I took about a six month break from the game to do videos, and I come back to Team Fortress 2 to find it an appalling shambles. What was once a beautifully-balanced game has become a den of achievement whores and twinked-out, unbalanced characters. In the time I was away, Valve instituted a ton of character updates, adding X-Box Live style achievements to each class, and granting special weapons when a player got them.
The achievements themselves are hilariously over-specific, impossible to get during the course of normal gameplay. Naturally, the first thing everyone did was to set up achievement farms– servers tailor-made to facilitate the accomplishment of these achievements as quickly as possible. I’m torn between my dislike of farming achievements and the fact that I’ll never be competitive if I don’t go farming. Therein lies the problem: the game is no longer balanced, and the only way to compete is to become the very kind of achievement whore I hate. It goes against the whole spirit of achievements, like setting a home run record with the baseball on a tee, and then being rewarded with steroids.
The scouts are the worst right now. They were already borderline unbalanced before any updates, but now they’ve been granted a shotgun with knockback and enough damage to kill most characters in one hit, and the Sandman which can long-range stun any character for several seconds, even if they’ve been ubered by a medic. That’s just bullshit. And of course, everyone and their brother is playing a scout now, so it’s not uncommon to see teams comprised almost entirely of Scouts– either maxed-out and bloodthirsty, or whoring themselves out for their own achievements.
It’s hard to explain if you’ve never played TF2, and to most of you it’s just going to sound like whining from a n00b. I’m just a believer in skill against skill. I don’t mind losing if it’s a fair fight. I played Counter-Strike for years, but I had to quit because of all the cheaters. I couldn’t be sure if I was losing because I was lousy at the game, or because people were cheating. TF2 used to be the kind of game where, as long as there weren’t any bad apples taking great pains to ruin everyone’s enjoyment, you could have a great time and be confident that the playing field was level. Now it’s rewarding achievement whoring and creating two classes of players. Casual players are no longer welcome, it seems. TF2 is the munchkin’s playground now.
You can have it.