Why You Should Return To A Free TF2

By Andrew Smee on June 28th, 2011 at 2:49 pm.

Difficult chap to get along with, really
I’ve spent most of the weekend playing Team Fortress 2. I haven’t done that in years.

I hadn’t intended to. Team Fortress 2 exploded into my life as a near-obsession back in 2007. Playing almost every evening, hour after hour into the night, even dreamed about it during the height of the passion. I used to wander around the maps on my own in private servers just to look at the artistry of the world, and watched countless hundreds of YouTube videos of how-to jump videos and devastating frag runs when not actually playing the damned thing. But then, as always with multiplayer shooters, I fell away from the servers, and as with all the other competitive games that came before it, I became a stranger.

Typically, I find multiplayer games have a shelf life of around six months at the most before everyone reaches a level that surpasses mine. I lack the skills and raw dedication it takes to really excel at any multiplayer game, forever hovering around the bottom end of the “sort-of competent” skill range. On top of that is just a pure boredom which inevitably sets in, no matter the gorgeousness of the design.

Which is a callous reason as any to stop playing a game, I know. Of course Team Fortress 2 was different in that its steady stream of content updates has forever been a dangling carrot, but I’ve never returned to the Badlands with anything like the fervour of those early months.

Compensating for something, eh Pyro?

It’s safe to say that the Free-To-Play model is looking to be a resounding success for Valve. Simultaneous players recently topped 100,000, cheekily tipping Counter-Strike from its throne, though it remains to be seen if that will hold over the coming months. There’s no doubt however that we’ll be seeing a resurgence of TF2’s initial popularity as thousands of new players discover its delightful universe as we first did back in 2007, which is such a great pleasure to know.

What’s especially fulfilling about this influx of new players, and why I’ve spent more time playing TF2 this past week than I have done in the last couple of years, is how it’s bolstered my confidence, however selfish that might be. Am I above finding a cruel pleasure in popping Pyros with rockets, safe in the knowledge that they will never be reflected? Do I take pity on the Blu team, clustered around the cart, as my knife slices through them like so much Spam? No. No, and I’m cackling with glee with every domination.

I know this isn’t going to last. They will eventually learn how to spycheck and when to successfully use Ubers, I know this. To regain some sense of honour I try and help out, even though I’m contributing to my eventual defeat. “Right click to rotate blueprints,” I gently explain. “Airblast can put out burning teammates!” I remind, constantly. I happily go over the intricacies of crafting, and personally explained how to open a crate half a dozen times, patient all the while. I’ve even, crazy at it might seem, suggested to an enemy Spy that they may want to try a different disguise, as that suicidal Demoman isn’t getting any less suspicious. After all, I remember what it was like to first play this initially bewildering game, a repeated experience I underwent every time I’ve hopped back for a spare hour after each of the big updates and found myself lost in a new map all over again. I’m happy to share what little information I’ve picked up through a casual following of reading the comics and sporadic playtime, if it helps new players join in the fun.

The sad effects of Crit-A-Cola (lawsuit pending)

So it’s a casual acquaintance I’ve kept going over the years. Sending that single Happy Birthday! Facebook message to an old friend when the system reminds me of their existence. But this last weekend of concentrated play was like a full-scale drunken reunion, meeting that old friend at the pub, catching up and inevitably reminiscing about good times past. It’s an odd feeling to be nostalgic for a game whose shortcut hasn’t left my desktop in four years, but those warm memories bubble forth almost constantly, stronger than any other time I’ve played – whether it’s that feeling of launching your rocket right where you want it, rounding that familiar corner in Dustbowl, or remembering just where that undefeatable Sentry position was.

The bountiful new weapons also have a strong grip of collectamania about them, which certainly helps my desire to play. Cheap as it may be, I’d love to see my virtual backpack bristling with all the new toys, which is frankly reason enough to carry on playing. The steady drip of New! Stuff! is as addictive a mechanic as it always is. It does however mar the proceedings slightly, as the variety of weapons and effects makes the game feel messier than I remember it, and after a while, choosing your class loadout is a hassle with all the different options available. Valve would be smart to implement a custom loadout configuration similar to Call of Duty’s handling of its similarly giant arsenal. Nevertheless, the Solider still shoots rockets, the Scout still has a shotgun, the Spy still backstabs. The core game still essentially remains familiar and plays the same, no matter how fat it’s become, and the added opportunity to advertise this huge variety of Character Customisation in the official marketing hasn’t been lost on Valve.

