Thoughts On The Team Fortress 2 Christmas Changes

PCG UK vs US - 3
Disclaimer: this expression does not faithfully represent my feelings on these changes.

Left 4 Dead has ceased to be a regular fixture in my schedule, but it somehow made TF2 feel old, or overfamiliar. So I’m mega-, perhaps even ultra-pleased with the timing of the pretty dramatic overhaul that just went live.

Also, Scout update is next, thank God. I was wrong about the Spy hint in the previous TF2 blog post title. I asked Robin about it a while back – he was amused by the extreme scrutiny speculators subjected his wording to. He just has the TF2 script doc open and selects a line at random.

  • The Engineer’s teleporters can now be upgraded to level three. It will recharge faster the higher level it is
    Great news. They pretty much confirmed this ages ago, but it wasn’t clear if they’d work it into the Engy pack or release it as a separate tweak. It seems like this has to add more variety to viable engy tactics, and just as importantly, more variety to the litany of complaints we can level against our Engies when they inevitably ignore this new ability and hunker down behind their ill-positioned Sentry.
  • The Engineer’s dispensers can now be upgraded to level three. It will give out metal and heal faster as it is upgraded
    Yay. But I’m guessing this still means placing it right behind you and your Sentry is still the only logical position. One of the main Engy changes I’d like to see is making it viable to place your dispenser where your team most needs it without crippling your own ability to keep yourself and your Sentry alive.
  • Spies will be able to recharge their cloaking ability by picking up ammo off of the ground or from health cabinets
    The health cabinets thing has been suggested three times a day since the dawn of time, though I can’t say I’ve ever wanted it. When I run out of Cloak, I’m in the enemy base. Because I used my Cloak. You know, to get past enemies. Gobbling up ammo to replenish it is much more interesting to me, because it means less waiting around without encouraging me to walk all the way back to base.
  • Some changes to the second part of the first stage of Goldrush to give the attackers more of an advantage
    Okay, but I can’t say this is the stage that usually gives me trouble as an attacker. It’s always, always stage 2 cap 2, and trying to assault a good defense of that point is the most miserably futile experience you can have with TF2.
  • Any weapons that fire bullets (shotguns, sniper’s machine gun, heavy’s minigun, etc.) can now break apart the Demoman’s stickybombs
    Wow, okay, yes. Anything that’s bad for Demomen is fine by me, even when I’m playing Demoman. I didn’t expect them to do this particular nerf, though. One of the few things I like about Demomen right now is they don’t over-abuse their ability to place stickies where it’s impossible to see them before they kill you – more often they use them out in the open for area denial, warning people off a cap. If everyone can destroy them now, I’m a little worried that Demomen are going to learn to always put them in hidden places, and I’ve never discovered any way to anticipate or counter that tactic. Even if you’re looking in exactly the right direction as you round a corner, you’re surely not going to be able to destroy them all before the Demoman can right-click to kill you.
  • The icon on the HUD for a person calling for Medic will now give more information to the medic (if the target is low on health, on fire, etc.)
    At freaking last! This seemed like such an obvious thing, I thought there must be some complicated technical reason why they didn’t do it in the first place.
  • Added an achievement tracker that will allow people to choose specific achievements that they are trying to get
    omg tf2=wow ffs valve gay ferrets tldr. Actually this’ll be quite useful. But I’m still not doing most of those Medic ones.
  • There is now a custom icon for death messages when the player was killed from a critical hit
    GOOD. Now the world shall see that not only am I killed by a critical hit every time I die, but it’s always in a situation and with an amount of health that would guarantee I survive an equivalent non-critical hit and Valve will realise their game is entirely random, sob for a little while, then remove crits forever and issue a public apology. (Hey guys, let’s get into a discussion about whether crits are a good thing.)
  • Added a new particle effect for when a player enters the water
    +5% to review score.
  • Added smoke to the feet of a rocket jumping soldier
    +10% to review score.
  • Players will now have some particles swirling around them so other players can see when they are overhealed
    I heartily endorse this. I think everything mechanically important should be visually apparent (except Cloaked Spies). Now they just need a way to show how hurt players are.
  • Attempts by player Pentadact to connect to any servers now result in immediate timeouts, ensuring he can no longer play the game at all
    This is the only one I’m not crazy about. I realise I’m inevitably biased, but it just seems unlike Valve to make such a specific tweak. And personally, it’s starting to diminish my enjoyment of the game.

