Scouting For Scouts

By Alec Meer on January 28th, 2009 at 2:48 pm.

Finally, some new sustenance for all those hungry piglets who’ve been loyally suckling on the Team Fortress 2 teat across these long, dry months. Robin ‘Genuine Australian’ Walker has snuck a titillating update onto the official TF2 blog, offering a few data-morsels about the upcoming Scout pack.

The key phrase is this: “balancing his replacement weapon has been very tricky due to large threat difference of the Scout between skilled and non-skilled hands.” Nothing especially revelatory in that, but it’s a foundation for enthusiastic theorisers to build upon.

As for the when, sounds like there’s two back-end updates due this week, and then the Scout pack will be the next priority. So let’s guess at a ‘soon.’ Hopefully there’ll be a new Meet The Team video to go with the update. We’ve got just Medic, Spy and Pyro left to go – perhaps the classes most rich with tragi-comic potential. Exciting!

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50 Comments »

  1. Bobsy says:

    I don’t even play TF2… and yet the promise of a) a new Meet The Team and b) making the Scout even more of a jerk excite me.

  2. Dorsch says:

    This update will be a dark age for medics. All those scouts running around… I’ll play.

  3. Wurzel says:

    Good time to be a pyro though :)

  4. shon says:

    I can’t wait for Scout update so I can finally get that “Kill 100 Scouts with Natasha” achievement.

  5. KindredPhantom says:

    http://csnation.totalgamingnetwork.com/viewnews.php/10545
    “There is still some work going into the next update for Team Fortress 2. We were hoping to have this out this week, but with the extra testing we need to do, the update has been pushed back to early next week. This update will include the timeout fix during map change.”

  6. phil says:

    I hope Meet the Pyro doesn’t resolve the little blast’s gender, 90% of the character’s charm would simply disappear, unless of course they were revealled to be asexual or simply a family of hamsters in a suit.

  7. Gorgeras says:

    Pyro is either a she or choreographed hamsters for certain. At no point should the truth ever be revealed.

  8. subedii says:

    Cue the wave of scout players trying to get their achievements in.

    Still, it’ll give me a good opportunity to tune up my engineer game.

    Level 3 Sentry: For all your scout crushing needs.

  9. Nimic says:

    I was a little exited about achievements at first, but then I realized it was much more fun to pick that class’ anti-class.

    Unlike so many others, I only care about achievements in that they actually mean something. So if I need so and so many achievements to get a good upgrade, then I’ll do them. If it means getting something useless, then I won’t care if I do or not.

    There is a lot of contentment in that position.

  10. Nighthood says:

    The scout update idea irritates me slightly. I play as scout most of the time, he’s my favourite class, but I don’t want everyone else playing too, as he is very much a shoot and run character, not for everyone to play.

  11. Dave says:

    I don’t want everyone else playing too

    Get off my lawn! BONK!

  12. Alex says:

    Phil: I’m holding out hope that the Pyro is a pair of midgets, with one standing on the other’s shoulders.

  13. Erlam says:

    “I hope Meet the Pyro doesn’t resolve the little blast’s gender, 90% of the character’s charm would simply disappear, unless of course they were revealled to be asexual or simply a family of hamsters in a suit.”

    Oh come on, you know Valve will just constantly cut away whenever you might learn the sex of the Pyro. They’re good at that kind of thing.

  14. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    But what are the Scout unlockables, you ask?

  15. Stick says:

    @Nighthood: Welcome to my life during the first two updates. (“Would you interns stop screwing around and start contributing to the game, please?” / “Don’t charge the Heavy. Don’t charge the sentry. Don’t- oh gods, you’re forcing me to play Demoman.”)

    Although, from what I know of Scouting, the skill discrepancies should mean you’ll get to slaughter your newbly brethren en masse. (Until the Engineer cluster murders you all, of course.)

