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Level 30 Focused Wave Projector Does not require ammo Alt-fire: A charged shot that mini-crits players, sets them on fire, and disables buildings for 4 sec No random critical hits Deals only 20% damage to buildings Cannot be crit boosted
A deadly device by any measure, the Cow Mangler will quantum disentangle Cows, Sheep, Humans and even Demomen!
— Cow Mangler 5000 publicity blurb
The Cow Mangler 5000 is a primary weapon for the Soldier. It is a large, shoulder-fired, retro-futuristic ray gun. Several portions are team-colored, and arcs of electricity appear periodically on the frontal nodes.
This weapon can fire up to four blasts of team-colored energy that, compared to the default Rocket Launcher, deliver 80% less damage to buildings. The blasts fired function similarly to rocket projectiles; as such rocket jumping can be performed without hindrance, and the shots can be reflected by enemy Pyros. The Cow Mangler 5000 features a "Mangler" bar in the HUD which serves as an indication of its ammunition clip. After the bar is depleted, it can be recharged through a reloading process in which the lever on the side is cranked. It does not incorporate the traditional ammo reserve used by other weapons, a feature shared with Righteous Bison, Pomson 6000 and Manmelter.
When the Mangler bar is full, pressing the secondary fire button (default key: MOUSE2) will cause the weapon to begin charging up. During this process, the entire Mangler bar is consumed and the Soldier's movement speed is reduced to a third (from his standard 80% of normal speed to roughly 27%). This charging period lasts for two seconds, after which a single charged shot is fired with both the speed and blast radius of a typical blast. This shot deals Mini-crits damage to players and will cause them to suffer six seconds of afterburn damage at the same rate as the Flamethrower. This can affect the Soldier who fired it if he is near enough. The charged shot also disables any enemy buildings hit for four seconds.
The Cow Mangler is incapable of firing critical hits via any means; while it can deal mini-crits as with any other weapon, it does not get random crits, attempting to critboost it via the Kritzkrieg or a Power Up Canteen has no effect, and it cannot even fire crits during humiliation. Only by reflecting one of its shots with a crit-boosted flamethrower can its shots be critical hits.
Enemies killed by the Mangler suffer a distinctive death by vaporization: they turn black, hover in mid-air while performing a specific disintegration animation surrounded by team-colored particles, and then disappear into ashes. If killed by a charged shot the victim is gibbed and the gibs vaporize individually whilst flying towards random directions.
In VPK files there is an unused alternate sound for charged shot resembling some of Quake sounds listed as cow_mangler_overcharged_shot
The laser can go through thin walls such as setup gates when fired at a correct angle.
The weapon will fire a charged shot even if the charging process is interrupted by getting stunned or the Soldier's team losing.
Deactivating an enemy Sentry Gun during humiliation will cause them to reactivate afterward and shoot the winning team.
The fire damage self-inflicted on the Soldier by the weapon is treated as an environmental hazard. As such, the last enemy to injure the player will be credited in the kill feed should the Soldier die from the afterburn damage.
If the player changes from the Cow Mangler 5000 to another Rocket Launcher using a Resupply locker while charging a shot, they will be stuck with the slower moving speed until they change classes or finish firing the charged shot.
When minimizing the game with this weapon equipped, the ammo portion of the HUD may disappear. Looking at the scoreboard may fix this.
When killing a player going to destroy the cart in Hightower, the Soldier will be awarded with a Kamikaze kill.
Rarely, after a moment of not firing, the Soldier will automatically reload the weapon's clip, regardless of the player's auto-reload setting.
Sometimes, the death animation is not played, and the disintegrating body floats to a single direction and then vaporizes.
It is still possible to taunt and quickly press alt-fire to charge a shot.
The name Cow Mangler is a reference to the association of alien contact coinciding with cattle mutilation. This originated from American science-fiction movies of the 1950s in which aliens would use laser and plasma weapons to cause mutilation to livestock.
Unlike other weapons that have two separate VMTs for team colors, the Cow Mangler 5000 is using the same method that used to paint hats to give the weapon team colors. The projectile is colored using the same method as well.
A small number of Cow Manglers were painted due to a schema update that resulted in Cow Manglers being marked as paintable in team colors for a short period of time. As a result, there exist a few dozen Cow Manglers with differently-coloured models and projectiles.
This weapon's design seems to be inspired from the "Pearce 75 Atom Ray Gun", a model which can be bought here at Weta's online store.