56 Replies to “Thoughts On The Team Fortress 2 Christmas Changes”

  1. I must say, it’s about time to hear something from the (previously presumed dead) team at TF2. Hopefully, this will do a little more to encourage me to get back to playing the game… It’s been far too long.

  2. That’s a shame you can no longer play Pentadact, as it really has reborn TF2 for me, especially after L4D.

    As for whether crits are a good thing, I’m of the firm opinion that they are. Having played some scrims (alright, only four, but still :D), I’ve been able to compare the two playstyles.

    Within a nocrit server, you can always discount the possibility of a crocket to the face, so you’re able to approach situations with that in mind. The variable is removed, and as such the player can estimate the outcome within a smaller margin of error.

    And yet, I think the percieved ‘random’ nature of crits is unjustified. We know that the more damage a player has done, the greater the chance that they’ll get a critical hit. Hence, Heavies and Soldiers lend themselves to crits moreso than a Scout. So, while it is inherently ‘random’, you can still make a good approximation as to whether jumping around that corner into the blood-lusted Heavy is a good idea.

    Really, VALVe designed TF2 to include crits, so I feel that some classes are actively nerfed if you remove them.

    Plus I *love* the sound they make.

  3. I really must agree with Justice here; Crits help spice up the gameplay. Although not good for everyone, they create those “epic” moments which are just plain fun. I recall scoring something close to nine or so kills as a heavy once. The momentum of these kills ensured almost all of my shots became crits. It’s one of those times you feel unstoppable, and it’s suitably awesome to play.

  4. This really caught me by surprise I have to say, anyway – the changes:

    The engy’s new upgrades are hard to speculate about, it all depends how much they upgrade, but a high speed tele or a top spec dispenser could well add an interesting new dimension. If they’re powerful enough we could see engys actively considering what to focus on, it isn’t going to make sentry clusters any easier to take out though.

    The Demoman is again interesting, as it seems to reduce his bombardment/trapping ability without decreasing his one on one potential, exactly the opposite to what most people asked. But there’s another angle to consider, if you’re firing a stickie straight at a marauding heavy or anyone toting a shotgun, there’s a fair chance they could blow it up in your face. This might work out to be a better fix than it looks.

    And finally the Spy, possibly the most surprising of all, as it’s a big, big change, massively increasing the effectiveness of the Spy by enabling clever players to stay cloaked near indefinitely. At first glance it seems like a game breaker, but it’s worth remembering that most players know the location of the ammo dumps on a level, making it hard to nick one without anyone realising. Especially if (as I’d assume) they dissapear when you use them.

  5. I have a relationship of love and hate with the crits.

    One tweak that I would like to see on that area is: crit explosives gives bonus damage but NOT bonus AoE! This way you wouldn’t get killed by a stickie/rocket/nade that actually was a clearly MISS :(

    I’ve played on no-crit servers also, and the game feels more tactical. I think that the crits are fun, sometimes, specially if that tweak is put in place :P

  6. Valve ruins

    But really, I don’t like the new update. I kind of stopped playing TF2 for the last month, waiting for a fun new update. And what do I get? My secondery class nerfed. My third most liked and unwillingly piramy due to lag class gut a worthless addon (half finished too). My secondery class’s tactics which made the whole thing fun gut narrowed down to “pick up a box after two seconds”. I find the new effects only half done too.


    As for crits, they make the game fun. Maybe it sucks to get a crit in your face (especially when it’s a scout), but it’s hillarious when you shoot a crit grenade and a soldier suddenly rocket jumps just into it. And gets exploded.

