Twenty Bucks: Team Fortress 2

By Craig Pearson on May 29th, 2013 at 12:00 pm.

Bargain?

It’s another instalment of our Twenty Bucks series, where we unscientifically hunt around in free-to-play games and find out what it really costs. Hooray! This time Craig tries to spend money in Team Fortress 2, where paid-for things will often drop on your head, but hats will often not. Here is one Buck with Twenty Bucks.


Shopping in Team Fortress 2 is a bit like watching my mum and her friends pay for a meal. I got my wallet out, but Valve countered with: “What are you doing, put that away. I’ve got this.” And then there was as a tussle as I repeatedly attempted to pay while Valve kept hiding things in my pockets. I started with $20, looked at my backpack’s 356 items, and wilted. It’s swollen with almost every weapon in the game three times over, as well as a few Strange variants, and almost all were dropped on me for free, crafted, or traded. It’s the old problem of what do you buy the man that has everything, but in the unlikely environ of a free-to-play game. I’ve never had everything before!

It’s a ridiculously generous game: the Item Drop system will just give you things. You’ll soon have piles of weapons, so Crafting will allow you to smelt your weapons down into Scrap, or combine them into class or weapon tokens. With those you can build a gun you want from a pile of weapons you don’t want. It’s fairly time consuming, and you do need a massive pile of guns to make things, but if you just play you’ll probably gain enough after a few weeks. Trading is different. You can swap anything in this system, even other games. The most immediate way is by joining a trade server in the server browser. Here you’ll be dropped into a strange world of custom maps and a chat channel full of spam, but you might also be able to trade up to something you want.

A Zelda themed Trade server, yesterday

But to buy things you need to pop into the Mann Co. Store. Each class has a starter bundle that’s worth buying, which obviously depends on the character you feel the most affinity with. As a random example, let’s look at the The Demoman Starter Pack. It’s 99c/49p for an Eyelander, a Chargin’ Targe, and a Name-Tag. With that you could re-roll the Demoman as a frontline head-lopper. But looking at my backpack, I have five Eyelanders and three Targes, all given to me by Team Fortress 2′s drop system. You have the time to wait for the items to drop, and if they don’t drop them you can always attempt to craft them from those that have. None of the weapons you buy in the store are useable in the crafting system, so they wouldn’t even be worth Scrap (the base unit in TF2′s crafting system). You can trade them, but looking at the TF2 trading market, this would be akin to a car-boot sale. You might have a friend that would swap for something, but you’re unlikely to find a trader who would care enough.

So why are they worth buying? With your first purchase of anything from the Mann Co. Store your F2P account will convert to a premium account, and you’ll get more drops and a bigger backpack. You also get a Name Tag, and I was going to suggest you buy one those anyway, so you might as well get something with it. Separately, they cost a dollar (59p in our Queen’s head-based economy) and since TF2 is awash with items it’s fun to make yourself stand out. I love the Name Tags in the Mann Co store, though I suffer from performance anxiety: I sit there and stare at the gaping word hole I’ve just opened up and panic. It’s one thing to make a silly joke on RPS, but to permanently write myself into the fabric of one of my favourite games? Pun-swallowingly terrifying. The Name Tag can be combined with a Description Tag, for another single colonial dollar, so you can make your killcam’s endlessly entertaining to the other player. Oh, I just thought of a name for my knife! “Grave Newell”. There are paints available for some low-key item altering as well, but they only work on hats or pets, so I wouldn’t recommend them unless you have a particular combo in mind.

AKA: Stabitha, Pat Sharp, The Cutting Remark, Slice To See You, Chop And Drop

The rule of thumb for most weapons in TF2: there’s always a way of getting it for free. I’ll tell you what you won’t get for free, though: love. The Pocket Purrer is an engie-only misc item that costs $4.99/£3.50, so it’s not particularly good value for money (if you could call any cosmetic in-game item that) if you don’t like playing as a camping turret-bastard, but LOOK AT THOSE BIG WET EYES I AM MELTING AHHHHHH! I am buying it solely because my current landlord doesn’t allow pets and I live vicariously through games. The best bit: when it’s equipped and you kill another player, the Pocket Purrer is listed in the kill list. Death by kitten!

