"“Who needs one single strategy when I can kick your ass in a hundred different ways?”"
Houston is a RED Engineer TF2 Freak created by ScoutCommandoProx, and is a member of the 10-man team known as Spectre Squadron.
His theme song is “And Now We Wait - PAYDAY 2 OST”
His combat theme is “Blueprints - PAYDAY 2 OST”
Born in Dallas, Texas, Houston was born into a working-class family who were able to scrape together just enough money to pay for his education. Feeling like he wanted to make the most out of his education, he went on to complete his studies with top grades, to a point where he was studying college-grade mathematics and physics at an age of 12. During his time in school and seeing the average grades of his classmates, he believed that he was in some way gifted due to his intelligence and creativity, but shrugged it off and kept going. He passed through his later education like a breeze, and at an age of 20 he finished university with a double degree in physics and computer science. Upon graduating he realised that he needed to get a job if he wanted to provide for his family, who were gradually falling into poverty.
Thanks to his mastery in physics, mathematics and technology, after some time of searching, practicing and doing job interviews, he managed to score a job in NASA’s Aerospace Engineering department at an age of 21. From there, he would go on to complete multiple successful projects, and with the salary he received, he was able to provide for his family. He kept going with his job, assisting in the construction of space equipment, vehicles and other things up to an age of 48, where he quit his job to begin a search for a job where his abilities would be considered more unique.
At around the same time, the company RED discovered Houston’s file, and were impressed with what they found about him. Once they discovered that Houston was unemployed, they approached him with a job offer with a very large payout, where he would assist in developing a space rocket with a purpose unknown to Houston. Despite the anonymity, Houston accepted the job offer, and had soon been properly established into RED’s laboratories.
On the flip side, Houston’s recruitment into RED did not come easy-handed. One day, BLU made an assault on aforementioned laboratory, hoping to steal the new and advanced technology meant for the rocket that Houston was constructing. Security was brought down quickly, and most scientists quickly fled the area. Houston however refused to let his hard work go to waste so quickly, and chose to fight for it. After barricading himself in with his project he began planning his defense. Using a shotgun and a turret he had hastily constructed with a computer for a targeting system, a camera tripod, some scrap metal and a recovered light-machine gun, he managed to fend off the unsuspecting strike force, and therefore managed to save his project.
Upon finishing his project and receiving the paycheck, which he sent to his family, he was approached by a RED official who had taken notice of his actions offered him advanced training and a spot in Spectre Squadron. At first, Houston was unsure about the offer. He spent two weeks wondering whether it would be worth risking his life for the company, but after realising how well he had done back at the laboratory, he hesitantly accepted the offer. He would go on to receive extensive training with military grade equipment, as well as creating buildings that would prove effective in combat. In addition to this, he also built a majority of the gadgets that the members of Spectre Squadron use, examples of these being Ghillie’s L.O.H-U Goggles and Commando’s Portable Über-Generator.
"I've got another idea, and you're gonna like it even more than the last one."
Houston has two outfits, and varies between them depending on combat situation. His outfits are Defender and Attacker:
Attacker: This outfit is used when Houston is placed on the offensive side of the battle, and he gains buffs related to armor as well as gaining a different loadout when wearing this outfit. This outfit consists of the Constructor’s Camo, The Engineering Essentials, The Frontal Security and the Handyman’s Headset. In addition to this, he carries two smaller building toolboxes on his back, which he is able to use to bring two of his portable-grade buildings into battle.
Defender: This outfit is used when Houston is placed on the defensive side on the battle, and he gains buffs related to building construction and upgrading when wearing this outfit. This outfit is very similar to the Attacker outfit, but he wears the Tactic Tool and the Winter Backup rather than the vest and toolboxes of Attacker.
Personality and Behaviour
"Respawns? Son, where I come from, it's called "You're dead". And I'd prefer it if you didn't argue with it."
Houston is known to have a personality not too different from other Engineers in that he is a very calm person. He has a very high intelligence and capability of strategic thinking, along with being very creative, which he uses when he creates his buildings, which are often very different from that of other Engineers. He does sometimes to try explaining things in a way that can be confusing to his teammates, though he does a fairly good job keeping his explanations to a simple level most of the time.
However, he has a tendency to get stressed when a lot of pressure is put on his mind, such as when trying to come up with the design and technology for a new advanced machine under a certain deadline. Despite this, when in combat, he stays calm and does not let stress get to him.