    Sorry to hear you can’t play Tom, cleanly reinstalling Steam [ ] may help. Just be smarter than me and backup your steamapps for pictures\scripts\games you don’t have problems with before that. Uninstalling Staem deletes everything, apparently (except nasty registry you’ve gutta delete manually. I’ve had more than what the short guide said, and it only wored after deleting everything Steam and Valve.).

  7. I would say that a Demoman’s supposed to be able to outright kill the first guy through a door if he chooses to camp. That’s what stickies are supposed to be for, right?

  8. Oooh! I like the things here, the annoy pentadact society is especially pleased that he cannot get on, leaving him open to more greifable games.

    I would like more skill to the demoman, nades should explode after 2 seconds but not on hit, this makes it more about timing the shots than the point-click-dead nowadays. This and the stickies, maybe have them activate after a short delay but be more powerful should enable demos to fit more snugly into the TF2 classes.

    Btw, im so gald about the medic one. To make everyone love me here are 2 facts about me – as engi I place dispensers to heal, and im a medic who will heal more than one friggin target and can defend themselves a bit – pyros and spies beware!

  9. I love peterd102! :D
    More annoying than Goldrush stage 2 on offense is a medic sticking to one player (especially if the chosen player sucks) and refusing to heal, even if you stand DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF THEM. When I play on my favorite FF-enabled server, this is the point where I start team-hurting that player almost to death.

  10. Bah, updating the dispensers and teleporters is instantaneously a bad idea, now it will be easier for the red team to get to the front line :(
    Also, the idea of breaking apart stickies is a crap idea, they should move them, not break them :|
    Well, i’ll try it out and see if it’s as bad as it sounds.

    I wonder if they added even more voice acting?
    Anyway, they should be working on l4d more, with a goddamn server browser, and giving us a mod making kit :|

  11. I’m glad the Pentadact change I was pushing for went retail. For a while I thought Valve wasn’t going to add it. Definitely makes things more fair.

  12. Liking the changes so far – haven’t played any spy yet, but it reignited my interest in the engineer, which I’ve been cruelly neglecting for months. A level three dispenser heals very, very fast indeed, so I like to put one up just by the gates (as BLU) on dustbowl stage 2 and 3. Seems to be a genuine help for other players.

    I really like the idea of the spy’s cloak recharging – it makes the spy more effective, but also forces them into areas where there’s a lot more ordinance flying around (since that’s where all the dropped weapons will be). Bit of a trade-off there, very Valve-esque. Should make playing spy even more tense – can I make it to that dropped gun in time, will someone else grab it first …

  13. @Roadrunner
    They already move when you shoot them. Obviously it wasn’t enough.

    It would be another nice addition if the Pyro’s flame set them off. The air blast is nice and all but the physics never seems to push them where you want it to. Being able to explode them at some range would be excellent.

    And if your stupid and rush into a bunch flaming you get blown up

    Now that I think about it being able to set off bombs in mid air would be friggin awesome.

  14. I personally like the changes, the new dispenser models are nice, although I haven’t noticed the teleporter models yet. The things for the medic is nice and I didn’t see any demomen running around completely unchallenged. Although time will tell if it will make heavies standing next to a tier 3 sentry farm a stupidly good plan (shooting any sticky bombs). Although hopefully the spy changes should counter this.

  15. Changes appear great so far, it’s a lot like an Engineer Update… lots opf engies per team trying out the new gear. speaking of which, I love the new teleporters: A Lvl.3 Teleporter recharges in around 2 seconds. Less waiting + More action = FUN.

    I also LOVE the Spy changes, they give him some much-needed love. Badwater defense has never been so back-stabbingly fun-

    I’ve been hearing of some bugs… apparently the Medic health buff is still visible on cloaked Spies. This results in griefing. Get it fixed, Valve!

