boring to play as and designed to skulk far away from the action. Gabe and the team were convinced that FPS gamers wanted to be in the thick of battle whilst being able to help out their comrades, and thus, the Medic was born. You can merrily boot up the director's commentary to hear more about how Valve came up with him - but for now, it's time to talk boomsticks.
As well as a thick Teutonic accent and a worrying lack of ethics, the Medic packs a couple of nifty regular weapons. His rapid-fire syringe gun is capable of flaying apart unwary opponents, healing himself and generally making life a nightmare for anyone who manages to underestimate him - and his trusty bone saw is the perfect instrument for performing invasive medical procedures on live subjects. These two armaments allow him to mix it up in the fiercest battles (and defend a control point or two by himself if he has to, trust me), but most of the time, he'll be rocking a gun that can't do any damage whatsoever. Otherwise known as the most powerful weapon in the entire game.
The medigun emits a science-defying beam of pure health (somehow) that continually heals any target it's tethered to. Not only that, but the Medic's ally becomes overhealed; allowing them to take more damage and survive falls, manoeuvres or feats of heroism that would otherwise It only works at close range, meaning that good Medics are to be found in the middle of the fiercest battles - providing house calls to injured players who summon him with a quick press of the E key. Without him, control points are lost, payloads are left unpushed and the whole team turns into a bleeding shambles.
As well as tanking targets, Herr Doktor can occasionally release an Ubercharge that makes his target invincible for ten seconds. When used intelligently, this move is capable of winning most engagements as well as racking up obscene numbers of dead enemies.
Most games tend to treat their support classes with disdain, and don't actually reward them for doing their job. In Team Fortress 2, however, the Medic earns assists for every kill his heal target makes - allowing him to dominate the scoreboards by simply being a team player and keeping his friends in good shape. After all, the Hippocratic Oath states: "First do no harm..."
Oh, and lest we forget, the Medic forms half of one of gaming's most impressive power couples. The Heavy and the Medic make for a beautiful friendship that's very, very difficult to separate. I'll let Penny Arcade explain.
So why do we love the Medic so much? Because he rewards players for being selfless in a genre that typically favours the selfish. Because he encourages tight teamwork and cooperation. Because he's a legend. And because there's nothing more satisfying than spotting a disguised enemy spy, pretending to heal him and then chopping him up with the bonesaw. Fact.