GOD DAMN LIBERTY LAUNCHER

Of course, it’s not all a happy technicolour massacre. Old friends also mean old rivalries. While the new players, bless ‘em, are fun to play with, members of the old guard fill the servers as well. Naturally, it’s their right to; the players who’ve kept up the TF2 habit for all these years, growing ever increasingly deadly in their confidence and reaction times. My nemesis, each and every one of them, reminding me just how crap I really am with every pipe bomb I blunder into.

It’s the hats that give them away. The simple act of wearing a hat that isn’t one of those insipid free giveaways received when pre-ordering a game – a hat that was forged from the sacrifice of time and energy it takes to scrape together all that refined metal, or at least the devotion to the game that paying cold hard cash in the Mann Store signifies. Either way, these hats mean serious business. It’s with this Free to Play model that hats finally carry meaning, separating, for now at least, the veterans from the newly enlisted. Hats are proving themselves to be the status symbols of experience and dedication they were originally meant to be.

Coming across an accessorised enemy this past week immediately changes the mood. No matter that the fight may only last a matter of seconds, no matter that it can be just a small aside in the overall flow of the match. It’s the image of a hero and a villain striding towards each other across a bloody battlefield for their final confrontation, the hapless foot soldiers all around them a mere distraction.

Which is the final, brilliant step of how Free to Play has changed the game. It’s given long-time players the added challenge of fighting the old foes alongside the new, dividing up the enemy into ranked opponents. The confidence I’ve gained in my own abilities from simple experience over new players has dared me to look players so much better than myself in the eye and meet them in open battle. I’ve even made use of the Duelling minigame, which I was too cowardly to use before. No longer do I blindly panic in a gibbering mess when caught amongst a field of my betters. I will throw down a glove and dare them to take me on.

Because I am a warrior, from the very beginning, and I have returned.

Kill me and I will only gain the power of your strategy.

Become my nemesis and incur my wrath.

For when you least expect it…

I will slap you to death with a fish and spank myself over your corpse.

That is the way of the warrior.

__________________

« | »

, , .

113 Comments »

  1. Oozo says:

    On topic: I got TF2 in an Orange Box-sale last year, but never got around to play it. Which makes me wonder if I should feel uneasy about it being free to play now. Throwing money out of the window! On a Steam sale! How was that even possible?! Or I could just shut up and start playing. The article surely tempts one to do so.

    Off topic: Is Quinns going through an identity crisis, thus blogging under changing and progressively absurd names? While that “Brendan” guy seems to have been a scheme well planned in advance (he even has his own Twitter account), that Andrew-alias pretty much came out of nowhere for me.

    What are you saying? The UK is in the privileged situation of having a fine reservoir of gifted game writers? I can’t hear you! As if such a thing existed!

    • Andrew Smee says:

      This is severely worrying to read. I’m real, right? I can think, I can see myself in the mirror.

      OH GOD, WHO AM I

    • Griddle Octopus says:

      According to Linked-In, you’re the Managing Director of British Telecom.

    • Inigo says:

      You have a freshly bandaged tattoo on your right forearm. It says “Do not reply to comments on Rock Paper Shotgun”.
      You have made your first (and possibly last) mistake, Wilson.
      Make your way to the red bricked library on the edge of town. However, if you discover your taxi driver is a white-haired Irishman, cover your left eye with your right hand and request that he stop at the Starbucks in front of the bank. Then, and only then, might you live to see another day.
      Remember Barcelona.

    • ScubaMonster says:

      Well you already own it, might as well load it up and see for yourself. I never really cared about being a noob in a sea of experts. I’ve played plenty of counter strike, and get killed a lot. Usually nobody really gets pissed off, and if they do… so what. They can call me names if they want, that just shows how immature and stupid they are.

    • Kirrus says:

      Surely the correct answer is.. welcome to RPS, Andrew. Nice to see you. :)

    • sebmojo says:

      Comments on RPS are just ridiculously good these days.

      Welcome, Mr SMEE.

    • passingstranger says:

      What you did is far from throwing money out the window. Your premium account allows you access to hats.

