tempest in a teacup

the pointless musings of a strange recluse

Things about TF2 that need to change

Just some thoughts I’ve been meaning to pen down for a while. They’re rather long, so I’ve hidden them behind a jump.

In no particular order (because I hate all these things equally):

Class Balance

Anyone who claims that TF2 is balanced is an idiot, period. There’s a reason they have class limits in high-level play, otherwise all you’d see would be Demomen and Medics. On top of that classes like the Pyro and Engineer are woefully underpowered (although they see a lot of use in low-level play).

Pyros and Engineers have rather low skill ceilings. The Pyro is ineffective against anyone with half a brain – he does have a few tricks he can pull off with his airblast and flare gun but they aren’t really potent enough to make him a staple. Ideally what I’d do is increase his damage falloff levels to what they were before the Pyro update (to discourage W+M1) and give him better ways to deal damage over time (which is kind of his specialty). From watching Fortress Forever videos, something like introducing different ‘levels’ of afterburn that can be stacked by using different types of fire weapons might be the way to go.

As for the Engineer, you can get a bit more challenge out of him by trying to play him offensively, but it’s not particularly effective or rewarding. The predominant Engie playstyle is to set up your buildings, wait, and whack them if something is attacking you. No real skill required besides knowing where the good sentry spots are, and again, easily countered by good players. What I think he needs to raise his skill ceiling is a somewhat weaker sentry (maybe reduce its rotation speed) and a new ability that supplements his sentry. TFC and FF Engies have ammo traps, which won’t really work in TF2 since there’s only one type of ammo. I don’t really have any good ideas around this, unfortunately.

Demomen are another story entirely. Individual Demomen probably aren’t that difficult to deal with, but once you have more than one on a team they can lock down multiple chokepoints all by themselves through spamming grenades and setting up sticky traps, not to mention sticky throwing. I don’t have any issues with the grenade launcher or using stickies to set traps, but there really should be a longer interval between when you launch stickies and when they can be detonated in mid-air. High-level players disagree for some reason, but that doesn’t really sense given the one Demoman limit placed on all league matches.

It’s probably also worth mentioning the Sandman here. Yes, it’s been nerfed so that it doesn’t affect ubers, but how is giving one of the best offensive classes in the game a practically guaranteed instant kill against most classes a good idea? It’s like taking someone like Oswald in KOF XI and giving him a fast special move that always does 100% damage no matter what.

Capture the Flag

Simply put, TF2 CTF sucks. People seem to think that it’s a fault of map design, but it has more to do with how defending in TF2 is so much easier than attacking. Multiple engineers guarding an area in TF2 with sentries that cover each other can’t be taken down without an uber. That’s a few minutes of work needed to counter something that takes mere seconds to set up, which indicates some sort of imbalance of effort required.

So how could defense be made harder? This could be addressed by demanding more skill of Engineer players, and by nerfing the Demoman a bit as I mentioned above. Advanced movement techniques like conc-jumping would probably help, but the chances that they’ll make a return are rather slim, so that might have to do for the moment.

Randomness

Critical hits. Newbies love them, but they’re a plague on this game. I’ve lost count of the number of times some Engie got a critical wrench hit on me because his aimbot Sentry killed a few guys earlier, or how a Scout with 5 HP left managed to bring me from 100 HP to zero with a single critical FAN blast, just as I was about to finish him off with my shotgun. People seem to think that crits encourage newbies to keep playing, but all it does is encourage them to never improve, because at some point the random number generator will favour them with a 3x damage multiplier. Hence all the sticky spamming Demomen, W+M1 Pyros and critwrenching Engineers. To use another fighting game analogy, saying that attacks randomly doing 300% damage is fine is the same as saying that it’s alright if moves in a fighting game randomly kill you instantly. It just doesn’t fly.

There’s also the matter of randomized damage – while this has been reduced since launch, I think it should be removed entirely. By all means keep distance-based falloff if you must, but having your weapons do random amounts of damage seems like a great way to piss people off. ‘WTF, I shot that Scout with a rocket three times, why is he still alive?’

Payload

If anything, Payload exemplifies everything I dislike about TF2. The cart is understandably the focus of all combat, meaning that the annoyance of projectile and explosive spam is amplified several times over when playing on Payload maps. On top of this, except for Badwater Basin, most Payload maps tend to be cramped affairs, favouring classes like the Pyro who can simply ‘spray and pray’ to get kills via afterburn. Because of this, Payload tends to be a slow, grinding crawl of clear choke point –> push cart –> clear choke point –> push cart…and so on, which really gets old.

My favourite maps tend to be of the CP game type – either 5CP maps like Granary, Badlands and Yukon or A/D CP maps like Gravel Pit. King of the Hill tends not to be too bad either, although some of the maps are a little cramped (coughViaductcough).

The main reason I decided to pen this down now is because I’m starting to wonder how much longer I’m going to be playing this game. I’ve mentioned before that the annoying aspects have become much more pronounced as of late, and that trend hasn’t really reversed itself. The ongoing TF2 beta has come up with some good changes so far – the throwable Sandvich and the buff to the Syringe Gun to name a couple – so I’m wondering if high-level players will ever press Valve to address some of the deeper issues with the game as it stands.

1 comment

One Response to “Things about TF2 that need to change”

  1. PenPen says:

    I don’t know why, I kinda stopped playing TF2 since I got the PS3.

    So did you find the nocrit server you’ve been looking for?

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