Team Fortress 2 is a game that defined a lot of what is now the norm for first-person arena-shooters. The Valve title, sleek in its outward simplicity, captivated audiences upon its release in 2007, and the game has continued to capture that demographic to this day.
While this may seem like a muted accomplishment considering the game is backed by Valve, the success becomes apparent when taking into account that Valve has not released a major update for the game since 2017; only updates like annual Halloween cosmetics. Despite this lack of direct support, even in the face of concerning issues like a bot problem, Team Fortress 2 has become self-sustaining.
The Appeal of Team Fortress 2
Team Fortress 2 initially launched for PC via Steam, and had popular console ports for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 via The Orange Box. The game was revolutionary, a class-based arena-shooter which was unique both thematically and aesthetically, which quickly formed a cult following.
Players battle over a variety of objective modes with nine different classes to choose from, all providing unique combat elements that work symbiotically to achieve victory. These classes, or "mercs," would also serve in giving each playable class comedic and world-building value through their personalities, largely developed via popular "Meet The..." videos produced by Valve to introduce each class and give an insight into their abilities. The classes also banter among themselves and deliver ruthless one-liners to insult enemies they're killing repeatedly - or "dominating," as the game refers to it. This leads to a more intimate, lively world and gameplay in Team Fortress 2.
This is an aspect of TF2 that many subsequent titles borrowed from, with the dynamic cast of Overwatch in particular riffing off this formula. In the beginning, this gameplay was aided by Valve, which would consistently release major content updates for Team Fortress 2, providing new maps, game modes, cosmetics, and weapons.
This inexorably kept the game fresh, and introduced new metas as well as an array of styles for different classes. TF2 and its players thrived during this golden era of Valve titles. However, as mentioned Valve has largely stopped supporting the game in recent years, leaving it to fend for itself.
The Team Fortress 2 Economy
An unintended but fascinating consequence of the game's cosmetics, each with varying tiers of rarity, was a tangible economy developing within Team Fortress 2. With the aid of the Steam Marketplace as a tool to sell in-game items for real money, as well as the game's craftable metal variants and lootbox keys acting as virtual forms of currency, Team Fortress 2 has become known for the importance PC players places on in-game hats - with the rarest "unusual" hats being worth upwards of thousands of dollars due to their accompanying particle effects. The established and valuable nature of this market has kept TF2 afloat over recent years, even if glitches and exploits with cosmetics have caused the economy to dip or skyrocket at times.
A Surprising Console Player Base
Despite Team Fortress 2 being synonymous with PC gaming, the game still possesses a consistent userbase on consoles. The Orange Box launched with a console port of Team Fortress 2 for both the Xbox 360 and PS3, with console being the platform of choice for many players closer to the game's initial release.
However, with the PC version receiving major content updates and a consistent amount of direct support, playership of the aging console port gradually began to wane. Yet the completely vanilla console version of the game, which had not received any updates and still had blatant glitches that could be exploited, became more popular with fans who were looking for a classic experience. With The Orange Box now backward compatible on new Xbox consoles, the game is even stronger, with matches easily being found on certain console skews to this day.
Team Fortress 2's Bot Problem
Perhaps the most contentious issue with Team Fortress 2 in recent years is bots infesting servers. With the lack of support offered by Valve, malicious scripters have taken advantage of the lack of repercussion by flooding servers with bot players, usually with offensive usernames, that are capable of instantly killing players from across the map.
Despite this, many Team Fortress 2 players remain unshaken, and have conjured a variety of methods to deal with TF2's bot problem. Punctual vote kicking or playing on community servers effectively circumnavigates this otherwise annoying issue.
Despite it all, the community around this arena-shooter remains unwavering. TF2 recently broke its highest concurrent player count on Steam, showing an ever-greater outpouring of support. This level of consistent relevancy over almost 15 years is truly an achievement worth celebrating, with Team Fortress 2 showing no signs of slowing down soon.
Team Fortress 2 is available now on PC.
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