  16. How’d I miss this? Can’t wait to try out these new changes. One suggestion for the scout upgrade:

    A NERF bat to replace his baseball bat. Does no damage but on hit forcibly changes enemy to melee weapon, complete with the one(ish) second firing delays associated in regularly switching weapons. The enemy can immediately switch back, mind you, but there is a delay associated with that prior to firing said weapon (and the Scout could just keep batting).

    This reduces a scout’s ability to kill a target, but would make him much more useful as a “scout”, being able to hamper the enemies abilities to fight while his backup comes in guns blazing.

  17. How about a plank with a rusty nail for the scout?
    If used in continous succession, more powerful, but longer to hit, like the ubersaw?
    I think a molotov would somehow suit the scout.

  18. Have to go in favour of crits even though they suck sometimes. What Healy said about those epic moments is true, and it certainly makes playing Heavy far more fun. Last night I cleared out the Badwater tunnel alone as Heavy by hitting 3 crit sprees at the right times.

    I’m keen to find out what the engie does get in his pack considering the recent buff though.

  19. Like problem. Apparently, wrenching the Payload Cart makes a Level 3 Dispenser appear on the smoke stack. This makes there be TWO invincible dispensers.

    Its painfull.

  20. This update is a microcosim of why I adore TF2. Because it is constantly evolving, everyone has to relearn or adapt how they play.

    Goldrush, third map, stage three. I’m defending as a Spy, and have backstabbed two unfortunate BLU foes. Of course, the rest of the team is now hankering for my blood. While I twist and turn cloaked from vision, I take heavy damage but miraculously escape with red health.

    Pre-update, I’d normally duck around a corner and take time out. Yet, now I can recharge my cloak, so I run with my remaining cloak time up to the ammo/health crates behind the BLU force, feeling very nifty and clever indeed. :D

    At that moment, I see a single sticky mine arc over my head, land in front of me and explode! The demoman had pre-empted my move, and had thought what he’d do if he was an injured Spy.

    I couldn’t help but laugh and give kudos to him: I’d enacted my new found stratergy, while he’d adapted his gameplay to the new scenario. It’s a constant learning curve, and ensures no one way of doing things is perfect.

    Anyone else experience new tactics, post update?

  21. Several engies managing one sentry always used to happen before, but now it seems like more because we’re seeing them take time out to protect high level dispensers/teleporters too.

    In fact, having two or three engies babysit one ‘set’ of equipment might well be the new thing.

  22. The thing I think some people don’t realize about killable stickies is that they’re a bloody nuisance to hit. Killing a sticky spread is only really an option for people with machine guns. So the main gameplay change I’ve noticed is that rather than shouting at my hitter, “Move, fatty, you’re standing on stickies!” and being ignored, I’m shouting “Fatty, shoot down! You’re standing on stickies!” and being ignored.

    But when *I* play heavy this completely switches the scissors-rock relationship between heavy and demoman. Suddenly a demoman who lurks at a distance or out of the line of the fire creating an impromptu sticky carpet can’t reliably trump a heavy. The demo is better off using grenades! Gasp! Yes! His primary weapon! Remember that?

    There are some particle problems that should be easy fixes. I have seen mobile clouds of glowing plusses and reacted accordingly. Upgraded teleporter entrances continue to crazy-glow even when there’s no matching exit. Also please note that camping exits is now at least three times as devastating to the other team’s momentum as before. I did see one of those dispenser carts, and thought it was just a visual aid to let newbies know the cart provides health and ammo. Does the cart actually put out more supplies now?

  23. The dispenser model actually appearing on top of the cart is because the BLU team can upgrade it with wrenches (one hit, one upgrade). The dispenser has always been there, just invisible – upgrading it changes its model, and makes it visible. I love the features of this update, but they sorely need finishing! I was disappointed with the lack of different teleporter models too (they only need slight changes, like the Dispenser, even of lower detail than that).