DAWWWWWWWWWW!

It says a lot that as a long-term player I’ve yet to gather a nice collection of hats or other flairy items. I am not a millinerionairre*. If you play the game for a while, you’ll eventually want to spruce up a bit, so I had a look around other adornments. Everything starts at $4.99/£3.50, but there’s not a lot of inspiring extras. That said, I did fancy Sir Hootsalot, an angry looking owl (brown and white variants) that sits grumpily on the sniper’s shoulder. Why an owl? It was voted on by the community, so the real question is how many owl fetishists play Team Fortress 2? The answer: twoo many. Did I just spend $4.99/£3.50 to make a really bad pun? Yes I did. Does this mean I finally have a pun budget? The answer sitting on my sniper’s shoulder, scOWLing at other players. What a hoot! I’m feathering Valve’s nest.

That does mean I’ve spent half my budget on pets. I HAVE SO MUCH LOVE TO GIVE! It’s for that reason that I didn’t buy the K-9 Mane, despite how amazing it looks. It’s also put the RoBro 3000 out of my reach: at a pun-budget gobbling $17.49/£11.99, this multi-class robo-pet floats along behind the player’s head, hanging around like a bad thought. But rather than criticising the way you live your life in dad’s voice, it merely whirrs and looks cool. If it was cheaper, I’d have grabbed it, but Valve have priced it out of my grasp.

So with the Purrer, Sir Hootsalot, the Name Tag, and the Description Tag, I have 8 dollars left. I really want the Ap-Sap, a replacement sapper that’s a flattened Portal 2 companion core. It’s Wheatley from Portal 2 and looks and sounds excellent, but it costs $9/£6.99. I’ve also priced myself out of the Shred Alert, a purchasable taunt that players can use to magic up an electric guitar. It’s dad-level of cool, but as a rapidly ageing male I sort of want it. There’s a cheaper alternative in the Boston Boom-Bringer, a Scout-only ghetto-blaster with four tunes for $4.99/£3.50. It looks kind of cool as well, and there aren’t that many noise-makers in the Mann Co. Store. But I also kind of like the High-Five taunt, which can be used by every class. It’s $7.49/4.99, it would top-out my budget rather neatly, and it would mean I could finish writing this piece and go to bed.

This is totes my total:
High-Five taunt – 7.49
Pocket Purrer – 4.99
Sir Hootsalot – 4.99
Name Tag – 0.99
Description Tag – 0.99

Though I still have 55 cents. Hmm.

Extra-bonus section!

Psst! You. Yeah, you: the guy with the dodgy moustache, fake glasses, and questionable aura. You look like someone willing to take a few risks. And by “risks” I mean nothing of the sort, but it would you have listened if it didn’t sound mysterious? There is another way of buying Team Fortress 2 items. If you know exactly what you want, pop into Steam Community Market and search: players sell items for real-world money that’s added to their Steam Wallets. Weapons cost as little as 8p there (I can’t see the American equivalent in the UK).

In fact, running everything that I bought through it: High-Five, Pocket Purrer and Sir Hootsalot aren’t available, the Name Tag is 51p, the Description Tag is 32p. Widening my net, the Shred Alert is only £2.71, and you can get Strange Parts (add-ons to weapons that will track kills, etc) and Strange Weapon variants for as little as 10p. Valve don’t sell those. I just bought a revenge kill tracker that I intended to bolt onto my Strange Knife, before discovering that it won’t fit. It only cost 17p, about half of what I have left.

It’s not a perfect solution: the prices vary, with some bafflingly listed for more than the Mann Co. Store, and there are missing items that you won’t get, but it’s worth checking for things you can’t buy directly from Valve, and if you have a few pennies sitting in your Steam Wallet that you just have to spend.

*High five taunt me, yo.

