Wot I Think: Team Fortress 2

By Craig Pearson on July 9th, 2012 at 5:00 pm.


When the gentlemen of RPS asked me Wot I Thought about Valve’s now-free team-based FPS, Team Fortress 2, I was busy playing the game, and completely failed to notice their entreaties. They tried shouting and waving over my swearing at a pyro, but my ‘enjoyment exhalations’ – which sound a lot swearing practice and slamming a mouse on a desk – drowned them out. In the end, they had to go into the game and buy me a special ring, a novel item that sends a message through the game, and got my attention.

Finally, with my attention momentarily torn from the game, I agreed it was a fine idea: “Sure, now get out of my way: I can’t see the cart… oh for FU-” *mouseslam* But right now I’m struggling to come up with the words to describe my experience: it’s has been part of my life for years, and writing about it is getting in the way of playing it.

I’m not even joking: I’m writing this in the awareness that I’m only a few steps (on Steam) away from knifing someone. Some stats have emerged from that dull throb that follows me around: at the time of writing Team Fortress 2 has been out for 1,794 days, and Steam tells me I’ve played it for 857 hours. That’s almost half-an-hour for every day it’s been out, despite my busy social life and broad calendar of non-TF2-related writings. Three hundred and eighty of those hours has been as the Spy, while my second most played class, The Pyro, stands at 56 hours. I’ve played the firestarter more than I’ve played most other games, and I’ve played the Spy more than I’ve played some entire genres (strategy: it hates me as much as I can’t play it).

Eight-hundred and fifty-seven hours.

I don’t have any map stats, but I’d guess half of all those hours have been spent on Badwater.


It sounds vaguely sickening when it’s termed in raw statistics, but a lot of what I do on my PC is done while admitting to myself that I could be playing juggling rockets with an airblast. Watching a movie with my girlfriend means, quite literally, that I’m not playing Team Fortress 2 (I have a second monitor for when I want to watch a movie and play the game on my own), and playing another game also means I’m not spying my way to satisfaction. I uninstalled the game over Christmas 2010 so I could have a holiday that didn’t revolve around time spent or not spent playing it, and after realising all this, I’m going to uninstall it all over again. When I cap off the final paragraph, I’m playing it once more then taking it off my PC. Yes.

But… well. My experience of TF2, even after all these years, isn’t complete: I’ve spent too much time on one map, and too much time as one class, to fully understand it. Valve have added so much to it that keeping up, even for someone who plays it every day, is a struggle. From those early beta moments, where I always wanted to be a Spy and found the class nearly everything I wanted it to be, the game has grown like a violent, silly, exploding coral reef around me.

The Spy I play is probably not the Spy you play, either. You couldn’t say that on launch, where we all had the same loadouts. Now though, looking at the spread of updates, you can see how they’ve tried to appeal to a broader base: I play Cloak and Dagger (I charge my invisibility watch by saying still while cloaked), the stock knife (Strange variation), and the Ambassador (first shot is super accurate). There are people out there cringing right now: why not The Big Earner? Dead Ringer? Or The Enforcer? Why not the other myriad of Spy equipment that they use? Because through unlocks and tweaks they’ve built the Spy I wanted: I can teleport through enemy TPs, I can disguise myself effectively; my choices reflect a Spy that can be discrete and make a headshot. You might have wanted a character that drops corpses and can silently take someone’s place, but the checks and balances in place mean that’s not for me.


Then there’s the location. Badwater is built for spying. It was Valve’s second Payload map, after Goldrush. I spent hours on that first Dustbowl-esque bomb-delivery map, but then Badwater came along and I’ve been in level-love ever since. You can see the beginnings of Badwater in the opening stage of Goldrush: the open area where the cart squeezes through a crack in a natural wall of rising ground is an obvious placeholder for Badwater’s opening tunnel, where the cart pushes under a rolling hill. There’s so much room up top for Red to set up a defence, but you need to work on multiple levels to keep Blu pegged back: there’s no way to keep it all covered, so you end up with a vague mix of panic and exhilaration, toppling from one incendiary crisis to the next. Spying in these circumstances is glorious: all that room means there’s plenty of space to manoeuvre, and with rockets and ‘nades (and flares, flaming arrows, jars of piss, and bottles of milk) coming in from everywhere, if Blu aren’t sticking together they’re exposed. By the first ping of the cart things will change.

That open area leads to a warren of flanking corridors, some of which are almost forgotten spaces that take a long route around the cart’s path. There’s probably a level design document somewhere that’s weeping blood at the thought of the ridiculous second section that not only lets you set up camp above the second cart control point, but that has multiple routes around it as well. There’s a backroom here that probably only ever has people running there to get to the ammo and health, but to me it’s where I go to ponder the next push: the second control point is near enough to the Red spawn to mean it needs a real effort to push through, and with the high covering area over-looking it, it concentrates the fight. Red beats Blu; Blu beats Red, the cart ever inching towards the point. When it does, it flips the whole: Red’s route is cut off, sending them on a tortuously long run around their home spawn; Blu fight to the next CP in order to bring their spawn closer.


It’s a beautifully balanced level. Yes, ultimately every rush descends into both sides tossing bodies at the cart, but that final segment, with two side routes and sub routes peeling off those, and the main cart line dragging everyone onwards, is just wonderful to reach. The overlapping, interlocking paths taught me a lot about Spying and taking risks with the class: the railings that I can stand on to keep myself out of the way of sprinting enemies, the long corridor just after the second control point, that I can stand invisibly in as the two teams fire around me… And the range of movement afforded to a player that recognises where jumps can take him and what ledges can be stood on. This is what learning to play a game really means.

The thing I’m beginning to realise is that updates and additions have largely left me unaffected: I’ll always have my Spy set-up and that map as the most basic form of TF2. That’s never going to disappear.

But there’s so much more to like. So much more to toy with and explore and master in the endless dynamic replays of games that cycle over and onward forever.

If it’s not Badwater and Spying, it’s Gold Rush and the Pyro, Dustbowl and the Demo, Soldier and Upward, Sniper and Doomsday. 303 updates, some good, some annoying, some huge, some tiny, means there’s someone and somewhere and all the players. It’s a feast of ideas and experiences: every time the game patches, it could be a minor bug-fix, or the beginnings of an ARG. If there’s ever an example of a game that’s truly turned out to be a service, it’s not all those big MMO monoliths, it’s the madly buzzing backwater of Team Fortress 2.

‘Service’ is such a strange concept in regards to games, and of course it’s one that’s yet to be properly defined, but to Valve it seems to mean that everything they do with it has to engage the player: the comics, the videos, even the item descriptions, are all there to get you hooked all over again. To make you think about it, because it’s fun to do so. I reinstalled the game after that Xmas vacation (it lasted six months) because I caught glimpse of one of the comic covers and burst out laughing. I was back. And I love update weeks: Valve have admitted to seeding ideas into the updates to see what gets the biggest response, and then building the unlocks around them. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game developer so keenly understand their fans’ fervour more than the Sniper vs Spy update, when it began as a Sniper update and the slowly uncloaked the Spy in the background. That and it included the Portable Baccarat Detector.

That silly, burgeoning lore, was so seriously dealt with to begin with now revels in murderous children and angry Australian CEOs – it’s an amazing example of breathing life into a world that simply existed to have two teams fight.


Those first few maps and game-modes are now draped in shiny baubles, and decked in both ornamental and functional variety. They’re repainted, refurnished, recontexctualised in a way that no other FPS has ever managed. Don’t like something as fundamental as Capture The Flag? Well they’ve just reworked the concept in the latest Pyro update: CTF forms the basis for sd_doomsday, a map that tells the story of a Monkeynaut’s failed flight into space. In addition to Special Delivery we have Payload, Arena, Payload Race, King of the Hill, Highlander, and Medieval Mode, and over fifty official maps. I can’t actually work out how to count the true number of items, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there were 300 or more hats and weapons to buy, with variations on colour, rarity and attributes. Classes have an element of Build-Your-Own, either through the store or the game’s drops and trading, resulting in multi-disciplinary combatants.

