It's been a long time coming but matchmaking in Team Fortress 2 [official site] is almost here. Valve today announced the Meet Your Match update, which I imagine likely means it'll launch this week. Look forward to a ranked 6v6 mode, unranked 12v12 'quickplay', and all sorts of levels, medals, and statistics tracking your performance. Three new community-made maps are coming too, and sportsball mode Pass Time will launch out of beta.
Competitive Mode is, y'know, ranked play. The game will pull twelve players of similar skill together (yes, you can matchmake in a party with pals) and make them fight to the death for the glory of climbing rankings. I will be sorely disappointed if matches don't end with the winners posing on stage like in this trailer:
Competitive Mode isn't quite regular TF2, though. As the FAQ explains, it's reducing randomness by giving shotguns fixed spreads and disabling random critical hits. If you get murdered, you can't blame it on luck.
Competitive Mode isn't for everyone. To dissuade cheaters and smurfs and whatnot, it's only open to folks whose Steam accounts are tied to an active phone number and who have a 'Premium' account - people who either bought the game or have bought an item from the in-game store. For folks without phone numbers, Valve will sell Competitive Access Passes granting lifetime access. Those will cost $9.99 when Competitive Mode launches, then later cost... more?
If that all sounds a little too serious for you, well, Valve are also updating TF2's 'quickplay' so it puts together a 12v12 unranked match rather than dunking you into a random in-progress game.
Do check the FAQ for all the nitty-gritty on Competitive Mode.
And what the heck is this image, leaked early from tomorrow's Meet Your Match reveal campaign update, teasing?