  16. Pags says:

    Whenever I think of the Pyro, I think of the scene in Star Wars when Vader’s having his helmet screwed on, only I imagine the back of a horse’s head. Like an anti-panto horse who gets dressed up in a human costume.

  17. SuperNashwan says:

    Bit disappointed Valve are trying to cater to bad players with TF2 now, although I’ll wait to see what the scattergun replacement is before final judgement. I also predict more demoman nerfs snuck in, but whatever they do it’ll never be enough to appease the people who just can’t admit a better player killed them.

  18. Jahkaivah says:

    I heard that this patch is going to address the issues of playing scout on pure defence teams. Interestingly I am having difficulty thinking of something that would work without changing what the scout is all about.

  19. Smurfy says:

    What will they do about Meet the Team for the rest of the class updates?

    Meet the Heavy…. again!

  20. Smurfy says:

    WHERE DID EDIT GO? GODDAM

    Maybe “Remember the Heavy?”

  21. Rich_P says:

    Playing as a RED scout is arguably easier than playing as a BLU scout because BLU will have fewer SG nests. RED scouts can run behind enemy lines, blow up tele entrances, harass snipers, and club heavies without worrying too much about SGs (most BLU SGs protect the engy’s tele exit)

    The new unlocks will supposedly make the Scout more useful on payload maps, which didn’t exist when the class was first created. Thankfully Valve keeps evolving their games (for free!) instead of just abandoning them.

  22. Rich_P says:

    (I’m talking specifically about attack/defend maps)

  23. Jahkaivah says:

    @Smurfy

    Well… there are four more “Meet the” videos than there are class updates. So valve just need to think of four things they can do a “Meet the” video about which aren’t classes.

    “Meet the Sandvich” is already one.

    “Meet the Civilian”, because we are almost guaranteed escort maps sooner or later.

    “Meet the Announcer” would be awesome.

    As for fourth, I don’t know, “Meet the Cardboard Cow”?

    Incidentally I just had an idea:

    (Potential Spoiler as this could very well happen) Wouldn’t it be awesome if when Valve did “Meet the Pryo” about half way through the video is just turned out to be “Meet the Spy”.

    (OK SERIOUSLY VALVE NEEDS TO DO THAT)

  24. A-Scale says:

    Jahkaivah, that has been suggested about 9000 times already.

  25. Jahkaivah says:

    Yeah I figured as much, would be cool though.

  26. cannon fodder says:

    Sounds like this could be fun. I almost always play as sniper so the Pyro and Heavy updates were too much like shooting fish in a barrel to be fun. Before everyone jumps in with “I pwns snipers as scout”: a good scout is a pain in the arse to deal with as a sniper but an inexperienced scout is about as dangerous as a pot of humous and this will guarentee lots of badly played scouts.

  27. AlexW says:

    Jahk, we’re actually almost guaranteed that escort maps will not appear ever. The basic concept was turned into payload, which is far more difficult to grief than escort. Ensuring a ‘dull but fair’ game as opposed to ‘exciting but inconsistent’ has pretty much been Valve’s mantra for the last few years. Don’t get me wrong, they’re my favourite devs out there, but some of the choices they’ve made to alleviate the concerns of the thick and/or completely rubbish players have pushed their games a little too far into ‘safe’ territory for me to be completely on-board.

  28. Oak says:

    A good payload game is the furthest thing from dull, and the final standoff of a great payload game is one of the best experiences you can have with TF2.

  29. M_the_C says:

    It’s just unfortunate good payload games are so rare. You need two teams of almost exactly the same skill. The slightest imbalance can too easily result in a match with one side steamrollering the other.

  30. AlexW says:

    I meant dull more in the sense of predictable. The cart will always go the same way and there is zero chance of a mad BLU rush from a side path to add some variety to the game. Engineers place their Sentries in the same bog-standard positions knowing that those positions are the best points to guard the cart’s route, Snipers all look in exactly the same direction, daring anyone to try to push the cart along the track, and there’s very little that can be done to alleviate this. Each game might not be dull – hell, Badwater can be great fun, especially as a Scout if there aren’t any obnoxiously-placed Sentry farms around – but it lacks long-term replayability compared to a human-guided Escort type.