They’ve significantly widened each character: The cyclopean Scot, the Demo Man, can either be a drunken bombardier, or a surprisingly effective front-line head-lopper. He can have fine-grain control over his sticky bombs, or just blow them all the hell up. You can even choose what type of sword you use. (I tend to keep with the bombs, so I can sticky jump: there’s nothing more Scottish than flying through the air, trailing flames on my boots, to smash a bottle into a Sniper’s face.) Then there’s snipey Soldier, splash-damage Soldier, in-betweeny Soldier, and spammy soldier. He has gadgets to augment attacking and defending. Same with the Sniper, a near impossible task I thought until they gave him a bow: he can be defensive head-shotter, or a terrifying, stalking, archer. Even the Engi, with the addition of a tiny, quickly deployable sentry, now has scope for movement. And when things didn’t change for the better, they changed for the sillier. The recent Pyro update shows just how silly the game can get.


There’s a fish for the Scout, a robot hand for the Engineer, a pair of bear gloves for the Heavy:: Valve’s rules on the game’s design and tone have been defenestrated: The Steam Workshop delivering dangling magic lanterns and alien brain slugs.

What I am saying is that there’s a lot of stuff in here, now.

If I cared to complain about this, it’d be easy. It somewhat distracts from the initial design, and the lunges of content are now based solely around the idea of getting things out there rather than looking at what classes need a little love. But it’s now free. And even then the community is making money through the free-to-play game with an astonishingly generous basis: all the items can be traded or crafted. You needn’t pay a penny. Valve have kept the players together, refusing to charge for maps. Look around: there are full-price shooters that block mods and charge you for maps; TF2 is free in many senses of the word, and there’s few games that can really look you in the eye when they claim that.

I’d still pay for Badwater, though.

So what do I think of Team Fortress 2? Well, I think that describing something that lurches in as many directions as Team Fortress 2 is genuinely problematic. It’s a well-made, class-driven shooter. But it’s also now a game set up for fans to make money, and a tool for machinima, and an avant garde exercise in storytelling and game design. It’s an experiment. A laboratory and a shop at the same time.

And pinning it all together is a shooter, one that’s become part of my daily routine, and describing it is like describing breathing. It’s just something I do.

My hand drifts to the listing on my Steam window time and time again, passing over the 77 other games I currently have installed on there. My mind is taking me to do what I have done for years and years and years.

Team Fortress 2 is the best game I’ve ever played. And with that said, it’s clearly time for me to uninstall it.

__________________

« | »

, , , , , .

200 Comments »

  1. pakoito says:

    This thing you describe is what some of us feel about Dota :)

    Excellently described.

  2. SkittleDiddler says:

    Spies are OP. Discuss.

    • Uglycat says:

      Spies are perfectly balanced – you die every 30 seconds from random spam, you die if anything breathes on you funny, but once you get into position the ensuing slaughter is worth the preceding rage.

      • Ringwraith says:

        It’s also so terribly satisfying to spend ages cloaked in a corner waiting for the perfect moment to kill that sniper/engineer when half his team isn’t running past him.

      • sinister agent says:

        Quite. Countering spies is the easiest thing in the game. In a stand up fight, absolutely everyone will outgun a Spy, and all you need to do do get a stand up fight is expose him, which happens if anything or anyone touches him in the slightest way. Hell, sometimes all you need to do to doom a spy is to turn around at the right moment.

        • Eukatheude says:

          09/07/2012 at 17:35 sinister agent says:

          Quite. Countering spies is the easiest thing in the game. In a stand up fight, absolutely everyone will outgun a Spy, and all you need to do do get a stand up fight is expose him, which happens if anything or anyone touches him in the slightest way. Hell, sometimes all you need to do to doom a spy is to turn around at the right moment.

          Actually, a skilled spy can take down a scout pretty easily, provided there’s some range between them.

          • The Random One says:

            If there’s any range between a spy and a scout it’s not a very good scout.

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        That counts for every class though. Dying is a part of the game. Unless you’re playing a Sniper.

        Spies Snipers are OP. Discuss.

        • Tyshalle says:

          Only on certain maps, and only some of the time. 2Fort is a sniper’s best friend, but even there they are so easily countered with grenade and rocket spam that it’s not even funny (unless you’re not a sniper). Anyone can kill a sniper from up close. A sniper only really works if they have a lot of cover, a huge distance from their enemies, and even then there wind up being other snipers taking them down.

          A lot of people seem to think that sniper vs. sniper wars are a stupid pointless waste. But IMO, they’re hugely vital. Snipers keep enemy snipers busy. Without a sniper on your team distracting the shit out of your enemy’s snipers, your enemy’s snipers would wreck your whole day.

          It is cool how many games within a game TF2 manages to get. Engineers are mostly off in their own world doing their own thing, having to deal with Spies constantly. Spies have to deal with Pyros and basically everyone who will constantly shoot at their teammates just in case, while they go and wreck the Engineer’s and Sniper’s fun, etc.

          It’s the best multiplayer FPS I’ve ever played, that’s for sure.

      • Smarag says:

        You should look at some good Spy videos e.g. the ones from “Stabby” and you will notice good spies don’t die and every position is a good position. (They are not OP though. They are just awesome.)

        • SkittleDiddler says:

          I was being a bit facetious with that original post. I’m pretty sure the best players are always playing spies simply because the Spy class offers the best tactical gameplay out of all the classes. It’s also the most complex, thus offering more of a challenge to seasoned TF2 players. I personally don’t bother with the Spy because I’m lazy and the Heavy is more up my alley anyway.

          Honestly though, I don’t think anyone but chronic Spy players would notice if the class was removed entirely from the game.

          • The Godzilla Hunter says:

            Spies are extremely important to disrupting defenses. Only an Ubercharge is more effective, and one charge takes much longer to build up. Basically, spies help prevent turtling (or, at least reduce its effectiveness).

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            Meh, Soldiers equipped in the Tank Buster set can do the same thing.

            Spies are only as essential as any of the other classes.

          • Chalkster says:

            The tank buster set is literally the most useless soldier loadout for sentry killing. The damage reduction is pitiful, and you only have three rockets to fire at it consecutively. All it takes is one whack of a wrench in between those three to keep the sentry alive. No secondary weapon at all! If you’re trying to kill sentries, use the direct hit, or the new garbage launcher at close to mid range. Even the default loadout will do a better job.

            Good spies are best at causing disruption, killing key targets, and taking advantage of enemies who are occupied. One thing I maintain is that you never need a third spy. Hell, you seldom need a third anything.

      • Godwhacker says:

        My personal favourite: equip the Cloak and Dagger. Find an Engie with a proudly maintained nest. Carefully work your way to his spawn. Check the scoreboard to make sure no-one is about to respawn. Sap the teleporter entrance. Cloak.

        Stand on the teleporter entrance and wait..

  3. khaz says:

    Team Fortress 2 is something special. It is also only the second gaming community I have ever encountered in my fifteen years of online gaming that is genuinely a joy to hang out in. That Valve have managed to maintain this despite going F2P is nothing short of amazing.

    • Brise Bonbons says:

      This is very true, though I’ve definitely found that random servers are less reliably friendly and vocal than they used to be. But if you have a well maintained favorites list, you can always find a good server with fun people playing and chatting and generally being chill. That is quite an achievement.

  4. wavedash says:

    In the fourth to last paragraph, is that supposed to me “and a shooter at the?”

  5. Sardonic says:

    As a HOUWAR owner with hundreds of hours ingame, I approve of this article.

    Also demoman is the best class.

  6. Bostec says:

    I’m up there with you. 841 hours. And I think its time to uninstall it again. I reached the 750 mark and I uninstalled then but just when I thought I was out, it pulled me back in. At least you don’t use the dead ringer, I hate that thing.

    • Vorphalack says:

      Dead Ringer is really effective though. I used to be in the CnD user crowd, only using the DR once to get the achievement. After getting sick of dying to grenade and pyro spam I swapped to DR give it a chance. Once I got used to it I never looked back. It lets you move around faster, become more or less immortal if you need to run away, and recharges faster. Also prevents grenade spam deaths.

      • Bostec says:

        Thats why I don’t like it, its almost like an extra life. Even when your a pryo and you catch a spy with the dead ringer, you feel like your chasing him down half the map to finish him off. Anyway the best bit about being the spy to me is when your invisible and your going down a corridor or a tunnel and there are 3/4 other team players coming at you and you manage to dodge them all without touching any of them. Always brings a smile to my face.