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76 Comments »

  1. Flappybat says:

    How have we gotten to a point where normal free to play pricing makes horse armour look generous and cheap?

    • Kollega says:

      I agree. In my country, you can buy three buns of bread for one dollar. Compared to this, prices like $5 for a virtual hat or (GASP!) $18 for more “advanced” items seem like an incredible rip-off. I can easily find a real hat for about $10. And even for the intended audience of Western people with disposable income, $18 for one item still feels like a rip-off.

      And as for the drop system, it’s passable for getting weapons – but i can only remember one time when i crafted a weapon (The Degreaser), since it’s so prohibitively expensive, and from the inception of the drop system to December 2010 when i uninstalled the game i’ve only ever got one hat. So if you know what you want, you pretty much have to pay real hard cash – and as for what i think about that, see point #1.

      • exogen says:

        hah. only if you’re some kind of thickheaded swine.

        i have everything I want, and haven’t paid a dime.

    • MikoSquiz says:

      I don’t know who “we” are or where this point supposedly is, so I’m afraid I can’t help you.

    • pupsikaso says:

      I agree. The pioneering f2p games with microtransactions (they were mostly facebook games *hiss* *hiss* *ugly face*) were very different. They relied on a boatload of people making *MICRO*transactions all the time. To the player, it only costed a few cents for something, they could probably spend no more than a few dollars a day. But when there’s so many of your players doing that every day, you’re making lots of money. This is where the “nickel and dime them” comes from.

      Then all the apeing games came along that weren’t very successful and thus didn’t have a lot of players playing, so their revenue was obviously rather low. So to compensate they did they only thing they could think of, and increased the prices, thinking that players would still shell out a higher price. And hey, it worked. People did shell out more than a few cents for something that’s supposed to be a *MICRO*transaction. But then the bigger and more successful games followed suit, of course, and now everything costs ridiculous amounts of money.

      F2P Microtransaction games are no longer a cheap (or rather, free) alternative to high quality games where you could pay a little amount for some extra content. Instead they are now a free alternative to high quality games where your gameplay is restricted to such extent that it is compromised unless you pay, and you have to pay lots of money to get good gameplay out of them. Sometimes you could end up paying more than you would for a one-time purchase, high quality game instead.

      • Deadly Sinner says:

        What are you going on about, now? Gameplay in TF2 is not restricted at all. You get access to every class from the start, and you can acquire every weapon for free, even though they are usually only minor variations on a theme. If you are extremely impatient, weapons can be had for cents on the marketplace.

        • Bearprom says:

          but but but… I hate it when a company tries to make money off a successful business model. Those stupid companies, all they want is money, for income that they need to use to, you know, pay their employees. Why can’t all products be free? They should do it all pro bono for my OWN enjoyment.

        • x3m157 says:

          @Deadly: Exactly! I love the way that TF2 does F2P, in that you don’t have to spend anything and still have access to everything; spending money just makes you get the items sooner (there are probably a few exceptions, but I can’t think of any right now).

    • Deadly Sinner says:

      Really bad comparison. Oblivion was a $60 game where you were forced to pay additional money for a cosmetic item. In TF2, playing the game and anything gameplay related is completely free. Additionally, for only 50¢, nearly everything can be can be dropped or crafted for no additional money.

  2. Thiefsie says:

    Sadly as an original day one orange box TF2 player After a hiatus of about 18 months I just can’t pull myself back into TF2 with all the new bullshit in there… Sigh. They obviously get money from people not me so oh well… next game I guess…

    I thought it was a much tighter game with the original classes and the like.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      Yes. One of my favorite games of all-time as shipped. Completely useless to me since they started doing the class achievements with the customizable loadouts.

      • Monchberter says:

        Nowt wrong with changeable loadouts. In fact the more new weapons you introduce to promote ‘balance’, the more are needed as counters. I have absolutely no problem with the way the weapon loadouts have been changed as nerfs and buffs have meant they all work reasonably well together.

