Team Fortress 2’s Tough Break Update Hits

Valve crept in during the night and left a little present under your Christmas PC (I’ve seen it, stuffed full of lights and gingerbread with a case window to show them off), a nice, big Team Fortress 2 [official site] update. Okay, yes, much of Tough Break Update is reserved for people who spend $6 to buy into the Tough Break ‘Campaign’ (a series of challenges like CS:GO’s Operations), and yes the new taunts it also adds are expensive, but the greatest gift of all is free: a look at the TF2 gang doing aerobics (sorry, Mannrobics) together.

That’s perked me up no end this morning. I’m sitting here all swolen-faced with an infection making me want to smash a tooth out with a hammer, and here they are dancing away, so free, so excited, so full energy. They can do anything. I… I can do anything!

Anyway, the Tough Break Campaign brings 26 new contracts, offering shiny new weapons as rewards for completing them. If you don’t have the weapon needed to complete a certain contract, hey, it now has a ‘Loaner Program’ letting you play with it while you try to do the murders. And four new community-created murdergrounds. It’ll cost you $5.99 to get in, as ever.

Check the update announcement for the full notes, which include details on all sorts of weapon reblancing doodads and new things you can buy,


  1. Kollega says:

    Upon spawning, friendly players will show an outline for 10 seconds

    Hmm, I wonder why Valve felt the need to add any sort of coloured outline to friendly players in a game that was once famed for its readability.

    Also, I am not going to go much into how asinine the whole contract business is in my eyes, but I feel that paying $6 for the “opportunity” to earn weapon skins and/or pay-some-more-to-open crates is not a necessary component of multiplayer fun at all.

    Sigh. Around 2009, the game had a whole lot less content than it has now, but I remember it being actually fun, just by virtue of having polished aesthetics and balanced gameplay. And I honestly don’t think that replacing those with crate drops and weapon skins makes for a superior design.

    • MrFinnishDude says:

      The game is still very fun, as evidenced by the large user base and economy. Just because you are nostalgic for “The Good Old Days” doesn’t mean the game has gone to hell or is “dead” so to say. Crates, hats, and weapon skins are really enjoyable, and in reality simply add more to the experience instead of ruining it.
      But alright it’s just your opinion, but I just wanted to say mine too.

      • Kollega says:

        I just honestly think that in the case of TF2, less was more. The original was all about trimming the excesses and leaving no unneccessary parts. And TF2 we have today is the complete opposite of that design philosophy, and dare I say, worse for it.

        • MrFinnishDude says:

          Well the game is still alive and active after 9 years, which is a miracle from a multiplayer game’s perspective. You might not like them, but the chances have allowed tf2 to survive all these years. Better a live game than a dead game.

          • Kollega says:

            Considering the complete 180 in terms of aesthetics, gameplay design, and just the general ethos of TF2, all in order to peddle hats and crate keys, I am comfortable arguing that it’s more of a stuffed-and-mounted game than a live one. I’m guessing you just have a completely reverse perspective as compared to mine, though.

          • MrFinnishDude says:

            If no-one would play tf2, you couldn’t play the game. Take almost any sort of obscure online shooter from 2000-2007. You can put the disc in, boot up the game. But you cannot play it because there is nobody there. This conversation is getting a bit silly.

          • Kollega says:

            I don’t see any particular difference, from my subjective point of view, between a game I can’t play because nobody plays it and a game I can’t play because it has become a mockery of itself. Call me silly all you want, but TF2 has stopped being fun to me because it has become a completely different, and in my eyes worse, game.

          • dontnormally says:

            I 100% agree with everything Kollega said.

            I paid for this game and loved it. Then they made it into a game I don’t like. It’s weird.

          • immaletufinishbut says:

            That’s probably the most articulate explanation of the state of TF2 I’ve read, Kollega.

            Also, I have to agree with your sentiments towards availability. Every time I get the sudden urge to play nowadays, I’m reminded that the game is gone, and the only reason TF2 still exists is because of the “economy”. So the fact that it still appears to be active only serves as mockery, for me at least.

            R.I.P. competitive 6v6 <3

          • immaletufinishbut says:

            Also, fuck weapon skins. This game is in desperate need of #cg_forceenemymodel.

          • Kollega says:

            Thank you, guys. It’s nice to see that some people finally agree with my notion of “VALVE HAS RUINED TF2”. Wasn’t easy, though – it took me years of incandecent rage growing into cold hatred, as well as some help from LionsPhil here in the comments, to eventually sum it up so succintly :P

          • Coming Second says:

            They have “ruined” a game you no longer play, and wouldn’t be playing now if it had remained in your Pyroland-tinted state of grace, because you would have long since grown tired of it. No doubt instead you’d be complaining that Valve didn’t give it the support it deserved.

          • MultiVaC says:

            I’m kind of 50/50 on this. The core gameplay is still as fun as ever in my estimation, some of the new maps and weapons are great, and the game has stayed alive for a long time. But there is a lot of bloat now, and you’ll have to sort through a lot of garbage to get to the worthwhile additions and the old classics. None of the new items have really demanded too much work to adapt to, but it’s kind of a pain to keep track of regardless. The worst thing, though, is at this point the original art direction is completely compromised with all of the new “zany” items, and it looks more like your typical F2P shovelware cartoon shooter these days.

          • fabronaut says:

            I sorely miss the old TF2 as well. I agree with the statement that less really was more.

            It was the first game I felt compelled to play with groups of regular people. I joined forums for the regular server I played on. I made friends with those people — first online, then in person. It got me to go to my first few LANs.