  31. Jahkaivah says:

    @AlexW

    Prehaps, I just felt that the easter eggs in the Sniper video and in Left 4 Dead were pointing towards something and it would be the next logical step from arena maps.

  32. Oak says:

    I’m sure the same thing would happen with an escort mode once everyone got familiar on it. A small handful of strategies lead to success and months down the line they’re the only ones being used by experienced players.

  33. unique_identifier says:

    @ SuperNashwan: `Bit disappointed Valve are trying to cater to bad players with TF2 now’

    I guess they managed to slip that critical hit mechanic right by you …

  34. Dave says:

    As a mediocre player with occasional streaks of brilliance and occasional streaks of total suckitude, I greatly appreciate Valve’s efforts in that direction.

    Otherwise I’d play TF2 as much as I play Counter-Strike, which is oh yeah NEVER.

    It’s enough that a good player will dominate me to the point of frustration, without making it utterly impossible for me to ever have a chance of maybe killing somebody once in a while, scoring a few points here and there, and contributing to the team effort.

    Remember, 50% of FPS players are below average in skill…

  35. Down Rodeo says:

    Glee, is perhaps the best way of summing this up. I find it hard to believe that they are still supporting this game – yet somehow, they are…

  36. unique_identifier says:

    @ AlexW: re: predictability: i think valve have taken a step in the right direction toward less repetitive gameplay with left 4 dead & its randomised level content.

    ideally what i’d love to see in some upcoming multiplayer shooter is level geometry that is procedurally varied from match to match – perhaps not to a huge extent – a permanent feeling of being lost would not be much fun. The basic layout of a level with major landmarks & topology could be kept constant, but smaller scale features could be varied wildly and force players to explore and adapt appropriate tactics every time.

    i guess there might be a heap of balance problems – certainly since the latest left 4 dead patch, in versus mode the team playing survivor second on each stage gains a rather substantial advantage, since the locations of the most important events (witch! tank! guns here!) remain in the same spot as they did for the first team.

  37. Rich_P says:

    Payload is the best game mode in the best online FPS. Badwater is the best incarnation to date: it scales nicely to 32 players and regularly sees BLU reaching, though not necessarily capping, the third point (so few Gold Rush maps ever get past stage 1).

    Hunted was fun every now and then in TFC rotation, but the hunted was usually an idiot. My current handle (OWNTforPrez) originated from those frustrating hunted rounds; I desperately wanted to be the prez so the team might have a chance of winning :D Allowing one person to grief 30 other people = bad.

  38. Julian Calaby says:

    @Rich_P: A solution to the Hunted griefing problem is to magic it away by having the hunted person be an AI: No fights over who gets to be them, consistent behaviour on their part, and no possibility of them griefing the team.

    Of course you’d need a suitably smart AI: maybe mix some of the skill matching (and other team watching) smarts of the AI Director from l4d but dumb it down enough to follow when led into somewhere it *knows* is unsafe.

    So, if it was being led, it’d just follow, maybe make some motions to tip it’s teammates off that there is a sniper nest in the next building, but if that’s subtle enough, and significantly toned down when skilled players are about – so it’s not something that you can rely upon – it’d make it a good learning exercise and consistently fun. Of course, if they’re left alone, having them be able to find cheatingly good cover quickly would be an asset. Having them stand in the middle of a room like a noob when left alone wouldn’t be optimal.

  39. Max says:

    @Julian Calaby
    I think that Valve had the exact same thinking as you. But then they realized that making the AI smart enough to not be a pain in the ass wouldn’t be worth the effort so they made the next obvious transition: the hunted moves along a set path only when team mates are around. Thus: payload.

    I’m amazed with how long that Natascha bug has been around without them fixing it. I sort of feel like an idiot for having used it as much as I did in the past.