        Hats and misc’s on the other hand are another story. I’d reckon Valve would make a killing adding a ‘cosmetics remover’ to their store so that the more curmudgeonly person can have a hat-free player side experience.

        • JakeyKakey says:

          Cosmetic drops are actually fair play imho, but I’d argue changeable loadouts and the subsequent bloat are what ruined the game. It was fun and manageable back when you merely had a default and alternate set, but ever since all the retarded community and pre-order items it’s become an utter clusterfuck to prepare for. Every class has like 20 weapons now, some of them are really OP, a lot of them introduce new/dodgy mechanics. Good fucking luck trying to figure it all out and running proper threat assessment on the fly. I know TF2 is now like the bastard child of Smash Brothers Brawl of FPS’s and it always had shit like critical hits, but the experience used to be much more focused and competitive. The core of the game is solid as ever, but the sheer amount of bullshit surrounding it makes it no longer the game I bought back in 2007.

          ‘Since when can that fucking Scout make me bleed!?’ is like my official new-TF2 motto.

          • Monchberter says:

            You’ve got a point. Valve had the balance issue mostly solved by the time each class had received their initial achievements and unlock update. Since then there’s been a fair number of hugely situational and ether boring / irrelevant or uncharacteristic and/or irritating weapons added.

            That cleaver for the Scout is one such example. I hate that thing.

          • iviv says:

            SSBB?

            No items, fox only, Final Destination.

            Yeah, that does sound like how people want TF2 played.

            No hats, sniper only, 2Fort.

          • Muffalopadus says:

            This viivivi guy gets a pat on the back. Thats exactly right. People who complain “Baah back in my day scouts were faster and rabblerabblerabble” simply can’t look past the cosmetic changes. Underneath all the silly hats is a game thats still great. I have a friend who quit when they changed the menu. THE MENU.

            The fact is that this cosmetic overhaul of the game breathed life into an old, old game. If you can’t get over that, its your loss. I’ve got 2000 hours and counting of gametime. I love this darn game.

      • Moraven says:

        Played like twice since they added a lot and went F2P. Think I remember seeing Achievement based unlocks. Then I played once when items and crafting was in. Never got a drop after a couple maps. /charliebrownwalk

        I had a lot of fun and hours when it was just straight up TF2. I liked it when they added a few new maps and a new mode. Now if I go back there just seems to be so much. And unless I invest myself into playing lots again all the cosmetic items are pointless.

    • Kobest says:

      Same here. Bought the Orange Box, had a great time with the game, took a break for years, came back, and thought “what the heck?”

      • Monchberter says:

        Valve have openly admitted that TF2′s been their test bed for almost everything they’ve been developing since almost the day of release. Hence Oculus Rift support, trading, in game stores, promo items, the list goes on.

        I thought we’d all accepted this back in 2007.

        • DestroyYourEgo says:

          Lol- apparently you thought WRONG.

          I mean it don’t get any more wronger than that. Ahhh… I’m gonna revel in that for a moment.

    • The Random One says:

      Conversely, I started playing it when it was five years old. Yes, when it went F2P, but not because of that – I had tried to buy it about a month earlier, during the first potato bundle, but I couldn’t set up a Steam account and was saved from buying a $20 helmet. Now, right now is the first time in my life where I have a gaming computer, so I’m no stranger to trying five-year-old shooters, and let me tell what usually happens: I log in, I get repeatedly trounced by an optimum strategy I can neither replicate nor understand, I give up. TF2 was the first one where I could stay long enough to actually learn to be useful. Would that not be because constantly adding new items that “ruin” the game means the devs can easily counter any strategy raising as optimum, keeping the game always fresh and open to new players?

      • JakeyKakey says:

        …not really?

        The game didn’t get ruined in the sense that the new weapons are OP or in a constant active metagame flux a la League Of Legends, it got ruined because the game had a pretty tight rock-paper-scissors balance to begin with, only got better up to about 2009-2010 and then went downhill because 90% of the weapons since are pretty much redundant and spoil the game by their sheer useless amount. The defaults are still the best for most part.

