There is a tldr at the end of the 2nd post in this thread
Edit: Really short follow up survey with some whitelists the survey suggests here https://docs.google.com/forms/d/10FrzunEPluz9T6rA60hvNlQcsVefTcGIAypR56DAZJc/viewform
The survey into banned unlocks got just short of 200 responses. Given the length of the survey this is good, and given the size of the competitive community this is highly representative, it’s as if a political poll in the US were filled in by 10s of millions of people.
There will be an element of selection bias in terms of those who filled it out probably strongly adhering to a specific agenda, but this is extremely hard to quantify. Any interpretation should probably be slightly softened to account for this, but still there are some very clear indicators.
We will also learn why Sun-on-a-stick might be the most important unlock in competitive TF2.
Let’s start on a positive note. Some unlocks received overwhelming positive support, clearly improve the game and get a lot of use. They are:
Iron Bomber might be a bit of a surprise inclusion but it’s viewed very favourably and is generally welcomed. The Overdose was also given a lot of agreeable coverage, but it’s hardly ever used due to the dominance of the Crossbow.
Other unlocks that were strongly judged to have an overall positive impact on the game but weren’t quite in the same class are:
Cloak and Dagger
The Crossbow is the most controversial of these having a lot of fans but some hardcore opponents as well (it had the highest deviation of scoring amongst any generally positively perceived unlock). However although it’s detractors may be highly vocal on the forums, it receives clear support here. I’ll go into the Crossbow voting breakdown later.
Ban this filth!
Just as some unlocks seem to receive universal support, some are the target of opprobrium. The following unlocks were on average rated as “disagree” or worse to the question “this unlock should be allowed in 6v6”. On a scale from 1 to 5 I’ve picked out those that scored less than 2.5 on average and are therefore below the range of “unsure” and would be rounded down.
Baby Face’s Blaster
Your pet hate may or may not be on the list, but it seems like a lot of these are predictable - demoknight, unlocks giving crits, unlocks affecting movement and weird random shit.
However some of them are rarely played. Adjusting for the amount that players report facing them we can create a misery caused index of which the top 10 are:
If Pomson is the mechanic everyone hates, Jarate is the unlock that causes the most grief closely followed by Natascha. Getting rid of the unlocks in this list (although only the top 4 have above average utilisation, above the dotted line) would probably produce the biggest quality of life improvement for the most players if you were only to make minimal changes.
A lot of players may think Gunslinger is somewhat benign but it’s no surprise to discover that scouts in particular hate this unlock and the mini sentries that go with it.
I should make it clear though that respondents that identified themselves as scout almost universally dislike all unlocks more than anyone else, often even their own.
Honourably bad mentions go to the Vaccinator and Cow Mangler. Their usage rates would actually give them quite high entries on the Misery Index if their overall inclusion scores hadn't just scraped them into average unlock rating territory. I'm still not sure if this is the right way to go about it, but these are the kinds of edge cases that make a statistics based approach potentially unreliable
Bones of Contention
Averages will only get you so far of course. Some unlocks are the source of divided opinion and that in itself can be an acceptable reason to consider an unlock ban to protect the innocent from the tyranny of the majority.
Cow Mangler 5000
Killing Gloves of Boxing
Your Eternal Reward
Ali Baba’s Wee Booties
Just like the disliked list above, many of these items rarely see any play. Sun-on-a-stick, Holiday Punch and Your Eternal Reward for example. Who so controversial then?
If we look at usage rates combined with variance of opinion we can finally see why the not particularly controversial Crossbow is the subject of such debate
Cow Mangler 5000
Ali Babas Wee Booties
Of these only the Crossbow, Market Gardener and Wee Booties are above average in terms of being allowed, with the Crossbow clearly above that. Let’s take a look at the Crossbow in more detail to see why it’s so controversial.
One reason is that although it is generally positively viewed by everyone else, it is massively popular amongst medics, but the population that identified themselves as medics is too small to create a large scale imbalance themselves.
The other group that drove up the controversy score on this one were scouts, in particular NA scouts. Even so despite opinions being very split, the overall trend was to a positive perception even among this group.
Looking at the Cow Mangler (which is much more typical of all unlocks in this list) it’s a little different
It’s much less popular, and for some reason Demo players are bumping this thing up as a group. But as with the Crossbow although you can see some groups have differing opinions either way, the items themselves simply seem to be controversial in their nature.
There is a fundamental split in opinion on the allowing of some unlocks that we will explore next.