Friday, July 1, 2011

There vill be.... SANDVICH! - Team Fortress 2 Free to Play, one week later.

And... I'm back. Many thanks to Sarah for her Origins articles, since I'd written all the articles posted last week before we left town, it was almost like I was on a 2-week vacation. (Do the unemployed get vacations?) Now, with that behind me, what did I do with the time I had not researching and writing articles, finding appropriate images and trying to ascertain as best I can their copyright status, layout and posting? Did I write the Great American Novel? Nail down that elusive job that'll make me adjust this blog's title? Charity work? Nope, I played a lot of video games. Those who know my love for Steam or who follow me on Tumblr can already guess which one.

Team Photo 2. Immediately after this was taken, everyone put on funny hats and started jumping around.

I don't cover nearly enough shooters, or so I'm told. I've declared my bias against the genre in the past, but it isn't as though I don't play them at all. I think my twitch reflexes aren't up to snuff to be really great at these sorts of things, so there might be a little bit of sour grapes in there somewhere. This might explain why it took over four years and the decision of Valve to make it Free-to-play for me to finally try Team Fortress 2. The game's been called “the most fun you can have online,” and I think I can see why. I'd like to take a few moments to explain TF2 to the people who haven't played it (yes, both of you) and then directly give some tips to others who just started playing from the F2P crowd on how to get started.

Released in 2007 as part of the Orange Box edition for Half Life 2, Valve updated the team-based multiplayer hit Team Fortress Classic with redesigned gameplay, a totally new, cartoony graphical style, enhancements to classes and changes to weapons loadout for each class. Using teamwork to accomplish objectives on levels was mastered by the earlier game, as before TFC, most multiplayer was deathmatch/arena style “kill everyone else” gameplay. Team Fortress features nine different classes, who perform different roles on the team, three are designed to attack on offense, three are defensive, and there are three specialist classes.

Classes? this is a game about HATS!

The classes are Scout, Soldier, Pyro, Demoman, Heavy, Engineer, Medic, Sniper and Spy.

The scout is super-fast, has the least health, can double-jump and carries by default a scattergun, a pistol and a baseball bat. Soldiers come equipped with the rocket launcher, (which allows for rocket jumps by blasting at your own feet while timing a jump) shotgun, and entrenching tool. The Gas-mask wearing Pyro has a flamethrower (which can ignite players and detect disguised spies) a shotgun and a fire axe.

The demoman (a black scotsman with an eyepatch) has his grenade launcher for indirect fire, a sticky bomb launcher to set a field of remote-detonated mines, and a broken bottle. The Heavy has the most health, moves slowest, and has the devastating minigun, with a shotgun and his fists for backup. Engineers have pistols and shotguns, but their real strength is in building machines; their blueprints allow them to make dispensers to refill life and ammunition, teleporters to allow fast travel around maps, and deadly sentry guns to automatically defend positions.

Medics have a needle gun, a bonesaw and the healing gun which restores life and builds up a “charge” that at 100% makes the medic and his target invulnerable for a short time. Snipers wield sniper rifles, naturally, which can one-shot most classes with a carefully aimed headshot, with a machete and submachine gun for backup. Finally, the Spy has his disguise kit, which allows him to look like a member of the opposing team, stealth watch which allows him to vanish, a revolver, a sapping kit to disarm engineer machines, and a butterfly knife that is a one hit kill in a backstab.

The unsuspecting Wild Engineer, and its natural predator, the Spy.

The combination of playstyles and different abilities across the classes really make this more than just your usual first-person shooter. An engineer or a spy are so different from a scout or soldier that it is almost like you aren't even playing the same game when you switch to certain classes. Different team compositions present strength or weakness depending on the map objectives (capture the briefcase, secure control points, or pushing a cart with a bomb strapped to it down a track that runs into the other team's base) and whether teams are on defense or offense. The game is fast paced, and as you play, different equipment for the various classes unlocks (weapons and cosmetic items like the hats the game's become famous for) both at random intervals and for completing achievements.

Unless you are a crack shot with great twitch reflexes, I recommend starting players learn the ropes by playing the pyro, heavy or medic classes, and maybe get a feel for the engineer and/or spy (though I think spy is a little trickier to learn.) Stick with groups of players and try to play an offense class while attacking, defense while defending while still learning the controls and pace of matches. For me, the toughest classes to play with any sort of skill have been scout and sniper, but I might just be a terrible shot. The community is all over the place, with intolerant, abusive and elitist toolboxes and helpful friendly folks willing to be patient with new players all over the place, sometimes on the same server. Unless you have a thick skin for online abuse, I recommend turning off voice chat in-game while learning.

My screen looks like this when I play the sniper, the instant before I pull the trigger
and the heavy moves 2 feet to the left.

I've had some great moments in the last few days playing TF2 with both strangers and friends. Detonating a cluster of stickybombs right under a scout trying to escape with my team's briefcase in CTF, blowing up a spy disguised as me, masquerading as a soldier and having an enemy medic heal me until I hopped behind him and backstabbed him, and earning hats and new guns along the way. It is also worth mentioning that an upgrade to a premium account (though that pretty much only means crafting and trading once you start to get duplicate items) comes with ANY purchase from the in-game store, and there are a lot of $1.00 items in there. I used a spare dollar from my Steam wallet to get a few spy-themed accessories.

I'm not impossible to find on Steam, if anyone has the inclination to look hard enough. If you add me on Steam, however, put a note in a comment, this blog's facebook page or email somewhere letting me know you came from the blog, so I know to accept. Now, back to earning hats. Best Blogger Tips
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RedHeadRob said...

I love me some team fortress

Jay said...

this game will never get old.

P. Davis said...

This game is awesome!!

You can visit my NEW blog here.

A Beer for the Shower said...

I don't think I can ever get sick of this game. Great review.

Electric Addict said...

very good game!

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