There have been a lot of updates from Valve for Team Fortress 2 over the years. From the very first Medic update, to the major update of MvM, to the last update that brought us 3D models in our HUD, there have been updates that morphed the game from it’s vanilla setting to it’s current state.
…And I have mixed feelings about it.
Lets talk hats. Valve has pretty much had a hat fetish when they introduced hats for the very first time with the Spy vs Sniper update. There have been hats upon hats upon hats to the point of people calling Valve’s Team Fortress 2, Hat Fortress 2. Some are cool, and go with a set, but most of the rest were user submissions that Valve put in regularly, which enabled a lot of players to individualize themselves when they play. There have been hats upon hats (towering pillar of hats for example), from animal heads as hats (‘ole Snaggletooth’), to a simple fedora. You can apply paint to that hat also, or change it’s style from a menu.
They have also introduced a lot of weapons, some of which were overpowered ( the Natasha at one point when it first was introduced, the Loch and Load also), some of which were each simply an alternate to their main weapon, a sidegrade if you will. The one thing that I do not like is the Soda Popper. By just running around, they gain ‘hype,’ which gives you critical hits after it gets full. Several weapons like that unbalance the gameplay from the original standard. The Machina is another power oriented in a way that unbalances the Sniper. It gives you increased damage upon weapon charge and can kill two people with a full charge. The one downside of the weapon is it cannot ‘no-scope’ fire; it cannot fire without you looking down the scope. Another unbalancing aspect is the so-called ‘Demoknight’, AKA, a Demo equipped with the Eyelander, and a Splendid Screen or the Chargin’ Targe that can kill most enemies in one hit.
Gameplay is still top notch, heavily reliant on teamwork and strategy to beat your opponents, vs. one guy carrying the team. The best player cannot beat a team that’s working together in this game. Speaking of teamwork, you’ve got to have all of that when you’re playing the new Mann vs. Machine mode that Valve has recently released a few months ago. You are part of a 6-man team in one of Mann co.’s facilities, defending it. There are two modes to this game, regular practice mode, or Mann Up mode. The latter mode gives you items when you finish a section of the ‘tour of duty,’ as they call it. Once you finish the tour of duty, you are given a range from rusty, blood, silver, gold, corbonado, or diamond botkiller weapons, which is just a Strange Weapon with the head of a robot attached to it. They’ve become a badge of honor in Team Fortress circles recently, too.
All in all, the game has evolved quite a bit from it’s roots and changed quite a bit, but it has retained the charming nature of it’s gameplay and teamwork requirements. With the introduction of the hats, and all of the special weapons, the ways you play the game have expanded quite a bit, some welcome, and some scorned by the player base. With Mann vs Machine, it added another gameplay option to an otherwise outstanding game, keeping it from ever getting stale, and after 6 years in an online game, that’s rather hard to do, especially in a Shooter. If Valve hasn’t done the updates they did, the game would have gone stale and died long ago, so hats off to them for keeping up with the times.