      You will understand just how important this is soon enough.

  2. Kdansky says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybBe5gEvZXY&feature=related

    The first five seconds sums it up for me, being one of the people with a golden badge.

    • Paravel says:

      Oct 25, 2007 is my TF2 birthday. Gold badges unite!

      “Fresh meat” could not be closer to the truth. I mainly play demoman, but playing spy against these new players that fill every server is a glorious gong show. I have been healed by medics after killing their heavy and re-disguising in front of them. I have wiped whole teams with the Enforcer alone. It’s such a slaughter, it’s almost boring… almost. >:}

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      LOL “gold” badges. Bring a platinum one to a fight if you’re serious about winning it.

    • Maktaka says:

      Pffff, gold. Platinum is indeed where it’s at.

    • Paravel says:

      If there were a badge for having played TF in all its incarnations since Quake, I’d display that bad boy with pride.

  3. RenegadeRed says:

    I must admit that even though I’m a PC gamer I haven’t played TF2 yet. Seems like just another team shooter, only with cartoon graphics. Any reason for me to change my mind?

    • Pobblepop says:

      I’d say the humour and animation is what separates it from all the other shooters. It always makes me laugh, which many many computer games, although attempting to, definitely don’t. The animation of the characters, their mannerisms, sayings, emotes and the way they all move distinctly differently is just a charm. Been playing since beta, logged over 2000 hours in-game and I still laugh sometimes watching a Heavy run along with his tiny legs, or the dumpy chicken gait of the pyro.

    • Joe Duck says:

      The reason is simple: Balance.
      TF2 is a class based game with an incredibly balanced structure. 9 classes and loads of weapons and gadgets and it is still really balanced. You do not see that very often.
      The cartoon graphics are there for a reason, btw.
      Just play it, it is free! What can possibly stop you now from playing it?

    • Kdansky says:

      None, except for the fact that TF2 is just incredibly good, and will without doubt become a classic.

    • LionsPhil says:

      I cannot help but smile when a Heavy with a Tomislav gleefully exclaims that he has NEW WEAPON!

      Writing humourous dialogue which doesn’t get grating is so very, very, very rare.

    • The Hammer says:

      Yeah, the humour and exuberance that emits from every orifice of the game is probably the biggest hook to giving it a bash, and then you stay for the sheer quality of the game.

      Also, Team Fortress 2 is in a niche that it shares only with Fortress Forever. The mix of its iconic classes, maps and game types won’t be found anywhere else. For sure, Capture The Flag is a staple of the multiplayer manshoot (or Mannshoot), but with archetypal, distinctive characters like the Heavy, Scout, Medic and Engineer mean that there is a very rich blend of tactics and dangers on offer.

      Well worth at least trying out.

    • Man Raised by Puffins says:

      @ Pobblepop: Yes, TF2 does a rather excellent job at accentuating the slapstick inherent in the multiplayer manshoots.

    • Gnoupi says:

      When the pyro shouts “Go, go, go!” it comes out as “muf, muf, muf”. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5ds0a3osfE)

      What else do you need?

    • MikoSquiz says:

      It’s pretty deep. Each class is distinct, with its own skill set – the only time they get close is when their primary armament or ability runs dry and they pull out the shotguns. And if you want to be the engine of your team’s victory, you have to know them all, but any class you’ve learned (pace the sniper) can be an asset in any situation.

      Although really, 75% of the time cautiously playing a medic and managing to load up and fire off a few übercharges will do the trick.

    • zeroskill says:

      “Seems like just another team shooter” -RenegadeRed
      http://www.b0rt.com/data/images/2011/04/allmystery-mg61164-1268955553-doublefacepalm.jpg

    • DigitalSignalX says:

      I’ll admit I was in your shoes. I grew up with counter strike being the end all be all of competitive shooters and I haven’t strayed from that mindset despite piles of people praising the Battlefield, COD and the LFD series. I’ve tried them, but it was never longer then a week or two. But TF2.. it does something…RIGHT. It just feels so perfectly harmonized in its serious shooter.. frivolous cheesy moments, over the top carnage tactical diversity that you can bring to it, and get from it, practically anything you desire in a FPS.