  40. Rich_P says:

    I just don’t see Valve investing in a complex AI system that will still be griefed by players. They left bots out of the game for a reason; TF2 is about humans vs. humans.

    They should make a payload map with multiple tracks. Capturing a sub-point will switch the cart onto a shortcut track. Or blowing up a stack of chem vats will open a tunnel. The only downside is that such a system divides BLU’s attention; they won’t be focusing solely on the cart. Alternatively, the game can generate a different route each round.

    Escort gameplay with different attack routes. Sounds like hunted to me.

  41. Jeremy says:

    Awesome. As someone who played primarily scout until the packs started coming out, I’m going to get reacquainted with my bat.

  42. Caleb says:

    “some new sustenance for all those hungry piglets who’ve been loyally suckling on the Team Fortress 2 teat across these long, dry months”

    Try loyally playing Day of Defeat: Source across these long, dry, YEARS. lol

  43. itsallcrap says:

    Excellent. I still play this more than any other games, as I have since the ‘beta’ was released to Orange Box pre-orderers.

    Also I love to play engie, but often don’t as too many other people think they know how to do it. A world full of Scouts will be a good time to go back to him….

  44. ChaosSmurf says:

    Scout pack day one scout spam is my second worst fear in TF2. My worst is Spy pack day one spy spam. MY CLASS DAMMIT.

    Looking forward to using this to get better at being the scout once everyone else has stopped playing him though. And getting some of the scout specific achievements that have already been released (the couple of medic ones for example)

  45. Songbearer says:

    @subedii
    ‘Still, it’ll give me a good opportunity to tune up my engineer game.

    Level 3 Sentry: For all your scout crushing needs.’

    Wait, how could you possibly need to ‘tune up’ your engineer game? The class might as well play itself considering how little you need to do to be an effective engineer.

    And I’m not just saying this because my favourite character is the scout <:(

  46. Vandelay says:

    Really looking forward to this. Been recently playing as the scout a fair bit and have gotten pretty good. Hopefully, I should be able to pick off a fair few of those newbie scouts when the patch is released.

    It seems as if it has been a long time since a class update has been let out. I wonder if they will be releasing any surprises to go with it as they have done with the previous patches.

  47. Rich_P says:

    The class might as well play itself considering how little you need to do to be an effective engineer.

    The engineer may be the most played class, but few can play it effectively. Look at the number of shitty offensive engineers, failing to move the gear up or upgrade teles or build frontline dispensers.

    A good hardhat will help his buddy upgrade a gun to lvl 3 before building his own. Witness the number of MORONS who build SGs side-by-side.

    Lots of engies leave themselves exposed to backstabs and quick-saps (I’m damn good at that combo), but the really good engies will stand with their back to a wall — not a dispenser — so spies can’t get them.

    The class doesn’t play itself :D

  48. vicx says:

    Keeping teles entrances alive is about the most frustrating part of being an engie. Enemy spies who decide to go exclusively anti-engie instead of back stabbing people on the frontline usually win the game for their team.

  49. Rich_P says:

    There’s nothing like dropping 4 level 3 entrances in the first 30 seconds of a round. I’ve got my Badwater attack route down to a science.

    You can thank the spy buff (metal = cloak recharge) for making tele-sapping too easy. Prior to that, it took some real skill (and patience) to reach the enemy’s base. Valve thinks the spy’s cloaking mechanic is now ineffective (too many people can tell if you’re a spy), but I think the cloak recharge was an EZ buff that doesn’t get to the root of the problem.

    Stealing big ammo spawns from enemy engies while cloaked is utterly hilarious, though.

  50. SuperNashwan says:

    Engineer must be difficult to play well, because there are so many hopeless engineers in the game. I’d say the ratio of failgineers to wingeneers is around 5:1, at least on the servers I play on. STOP BUILDING YOUR STUFF NEXT TO MINE. Gah.

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