        • Mitthrawn says:

          I literally refuse to play on servers that are vanilla or lost connection to steam (default loadout) because of the dead ringer.

          • Koozer says:

            Wait, but the Dead Ringer isn’t a vanilla item. I’m confused.

          • Vorphalack says:

            He means he wont play on those servers because he wants to use the DR.

          • zeroskill says:

            Obviously, since getting perma spy checked by an eager pyro until you rage quit the server isn’t so much fun I imagine. Spy mind-tricks only worked for about 2 months after the game’s initial release, until everybody knew them.

      • The Godzilla Hunter says:

        I’m pretty sure that the DR imbues the user with statistic-bending invisible armor. When using the dead ringer, uncloaked, I can easily waltz into the enemy base without so much as being looked at. Using any other cloak seems to make me a bullet magnet.

    • Carra says:

      I’m sitting at 223 hours, it really is a brilliant game. I’ve spent some time in BF2 & BF3 but I always come back to TF2… every time they release a new patch.

      It’s one those games that I can keep on playing for a hours at a time with the “one more round” attitude.

    • Wisq says:

      1344 hours here. That’s 45 minutes per day on average.

      Which, honestly, sounds about right. Still playing after all these years.

  7. Brun says:

    Never really got into TF2 as it felt too similar to other class-based FPS games that I liked more (such as Battlefield).

    • Ringwraith says:

      It’s nothing like Battlefield.
      Even the difference in damage system differentiates it enough, then you have to factor in all the widely different classes with completely different move speeds, health pools and weapons.

      • Brun says:

        I haven’t played it or even looked at it since a long time ago, but again it was about the “feel” of it for me – a purely subjective perspective. You had 4 or 5 classes that each had a different specialty, similar to games like Battlefield, or even Star Wars Battlefront. Except there were no vehicles and the maps didn’t feel as interesting.

        • stupid_mcgee says:

          There’s 9 classes in all. Scout, Sniper, Medic, Pyro, Heavy, Demo, Soldier, Engineer, and Spy. IMO, the classes are a lot more nuanced and specialized than in other class-based games. Thus, you really do need to balance your team and work together or else nothing will get done. TF2 also has a more “arcade” feel to it. Also; rocket jumping.

      • Hoaxfish says:

        I feel it’s much closer to Quake, though divided into each class. Scout has the speed of a Quake character, Soldier has rocket jumps/rocket launcher, demoman has grenades, etc.

    • Stevostin says:

      Then why to play Battlefield ? ;-)

    • 153351 says:

      You’re missing out. The games couldn’t possibly be more different. Also, only one of them is actually fun enough to play for 800+ hours.

  8. Eukatheude says:

    You might want to consider using the vanilla watch, since it’s easy to find ammo/metal pretty much everywhere. As for cloak and dagger, in my 600 hours everyone spychecked everything constantly, so having a disguise isn’t in fact of much use.

    • Ringwraith says:

      The cloak and dagger is for the more patient player, and the fact you can stay hidden in a corner means you don’t often need a disguise for very long anyway. Therefore only people randomly checking corners (but if you’re hiding properly, you hide in the least obvious spot you can find, like the aforementioned railings), can find you.

      • sinister agent says:

        Yeah, I’ve used the cloak and dagger exclusively since I got it, one of my first unlocks, years ago. It’s pure spying then – cloak almost constantly and just watch and wait for the right moment to hit the right target to help your team. If you play it right, you’ll be observing and waiting for long enough that people will forget there’s a spy in the game at all.

      • Smarag says:

        Or short: It’s for the noobs who want in on the spy action, but aren’t skilled enough. A slow spy is a bad spy. In that time that you need to kill one player with a noob spy you could be credit to team instead and heal people as a medic or harass the enemy with rockets.

        • sinister agent says:

          Yeah, medics are a great choice for taking out a sentry nest that’s blocking the whole team, or the sniper who’s drawing a bead on your flag carrier, or the heavy who’s about to uber your control point.

          Spying isn’t always about killing as many people as possible. It can be about killing the right target at the right moment.

          • LionsPhil says:

            If that’s meant to be sarcasm, I think you’re undervaluing the power of the ubercharge for line-breaking.

            (Ah, edited.)

          • Smarag says:

            There aren’t enough “right” moments to justify a camping cloaky spy. Als you failed at sarcasm. Medic is perfect for taking out a sentry nest. Most of the time better than the spy. Another better alternative is a Demoman. Snipers are pretty irrelevant most of the time. You can kill them with any class faster by just shooting in their general direction.

            Yup Killing an uber ready medic is what a spy should be doing that is right. But he isn’t efficient enough at it. The team is better off most of the time with a second offensive player that kills that medic and a lot more medics or other people in the usual way.

            Spy is a very fun class and it makes for very awesome fuck yeah moments (I love playing spy). That doesn’t change that most of the time the team is better off having another class. There is a reason they aren’t used usually in competitive games.

          • sinister agent says:

            A medic is useless for taking out nests. A medic and heavy (or sometimes pyro) works, yes, but requires that both of them stay alive when they’re a very obvious target for everyone (particularly – oho – spies), will seldom have the element of surprise, and takes up twice as many slots.

            I’d imagine spies aren’t used much for competitive games (which frankly doesn’t matter to me anyway, because games are best when played for entertainment, not maximum efficiency) because spy checking is so easy and pro players will do it constantly. But, y’know, that’s basically a different game and one most people won’t ever touch.

          • LionsPhil says:

            The medic and his buddy are useful all the time the uber is charging as well, though. The problem with the CnD is that it encourages spy players to contribute as much as people who idle in spawn fiddling with crafting and trading. I don’t deny that the tension of lurking for the right moment to strike is kind of fun, but it’s frustrating for teammates in a team game—from that angle, it’s iffy game design. (The achievement for lurking in the same place for three kills is even worse, on a par with the one for Heavy wasting uber time by spending it kill-taunting.)

            (The same uselessness is true of bad snipers. Unfortunately the two coolest classes are also the two where it’s easy to be a complete waste of space—and bad autobalance will mean that unfortunately that does hurt—unless you’re over a given skill and activity threshold.)

          • soundofsatellites says:

            most of the time as a medic you’ll want to hang out with someone who actually knows how to play. A soldier or demo are totally best pockets than a heavy. Much more mobile than heavies, which I think is waaaay more valuable than raw damage (no to say that demos outclass everyone when it comes to damage dealing, a long range crit sticky is *deadly*).
            Comms when playing medic are the most important thing, as you’ll be often more capable of threat awareness than your buddy. You want someone who responds to you when you’re calling a soldier or a scout on your back.
            I don’t want to come of like an ass saying play with people who know how to play :E but seriously a skilled scout or sniper can be very effective (if situational) buddies, especially in pubs. As a medic you should know your place, obviosuly. Knowing when to retreat or commit to a play. Where you position yourself is paramount (which places are a spam magnet, safer routes, where to wall hug, places where stickies can be) and always check your back.

            Regarding to competitive play, a spy is actually a common choice when needing a pick to balance things out, or to get advantage for a push. spy/sniper/suiciding scout or soldier are things you can expect at certain times during a round, but yeah, generally speaking utility classes are not the cookie cutter 6v6 lineup.

            also: stock weapons ftw. ;D

          • stupid_mcgee says:

            For sentries?
            Medic and Heavy? Is not possible.
            Medic and Pyro? Nho.
            Medic and Soldier? Screamin’ Eagles!
            Medic and Demo? Aigheaght’s the way to do it!

            This isn’t always true. If you have a sentry right around a bend, then the Pyro can certainly destroy it pretty quickly. If it’s placed well and far away, good luck with that.

            A heavy is somewhat similar. However, ubering a heavy, even if the sentry is at a further range, can often draw the sentry’s fire and the team’s fire, allowing for demos and soldiers to quickly take out the sentry.

            The nice thing about demo is that you can charge up your sticky launcher to propel stickies from further range than you can be detected by the sentry. This allows you to quietly drop a few stickies, wait for the engie to go back to repair it, and then blow them sky high.

            Soldier has the advantage of being able to fire his rockets out of range from the sentry, but they don’t tend to pack as much of a punch as a demo’s stickies. IMO, soldiers are better for menacing sentries from a distance, forcing the engie to repair it.

