Team Fortress 2: A Timeless Classic

Alex Hindman, Writer

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I have a history of getting bored with games from time to time. There is, however, one that no matter what happens, I can always come back to and never get bored of it. That game is Valve’s own Team Fortress 2. Despite being originally released in 2007, the game is still going strong, with new players joining every day. This online multiplayer shooter is available on PC, Mac, and Linux. 

Team Fortress 2 was a pioneer of its genre back on launch and still holds its own against the newer arrivals like Overwatch. Every game will have players on two teams: RED (Reliable Excavation Demolition) and BLU (Builders League United). Each team will compete against each other in different game modes. Notable examples include, but are not limited to: capture the flag, payload, payload race, control point, and king of the hill. Capture the flag has you try to capture the enemy’s intelligence briefcase and return it to your team’s intelligence to win. Payload has BLU push a cart past multiple checkpoints to a final, and explosive, final destination before time is up, while RED defends. Payload race is the same as regular payload, but this time both teams are pushing a cart to win. Control can work one of two ways: either RED defends the control points from the until time runs out, or both teams try to capture and protect every control point, advancing into the enemy base at the end. King of the hill has both teams try to capture and hold a single control in the center of the map to make their timers run down to zero. These are the main game modes, but there are others like medieval mode, where you restricted to using mostly melee with some exceptions, and pass time, where you must throw a ball into the enemy team’s goal a number of times to win. An official competitive and casual mode were added back in 2016. I haven’t personally touched competitive, as I have no interest in it, but I do know that it six versus six gameplay. The matchmaking isn’t the best sadly, which is strange considering the other games Valve have made. It has been improving since then, and is decent at the current time of writing this review, though it still is a bit slow at times. You can also browse through community servers, but no one in your party will join you automatically.

There is a cooperative mode in the game as well called Man vs Machine. You and five other people must defend against waves of robotic versions of the classes. There are upgrades, power up canteens, and each class has their own special properties. Scout can pick money up from much further away and gets overheal from it, while medic has a projectile shield that does some damage and can revive players. The mode itself is my personal favorite and is a ton of fun with a full team of friends. That doesn’t mean that playing with randoms is bad, just it’s not great. There’s also something in it called Tour of Duty, where all players must have a ticket in order to participate. You get a rank based on how much money was collected throughout the entire game. Your goal is to collect every last bill and beat all of the waves. The higher your rank, the better rewards you will get at the end. There are some items that you can only get through this mode. Robot parts are used to make killstreak kits with fabricators, and australium and botkiller weapons can only be earned from it at random. Each tour will have two different possible botkillers that you can get.

Players don’t only play on different teams, but also different classes. There are nine classes in Team Fortress 2, each having their own statistics, weapons, strengths, weaknesses, and playstyles. Going over everything for each class would take far too long, so I will give an overview of each class, what their role to the team is, and what kind if weapons you can expect for them to have.