        You stuck with TF2 because you happened to be surrounded by a wave of F2P newbies trying it with you, but I would argue you would’ve been alright regardless. It’s not CSS or even Tribes. They spent nine years designing that game with the purpose of making it accessible and easy to pick up which is why they still had an enormous user base even before F2P.

        • Phendron says:

          I remember early early concept shots of the game were a hardcore military simulation. You had things like fixed gun emplacements and dedicated ammo feeders. Then somewhere down the line it took a 180 and ended up in pixar territory.

    • Eightball says:

      If you can only get hard on Vanilla servers, there are plenty out there.

      I haven’t been to any because I’m not some sort of hipster stereotype, but here is a list I got off of that search engine thingy:

      http://www.trickingq3.com/tf2/vanilla.html

    • pupsikaso says:

      Yeah, me too. I thought the game was nearly perfect when it first released. It was very well suited for the modern multiplayer FPS market. Then they started giving classes alternate weapons. And that was… well, not ideal but alright. It didn’t change the gameplay much. It would have been fine if they stopped once they’ve given every class some alternative weapons. But instead they just went downhill and crazy and started adding weapons by the boatload.

      So now, instead of rounding the corner and immediately recognising every enemy on the field by their silhouette and knowing exactly what each one is capable of, instead I had no idea what each one was carrying, what each one could do, and thus could not formulate any kind of strategy on the fly. You couldn’t possibly keep up with all the new weapons that were being released weekly.

      And then came the hats. So now not only did you not know what an enemy was capable of, now if one player is particularly loaded with cosmetic items you might have a hard time even recognising what class they are when in a crowd of other players! And that just goes COMPLETELY against the original game’s design where the easily recognisable and contrasting silhouettes for each class was one of the biggest priorities.

      TF2 is a very sad tale of how publishers are willing to spit on anything just to make a buck, even if it was a very “experimental” bug, as they say.
      And what have the gamers gotten in return from these experiments? We have hats in games now, and will continue to have them in future games (look at DOTA2). They will cost $4.99 a pop or more. Thanks, Valve.

      • DestroyYourEgo says:

        You know what I’m hearing a lot of in regards to all of this?

        FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS.

        “Oooooo wahhhhhhhh! At first, I was okay with classes having different weapons… I guess. But now with these cosmetics? No- I DISAPPROVE.”

        GOY. What is that? Get Over Yourselves! I AM RATTLING MY BRAINS trying to figure out why all of you people are mad that a game you love only gave you…. wait for it…. here it is…. MORE TO LOVE.

        “Well, as an original Orange Box player, I can tell you, that was better”. So get in your time machine and go back then…. if not, JUST LET IT GO.

        There’s nothing wrong with the cosmetic scheme. I like it- it adds both customization to classes (they were in SEVERE need of that) as well as a more TACTICAL approach- all still being easy to pick up and play!

        I understand- it’s all opinions. But EVERY OPINION is saying THE SAME THING. Can’t you just agree with the OP? Do you REALLY NEED TO WRITE THE SAME LONG WINDED COMMENT?

        And most of all- at the very least, if you don’t like this game- why read something about it just to dump all over it. Isn’t a simple Uninstall and NO FURTHER TRANSACTION with the game enough?

        No?

        Alright- that’s fine. You guys keep on stroking each other. Frankly, I’m starting to chaffe, so I gotta leave this Left-handed circle jerk.

        Have fun.

        • pupsikaso says:

          You don’t understand why were are upset? It’s rather simple. Something we loved was taken away from us. That is very simple to understand, right? It’s on the scale of human nature, rather than anything as petty as “first world problems”.

          And since none of us have this time machine that you are referring to we cannot go back in time and keep enjoying what has been taken away.

          As for being given “more to love”, this is purely opinion. Our opinion is that the additions to the game made it worse. Your’s is that it made it better. I’m glad we are both rational human beings that can coexist in a single internets with differing opinions. Good day.

        • Phendron says:

          If you don’t like being bludgeoned by someone’s opinion, bludgeon them with your opinion of their opinion!