      • Eukatheude says:

        Too bad the short time it gives you often forces you to stop in the middle of crossfire. You might just run up undisguised with your DR, it’s not about remaining undiscovered much as it is about overcoming single players. True, sometimes you’ll just go in for the suicide medic kill, but for standard situations DR and the vanilla watch are just plain better.

        Also, decent snipers are a true pain in the arse.
        Protip: the razorback is utterly useless.

        • LionsPhil says:

          The razorback is good for making inattentive spies (HELLO!) feel very, very stupid.

          Especially when they were carrying the Ambassador as well. Ahem.

          • rhubarb says:

            To be honest, a lot of the time razorbacked snipers don’t notice you breaking it. Maybe I just play on the wrong servers…

    • Gnoupi says:

      The cloak & dagger is also good for large, open maps, like floodzone. Because spy-checking is a pain in such places, and you have so many places where you can stand without being noticed or bumped into.

    • Mitthrawn says:

      I’m going to say something controversial: if you’re not using the dead ringer, you’re not really spying. Its just how it is. The dead ringer allows you to have 2 LIVES every time you put it on, and if you find metal, you have even more lives than that. Every time a pyro flames you or you walk into demo spam or a sniper luckily headshots you with the huntsman, you won’t die and rage. You’ll laugh, walk ten feet behind them, uncloak, and stab that MFer in the back. If you’re not using dead ringer and enforcer, what the H-E-double-hockeysticks are you doing?

      • Brise Bonbons says:

        Your assessment is accurate, which is why I still maintain that those items need to be nerfed, because they’re just too fucking strong.

        For the most part balance in TF2 is pretty good, even atrocious items like the phlogistinator aren’t really imbalanced as much as dumb. But there are a few items, like the Dead Ringer and the Enforcer that are just so strong all the time, that they wind up being no-brainer choices.

        • Vorphalack says:

          I think at this point in the games life they need to buff the CnD and standard watch. There’s just so much anti-spy equipment out now that you really need the DR to be competitive. If all the spy watches came with some damage reduction buff while cloaked, and kept their unique features, that might be enough.

      • Mr_Day says:

        This, probably:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOR3snVKW0E

        Random note, I do not approve of this horrible sexist approach, but I would likely fall for it.

        • stupid_mcgee says:

          lol I’ve seen stuff like that. Works pretty well, too.

          I loved the part where he stabbed the spy that had just disguised into a pyro. :p

        • SkittleDiddler says:

          So would it have been better if the Spy had been using a spray of a half-naked Chippendales dancer? I don’t quite understand your charge of sexism here.

          • Mr_Day says:

            Hmm, I just thought the use of naked women as a sexual decoy counted as discrimination based on a perceived gender role.

            But fuck it, call me an arsehhole if I am wrong. Call me an arsehole if I am right. Just call me an arsehole, it is therapeutic.

      • Smarag says:

        Wasn’t the enforcer nerfed a few weeks ago? Is it still preferable over the Ambassador?

      • Mist says:

        The entire concept of spying to me is being stealthy, and stealthy out of necessity because you’re vulnerable. I’ve seen plenty of successful DR spies (in Arena though; got tired of other modes) who just use the spy as a tank who may make the occasional attempt at being sneaky but mostly just waltz around shooting everyone knowing that they’ll become invincible as soon as someone shoots back. How is that “spy-like”? It might be effective, but it’s completely opposed to the point of the class.

        • Vorphalack says:

          You can also use the DR to get through the front line grenade spam, disguise, and then go for the enemy sentries. That’s pretty much the most important thing you can be doing as a spy, especially if your team has no uber charge medic. If you use the CnD or default watch you will die more often than not just trying to get past the demo men.

      • Eukatheude says:

        The enforcer is good for cheap kills, but i prefer the vanilla revolver. The best spy gun, though, is hands down the ambassador, provided you can aim well.

      • VicTheBitter says:

        Yep, Dead Ringer certainly is a crutch for bad spies.

  9. Fincher says:

    Needless to say, it’s no longer the game I bought in 2007. The charm is dead, and what parades on its rotting remains is a joke that’s run its course.

    • Petethegoat says:

      I feel this way too. It easily used to be my favourite game, but I can’t say that anymore.

    • Brise Bonbons says:

      I don’t feel that strongly about it, but I did uninstall out of total disinterest recently, after 650 or so hours. Public play for me has morphed from the carefully considered, tightly designed action of early days into a chaotic mess of barely-distinguishable item effects; in short, it went from being Street Fighter to Smash Brothers.

      Now, I respect Smash Brothers as a good party game, but it’s never been the game for me unless you turn all the random item spawns way down and ban a bunch of characters and maps. I just like my competitive/coop games to be a bit more controlled and focused on the player choices (or the maps in an FPS).

      • Fincher says:

        “it went from being Street Fighter to Smash Brothers”

        Haha, that’s absolutely spot on.

        The change in tone of the game only gets a passing mention in the article, when it’s been one of the biggest changes to the game over the years.

      • Koozer says:

        You do SSB a disservice.

    • The Godzilla Hunter says:

      Though they can be hard to find (comparatively) some servers run the vanilla game (I think you just need to enter that into the tags).

    • devook says:

      This assessment is a hundred times more accurate than the original review.

      TF2 was, at one point, a well-crafted, competitively balanced shooter with more good maps than bad (assuming hydro isn’t actually a map) that was both fun to play casually and competitively. Then the pyro update hit and everything went to shit. They started introducing poorly thought out weapons like the back burner and undodgeable movement altering effects like the pyro poof that gave even the worst players in the game abject advantages in very specific situations. AND if it wasn’t enough to mess up class balance, they introduced payload which took one of the worst maps currently in the game (dustbowl) and made it even chokier and spammier. Payload is a goddamn abortion when it comes to game mechanics and proper balance; to say otherwise is to simply admit that you are bad at video games and don’t understand what the word “balance” actually means, in the same way that saying your favorite class is spy or pyro is the same as saying “I don’t know how to play shooters.” If you honestly think that payload is a balanced game type, you haven’t ever played against someone who knows how to play a first person shooter. One demo can hold down the entire attacking team on defense, unless there are 5 heavies on the cart, in which case it is an automatic win for the attacking team. The point is that where on most maps, any class is equally viable (excluding spy and sniper, which are always a waste of a slot), payload offers significant situational advantages to very specific classes based on the fundamental nature of the gameplay on payload maps. For most players, this is fine, because the great majority of TF2 players is just a pool of people who are terrible at shooters and find great enjoyment in pissing time away in a clusterfuck, anything-goes game with no real defining attributes other than kooky hats and wacky weapons. Valve has been playing to this audience for years, but in the process they sacrificed everything that made TF2 an appealing and compelling shooter.

      If you read some of their original articles on design, you see some really clear insight into the decisions they made to make the gameplay in TF2 crisp and rewarding. They discuss the way each class has a specific silhouette to set them a part, how they slowly tweaked weapons like the rocket launcher to keep spam down or the pipe launcher so that light-weight classes wouldn’t get one-hit KO’d. Now when you see someone playing a particular class, it means next to nothing. A sniper with his knife out might switch to a huntsman and hit you for 100 damage without even aiming at you, or he could be a free kill, or he could arbitrary make it so you take more damage from everyone around you, seems fair. A soldier could be using a liberty launcher, which is impossible to dodge but can’t kill a heavy before reload, or a direct hit, which kills a scout in one hit at close range and is also impossible to dodge, and it’s very difficult to tell which is which before they start shooting at you, or he could be using a black box which means certain classes just can’t engage him in a one on one fight. A pyro can immobilize you from outside of effective flamethrower range, they can right-click and kill you with a rocket from your own team that you had no way of seeing, or they could simply not be taking bullet damage right now. A demoman can kill you in one hit, or not, depending on which grenade launcher he’s using, but he could just as easily switch weapons and crit you with a melee weapon from 20 feet away.

      The game is a mess; Valve throws in new weapons now seemingly at random without any prior testing or any regard to how it might distort gameplay or further homogenize class roles. It’s a complete clusterfuck that survives off the simple fact that the majority of the players like it that way, because balanced gameplay and weapons that don’t offer significant situational advantages were making it hard for them to get points.

