Monday, January 05, 2009

Team Fortress 2

I sucked at TF2 when I started playing Thursday, but I knew that the only way I was going to be able to hammer out the kinks in my gameplay was with practice. So Friday night, I started playing, and barely stopped until 6am. But by then, I had a much better understanding of how the game was meant to be played, and was among the top of the leaderboard. (turning up the vertical and horizontal sensitivity didn't hurt either)

Team Fortress was a great game because it allowed so many different play styles. I'm not talking about diversity in guys with big guns, guys with small guns, and guys with long guns; I'm talking about real diversity. Deciding if you want to run at your opponents screaming, firing a rocket launcher, hide in a corner and shoot enemies from far away, fire grenades and sticky bombs to attack or defend areas, disguise and actually trick opponents into allowing you a one-hit kill on the toughest opponents, build and upkeep equipment to support or defend areas, or just run around and heal everyone.

Certainly there is less skill involved in some classes than others. Soldiers are more playable to new players than spies, and some classes require you to use a lot of strategy. My early attempts gave me most success with the soldier, and seemingly inexplicable failure with any other class (particularly the spy). It wasn't until I had played against other players and seen how they played the classes that I realized all the things I was doing wrong. The trick to being a spy is to move like you're not a spy. The trick to being a demo man is to pick engagements with angles and corners to lob grenades around, and be truly creative hiding your sticky bombs. The trick to being a sniper is to aim small with your feet, hide your laser creatively, and move after almost every shot. The trick to being a pyro is to... well... burn shit. The general gameplay lessons can only be picked up with experience, when to switch to melee, strengths and weaknesses of weapons, how to avoid getting dead. With just these things, the game is great, and you can have a lot of fun playing.

Where this game really shines is when you add voice to the gameplay. When I plugged in that headset, and started reporting enemy locations, and coordinating with my teammates instantly, everything felt perfect. Spotting a spy dropping into the water, and calling it out, sends a pyro to wait for him, or engineers to guard their sentries and beat anyone who gets close. Calling the intelligence location sends everyone there to set up a defensive perimeter, and report enemy movements. Reporting a heavy initiates focus fire. Reporting an enemy sentry warns everyone to its existence and conveys information that usually only arrives to the dead. Talking about our situation leads to players switching classes to help out. Comradery and support become a useful gameplay element. Your team becomes less of a bunch of people trying to kill stuff in their way of choice, and more of a goal-oriented team working in unison. Honestly, I only got the full cooperation experience in a few servers, but while it lasted, it was like no other game.

The other element I really enjoy is the creativity and ingenuity you can use to be successful.

Playing the demoman you quickly learn that the opposing team will avoid the neat pile of sticky bombs you set in their path, so you need to think of more interesting places to set them. Thinking of where enemies come from, and their direction dictating where they won't be able to see, you can pick some great spots with good visibility to make your sticky bombs undetectable until it's too late, and blow them at the right moment from far away. The best part about it is that you can bypass the usually moderate splash damage by leaving a full 8 waiting for your opponent. Nothing beats a soldier/medic combo taking out everything in its way, before rounding a corner to see you standing in the open, helplessly out of grenade range, and turning them both into bloody chunks. Or setting up opposite a corner scouts usually run around, waiting for a flash of color to jump up, and whip round the corner, out of sight, and then fly back into view in bits and pieces. But lets not give away all the good tricks :)

Playing the sniper, you quickly learn to read the angle of the target laser to determine where the sniper targeting your area is, and target him. When you look through your scope, you create a dot wherever you are looking that can be seen by all. Learning to use this dot to your advantage by misleading players waiting to run into the open, or hiding it in water or behind a corner to avoid tipping the opposition off, is a lot of fun, and lends to some pretty creative moves. Knowing that the dead get a look at you and your position after you kill them, will (should) keep an otherwise stationary class moving, and if you're creative, allow you to mislead the player you just killed should they expect to see you in the same spot. Using the duck move to your advantage, you can get a bead on a position the enemy will definitely see your laser, duck so that the laser is obscured on something closer than the target area, but still being able to see the area, lets you release duck, and fire for a practically laser-less shot. The best thing to do as a sniper is to be unexpected. Find corners with long views and hide your laser where it won't be seen, or it'll seem like its coming from another area. Be unexpected.

Valve released these videos of the different classes of Team Fortress 2, so here are two of my favorites.

Sorry, youtube is being ghey, and lagging the page; click here for the video.

Sorry, youtube is being ghey, and lagging the page; click here for the video.


Anonymous said...

Team Fortress 2 is a brilliant game. It had a death-grip on my free time there for about 4 months. Fortunately I was released from its clutches . . . by Gears of War 2, which just replaced it.

Anonymous said...

About bloody time!

Depending on what platform you're playing on (Steam?), let me know next time you have a few hours to kill. I haven't touched it in...6 months? But before that I spent about 200 hours playing.

Should get a gunbloggers clan going. Yeah!