It should be noted that Houston was unlike many Spectre Squadron members, not a soldier. Therefore, he may sometimes get a bit confused when it comes to the terms used for radio communication, and he is not fully proficient with military-grade tactics. Due to this, he often sticks to his teammates, and a lot of the time takes orders, advice and such from his teammates as to not risk messing up operations on his behalf.
Powers and Abilities
"Tracking Sentry, goin' up. This'll only take a minute..."
As shown in his backstory, Houston is a natural genius, and has an intelligence level beyond all Spectre Squadron allies. Thanks to extended combat training, Houston also possesses fairly enhanced strength, allowing him to lift heavier objects such as some of his buildings, known for being a lot heavier than that of normal Engineers. As the Engineer of Spectre Squadron, he takes a fairly unusual approach to the job, integrating his creativity and genius into his constantly expanding array of buildings. In order to keep track of the buildings he creates, he classifies them with different tags such as portable and stationary. In addition to this, Houston believes that his buildings should be able to be used by more teammates than just himself, and therefore he puts a lot of his free time into constructing buildings that have a simple design and function and can be set up by any of his teammates. Houston varies between Defender and Attacker depending on the operation, and therefore his loadouts and buildings vary as well:
- Stationary Buildings (Defender): These are complexly and expertly designed buildings, designed to improve, if not be a direct upgrade from the buildings a normal Engineer can build. Examples of these buildings are the Tracking Sentry, a version of the sentry with an upgraded motion detector, capable of tracking enemies with increased accuracy and increased ammo conservation thanks to a slower rate of fire, as well as chambering a larger, more powerful round, and the EMP Scanner, a utility building that when active, disables certain functions of enemies, such as the cloaking of Spies.
- Portable Buildings (Attacker): These are buildings designed to be easy to operate, if not self-operating, as well as being able to be carried and set up by any of Houston’s teammates. Examples of these buildings are his Compact Dispensers, a smaller version of the Dispenser made to be easier to carry and more convenient in the heat of battle, and the UAV Sentry, a double-rotor drone with dual tri-barrel gatling guns that can be manually operated to access night-/FLIR-vision cameras for enhanced recon and manual target acquisition, or can be automatically operated to provide suppressive fire on available visible targets. Another example of a combat utility building is the Deployable Cover, which is a retractable setup of reinforced metal plates, that once deployed acts as an effective shield against incoming gunfire.
- Construction Kit: At the start of operations, Houston can choose to provide an ally with a Construction Kit, which essentially allows that ally to construct Portable-Grade Buildings without the assistance of an Engineer, regardless of what class they are. It gives said ally various tools and blueprints, as well as a metal counter that can reach up to 100. As a downside however, the person carrying loses a chunk of their base movement speed. The Construction Kit resembles a backpack with various tools and blueprints attached to it.
- Air Drop (Attacker/Defender): If teammate and pilot Belter is using a flying vehicle loaded up with supplies, Houston can call for air drops of crates containing either supplies or buildings set up before the start of the offensive. On certain operations, Air Drop has also been used to determine parachute entry points for other operators. Houston normally uses Air Drops when on the attacker-side of the battle, and can use it to nearly instantly deploy stationary-grade buildings in places where it would take too long to manually deploy it by hand.
- Quick Thinker: Using a small portable device, Houston is able to increase the frequency of his brain waves, as well as transmitting them to nearby allies in a similar fashion to that of a Medi-gun. When this device is activated, allies gain 20% movement speed, 75% reload speed and 25% increased melee speed. Houston gains these buffs as well as being able to construct and deploy his buildings twice as fast.
- Tracker Rounds: A type of ammunition that Houston can load into his weapons, when an enemy is hit by this round, it essentially places a tracking device into it, and the target’s location becomes visible to allies, allowing for an easier time to follow enemies.
- Attacker: When on the attacking side, Houston is able to carry two fully built Portable-grade buildings in toolboxes on his back and he wears a kevlar vest, decreasing incoming damage to the torso by 50%.
- Defender: When on the defending side, Houston is able to build Stationary-grade buildings. He uses different construction tools which massively increase the construction and upgrade speed for his buildings, as well as using 25% less metal for repairs and upgrades.