      • sinister agent says:

        I also think TF2 has become too much of a clusterfuck, and agree with you to an extent, but this:

        in the same way that saying your favorite class is spy or pyro is the same as saying “I don’t know how to play shooters.”

        is absolute, preening gibberish. Every clas has a useful role, that’s precisely why TF2 works so well. Pyro and spy are just another way to have fun and get the job done, and making out there’s some kind of dichotomy between favouring a particular class and being able to play shooters is simply cretinous nonsense.

        • stupid_mcgee says:

          It’s quote like that one that don’t make me miss these people at all. They were most likely the armchair generals screaming and raging at everyone on the pub servers because they didn’t win every single round. Good riddance, I say. I’ll still enjoy my goofy looking game with awesome gameplay.

        • devook says:

          That’s simply incorrect. Pyro and spy both serve redundant rolls that are fulfilled more efficiently by someone playing one of the better classes well. People play pyro and spy over the more efficacious classes because the skill floor is much higher, and the skill ceiling much lower. There’s nothing wrong with that, but not recognizing that this is the case is the same as admitting you have no idea how the game works.

          • sinister agent says:

            People play things the way they play them because they find it fun. Get over yourself, for christ’s sake.

          • Mitthrawn says:

            Spy is the most important class in tf2 and I’ll tell you why- he creates a 2 front system. You always have to watch both the back and the front, because you have no idea when a spy is going to sap 3 sentries, backstab the medic and is slowly creeping up on yoooouuuu.

            Spies make tf2 so much more interesting strategically, without them, tf2 would just be another military shooter with a cool cartoony visual style.

      • Eukatheude says:

        You have made a couple of points with which i agree with; however the airblast was a necessary and fun addition to the game, especially given how grossly underpowered pyro was before. And playing pyro does have an high skill floor, and i’m talking from 650 hours of playtime, of which about 150 scout, 100 soldier and 100 demo.

      • Brun says:

        This sounds like it was written by an elitist prick who plays exclusively Medics, Heavies, and Demomen and thinks that anyone else is worthless.

      • soundofsatellites says:

        I do agree with you in that most of the weapons make a huge clusterfuck in battle. There are a couple of unlocks that I don’t think they break the “natural” balance. equalizer (now escape plan, the new equalizer is laughable) and ubersaw are both two melee weapons that offer a good risk/reward mechanism (most of the time you don’t want to be at melee range!). kritzkrieg gives huge situational damage output at the cost of invulnerabilty (HUGE tradeoff). flare gun it’s kinda op, but balanced a bit the long range of pyros (still prefer the shotty thou’, much more reliable). gunboats reward mobility but reduces your sustained damage output. bonk it’s a situational and strategic unlock, but takes away your pistol. DR is annoying, but is really easy knowing when a spy is using it and can be countered (in the hands of skilled spies can still be a pain in the ass). cloak and dagger is ok.

        and that’s about it, i *think* there are others that don’t bother me, but if you look at it: for most tomislav is a straight upgrade over vanilla (1v1 damage output is lesser, but was made for people who can’t grasp the spinning mechanics yet). hunstman can be difficult to aim at first, but does have a ridiculous hitbox. phlog is the essence of w+m1, all forward, no thinking. a ray shotty that drains uber is seriously OP. in fact, all the sci-fi-zap weapons are horrible. I do think that most of the new weapons are throwing off the balance and serve as a crutch for new users and to reduce the frustration.

        But I can’t agree with payload mate. Badwater is one of the best maps out there (it’s the paradigm for highlander!), barnblitz on the other hand is utter shit. The last cap is so easy to defend for red. Hoodo and goldrush aren’t as great as badwater, but they’re not the worst maps by far (well anyone?)
        Sadly most balance problems is beacause servers don’t enforce class limits. I’ve played with friends in servers with no class limits, twelve meds dominating the entire other team with chain ubers. (the servers where I play payload, even three heavies with medics can be problematic, but you can have two demos with crits and that’s it, it’s not possible to loose to pub strategies if you play as a team!)

      • 153351 says:

        Opinion, away! It sounds like you don’t even want games to be FUN. Back to chess, or whatever it is you play.

        • The JG Man says:

          That’s a bit of a crazy sentiment to draw from. I found the base game immensely fun when it was first available, but as soon as it became diluted with new items, I found it lost its magic. For me, it was no longer fun and I felt both overwhelmed with what was going on and underpowered, that maybe these new items were all better than what I had. At the time, I felt there was little indication about all these changes, just that this is what the game was. I’ve tried to play it a few times, but each session will last shorter and shorter until now I have no desire to play the game.

        • Fincher says:

          But you fool, TF2 was always fun. Just because you needed to smack people with fish and throw milk, doesn’t mean that everything preceding that wasn’t fun.

    • Kollega says:

      I agree with those men. More with some, less with others, but i agree with the overall idea that TF2 got diluted to the point of utter irrelevance for me. It’s especially bad since the main draw for me was the art style, and gameplay piggybacked on that. Call me stupid all you want, that’s how it was for me. I’m an aestheticist at heart, and seeing classes diluted to the point of unrecognizability (Demoknight? Plague Doctor Medic? Mafioso Heavy? Death Ray Soldier?) shattered that heart into a million of tiny pieces… okay, maybe it wasn’t that dramatic, but it hurt seeing the game watered down and down and down because Valve were too lazy to think of thematically-appropriate items. Eventually, being bored of gameplay, tired of looking at the rotting remains of once perfect art style, and fed up with the Mann Co. store policy, i’ve reinstalled the game about near the first Australian Christmas. I do not regret it.

      About ten days ago, i have decided to start working on a game of my own. It will be like TF2 was back then, at the very beginning. Clear, crisp, vivid. It will be part superhero comic, part Looney Tunes cartoon, with a hefty dose of retro-futurism and more than a few dashes of spy fiction to top it all off. I do not know if i will ever make it, but i feel that i have to, at the very least, try. *puts on aviator sunglasses*

    • derbefrier says:

      pffft, i have never forgiven Valve for taking away my precious concussion grenades. I dunno its a fun game but i put 100s of hours into TFC and even played in competitive clan matches back in the day but TF2 just never drew me in like that. i think its because people seem more concerned with getting hats and weapons then playing competitively and pretty much treat it like a deathmatch most of the time. I used to have some of the most nail biting hardcore public games in TFC and though i have searched and searched i can not seem to find a server community with that focus, its just all about the hats now.

    • spectone says:

      One day I was playing quake online and connected to a server. It had to download all this stuff first, not just the map as per usual. Then I started playing Team Fortress on the escort the president map. This was way more interesting than capture the flag. I played it for ages. But eventually things moved on, Team Fortress 2 was announced but never released.

      Over the years I have played lots of different team based shooters. Team Fortress Classic was not as good as the original so I never really got into it. Eventually they actually released TF2, it was as good as TF. The only thing I hated was the achievements. However this time, I much less time to play a game that needs constant attention for half an hour at a time, so I stopped playing.

      Later when I had more time I found it had changed. Hats was silly so you could ignore it but all these weapon unlocks? I just can’t be bothered to play it.

    • Totally heterosexual says:

      You could just play Vanilla + highlander.

      • Fincher says:

        Browsed a few “vanilla” servers today. Is it a myth? Because every single one had unlocks et al, the term “vanilla” signifying a lack of plugins on the server.

        The “go play vanilla” line doesn’t stick.

    • MikoSquiz says:

      While I did love TF2 straight out of the gate, I can’t claim it was half as good back then as it is now. The older maps in particular are just terrible compared to the more recent crop.

      The only thing I’d prefer to see gone or nerfed is the Wrangler because, really, 66% damage reduction? 650hp on a lv3 sentry? With the amount of time it takes these days to set a new one up after the old one’s gone, with the Jag and carrying?

    • Machinations says:

      This, this, a thousand times this.

      The game was balanced and EXCELLENT when it first came out. I was a day 1 purchaser, having waited for so long since Team Fortress and they did a really good job. There was nothing that needed fixing. Nothing.

      Since then, they’ve managed to attract many new children – among whom are very likely to tell you the way you’re playing isn’t the ‘right’ way, regardless of you actually doing something, say capping a flag or racking up kills – and turn off a lot of the old vets.

      9/10ths of the new stuff is garbage, balance killing idiocy. The game went from having pacing and depth to being about superficial bling with strategy completely tossed out the window, and lame pop-culture jokes a-la Blizzard popping out of every orifice.