    • 69stabcat says:

      My favorite thing about tf2 is that there is no (effective)equivalent to an assault rifle/sub-machine gun through-out the classes i.e. short to medium range automatic gun with medium spread.

    • malkav11 says:

      I have not enjoyed any competitive multiplayer in any game to date other than Team Fortress 2. That’s the only one. The design is just superb.

    • Juan Carlo says:

      Yeah, the cartoon graphics are really brilliant just because it guarantees that unlike other shooters (which might try for realism and quickly become dated) TF2 will never really look “old.” Plus it will look good on basically any system, hi or low end.

      Cartoonish games always hold up way better than non-cartoonish games of their generation. I just played “Beyond Good and Evil” for the first time, for example, and it’s graphics still look great compared to most of the stuff released at the time (and you could go back even further with games like “Grim Fandango, if you want. I even think the OpenGL versions of the Build Engine titles from the mid 1990s-with their hi-rez psuedo 3D sprites-look 100 times better in retrospect than any of the hideously ugly 3D engines of the time: e.g. Quake, Quake 2, etc).

  4. Mr_Hands says:

    This. Emphatically this.

  5. BarerRudeROC says:

    “For when you least expect it… I will slap you to death with a fish and spank myself over your corpse.That is the way of the warrior.”

    Never a truer word was spoken.

  6. Kablooie says:

    I too was big into TF2 – I quit around the time they introduced the Samwich.
    I miss the game, but also lack the TF2-playing friends, a good group to get into, really. For me multiplayer has to include a group and community, I’d rather not remain just some faceless bastard.
    I’d have to think about getting back into TF2. Relearning the maps, getting that edge back, finding a group.

    • PickyBugger says:

      Come join UKCS the best multiplayer community in the world…

      UKCS.net

    • Pobblepop says:

      What Pickybugger said. I’ve been in UKCS for over 3 years, brilliant servers, virtually no arseholes in the game, friendly atmosphere, excellent ping, all round top chaps.

    • Bender says:

      UKCS is the only server I go to.
      I think I found them in 2007/2008 because they were the first to admit 33 players instead of 32.
      Went there and never left.

    • Bostec says:

      Those are instant spawn servers aren’t they?

    • Pobblepop says:

      Mixed servers. Some are instaspawn (ala 32 man 24/7 Dustbowl for the hardcore) others have normal or slightly reduced times. They have 8 servers all together for TF2 so there’s probably one that would suit you sir.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      Some are instaspawn (ala 32 man 24/7 Dustbowl for the hardcore)

      HAHAHAHAAHahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhaaahahahahahahhhaaahahahahahahahhahahaaaaa……

    • Bostec says:

      Not for me old man. At least 20 seconds spawns and 24 players per server is my cup of earl grey.

    • Bloodloss says:

      32 slots? Yuck! I’ll stay well away from those meatgrinder servers, thank you very much.

    • Man Raised by Puffins says:

      @ Malibu Stacey: Indeed. As a counterpoint to such 32 player/instaspawn silliness, might I suggest the Hampshire Heavies and Uberium who both operate some pleasingly vanilla servers and, I am led to believe, house rather lovely communities. I mostly bounce on PC Gamer UK’s server, which has a decent crowd of regulars, and the RPS server, laden with fine RPS folk on most evenings.

    • PickyBugger says:

      I don’t really get the meat grinder thing. TF2 seems equally balanced for 32 players and 24 players, it’s only 4 extra people a team.

      A 64 player server would be a meat grinder…

    • MikoSquiz says:

      It’s a pretty fine balance. Less than 12 players and many maps (5cp particularly) come down to who’s rolling deepest in a random encounter, more than 24 and others (goldrush, anyone?) become a decorative element around a narrow chokepoint permanently filled with explosions and gibs.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      I don’t really get the meat grinder thing. TF2 seems equally balanced for 32 players and 24 players, it’s only 4 extra people a team.

      Maps are balanced for up to 24 players. More than that is generally carnage (in a bad way). Lowering the respawn times just amplifies that exponentially. Try playing BLU on Dustbowl or Goldrush on a 32 player instant respawn server & see how much fun it is.

    • Kablooie says:

      Sounds good, but I’m a yank, fellas :)

    • Man Raised by Puffins says:

      Oh poo. Sorry, can’t help.