  3. oldgeist says:

    I’m by no means an expert in TF2 trading and items, but I’m fairly certain that the most cost efficient way to do things if you want to spend some real world money is to just buy some “Mann Co. Keys”, which are normally used to open sealed crates with a random item in it – which in itself is often not worth it. However, the keys themselves are actually some sort of higher-tier currency. For 1 key (that’s $2,49) you’ll get around 5 refinded metal (the highest-tier metal you get from salvaging weapons & combining lower-tier metal – 1 Refined = 3 Reclaimed metal, 1 Reclaimed = 3 Scrap metal, 1 Scrap = 2 weapons).
    Now for 5 ref, you might be able to get the Owl and the Cat item via trading (judinging from the estimated prices at backpack.tf). It’s more effort and might take some time to find the right offer, but it might save you some money!

    • Craig Pearson says:

      We’re dealing strictly with stores, here. That system is an entirely different feature, tbh.

      • oldgeist says:

        Ah, fair enough! Plus, I guess the user trading is also a lot less realiable, time-consuming, you have to watch out for scammers and it’s very prone to price fluctuation. So you definitely have to invest in other means than money. Though I’m starting find it pretty enjoyable in and of itself!

        • Monchberter says:

          Christ, don’t get me started on ‘Buds’, ‘Bills’ and ‘Max’s’ and ‘unusual’s’. The serious trader community is no place for the uninitiated. *cue much derisory flaming for unintentionally ‘low balling’ on a rare hat*

      • The Random One says:

        But… In John’s Neverwinter twenty bucks article he spent most of it on opening Nightmare Lockboxes, which from the article’s description work exactly the same way as Mann Co. crates.

        • Craig Pearson says:

          He used them as keys, whereas this sort of thing is using them as a trading commodity. It’s a baffling and involved scheme.

          • The Random One says:

            Oh, OK. I thought you were saying even using them as, er, keys would be against the series’ spirit.

  4. Monchberter says:

    Simple rule of thumb with the stores – stick to tools. As Craig discovered, buying weapons means you can’t craft with them, making them worthless for trading.

    The same goes for cosmetic items (hats, misc’s, action items) and no one really wants to buy a hat they can’t potentially craft (unless its only been released the same day perhaps).

    So yes, keys. The way to go if you’re insistent on spending real money.

    • jrodman says:

      And exactly this sort of scarcity management rule threading is why i can’t stand games that make me deal with it.

  5. Hideous says:

    “None of the items you buy in the store are useable in the crafting system, so they wouldn’t even be worth Scrap (the base unit in TF2′s crafting system)”

    This only applies to weapons, you can still use hats that you’ve bought to craft.

    Citation needed? Here: http://wiki.teamfortress.com/wiki/November_29,_2012_Patch

    • Craig Pearson says:

      Nope, you’re correct. No citation needed.

      I meant weapons, but had written the word too many times and my brain rejected it. I’ve edited it back in. Take that, brain!

  6. CrispinFister says:

    And this is why nobody takes TF2 fans seriously. It’s like someone took being nerdy and then threw it out of the window and made it become acting like a neurotic 13 year old girl who loves horsies so, so very much. I want a pony but which colour? Pink? Orange? Strawberry?! I will have ALL OF THE PONIES FOR I AM AN NERDICLES TEE HEE.

    It’s sickening. I guess once it was just a lazy, generic shooter with an original art style but that was a looooong time ago.

  7. Skeletor68 says:

    Whoa, why so much hate for TF2? Always seems like a good time. I bought keys once and have happily put 100 hours into it over about two years.

    • Monchberter says:

      I think it’s because it’s a game where to get all the shiny boondongles and multiple weapon load outs you need to either invest time or money in it. It doesn’t suit those who want to just drop in and out at random, but y’know, it’s got a community for a reason.

      I just wish people wouldn’t get so entitled about wanting EVERYTHING. NOW.