      I love me some Valve, but I think they absolutely pissed on the glory that was Team Fortress 2.

      I went from playing it every night after work to occasionally firing it up to play with friends or my girlfriend – because, remarkably, the same goofy shit that turns off competitive players is the same shit that attracts people who don’t really play games. And it is fun to play in a chaotic mess, for a short while. It’s hard to be actually interested in the game for any length of time – probably the same reason they keep adding more crap.

      The Street Fighter 2 transformation into Super Smash Brothers was a very, very apt analogy.

  10. Lobotomist says:

    I was waiting for this review for 5 years. Now that TF2 has RPS stamp of approval , i can finally start playing it !

  11. lordcooper says:

    That is almost 36 days of your life. For shame!

  12. Nero says:

    I haven’t played this for a while now because of various problems, but it’s the online game I’ve spent the most hours in by far. Although I do enjoy the updates and the silliness that comes with them I will say that I find vanilla Team Fortress 2 before all the class updates to be the greatest multiplayer game I’ve ever played.

  13. Gnoupi says:

    I would like to point out the fact that Steam wasn’t tracking the time spent on games until half a year or a full year after TF2 release. So it’s probably more than what you think you spent on it, if you played on release.

  14. Mitthrawn says:

    Probably the best game ever.

    I have over a 1000 steam games ( http://steamcommunity.com/id/redsaint9 ) and I still play TF2 more often than any other game. Even with all those games I have played *checks steam profile* about 2,000 hours of tf2. Like craig, its my default entertainment. I can’t do the realistic military shooters, and there simply aren’t many other quake style shooters besides this and the original.

    It’s more than a game, really, its an experience, and I find myself dragged back to it, like Craig, whenever they have a new update or comic or whatever.

    What I like most about it though, is that it is genuinely free, unlike many other “free to play” titles. Recently I tried to play Super Monday Night Combat only to bounce off of it because you had to pay if you wanted to play more than the 6 basic classes. In tf2, yeah you can pay for things if you want, but weapons are incredibly cheap to trade for (a scrap for anything but the latest weapons) and everything else is cosmetic upgrades. Even most hats you can get for a little over a refined. Valve have set the standard for free to play shooters.

  15. Clavus says:

    I left it for about 6 months, but recently started playing a few games again on our Arena server… this game just never frustrates and always keeps you going.

    I only have more hours in Garry’s Mod.

  16. Demiath says:

    Team Fortress 2 used to be the best example of just how alienated a singleplayer-oriented RPG and arcade FPS nerd like me feels in today’s sophisticated multiplayer-based, team-oriented, eSports/match event-focused PC community. TF2 isn’t even needed as a convenient shorthand anymore, though, since now we got the impenetrable black hole that is the DOTA genre, the elevation of Blizzard strategy games into a complete mathematical science and all sorts of arduous mods for already daunting simulatory anti-games like Arma II.

  17. Hug_dealer says:

    I spent lots of time playing the original team fortress, but i could never get into TF2. It could never hold my attention like so many other games, and ive never understood why so many others drool over it, even though i spent quite a long time playing the original.

  18. Flukie says:

    The big question is whether it is a better game now or then, sure we have much more content now, but was the simplicity of the original game what made it?

    • Dominic White says:

      Definitely a better game now, IMHO. More maps, more playmodes, and some of the alternate gear adds some real freshness. The DemoKnight is probably the largest departure from normal class play – it’s interesting to have a nearly pure melee character in there now, but it meshes well with the rest of it all.

      • Fincher says:

        I doubt any of the complaints about today’s TF2 will ever be levelled at the additional maps and game modes. That sort of content only adds to the game, because even if you don’t like it, you don’t have to play them.

        The weapons and hats added fundamental problem to the game, because if you don’t like any of them, you have to put up with them. It’s a multiplayer game, and other player might enjoy those weapons.

        I can’t say I’m a fan of the class-intermajiggerypokery they’ve been doing over the past few years. Blurring the lines, letting people do what they want as the class they want… I preferred the defined roles that central to Team Fortress 2, it’s all very topsy-turvy now.

        • LionsPhil says:

          The game becomes noticably “tighter” when servers lose their loadout connection.

          • HermitUK says:

            Indeed. I very much enjoyed TF2, and Valve’s commitment to bringing in new game modes and maps is fantastic. That said, I’ve drifted away from it with the explosion of unlocks; found myself spending as much time farting about on wikis to work out what I should craft, and how, every time a new update came out. And I really miss the tight design of vanilla; it shows that the weapons that get added in more recent updates haven’t been tested and iterated as much as the game had at launch.

            To me it also felt the focus on random drops, trading, and crafting detracts from just playing the game. In Tribes Ascend, if I play the game for a few hours I’m going to rack up some exp. I don’t need to think about recipes or trade servers. Getting hold of a new weapon in TF2 is a long process involving far too much hording for my liking. It’s perhaps a limitation of building the F2P elements on top of an existing game, rather than working it in from the ground up.

            That said, the first couple of years after launch remain some of my best online gaming I’ve ever partaken in.

    • Keymonk says:

      I second the ‘better game now’ notion.

    • Enkinan says:

      I think it is better now. I love having multiple loadouts for specific situations, it just adds that much more to the strategy. More maps never hurt either.

    • zairekaboom says:

      I just installed the game after three years of not playing and uninstalled it after listening to trade requests for three days. The players just want new items, winning the round is optional. I had 2-5 friend requests pending after every 1-hour session because I didn’t want to start trading during a match… Googled a bit and it seems it’s not possible to have servers without trading. Maybe I’ll try again if someone here has info on how to avoid that noise.

  19. Cooper says:

    The spy is one of my least played classes. But I too adore Badwater beyond anything else the game offers.

    Playing Blu Heavy on Badwater is where my love lies. I play for those moments when I manage to take the cart from beginning to end in one life. Blu friendlies dead around me, rockets and grenades flying by as I gleefully spew round after round after round in the soon-to-be limp bodies of those silly reds, laughing all the way. Glorious. Truly glorious.

  20. Cooper says:

    Also; UK server suggestions?

    The PCGamer server is now almost always empty, the RPS server has been gone for ages now. I drift about finding the odd decent server here and there now…

    • TNG says:

      UKCS, Trigger Happy Gamers, Who Dares Grins and Uberium have decent UK servers but I would recommend the Hampshire Heavies for the best pub experience though.

  21. Robin_G says:

    After about 2500 hours playing this game I have come to the conclusion that I like it. However, much of that time is front loaded in terms of distribution. I played more at the start and trailed off over the years. I still like the game, but so much has been bolted on to it that it’s arguably a different game now. I suppose I just don’t like the new game as much as the old one. The weird part is it’s not just like some slap dash sequel I can ignore and be super bitter about the whole thing and play with 7 other people on one of the few running servers for the original; the game I bought as part of the Orange box literally doesn’t exist any more.

  22. pupsikaso says:

    This is what I don’t like about reviewers in general. They are either bad at games, or don’t play games well enough to really talk about a game in terms that a normal gamer would want to read.

    Starting this article, I was sure it would be discussing how the game has changed over the years, how the original design has become undermined by constantly changing how every class plays. What are the pros and cons of this?

    But instead what do we get? Some guy that’s bad at games describing how TF2 makes him feel like a good player simply because he can pull off a few backstabs while staying cloaked most of the time. Then he throws in a few details of how much more content the game has received over the years, which he says he can’t even begin to grasp, even though for any normal gamer it would take a day of catching up to get acquainted with all the new stuff.

    And that’s Wot I Think, he says. Well you know, sir, I don’t much care for Wot You Think when it provides no useful information to me on how the game is faring, or whether it is worth our time to play it again or not.

    • Sinkytown says:

      I’d sooner read an account of someone’s experience with a game than the article you’re proposing. There are plenty of Totally BBC Objective reviews out there if you want them. How did you manage to misinterpret ‘Team Fortress 2 is the best game I’ve ever played’?

    • Ninja Foodstuff says:

      You’re seriously criticising a reviewer, that by his own admission, has been playing this non-stop, on the grounds that he’s not invested enough in it?

      You are free to post your own review in the comments you know.

    • stupid_mcgee says:

      Some guy that’s bad at games…

      A bit of a dick, yeah?