There are three categories for classes: three attack, three defense, and three support. Each of the mercs have different personalities and come from different countries. The scout uses hit and run tactics, has the fastest movement speed, a double jump, and uses scatterguns, pistols, beverages, and bats to do it. The soldier is the best class for beginners for being the most well rounded with the second highest health, rocket launchers, shotguns, boots, horns and banners that buff him and teammates, shovels, picks, and even a whip to get to the front lines faster. The pyro however is in my personal opinion the jack-of-all-trades out of the bunch, but favors flanking and ambushes because of the use of flamethrowers, shotguns, flare guns, a gas tank, a jetpack, axes, hammers, and even his or her own hand. The demoman has two different playstyles: a defensive way to play with sticky bombs and grenade launchers that are perfecting for destroying buildings, and the demoknight being an offensive melee user that can absorb damage like a sponge with boots, shields, and a plethora of swords. The heavy is the go to for being an immovable wall with the highest health in the game, mini guns, shotguns, his own fists, and food items that he can either eat himself or throw to another player to heal them. The engineer is a mix of defense and support with the ability to construct sentries, dispensers to give health and ammo, and teleporters. He uses shotguns, pistols, a device to manually control the sentry, and a wide variety of wrenches to wack his machines with to heal and upgrade them with metal, one of which being a robotic hand. The medic is the healer, but is the worst at direct combat, with only having syringe guns, a crossbow that scales both damage and healing on distance, mediguns that can overheal your team and grant the target buffs based on which your using with the help of Über, and bonesaws. The sniper is the long range class, and my personal least favorite, with sniper rifles, a bow and arrow, smgs, a jar of fluid that can cause anyone covered in it to take extra damage, back shields, and machetes or kukris if someone is right in your face. Lastly, there is the spy, which relies on cloaking, disguising as the other players including his own team, revolvers, sappers to disable and destroy whatever the engineer builds, and knives to get a quick and instant kill with a backstab. The reason as to why sniper is my least favorite is because I can’t for the life of me get headshots and that he is very limited when it comes to fighting up close. My absolute favorite class is hard to say as I genuinely enjoy all of them; I can’t choose just one. However, I will say that one of my favorite things to do is blast jumping; demoman and soldier using their own explosives to have the highest mobility in the game. Pyro can do it too with some of the flare guns, but to a lesser degree.

That is different story when it comes to weapons however. I’m excluding any of the starting, or stock, weapons and reskins. For scout, my favorite weapon is the crit-a-cola. Drinking this purple, atomic beverage will have all of your damage be mini-crits, while also making you take all damage as mini-crits and giving up other secondaries. It’s a high risk, high reward item that makes your hit and run tactics pack a lot more punch in them. When it comes to soldier, I love the black box. This rocket launcher gives you 20 health for every rocket that does damage at the cost one less rocket being fired before you have to reload. While it may not sound like a lot on paper, it is a whole tenth of your health and greatly increases your survivability. I was split between two of pyro’s weapons, but ultimately the scorch shot won out. This flare gun causes anyone in an area to light ablaze, and deals mini-crits on targets that were already on fire. It also has a knockback effect, can be used to give yourself a boost with a flare jump, and can even destroy sticky bombs. The versatility and utility of this weapon is outstanding! Next up is demoman with one of his many swords, the half-zatoichi. This blade grants 50% of your base health back for every kill you get, even giving you overheal. However, you will take 50 damage if you sheath it without getting any kills. It also has a longer deploy time and can’t get random critical hits, but has a longer reach. It can even be used by soldier, and it’s a one hit kill on anyone that has the weapon as well. Now for the big, lovable, sandwich eating russian that is heavy, with an equally loveable, but very underrated, weapon; the holiday punch. These winter mittens are the telltale sign that someone is not taking the game serious at all and will probably share his lunch with you if you don’t bother him. The weapon itself has very interesting potential in combat, with critical hits dealing no damage. While this sounds awful at first, that is because the critical hits instead stun players by forcing them to laugh; this also works if you “tickle their spine” as I like to call it. You can disable someone long enough to get away and eat a sandvich, show them no mercy with your minigun, let your team do the same, or kill them with a comical finger gun. I have a personal love for shotgun classes in games, and the engineer is no exception. Out of all of them in his arsenal, the widowmaker has to be my favorite. It has no ammo of its own, and instead takes 30 metal to shoot. Damage with it is also returned as metal, making you have an infinite magazine if your aim is good. It also does 10% more damage against sentry targets, which is great for a more offensive playstyle. The medic has a lot, and I mean a lot of interesting weapons. Due the latest update, Jungle Inferno, and with the exclusion of the stock medigun, my favorite weapon has to be the vita-saw. At the cost of ten maximum health, you can hit enemies with this needle hater’s nightmare to get organs. While it sounds very morbid at first, it’s just a fancy way of saying how many hits you have landed in a life. Every organ you get lets you save 15% of your über charge, up to a maximum of 60%. However, if you have less über than what you could keep, you will only respawn with what you had and not gain any. It is another risk versus reward item, but with outstanding potential and the ability to keep one of the most powerful mechanics in the entire game. It’s so good that it’s even banned in competitive! While I may not be the biggest fan of sniper, I am no stranger to the many tools he uses to do his job. I will admit, I am terrible at getting headshots. While there is the machina for getting body shots, I would say that the sydney sleeper is the golden king of it. This rifle will coat anyone that is in it’s sight with jarate, a liquid that causes all damage taken to be mini-crits. The duration of the effect increases the longer the weapon charges. It is wise to state that the sleeper cannot get headshots. But, if you do choose, or manage depending on your aim, to land one, you will be pleasantly surprised with an explosion of this deadly liquid that coats anyone in the area. The weapon can also be used to extinguish teammates from a distance, making it an excellent support weapon that, despite its one major downside, can change the tide of a fight in an instant. Finally, there is the the dapper and classy french man himself, the spy. Now, I would have put the stock revolver as my favorite for being the most reliable and the most well rounded out of all of his primaries, but that would be going against my own rules. So instead, I will talk about the diamondback. This revolver does less damage than the original and can’t get random critical hits, but it comes with a nasty ace up its handle. The diamondback has the ability to earn and store crits by doing what spy is best at: stabbing backs and sapping buildings. These crits have the same damage output of the most overrated weapon in the game, the ambassador, which can get headshots. Sometimes it’s best to use a weapon that rewards players for doing what the class’s role is rather than try to show off and be flashy.