      It’s also at a stage in its lifecycle where you’ve got a reasonably large number of long term players still playing so you get your arse handed to you if you venture onto a fair proportion of servers, and the unpleasant alternative is that you get stuck with the screeching pre teen FTP’s who all are either hopeless Engineer turtlers, or god-like Scouts.

      • Shezo says:

        “entitled”

        ding, ding, ding!
        you said the magic word.

      • Dezmiatu says:

        Not many unskilled players use Medics? Any time I am in that game, I am healing and hiding behind any meat shield eager enough to be emboldened to suicidal charging. Real easy to hold down the shoot button and aim it vaguely at my teammate.

    • airtekh says:

      The people who hate TF2 are a very vocal bunch, unfortunately.

      Personally, I’ve never played another multiplayer game that has provided as much entertainment as Team Fortress 2.

      Even disregarding the hats and weapons, we’ve had 7 new game modes and over 40 new maps as post-launch DLC; and all of it free. That’s insane value.

      • Wisq says:

        Not to mention that new players are getting all that for free, not even the original cost of the game.

        How people can go hating on TF2 is beyond me, especially when vanilla-only servers do exist if that’s more your thing. And especially after (I thought) we already all agreed that the Orange Box was the best deal in the history of all gaming.

  8. Anthile says:

    Must…not…buy…owl.

  9. McDan says:

    PAT SHARP! Best name for a knife ever.

  10. lowprices says:

    “Milliner-ionaire”? Oh Craig, I think I love you.

  11. Misnomer says:

    I was fairly excited for this feature and then was very disappointed at the methodology.

    I don’t play many F2P games and I thought this series really would help me understand the economics of them before I tried. It seems like you cheat this review by starting with all of your backpack full from years of playing TF2.

    Craig does mention starter packs and the quickest way to premium, but he never discusses it in terms of what you would want to purchase in order to feel like you are doing well in the game or on an even footing. He doesn’t even really described the difference between premium and free.

    Now I am a TF2 vet of some 600 hours myself (pre-ordered Orange Box) and I get that there are people who think you can always win with the core loadout and others who think there are OP weapons you need ASAP, but that discussion should be at least hinted at in a review like this.

    Instead of being a guide to the price and fairness of the TF2 F2P system, it is a love letter to Valve focused on a cosmetic cat. I would really like to know how much grind I can expect to be on an even footing by playing for free versus paying. Also, a mention of how the advertising appears in game and how intrusive it is would be appreciated.

    Sounds to me like you should have at least put in the conclusion: Valve’s system is random and confusing so we have no idea what the full game content would cost and the random drop mechanics/crafting are designed like a slot machine to keep you playing and wanting more without any idea what you need to do in game to get content you desire.

    Edit: I am reading John’s Neverwinter 20 Bucks right now and he begins with many of these assessments. Looks like TF2 got a very biased review, but I will have to read the DOTA2 one as well to see if it is just Valve goggles.

    • Misnomer says:

      Having read DOTA2 now, I would say that it is not Valve goggles, it is just failing to realize that not everything in TF2 is cosmetic so it needs to be addressed differently. I would like to see far more of the Neverwinter in this one and less of the DOTA2 (though to be fair Cara still deals with the crate drops and the gambling aspect of it all fairly solidly even though everything in DOTA 2 is cosmetic).

  12. The_Great_Skratsby says:

    Gosh I wish there was a way to make all the hat and weird stuff invisible, it’s a real blight on the games aesthetic. I still really like the game, but putting up with the clusterfuck of items just nuked my enthusiasm for it.

    Valve had such a good thing going on there, I still think the ‘Demoman v Solider War’ update marks it’s high point and the beginning of a gradual decline.

  13. Enkinan says:

    I’ve sunk 100′s of hours into TF2 over the years (pre-ordered orange box). Even now when I go back for brief periods any new weapon additions are mostly mild variants of whatever slot they replace. I can typically jump back in and hold my own within a few maps. It’s still one of the best balanced and most easily accessible games I’ve ever played. Best of all, it is still FUN after all of these years. I don’t see how some silly hats and cosmetics are enough to ruin someones day, and yes, you can absolutely still tell what class someone is even if they have as many cosmetics as possible on them.