    • pepper says:

      Concerning 33 players and insta-spawn:
      None, and I mean not one of all of them, as in absolutely nothing, zip, nihl, none.. Of the maps are a meatgrinder in any way shape or form IF, and that is a big if, of such a size that it would be a 12 story building with a lobby and a big sign that says IF in neon.. You ever in human history have player Team Fortress Classic, TFC, the one and only father and biggest meatgrinder ever. Go play!(Or play Fortress Forever – HL2 mod).

      Think that everyone has about 2 to 6 grenades, standard explosives, napalm, special big cluster explosives, etc. I almost mis it.
      And the modern incarnation known as fortress forever(jolly good!)

      Oh well, I feel old now..

    • frameset says:

      On the subject of good 24 slot servers, http://pcsupremacy.co.uk have a vanilla 24 slot server that’s active from UK afternoon till late night. Only good maps, no meat grind rubbish.

  7. McDan says:

    I am coming back, calm down! I’m also terrible, so fun times ahead.

  8. Raziel_aXd says:

    So the fact that Andrew Smee is here alot means another one of you guys is leaving RPS? Nothing against him, I now plan to read this post.

    • Inigo says:

      Walker knows too much.

    • Raziel_aXd says:

      About what? Adventure games?

    • McDan says:

      But sadly still not about healing.

    • Inigo says:

      Ask him about the Mauritanian satellite launch. He might accidentally let slip a look of horror and betrayal before slapping you like a big hairy girl.
      That is, of course, if the Centro Nacional de Inteligencia hasn’t already arranged for him to be sliced up like a cheap slab of pork.

    • PoulWrist says:

      It said the others are on secret missions.

  9. Doctor_Hellsturm says:

    It’s good to be back in TF2, but some of the new weapons are giving me headaches. Anyone else getting slaughtered relentlessly by heavies with the tomislav?

    • Rinox says:

      Yeah, same here. I’m pretty sure it’ll fade into obscurity after the initial hype since it’s not nearly as good as the regular mjnigun, but it’s pretty annoying to get killed by stealth heavies (?!) sitting in corners. Maybe it’s just because I play scout a lot, and the spin up and sound was pretty much your cue to get going…now, no way to hear them coming. And as a scout the lower firing rate still is deadly as can be.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      Unless the heavy is overhealed or has a medic it should still only take you 3 shots to kill him as scout & still come out alive regardless of which minigun he carries (although you’ll be injured but you can always retreat to heal up).

    • Bloodloss says:

      Not true at all. You have to have perfect meatshots to do that. Secondly if the heavy is any good whatsoever then he will destroy you. If he has a tomislav and is anywhere close to as good as you, you’re toast. I’d like to see some replays of you playing though if you never die to heavies.

    • Rinox says:

      I agree with Bloodloss. Unless you can surprise him, or he’s really bad, a heavy will always be a problem in an open space for a scout. A heavy only really needs to hit you once or twice at that range for you to die as a scout, which is even harder to avoid with Tomislav’s fast spin-up rate.

      P.S. I didn’t want to make this into a scout vs heavy debate, I just meant to say that it is a pretty devastating weapon for scouts, since they rely on their speed, hit and run and surprise.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      If you’re stupid enough to run in a straight line or stand still infront of the heavy & shoot him you deserve to die. Playing scout is about movement. Use it. If he can’t hit you, he can’t kill you.

      And yes I take down lone heavies as scout regularly, it’s not hard. Natascha is the only minigun which can be bothersome because it kills your speed which means he gets more hits on you which means it kills your speed more etc. etc.

      Soldiers are worse than heavies. They spam the floor with rockets & hope they do more damage to you than they do to themselves.

    • Rinox says:

      I don’t know about you, but I rarely meet lone heavies. I frag a lot of heavies, but even without Natasha only the stupid ones don’t know how to hit a scout. They just…turn. And shoot.

    • MikoSquiz says:

      All else – i.e. skill level and situation – being equal, a heavy will smear a scout across the walls. Conversely, a scout can pick his own fights – unless he’s already peppering you with Natascha bullets when you see him, you should be gone before you’re dead or even close. When I play scout I’m usually found behind the enemy, dodging and jinking like crazy, batting a medic here, putting two shells in a heavy and vanishing there.

