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Good will to all teams in TF2's new autobalancing

More carrot than stick

Team Fortress 2 [official site] recognises that yes, Smissmas is a time for gibbing your fellow man then leaving their labelled hunks under the tree, but also somethings for coming-together. Valve's free-to-play FPS has kicked off its Christmas event with an update bringing the traditional assortment of new icy items but also handy features for casual play. A new team autobalancing systems gives players gifts if they even up teams, while Casual matchmaking now keeps players together after matches to pick a new map and go again. This should mean more fun, less yelling, and an end to the Red and Blu sides of the family glaring at each other across the lounge on Boxing Day.

Autobalancing isn't new to TF2, mind, but the old way forced random players to swap against their will. The new way is more carrot (like a snowman's nose) than stick (like a snowman's arms), and very Valve-y. As a blog post explains:

"We're introducing a new autobalance system for Casual Matches and community servers that asks for volunteers to switch sides. Casual matches will reward you for switching teams by giving you the chance to earn bonus XP!"

Everything leads to hats.

Keeping players together in Casual is a peachy change too, meaning no more requeuing:

"At the end of a Casual match, players will now be automatically formed into a new match with the same players and teams. You'll also get to vote on which map the new match will take place on."

Oh, yes, and new community-made Winterval items are now in. The Festivizer is able to staple fairly lights to extra weapons now too.

For specifics, check out the patch notes.

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