  24. @Devenger: Why yes, I did guess WHY the dispenser appears. Point is, it still acts as if the Payload Dispenser is there, along with an indestructible Level 3 Dispenser. This seems like a bad thing.

    I do agree on making new models for the higher level teleports though.

  25. Hm. This update appears to have made TF2 turn from playable to jerky-as-feck. True, my system’s ancient, but it ran TF2 playably on high settings. Now it can’t, even on low settings.


  26. The cart has always had an invisible dispenser inside it, but it used to be level 1, now its higher.. I’m not sure what the wrenching does though, possibly its level 2, then makes it level 3?

    Also, overhealed spys will have their own team colours plusses around them. even when cloaked.
    So if you see a cloud of floating plusses, open up.
    And, if you’re a medic, heal everyone. If you’re healing a spy, he’ll have different coloured plusses to you.

  27. Whoa, my screen is snowing. I thought this kind of things only happens on antenna T.V..

    Myabe I just have bad reception.


    …haha this old Married with Children joke never gets old.

    I feel so american right now :( (that’s a bad thing. Next thing you know I’l be making “YOUR MAMA” jokes)

  28. I love making the dispenser on the cart. At the beginning of Goldrush, all the enemies see is a crazed Engineer hitting the Cart twice and then running back inside.

  29. I like the snow. And its only making the browser twitch a little bit(scroll bar appears and disappears a few times). How about a blizzard button?

  30. I’ve started playing Deus Ex for the first time, it’s really good. I can’t believed I’ve never got round to playing (I spent about an hour yesterday looking for the box).

  31. No, post more about Left 4 Dead and the subtle things nobody picks up on it!
    For example sprayed on the floor on Dead Air, just before you get to the crane, it says “God is Dead.”

  32. @Lack – yeah, I’m replaying Deus Ex as well, but using the shifter mod. I can’t get enough of the smooth, icy cold voice of Walton Simons. I’m playing faster just to see him again.

    @Roadrunner – I didn’t know Valve were into Nietzsche.

  33. @Aftershock: Healing to check for spies would be awesome if we didn’t already have the blutsauger giveaway.

    God I love the blutsauger.

  34. I use the Syringe Gun, having unlocked the Blutsauger. I found that it lacked ranged killing power, and since I spend most of my time healing, I normally spycheck by just bumping into people. To be honest, I rarely use either of the medic’s ranged weapons; I just know that you can build up a lot of crit potential that you can’t tap into without the Syringe gun.

  35. @Lack/J-man: What a strange coincidence! Upon seeing the speed-run posted earlier and knowing it’s high reputation, I’ve started playing Deus Ex myself. Currently searching for the illict NSF power-generator, and loving the game as a whole.

    It’s in the details, such as Paul Denton’s appreciation of life, that keep it miles above some of today’s meager fare… and the fact that I’m completely unlike him in that regard, as many NPC’s have pointed out. :D

  36. @Justice

    I’m hunting down Tracer Tong in Hong Kong whilst playing ping pong with King Kong.

    …enough of that. I’m completely stuck, although Deus Ex has brilliant level design. Chased by police, I lept into a canal, gunfire slamming into the walls around me. I quickly swam to a closeby porch, heaved myself up and found myself in a fisherman’s home. It’s great bits like this that help the player to appreciate the level design.

  37. Actually what I’ve found really deadly is the one-three punch. Circle and blut the guy, then suddenly dive in with the ubersaw. The blutting softens him up, keeps your health in the white, and — this is important — builds crit chance for the saw. I clobbered a spy, a scout, and a demoman with that trick just last night. WTF WHER U GET CRIT SAW ON DEMAND

    So you see you CAN use the blut to crit, you just have to use the medic’s speed to control the range to your target.

  38. @Doctor Disaster

    I have a deep respect for this kind of thing; it works similarly with the spy’s pistol, as the knife never ‘naturally’ crits.

    If the sapper could quit, it would blow up the building and shower stickies everywhere that would blow up when the engie placed a new sentry. Balance THAT.

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