Not only are there just weapons in the game, but also cosmetics. Each class can wear three cosmetics at any given, taking up a slot on the body. It is because of this that some items can’t be worn at the same time, such as two hats or an item that includes boots when a soldier or demo has a boot equipped as a weapon. There are also some other restrictions on cosmetics: some can only be used on a specific class, and some can only be used during the full moon and Halloween events. You can even apply a variety of different paint colors to most of the cosmetics in the game. Taunts are also something that you can have. There is some customization to how a weapon looks as well. Some items have a botkiller and/or australium variant that can only be earned at random by completing a Tour of Duty in Mann vs Machine, some can have christmas lights on them, and with the addition of war paints that can create almost any weapon in the game to apply the pattern, the possibilities are extraordinary. There are even different qualities that items can be in: strange, genuine, vintage, killstreak, collector’s, and unusual. Some of them do things aside from adding a prefix to the item’s name; stranges count kills and other statistics, killstreaks keep count of how many kills you get with the weapon in one life and do different things based on how advanced the killstreak on the item is, and unusuals have visual effects. There’s also a trade system, and people use two things to determine how much an item is worth; refined metal made from crafting, and keys that are used to open crates. The cheaper stuff uses refined, while things like unusuals and some stranges use keys. I’m not going to go to into any further detail on the market, as that is big enough to write about on its own.

Probably the biggest thing in Team Fortress 2 isn’t the game itself, but its community. They are constantly doing things just for this game. For example, there are people that actively make items and maps for others to vote on, hoping that what they made could be officially added into the game in the next update. There’s also something called the Saxxys. It is a yearly contest for those that use Source Filmmaker. Think of it like the Grammys of the game. Charities are even held to raise money for the usual things that charities are for. There are even people that just trade.

While all of this sounds amazing, the game has some problems. Major updates have quite some time in between them, as there is only a handful of people actively working on it. There are bugs and hackers just like other games. Some players that take the game seriously, affectionately known as “tryhards”, can scare off new players for blaming all of their mistakes on their team. Well, the more vocal ones anyway. There are tryhards that will join a game and utterly dominate, then leave without saying a single word in chat. But, if you look past what is wrong with the game, see the potential of it, and witness firsthand what the community around it is like, Team Fortress 2 is a PC classic that everyone can enjoy for ages to come.

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