Monday, July 11, 2016

TF2 - sans Team or Fortress

So, Team Fortress 2 has a new patch out, and I must confess it brings a tear to an old TFC pyro's eye to see Valve still trying to keep it going after nine years. Team Fortress Classic was one of the first games I played online, along with Mechwarrior 2: Mercenaries, Diablo, Warcraft 2 and Starcraft. Memory Lane's a cozy neighbourhood.

Wait, what? TF2's new "competitive" game mode is restricted to a 6v6 player game size? Well, there goes the neighbourhood.
Come on... I haven't wanted to play FPS games in anything less than 10v10 modes since before Team Fortress was "Classic", since I was watching some other kid play Quake. I'm not that nostalgic for the days of 28.8 modems when we couldn't cram more than ten people into a server without rubberbanding all over the place. I remember the old catchphrase "real men snipe with 400 lag !" but that is no longer the case. We can get larger game sizes. Hell, even TFC's class system was designed for larger game sizes.

Backtrack. Two years ago I rather vocally supported TF2, largely because the online game scene has been utterly ruined by legitimized cheating, Hollywood envy, a lack of meaningful arbitration by GMs and endless achievement farming, and while Valve has led the pack in instituting the sickening idiocy of achievement chasing, TF2 still provided a valid alternative to newer titles. It remained competitive by dint of lack of meaningful competition. Hurray for low standards?

A couple of weeks ago I tried firing up TF2 again for a change of pace and found the game had been entirely destroyed by the aforementioned lack of arbitration. The official servers (the only place you can get to play the game itself without some braindead server admin altering the gravity or giving everyone infinite ammo or some other bullshit) had degenerated so badly that it was impossible to get an honest match going. AFKs abound, and instead of actually attempting to attack/defend team objectives everyone preferred to sit back and try to farm kills.

Valve's latest patch does absolutely nothing to address these problems. What was needed was harsh, draconian banning of any degenerate little mouthbreathing piece of shit who didn't play for the team. Splitting the game into "casual" and "competitive" modes does nothing to help promote a sense of the game's true objectives. As for six-player teams... what subhuman, thirty-IQ drooling imbecile actually thought this was a good idea? TF2 was blatantly NOT designed for such a small game size. It utterly invalidates any gameplay oriented around controlling the map, any prediction. It renders the Engineer and Sniper classes utterly superfluous, as well as any other defensive options (the Demoman's Scottish Resistance weapon for instance) as well, of course, as the options designed to counter those defensive options, like the soldier's "direct hit" launcher. Spies remain the worthless parasites they always were so let's call that a draw in itself.

The other major change the patch brought was a heavy reduction in the amount of time it takes to capture an objective and win (both in "casual" and "competitive" game modes) and when I say a heavy reduction I mean I can end a match in two seconds. Together with some other minor changes, it's obvious Valve's trying to advertise a faster, more action-packed game style to draw in the sub-sentient l33t-kiddie filth. No need to predict enemy movements, no need to plan ahead, no need to coordinate, no need to think in terms of shifting battle lines, of a greater conflict beyond what you're doing this second. Just hit a few targets and you're golden. You're a winner. You're a hero. You're amazing. Pats on backs all around.

What it comes across though is a gamebreaking truncation of what TF2 should have been. What knuckledragging marketing cretin came up with "hey, let's try to convince everyone that invalidating half our own product is a selling point!"

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