  14. ned_ballad says:

    thanks for the free money so you could make an owl pun lol

    (I’m one of the creators of Hootsalot)

  15. LionsPhil says:

    I can’t wait for this series to reach MWO. $20 won’t go far in that at all.

  16. Coming Second says:

    If you yearn for the vanilla TF2 experience there are also pugs and the comp scene, which invariably see small teams use mostly stock load-outs upon that most established of game modes, CP.

    What almost every complaint over how TF2 has evolved boils down to is “I stopped playing it for six months, I came back to it and a few things were different, it upsets me that the same game wasn’t there ready and waiting for me”. Usually there’s also an argument that the updates that went in BEFORE the person started playing were all well and dandy, but after, my goodness, what were they thinking?

    I have some sympathy with this point of view- if you just want to waste a couple of hours of TF2, hit up the first pub you see and find yourself getting killed by a weapon you’ve never seen before and don’t know how to react to, that’s annoying. But if you stuck with it you’d quickly find the core gameplay remains the same, and invariably the stock load-out trumps whatever fun new toys have been recently introduced (the pros and cons of which are described to you each time you’re killed by them). Who knows, you may even come to appreciate that a lot of the new weapons add much-needed depth to classes such as the Pyro and Engineer, who have always struggled with their initial limitations. Maybe not, it’s a point of view. That it’s something there to be debated is the main thing. If Valve hadn’t bothered updating TF2 with intermittent cool free junk it’d be a distant memory by now.

    As far as the article itself is concerned, I agree with the above in that it’s disappointing you didn’t talk about how you’d be fairing as a fresh F2P player, rather than a guy who already has every weapon and just fancies buying some virtual pets.

  17. welverin says:

    Craig, if you really have that many duplicate weapons you desperately need to start crafting, and turn all of that metal into hats.

    I’d say buying any weapons from the store or market is a waste of money because you’ll get everything eventually anyway.

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  19. Zaharet says:

    I personally couldn’t care less… I mean, it’s kinda good and bad… Although I like customizability, I don’t think you need 12,043,572,309 hats… Still, it does add a cool equipment upgrade-esque element… the only OP weapon I see is that Dragon Fire Minigun thing… WHO THOUGH THAT WAS A GOOD IDEA?

    • Coming Second says:

      The ammo on that thing runs out really quickly, and the ring of fire is not even that useful- almost any class apart from the Spy that is that close to the Heavy is already dead anyway. The Spy, meanwhile, can either jump over the fire with good timing, or use the Dead Ringer.

      • The Random One says:

        Plus it eats ammo when you’re spinning up. Maybe it’ll work for people with different playstyles, but for personally the best Heavy minigun is the Minigun.

  20. moogleoftheages says:

    “You couldn’t possibly keep up with all the new weapons that were being released weekly.”

    Weapons not only have unique designs, sounds but sometimes even different projectiles too (i.e Cow Mangler 5000, Loose Cannon etc.). The fact that you can hear someone being trigger happy with a Beggars Bazooka should give you a signal of what someone is doing without even having too look at them.

    The bonus of this is, humans naturally have the ability to learn, you don’t need to be told twice that you’ve just been killed with a Hue-Long Heater while trying to scoot around a heavy as scout. “Oh so that throws out flames, I’ll be sure to jump over the flames next time, and hey, I’ll look out for that distinct roaring sound that the Hue-Long Heater makes when deployed.”

    I understand people liked simply knowing what people did what simply by class, but is it too much to ask from people to learn a bit more about a game they used to love?

  21. x3m157 says:

    Just a note: if you’re looking for certain items and you want to save cash, just buy a few keys. They are pretty cheap (US $2.39 or so) and worth around 5 ref (read: tradable for a lot of items). You can get most hats for 1-5 ref instead of buying them in the store and if you are buying weapons you could even get the Strange variants of the weapons you want by trading pretty easily.