      Stealth heavy is murder though, yes. Playing a heavy like an Eternal Reward spy was already brutally punishing to the enemy if you could pull it off, and now Tomislav..? Yikes. Time for *everyone* to learn to spot and call enemy positions, I guess.

    • Jahkaivah says:

      Pyros have a similar turmoil, even back when they decided to reduce the spin time of the original minigun, any Pyro without an Axetinguisher would be expected to die trying to burn down a heavy even if the heavy was caught by surprise.

      It really ought to have been a sign that Heavies have spin-ups for a reason.

  10. shoptroll says:

    Man they’re just letting anybody post entries here now aren’t they? Are we approaching a Gamers with Three Quarter Shotgun merger? :p

    (Welcome new person! Yay words to read :D)

  11. Krishna says:

    This man speaks the truth…

    and the game only gets better and deeper when you play in competitive leagues.

  12. The Hammer says:

    Yep, I’ve started playing again too! So much fun. Can’t even go back to Bad Company 2 now.

    It being free-to-play means that my friendship circles from other games (hello WOW!) can all get a slice of the action too. Which is SUPREMO.

  13. Ergonomic Cat says:

    For me, free to play means my favorite server finally had more than 8 people on average. Better the old guard, who are typically scattered across 10 different servers, are all back!

  14. jonfitt says:

    I gave up at the Mann-Conomy update. Too many silly items, and as much as I love demoman, the introduction of Kights before that had soured the experience.

    Pwning noobs does sound like fun though, perhaps one more dance.

  15. Koozer says:

    I have 300 hours in TF2. I enjoyed the class updates, I hated the random drops in the Sniper V Spy update, and was very pleased when they made it achievement-based again. Now I just get annoyed playing it, seeing people with weapons I want but have literally no chance of getting by my own choice. I can stand it in MMO’s, I don’t really care if a hat gives +7 hattiness, but in TF2, it’s just painful.

    EDIT: also, my regular server changed to 32 player for some ridiculous reason.

    • Rinox says:

      You can trade for the weapons you do find though?

    • jonfitt says:

      This. I gave up trying to craft all of the new weapons from eighteen hojillion other weapons, and the set bonuses when using a hat (that costs money) was a nail in the coffin.

      Trading was pointless because the only spares I had to trade were all the weapons that you get from achievements anyway. Perhaps with all the new players there will be someone who wants a backburner for some of the new weapons but I really doubt it.

    • Rinox says:

      But in that case you can make them into metal and trade for that.

    • MikoSquiz says:

      Getting all the new weapons you want is trivial if you play more than an hour or two a week; most of them are of very limited or situational usefulness in any case. By and large (with the exception of a few achievement unlocks*, particularly the Equalizer and Axtinguisher) the vanilla loadout is more versatile and effective.

      * In a bizarre reversal, getting the achievements** is a good idea in any case – most of them basically require you to learn and apply essential class skills, and most of the rest might as well be “play this class for eight hours”.

      ** Except for the medic’s, which are heavily biased towards pointless prannying about

    • Tomm says:

      Add to that the fact you can craft the hats that are parts of sets.

    • jonfitt says:

      Being able to craft the set hats was not an option when I stopped playing.
      Holy carp I looked up the cost and it’s 73 weapons’ worth of metal!!!

      I didn’t mind doing achievements for unlocks, but the micro-transaction model of playing endlessly in the hope of drops or paying big bucks for items that were ostensibly introduced to keep the game fresh is just frustrating.

    • JackShandy says:

      Jonfitt, I’m leaving the country right now, but WHEN I GET BACK, I will give you a quick-fix for a backburner, no joke.

  16. noobnob says:

    So many multiplayer games could use a population boost, yet when TF2 is released as a F2P title, everyone flocks it.

    I’m guessing there’s nothing else like TF2 out there, for such a thing to happen. This is going to be the first game I’ll play as soon as I get a new PC.

  17. bonjovi says:

    hahaha exactly same thing for me, I’m suddenly king of the hill :-)

  18. Zwebbie says:

    I gave it another shot last weekend and I remembered why I quit playing: you spend an awful lot of time being dead and walking back to the front. It wouldn’t be the first time that the teleporters are sapped and I have to jog my Heavy to the battle for half a minute, only to get head-shotted or backstabbed there within seconds, to repeat the whole thing again…

    • MikoSquiz says:

      Play on an instarespawn server? Some of the game modes (payload race, koth at least) aren’t wildly unbalanced by instant respawning, and there are approximately infinity squintillion instaspawn servers out there. I sometimes have a hard time finding somewhere to play that *has* spawn times.