In terms of armament, Houston can put out damage more consistently in comparison to other Engineers, packing varying firepower and defense depending on the mission. His loadout consists of:
- Modern Assault Rifle (Attacker): A modern assault rifle design, with an overall bulkier polymer frame and heavy lead- and tungsten-weighted barrel to better compensate for the recoil of the round it fires. Chambered for 5.56x45mm NATO rounds with a magazine well designed for military-grade STANAG magazines, this rifle offers a low recoil with a fair rate of fire, capable of suppressing groups of enemies quickly. In addition to this, it features a Tactical Holographic sight, allowing for quick and clean target acquisition.
- Redesigned Shotgun (Defender): A classic design remade with many modernisations, this shotgun features a curved titanium plate along the barrel to prevent overheating and decreasing kick thanks to weight, as well as an ergonomical pump for better stability and an upper-opened choke to lower the recoil of the muzzle gases. Loading 12 Gauge buckshot shells, this shotgun aims to minimize the kick on the back and maximize the kick at whatever is on the wrong side of the barrel.
- Customized .45 Classic: A very old-fashioned but revolutionary pistol design, remade by Houston into a modern personal-defense handgun. Chambering the .45 ACP round, it packs just as large a punch as the original, but this remade design operates on an internal hammer rather than the original external one, a widened grip to accommodate modern double-stack magazines for increased magazine size unlike the original’s single-stack magazines, as well as featuring a heavier barrel for better recoil compensation.
- Toolkit: Rather than simply carrying one single wrench like normal Engineers, Houston carries a large variety of tools in his belts, backpack, and vest. Such tools vary from construction tools, like hammers and wrenches, to utility tools, such as wire cutters and compact blowtorches.
Faults and Weaknesses
- In his defense loadout, he does not wear any form of armor, relying only on his buildings to protect him from oncoming bullets and projectiles.
- Houston is unable to move his Stationary-grade buildings once they are built. If he wants to move them, he has to deconstruct them part by part, which is not convenient for combat situations.
- Air Drops can be shot down with explosives or large volumes of gunfire, potentially damaging/destroying the contents of the drop. Depending on the contents, it can either touchdown barely scathed, or come crashing down with a volatile explosion, which could cause serious damage to the landing zone.
- Portable buildings tend to be a lot less armored than their stationary counterparts, making them easier to destroy.
- Stationary buildings take a long time to construct, let alone upgrade. In addition to this, once they are built, many models cannot be moved, and have to be either destroyed or taken apart.
- Houston carries a lot less metal than normal Engineers when in his Attacker uniform.
- Houston has less body protection when in his Defender uniform.
- Houston heavily relies on being around his teammates when in combat. If separated from his allies, he becomes a lot more unsure of his environment, and may begin making the wrong decisions to approach a fight.
- Houston does not carry an effective melee weapon, and to fight in melee he’d either have to use hand-to-hand combat or attempt to bash the enemy with a randomly picked tool from his toolkit.
- Houston’s name is a reference to the city in Texas, Houston’s home state, of the same name, which is also the location of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, further referring to Houston’s past working for NASA.
- Houston’s radio callsign is Double-Sierra-Six. Sierra is the letter ‘S’ in the NATO phonetic alphabet, and Double-Sierra spells out SS, most likely referring to Spectre Squadron’s initials, with Six representing Houston being the sixth member of the squad. The number could however be an easter egg, since the Engineer is the sixth character on the class selection screen ingame.
- Houston’s UAV Sentry uses the model for the Level 2 R-CAT Flying Sentry, and the Tracking Sentry uses the model for the L.E.D. Sentry.
- The statistics of Houston’s Assault Rifle, as well as the model it uses, is based off of the Bushmaster Adaptive Combat Rifle, better known as the ACR, which is a modern assault rifle/carbine that was designed to put the best parts of a wide range of weapons into a single rifle. However, the model itself has a few components from an AR-15, a famous weapons platform best known for its extended use with the U.S. Military.
- The Customized .45 Classic’s description refers to the weapon as a heavily remade Colt M1911, a pistol featuring mechanics that would later become standards for modern handguns, essentially revolutionizing the pistol.
- Originally, Houston’s primary weapon was going to resemble a Kriss Vector, an american-made submachine gun known for its high rate of fire and advanced recoil-reducing technology. The idea was scrapped however due to there not being any model of the weapon where the proportions matched that of Houston’s model.
- Houston is one of few Spectre Squadron’s members whose cosmetics are not colored. Despite this however, in his very earliest appearances, his cosmetics were colored in Team Spirit Red.