      And you base this on, what? You being a raging asshole? Because he has a set that he prefers that isn’t in the mainstream? Play the ball, not the man.

  23. marbled says:

    This really embodies a way of gaming that contrasts with my own in almost every way. I can’t imagine playing a game for anything like that long – I might rack up 80-100 hours on Dark Souls (assuming I ever make it to the end), but spending more than 50 hours on one game is very unusual.

    I think the reason for this is that I mainly play games to experience a story – even in Skyrim I was pretty much done once I’d finished the quest lines that interested me, and I’ve always drifted away from grand strategy games like Total War/Crusader Kings long before the end of a “campaign”.

    Competitive multiplayer is more about developing skills and pitting yourself against other people’s talents – I can understand the appear but I just don’t feel it. Of course, with more and more multiplayer/F2P titles out there, I wonder how many studios will still dedicate themselves to creating great story-driven games, but then I have less and less time available for gaming so I’m sure there’ll be enough to satisfy me!

    • stupid_mcgee says:

      Really? I’ve got 603 hours on TF2, 183 on Skyrim, 180 on L4D, 142 on Dead Rising 2, 141 on GTA4, 105 on Dragon Age: Origins, 174 across all of the Company of Heroes games, 89 on Arkham Asylum, 87 on PAYDAY, 86 in Shogun 2 and.. well, I could go on.

      Hell, I have over 50 hours on Tropico 4 and Orcs Must Die!

      Personally, I find it baffling that people would only play a game for 20 hours and then put it down.

      • pakoito says:

        How can you squeeze 90 hours of AA? And we can’t squeeze a game more than 20h in most of them because we have classes and jobs to attend to. The sum of all your hours exceeds the total amount of my spare time for the last 3 years.

  24. Sinkytown says:

    A great article! I love that you’re willing to say it’s the best game you’ve ever played. There’s a lot to admire in Team Fortress 2.

    I can’t abide being a cog in a machine enough to dedicate to the game. Being beholden to the actions of others causes me great pain. I’d sooner to play a game balanced around 1v1 matches, or team-based modes that allows for total autonomy.

    • Skabooga says:

      There are those days when I’m on a team that just cannot coordinate well – not that we’re all not trying, it’s just that our actions aren’t coming together like they should – and the other team steamrolls us, and I hang my head in shame. On other occasions, though, when the team is in perfect unity, and people notice deficiencies in the attack or defense and take the initiative to correct them, all without anyone barking orders or making commands, it is a glorious experience, and I play for those moments.

      • Sinkytown says:

        I’ve experienced the same ebb and flow. Sometimes a well-balanced team work in unison to achieve objectives, other times 4 snipers, 2 engineers and 6 spies grind for achievements. It’s the fact that victory is out of my hands that kills it for me. I’m happy to fail – in fact, I love difficult games – but they have to be my own failures!

    • Mist says:

      I also greatly dislike the feeling of losing because my team is worse than the other team. A few too many 20 minute slaughterfests on stage 3 dustbowl have soured me on most of the maps/gamemodes. Have you tried out Arena on a good server? (my fave is the Trigger Happy Gamers one). In general, if the other team is much better, you’ll just be steamrolled 3 times in a row, so the teams get autoscrambled after like 5 minutes. Greatly reduces frustration. And while you’ll occasionally get people who team up (usually around a medic), Arena is much more about individual duels than things like Payload and Attack/Defend.

  25. TNG says:

    The biggest compliment I can give TF2 is that I normally don’t like and avoid playing man-shooter games in their different variations (I tend to enjoy management games and point’n'click adventures much more) as well as multiplayer games, yet Team Fortress 2 is one of my favourite games. Whenever I’m down or just want some good, clean, quick fun I grab my medigun or scattergun and off I go to the Badlands. Whenever I start getting bored I just switch to one of my least played classes or try one of the custom maps and modes that are out there and the fun starts all over again. 900h of playing it and I am still having fun and discovering new loadouts or community maps when Valve isn’t releasing a bundle of joy through one of those big updates.

  26. The13thRonin says:

    If you clearly love it so much why uninstall and stop playing?

    • Keymonk says:

      I reckon it’s because he thinks he’s spending TOO much time on it. Too much of a good thing can be bad if you neglect other good things, hey?

    • Josh W says:

      I once had a chat to a friend about smoking, and she said, “but how do you stop doing something you want to do?”.

      Like anything that you like but that is having a massive effect on your life, you can be motivated to change it by looking at your life from a broader perspective.

      Like: Hang on, this game is totally dominating my thoughts for no reason, and is giving me no enjoyment at all for those huge periods of time that I’m thinking about it but not playing it.

      It’s one of those things that’s like addiction but isn’t; obsession. A little bit of obsession goes a long way, (and a lot of obsession leads to you staying in your house).

  27. airtekh says:

    825 hours played for me (and counting). It’s my favourite multiplayer shooter ever and I can’t see anything else toppling it.

    I think what keeps me coming back to TF2 is the sheer variety in the classes, and the interactions between them. Any time I feel I’m tiring of TF2, I play a class I haven’t tried in a while, and it’s like a breath of fresh air. That the fact that the game still makes me laugh.

  28. abandonhope says:

    Another RPS writer who thinks he can watch movies while, at a minimum, his eyes and brain are engaged with a game? I’d really love to read a review of a movie he or John watched this way.

  29. DiamondDog says:

    OK, I didn’t want to have to say anything, and generally I don’t agree that the quality of RPS is dropping like some comments I’ve seen, but this is getting silly.

    Two articles one after the other, right on the front page, clearly in need of the staring eyes tag and what have we got? Nothing.

    I mean, something needs sorting ‘cus it’s almost like you don’t fucking care anymore!

    What’s almost worse is there’s not one word about it from anyone in the comments. I dunno, I feel like this place has changed.

  30. HopperUK says:

    Killed Craig once and it was the proudest moment of my short TF2 career. I am terrible at the game but I think the Huntsman had just come out, and he was playing a Sniper, so I bashed his head in with a baseball bat. Ah, happy day.

  31. Namey says:

    It’s not the game I bought in 2007, and that is why I’m still playing it today. Even if the visuals have gone a bit silly, the gameplay is still top notch and each large update adds a wealth of new toys to play with in a very shooty sandbox.

    • stupid_mcgee says:

      Exactly. If TF2 was still the exact same game as when i started playing, I don’t know if I’d still be playing it. Sure, I might load it up and play a round, but I doubt I’d do it very often. I loved L4D, but it’s simply not really worth playing anymore. It’s gotten stale. I know all the maps, all the tactics, all the everything. TF2′s updates throw a monkeywrench into that and force players to change up strategies and playstyles. It keeps things fresh.

      Which, I think, is why such a vocal minority hate on the new weapons at every update. Because they can no longer do the same thing over and over and over with, relatively, the same results. It forces them to change and adapt, and some people really despise change.

  32. RP says:

    So, a couple days ago, some friends were talking about a “hilarious video” and one of them said, “RP, have you seen Meet the Pyro yet?” “Wot? Wot is Meet the Pyro?” I asked. Cue link, then they linked the scout video, and by then I’d a) seen BALLOONICORN and b) heard it was f2P and thought, “Sure, okay.”

    I picked a medic, because I’ve healed people in games before and figured I know how to do that, plus my lack of aim and poor sense of direction wouldn’t be such a hindrance. I’ve played every day since. I watch TF2 videos on my spare time now. I’ve gone from running from spies (admittedly a bad idea but I was nervous) to chasing them down with my booooonesaw.

    I love juggling five or six guys’ health on a point to blow BLU to pieces, or keeping one heavy/pyro/demo/soldier alive while we get a huge string of kills together. I love a timely uber charge completely turning the tide. I love putting people on fire out. I love hearing, “Thank you Herr Doktor!” I too love this game now. :)

    P.S. This is my first shooter. Previously I wasn’t even into the idea of “pvp” that much! Something about the fun and funny style combined with the need for good teamwork is completely charming though, and has hooked me on a game I didn’t even know existed a week ago.

    • Enkinan says:

      Yeah, Medic gets ragged on a lot, but it really is a great class. Good medics and engies make a huge difference in any given game.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Yeah, Medic gets ragged on a lot, but it really is a great class.

        Really? I’d say it’s one of the most universally appreciated classes, because everyone loves health points.