    • Pointless Puppies says:

      If you get killed too often you’re simply doing it wrong. I know in most shooters there’s no such thing as a “retreat”, but generally you almost always have a chance to back off in TF2 if you’re so inclined.

      If anything, play as if you only had one life the whole round. I guarantee you’ll live longer and play better.

  19. Daz says:

    The thing I like about tf2 that other online fps games lack is that it is usually hilarious when I get killed. In most shooters death really sucks, but in tf2 90% of the time i’m usually laughing out loud at the circumstances around my demise or the preposterous pose my killer is striking in the death-cam.

    That and it’s just a fantastic game.

    • sincarne says:

      Seconded. I popped in last week for the first time in ages. I had a really good laugh at one death in which I was thoroughly gibbed, and the game helpfully labelled my assorted parts with coloured arrows saying “You”.

  20. airtekh says:

    Nice to see the RPS server full to the brim in the evenings now. It was gathering dust before TF2 became F2P.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      That goes for a lot of servers. Some communities whose servers I play on (in?) have even started putting up extra servers where they have capacity going spare as it’s mental busy right now where as a couple of weeks ago it was difficult just to get people to fill one 24 player server at times.

  21. OJSlaughter says:

    The game has incurred new life and the are all NOOBS!!!

    PWNAGE PREPARE FOR DEATH!!!!!

  22. shoptroll says:

    Ribbing aside of the new poster, very well written article. I haven’t hopped online since I tried to play in the highlander tournament with a couple of people, but new blood is always a good thing for a community. Also, completely agree with the need for saved load-outs. Even with a couple of random drops, it’s not always apparent which item fits best for the situation or ones playstyle, and often times the stock weapons are just as competent as the new toys.

  23. Bloodloss says:

    My main problem with TF2, and the reason I’ll probably be quitting once the newbies wise-up, is how it’s hands down the most imbalanced FPS in existence. I honestly can’t believe that Valve has made the same mistake again with the heavy after finally, after months, nerfing the Natascha. The tomislav is ridiculous – do they even test their game, or do they actually want it to be this way? And that’s really just the top of the iceburg, I won’t ramble on about how several classes are practically worthless at the best of times. I may try getting into competitive TF2 which would largely solve its flaws and takes away the things that lessen the skill of the game, but to do competitive TF2 would mean first playing more in public games in order to get better, bit of a Catch 22 scenario.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      You don’t necessarily need to play more pub to get better. Have a look at TF2 lobby -> http://tf2lobby.com/
      It’s basically competitive rules but at pub skill level.
      Or you can volunteer to merc (or ringer depending which side of the atlantic you hail from) for low- teams in practice matches (aka mixes, scrims, PCW’s etc).

    • MikoSquiz says:

      Heavies are obscenely powerful, yes, especially when backed up by medics. But they’re slow and can be harried mercilessly from afar or by faster classes, if you don’t just try to stand and fight. Rock, paper, scissors applies. Defend the snipers, give the spies distractions to play off, overheal the scouts.

      Of course, in chokepoints or en masse they’re just murder. But still – you don’t see many heavies in competitive play..

  24. Malibu Stacey says:

    Nevertheless, the Solider still shoots rockets, the Scout still has a shotgun, the Spy still backstabs. The core game still essentially remains familiar and plays the same, no matter how fat it’s become

    Welcome to RPS Mr Smee & thanks for pointing the above out. Although it appears no matter how much you tell some people, the game was apparently ruined forever by cosmetic items & weapons which are in general no better (or in some cases, worse) than the defaults in their eyes & can never redeem itself regardless of how much fun those thousands of people are having. They must all be wrong.

  25. Tei says:

    I don’t like the bounding box of the grenades. It seems to big for a game this type.
    I have played on a server where half the people playing was decorated with Transport Tycoon Deluxe items (like a cone), and the others where decorated with The Day of The Tentacle items (like a tentacle hat).
    It was fun, more fun than I remember, but still feels somewhat odd for a TF game. Maybe is because I am more acustomed as the size (width) of QuakeWorld Team Fortress.

