Relax, this is not a review of Team Fortress 2. TF2 has been out and live since 2007, it’s been absolutely free to play since 2011 and serves about 50,000 unique players at any given time. You already know what Team Fortress 2 is, and if you love it or hate it. So rest assured, I am not going to huck out a review of a game that has been live for over 8 years.
The latest update (33rd for those keeping score) for Team Fortress 2 is called the Gun Mettle Campaign. If you have played Counterstrike: Global Offensive, then you know exactly what this update is all about. You spend an amount of money, in this case $5.99, to play in the campaign which provides a handful of new maps and a new mission based contract system.
You are given new contracts each week that relates to a particular class, map or playstyle. For example, as a Heavy I needed to earn points capturing objectives and earning points on the map (usually kills) with a bonus if I killed medics.
Once your contract is fulfilled, you get a super cool verbal confirmation from Miss Pauling and she sends you a reward. This reward takes the form of a weapon skin. Note that these are not new weapons, there’s not a mechanically new killing machine in the lot (to my knowledge) but these are simply skins.
A mini-gun with a smiley-face motif, a shotgun with urban camo, or my favorite a sticky bomb launcher in bright pink tartan. Rarely, instead of a weapon skin, you are rewarded with a case. If you have played TF2 with any regularity since it’s free-to-play launch you are familiar with the crate system and this is no different, save for the fact that you have to buy the campaign to access these particular cases.
Get a case, pay a cool $2.49 for a key to unlock said case and unlock the treasures inside. Odds are you’ll be greatly disappointed and wish you hadn’t spent $2.49 on a weapon worth about 6 cents, but every once in a long while you’ll get that piece of super cool, elite gear.
The gambler’s fallacy is at play hard here: “I’m due for something really cool on the next one, I can feel it!” Some enterprising few have taken to selling cases and loot on the Steam secondary market to turn it into a small money-making venture as well. I personally funded my $5.99 investment and two keys in the first week selling cases and loot, so I’ve been pleased with the system and I know my situation is far from unique.
There are various weapon tweeks, nerfs and buffs of various sizes if you have the patience or time to sift through the patch notes, but without question the best part of the Gun Mettle Campaign is that it makes the player mix things up.
The contracts force new players and old alike to try out and utilize a class they might never have played in the past. I rarely ever broke out of my Soldier comfort zone, but since I’ve burned through a pile of contracts, I have picked up and found out that I really enjoy some of the classes I rarely played. (Except Scout, screw Scout).
This is fairly genius as it takes the passive casual player and extends their desire to play with the new classes and even old salty veterans feel inclined to round out their skillset on classes they may not be used to, adding hours to play times and increasing the odds you’ll be buying a lime green fedora, or a stuffed bear to ride around with your new favorite Engy. After all, it’s still TF2.
The new maps that are introduced are a bit all over the place. ‘Powerhouse’ is the officially created Control Point map and it’s clearly the strongest of the lot. There are also three community generated maps introduced into the update which are on a bit of a sliding scale.
‘Boreno’ and ‘Snowplow’ are payload maps of various themes and flavors, all well and good for a game style I don’t overly love, but they’re perfectly mediocre.
‘Suijin’ is a Control Point map that is lacking in almost every facet. The Asian theme is fantastic looking, but it plays like an absolute meat grinder, and not in a good way.
It’s far to easy for the opposing team to set up shot outside the spawn and farm kills until the clock runs out. Not fun. Powerhouse is the star of the show, and you’ll be playing on it for years.
It really is staggering that TF2 still feels fresh after all of these years, but most importantly it’s fun, plain and simple fun. Despite being a mediocre player at best, TF2 has always been a world I’ve enjoyed playing in.
I love the art style, the humor, the gameplay is tight and the community is generally fantastic. I just never really had a reason to dedicate some time to play, and the Gun Mettle Campaign has changed all that.
It’s a breath of fresh air into a game that continues to reinvent itself and refresh it’s innards for a new batch of players without chasing out the old ones, and they did it without a bunch of silly hats this time!
Side note: Seriously, when are we going to get a feature-length Team Fortress animated movie?