        Unless you equip the Quick-Fix. But I like topping up the whole damn frontline in a couple of seconds with ubers I can hand out like candy more than I like being blown apart by skilled demomen arcing shots past the wall of ablative meat I try to keep in front of me at 95% of the way to the more useful vanilla invuln. And now they’ve made Medics explosion-jump along with their heal-targets, it’s prone to some exhileratingly unexpected vertical exploration…

  33. Totally heterosexual says:

    Accurate gold war simulation.

    Anyway, personally playing a lot of demoman with Loch n’ load, charging targe and nessies nine iron. A bit of a weird mix but very rewarding when things actually go your way. Also sentries become bugs on your windshield.

    • LionsPhil says:

      :C
          – Engineer

      • Totally heterosexual says:

        I have yet to find a spot where i cannot pop two loch pipe’s in a row and take down any sentry aside from lvl3. Not to mention i usually kill the engie too since the splash is pretty big.

        >:D
        -Demo

        • MikoSquiz says:

          Either two L&L pipes take down a lvl3 sentry at full health, or I’ve just consistently been very lucky. I love it when a medic tells me, “Wait a moment, I’m at 80%”, and I respond, “..nah, just keep me buffed.. there we go, thanks”.

          • Totally heterosexual says:

            Huh. Might be, im not actually sure. It’s sure as hell breaks everything else though.

            Edit: went to test. Two pipes leave a lvl3 to 2-8 health.

  34. Metonymy says:

    Ive just read several paragraphs of an article by someone who junks up everyone else’s games by intentionally playing almost nothing but Spy. Wish I could get that time back.

    I was momentarily thinking, well maybe he’s a really good spy, and he can do just as much as a real class, even though strictly speaking he’s still handicapping his team.

    Second most played class: PYRO BAHAHAHAHA. Oh my God, players like you are exactly the reason why I can’t really enjoy the game. A good half of all games are complete foxtrots, with several players on each team playing spy and sniper. Thanks, losers. Can’t you just do something even simpler like watch tv and movies instead? Holy crap, he does that too…while playing TF2. It’s like he couldn’t condemn himself enough. I’m sure there’s better material further in, but I refuse to read it.

    • Temperance says:

      I’d tell you his only hat is a Ghastly Gibus, but at this point you may have a coronary.

    • stupid_mcgee says:

      Don’t let the door hit you in your pompous posterior on the way out.

    • MikoSquiz says:

      Funnily enough, I just went back to mainly running Cloak & Dagger recently, to prove a point to someone, and as it turns out I MVP with it much more consistently than I did with the Dead Ringer.

      And, really, with the airblast and the axtinguisher and flare gun, the Pyro’s one of the highest skill ceiling classes now, and honestly useful as all hell when moving around in tight groups. Stickies? Nope. Rockets? Nope. Pipebombs? Nope. Heavy leaping from around a corner with his minigun spun up? Puff, bwomp, chop, nope.

  35. Gurrah says:

    The spy might not be my favourite character in the game but he certainly has the best ‘meet the’ video of the lot. When I need to be lifted up all I have to do is watch that scene with the Blu spy talking about the scouts mother and it cracks me up, it’s so surreal having a ‘your mother’ joke in the context of TF2 but somehow it works.

    All in all I adore TF2 and the only real niggle I have with it is that it does not offer some sort of ‘classic mode’, before the hats and guns and tags and all that stuff that made it into this weird universe of jean-short wearing oligarchs punching crocodiles for recreation. The essence so to speak. That would be fantastic.

    • LionsPhil says:

      And the sequence of kills is outstanding.

      (Medic is totally the worst disguise, though. Who’s not going to be suspicious at a medic that isn’t pouring out delicious healing vapours?)

  36. Gap Gen says:

    STARING EYES TAG

  37. ain says:

    Bah! TF2 became awful when adding new stuff became more important than the core game.
    It took away from the game and twisted it into a bloated abomination.
    Nowadays I cringe everytime someone mentions TF2.

    This is coming from someone who’d describe it as the most fun he has ever had with a computer game when it first came out.

    • Machinations says:

      Yep. It was *the* game, then they went ahead and spoiled it. (not with the hats, maps or gamemodes, mind you – those were welcome – it’s the new ‘weapons’)

      Natascha, for instance. An early addition. A gun with a snare? Piss off.
      The Dead Ringer – idiotic in every way. Who says being a spy requires skill?

      That’s not to say ALL the weapons were bad. They just went completely overboard with it.
      The airblast on the pyro, jarate, killing gloves of boxing, these additions and many more besides were fine. It’s mostly the remaining stuff, mostly relatively new, which twisted the game into what it now is – a technocolour pile of vomit.

      Admittedly they broadened the audience, mostly by making it F2P, they also basically sucked the fun out of the game.

      Any server you join is likely to have a large number of idlers, or not enforce class limits, so you will be guaranteed to have 3-4 spies and 4 snipers per team. Fun?

  38. buzzmong says:

    The big question here is thus:

    Craig, did you uninstall it?

  39. DickSocrates says:

    I played TF2 for 8 weeks. Loved it. Then suddenly never wanted to play it ever again. That was 4 years ago and I will never play it again. I did it, it’s done.

    I don’t know what to think about people who never get bored of the same thing. I got hooked on PSO and I know for a fact it was because I was mentally unstable at the time and though I enjoyed it, it did almost ruin me.

    So, to put 800 hours into a game is a sign of mental illness. Get some help. Your outrage to this advice is directly proportional to how true it is.

  40. Possums says:

    I’m sitting at 1,073 hours played with 300+ (don’t know exact because Steam didn’t track it in the beginning) as a sneaky, stabby bastard. I will say this, the Polygon spy set is the love of my gaming life. I plain devastate with that thing.

  41. MikoSquiz says:

    1904 hours, at the moment. Most hours 226 as Spy. Least hours 52 as Medic.

    Accumulated points 117,161. Most points 41 as Engineer. Most kills 17 as Spy.

    This is roughly the sum total of all my achievements in the last five years. Oy.

  42. Hypernetic says:

    Presently I have 1983 hours in TF2 (also the year I was born, kind of weird).

    Spy is my most played class by a longshot (probably around 800 hours, I reset my stats once or twice so I’m not sure).

    Badwater is also my favorite spying map and it’s were I really learned to be a great spy. Playing as red on badwater is probably the best way to learn how to spy honestly.

    Great article, don’t uninstall there is a summer update coming soon (new items and stuff).

  43. brulleks says:

    I remember playing against you on the PCG server, Craig. You’re one of the reasons my Pyro time-count racks up to 350 hours.

  44. Poppis says:

    What’s this talk of spies… I got 1500 hours logged in according to Steam and about 16 of them is with spy.

  45. Ian says:

    I’ve still never played it.

    Too afraid of/unwilling to get berated for being incompetent.

  46. fart says:

    I only started playing after it went F2P last Summer. 414 hours later Pyro is my top class with over 130 hours. Spy and Scout still have less than a combined minute. There’s just something incredibly satisfying about setting everyone on fire.

    Mpphhh mphh mph mphhhh mphhh mhh!!!

  47. Madlukelcm says:

    I love the game too but I seem to play a fair bit different from most from gauging through the comments.

    About 250 hours of play and my lowest played class only has about 5 hours less than my most played class which is odd because Medic is DEFINITELY my favorite class, I just like to play them all and fill in any holes I see in the team makeup.

    Plus I do enjoy payload and the occasional capture the point but if there was no Saxton Hale mode or zombie fortress and prophunt I would have probably already stopped playing. Especially Saxton Hale mode, in the right server, is just so damn fun.

    Scouts really do ruin Saxton hale a fair bit though, especially with the new superspeed gun and the fact that half the players are always scout.

  48. Feenoh says:

    Someone who made nearly $3000, I approve of this fantastic article. TF2 is hands down one, if not THE best game I have ever played.

    Now we wait for Planetside 2…

  49. dieseldog09 says:

    My favorite Spy weapon is the spray. You know, the little picture thing you can set? Spray while cloaked in front of an enemy, back away quickly, and watch as your opponents freak out.

    I love this game so much.

  50. Det says:

    Only 850 hours? I don’t think you’re fully equipped to review this game. You clearly haven’t played it enough.

Comment on this story

XHTML: Allowed code: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>