  26. hjd_uk says:

    Dare I dust-off my Platinum Badge? Plenty of new hats/weps but new player surge means idiots and Lag :(

  27. Stevostin says:

    Free to play… I thought at first “wohoo, noob frag fest” but in a game where typical matchup sees 10 vs 10 players, the fact that there are 6 noob in the opposite teamp is largely tempered by the fact there are also IN YOURS. Also there are old the old veterans like you who come back for the sake of obliterating noobies – and they still know how to kick your ass as much as you know how to kick theirs.

    All in all, still balanced fragging. Not to say I don’t end up with a flattering ratio. But that’s because I am good (and because Heavy are overpowered).

  28. Antlia says:

    Yeah, it’s literally HUNTING SEASON with all the new players. I got a new heavy record few games in, after a years break, 27 kills.

  29. Randdalf says:

    I’m having a whale of a time… mainly because as the article mentioned, there are a horde of clueless engineers across maps (some I’ve spotted who didn’t know they could upgrade sentries) – I’m one of those played-regularly-since-release-and-has-quite-a-few-hats people.

    • Rinox says:

      I was playing as a spy, when I saw two engineers putting up dispensers and sentries on a chokepoint. I uncloak, put sappers on everything…and they don’t move. So I stab them both in quick succession. :-D

      It seemed they had no idea that i was a disguised spy, or that there was such a thing as sappers.

    • jonfitt says:

      OOOOOoooh you’re making me snap my imaginary butterfly knife in anticipation.

  30. The_Great_Skratsby says:

    I only started playing it again recently since the free-update, and it really has pulled me right back in. It’s still highly enjoyable even with ridiculous items and hats, and it’s great to see so many populated servers. Most I’ve played it since the ‘Tonight’s the Night’ Engineer update, which killed my enthusiasm afterwards.

  31. Terics says:

    I bought the game around a year ago and I do enjoy it. The free players are bringing it down for me though. More people to play against is a plus but when I see a crappy turret placement ,notice that half my time is spy, or no ones even trying capturing the point I just get rage quit. Once I saw a guy say “how do i shotgun in” in the chat.

  32. slpk says:

    As a medic, it’s frustrating to play with so many noobs. As a spy, or anything else really, it feels kinda cheap, but still fun. I’ll reserve to Dodgbeall for a while.

  33. Paxmayne says:

    I quit playing TF2 long before the hats were even introduced. Seems like as good a time as any to give it another try.

    What’s the RPS Server IP address?

  34. EBass says:

    TF2 was ruined for me by all the new crap thats now in it, but thats just me.

  35. Vague-rant says:

    Eh, its not too bad with all the new people. Its also a nice time to try new classes- for example I never play spy or sniper, and if I do badly, then I’m just one of the many. And then I can fix my ratios fairly quickly as another class.

  36. Dominic White says:

    I need to play more, and get trading so I can assemble all the pieces to play a Demoknight. Fascinating that they’ve effectively snuck in a pure-melee class under the name of another, eh?

  37. Barnaby says:

    Because I’m at work and I don’t have time to flesh out in depth the specific reasons why, I’ll be short-ish.

    If I were to write this article the headline would be the exact opposite, “Why you should not bother returning to a free TF2″. Having essentially rage quit the game from lack of balancing and hat overload I was reluctant to try it again this past weekend. I did and all it did was remind me why I stopped playing the game in the first place. Completely unbalanced teams, too few good maps, and players who think every map is simply a TDM match. On top of that I think the hat/item server can’t handle the influx of new players and the game constantly lags (others experienced this as well). Try spy checking when it seems like you are bumping into somebody every 2 seconds.

    That wasn’t as brief as I intended but in short, Valve never actually fixed the problems with the game and you have to ignore some pretty huge flaws to consistently have a good time playing… and $12 hats.

  38. MadTinkerer says:

    “Naturally, it’s their right to; the players who’ve kept up the TF2 habit for all these years, growing ever increasingly deadly in their confidence and reaction times. My nemesis, each and every one of them, reminding me just how crap I really am with every pipe bomb I blunder into.”

    Aha. Ahahahahaha. AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    That would (possibly) be me and my brother. Every weekend is TF2 weekend!