            I figured out how to do basic stuff on IRC so I could play 6v6 with those folks. Tweaking config files and figuring out some minor scripting to make the game run at a solid 60 fps on my laptop. (It made the game look rather chunky and screwed some textures up, but it was buttery smooth!)

            I liked the first few rounds of character / weapon updates, and I can’t begrudge Valve for opening up the game to an entirely new fanbase and making well-deserved money off it. It’s just sad that something so great completely mutated from its former glory. :(

            Related tangent: I am still infuriated that Valve dumbed down the whole “server browser” aspect of their titles. The first time I really noticed it was in Left 4 Dead, where it was pretty well obfuscated by default.

            Kinda made sense for a small party game, I suppose… but it really seems like a misstep in retrospect. That same matchmaking streamlining appears in stuff like CS:GO. It’s a good thing when you just want to fire up a quick game and play, but it feels like something was lost somewhere along the line.

    • Ringwraith says:

      I’m pretty sure the outline is to show they’ve recently spawned in. If it shows up through walls, also tells you some of your team are back alive without needing to check the scoreboard.

    • mechtroid says:

      So basically, especially on the lower quality custom maps, it was very confusing to know where to go to get to the action. With so many maps and gametypes in TF2 nowadays, those first 10 seconds of seeing everyone through walls allows you to know which direction to go to get to the action, especially for players new to the map.

      • Jalan says:

        This rings true on more than a few of the recent maps as well. One of the new maps rolled out with the last Halloween update was so large and generally badly signposted for people starting fresh on it that most of the time people would wander off in areas opposite to where they should’ve been (and I include myself among said people – it took 5 games on the map before I was able to get a sense of bearing on it).

      • Kollega says:

        Still doesn’t reflect too well on Valve, considering how Half-Life 2 and Portal are famous for their design sensibility of softly funneling the player towards the next objective through environmental design. Sure, custom maps are not within their power to fix up in this fashion, but the original six maps that TF2 released with were undoubtedly good at guiding the players to where they needed to be.

    • DelrueOfDetroit says:

      Obligatory reminder that there are vanilla servers and that the console version has no updates.

    • Mechlord says:

      When spawning, players will see outlines of their allies through walls. It doesn’t last long and exists to guide players around the maps, like the similar outline the payload cart has.

    • Asherie says:

      You realize there are vanilla servers right? The game you claim has been ruined still exists exactly as it was. You aren’t alone in preferring it and would have plenty of people to play with :)

      • Kollega says:

        Unfortunately, there’s a big technical problem with vanilla servers: I live in Kazakhstan, so the closest vanilla servers are likely to be in Western Europe… and playing a multiplayer game with a ping of 200+ milliseconds may get a little troublesome. Plus, finding a vanilla server with a good map rotation instead of 24/7 2Fort or Dustbowl-Goldrush-Badwater may also not be easy.

        Also, playing on a vanilla server does not undo the “ruination of lore”, to use a complete dweeb term, that was inflicted on TF2’s story – but that’s my personal gripe related to my love of parodic spy fiction and how TF2 was originally the next No One Lives Forever in terms of tone, story, and world.

      • fabronaut says:

        well, I just scrolled down and feel sorta like a foot in mouth fool!

        glad that vanilla servers are still around! makes sense that they’d be there. I guess I just kinda gave up on it once the first wave of F2P content deluge dropped.

        The crafting stuff was a pretty cool idea, but I seem to remember it spiraling out of control pretty quickly. Definitely a better idea than the whole “idle for hats!” nonsense that was a thing. (Is that still a thing?)

  2. MrFinnishDude says:

    This update really is a major one. The weapon skins, new contracts, and cosmetics are certainly neat, but the real thing here is the weapon re-balances. If are not familiar how this game works, the way to be a good player in tf2 is to learn all the different strategies, how different weapons work, and how to counter-react to them. The re-balances are massive this time, and they have cleared many strats of the board completely. The way people will play,(and therefore the core game-play) has drastically changed.

    • Banks says:

      They nerfed the Half Zatoichi and the degreaser. Not cool.

      • Coming Second says:

        Of all the things they have done this time around (and I don’t agree with them all), those are the two things I am really pleased about. If you don’t think the Zatoichi in particular needed changing… genuinely don’t even know what to say to you. Awful, awful weapon in its previous iteration.

        • Jalan says:

          I can see a point to the changes for the Half-Zatoichi, but I’m finding it hard to go in agreement with making the Degreaser even less of a viable option than it was before these changes (dropping the damage penalty is nice, but now it’s more sane to use the stock flamethrower to avoid suffering the airblast increase and diminished afterburn effect).

  3. LionsPhil says:

    Disappointed that that Mannrobics thing seems to have every class using the same animation. Loses the sense of weight (and class personality traits) to have Heavy bouncing around the same way as Scout.

    • welverin says:

      The classes seemed to have different animations from what I saw last night, though I didn’t stick around for long once it became apparent most people were just interested in dancing.

  4. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    I noticed the same thing. It says a lot about the standards they’ve set that this sort of thing stands out, though.

    • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      That was going to be a reply. So was this, just in case it isn’t. I never thought I’d miss Disqus.

      • DelrueOfDetroit says:

        Ugh, I hate Disqus. The main reason being it is too easy for trolls to make one-off comments and then never post again. This way at least having to register will deter some of them.

  5. Bobtree says:

    Pants don’t work like that.

    • TheAngriestHobo says:

      Glad someone else noticed that. I was just about to mention that there’s something seriously disturbing about that guy’s waist.