Title: Team Fortress 2's new upgrade system is terrible.
Posted: May 25, 2009 (12:38 PM)
Since Team Fortress 2's release, Valve have been routinely creating new content for the game and releasing it through various updates every few months or so. Each patch comes with a class upgrade, in which a designated character (there are nine) gets three new weapons/items, and a list of achievements that must be completed as the means to unlock said items. The idea was that these achievements would be something that the player would accomplish naturally through hours of experience with a single class, and hence, the items would unlock themselves. But Valve's success with this system has varied, and as a result, whenever a new update is released, we see a surge of "achievement servers" designed specifically to allow players to grind achievements and earn unlockables at a faster rate.
Just last week, Valve issued one of the biggest patches yet, the Spy vs. Sniper update, which covered two major classes by granting them a few of the most eye-opening unlockables we've seen so far: The sniper gets a spy shield and a slick bow and arrow, and the long-anticipated spy update yields two new cloaking watches, one that feigns death and one that offers potentially infinite invisibility. With this update, however, Valve reworked the system. Players were grinding for achievements but weren't earning any of the new items. Meanwhile, they kept receiving equipment for other classes that they'd already unlocked. This led to inventories overflowing with duplicates while the new goodies were nowhere in sight.
Valve issued a statement a few days ago addressing the "questions" (read: complaints) the new system has inspired. It works like this: As you play TF2, an opportunity is opened at random intervals to receive an unlockable item. You won't always get one, but you have a good chance. The random nature of the system is meant to be more friendly to new players, which makes no sense. The unlockable items were supposed to be both a reward and an incentive. They meant you were motivated enough with a particular class to deserve the best equipment that class had to offer. Now, everyone's at equal odds, and the achievements have become entirely irrelevant, except for personal glory.
Valve apparently were uncomfortable with the fact that committed players had to join achievement servers in order to earn new items at a fast, predictable rate. But their new system is broken in such a way that a variation of the same thing happens. Since item drops are distributed based on time spent in-game, players can now spectate matches and leave their computers for hours at a time and have an equal chance of earning unlockables as someone who plays TF2 obsessively. And now, in addition to the usual spy/sniper achievement servers, we see a surge of "idle" spectator-only servers designed to collect item drops while the player is away or sleeping. This is silly and counterproductive, and absolutely does not solve any problems.
And what about the countless duplicates players are earning, like the five Sandviches stashed away in my inventory? There are plans to incorporate a trading system, which, again, is absurd, because any committed TF2 player earned the old items ages ago and are only interested in the spy/sniper upgrades. It seems that in their attempts to appeal to newbies, Valve have abandoned those that have been playing TF2 since the beginning.
I did manage to find the Ambassador out of pure dumb luck, and using it has been a blast so far. I'd happily give the report on the other new items if I could, y'know, find them.
Posted: May 25, 2009 (02:29 PM)
I got like 4 ambassadors after playing for 20 minutes (the gun sucks, I'm gonna have to disagree with you there) then must've played another 6 hours or so in the next few days and only got one Sandvich (which I already had).
I kinda want the new spy unlockables and the bow & arrow but I'm not going to go out of my way to try to get them or anything.
However I'm really liking the new double payload, much more than the original one!
Posted: May 25, 2009 (05:37 PM)
Well, if they didn't do something to appeal to newbies, then they wouldn't make any more money if only the veterans kept playing.
I'm not saying that's right, but that's probably what's going on here.
Posted: May 25, 2009 (07:36 PM)
How the hell does the Ambassador suck, if it's more accurate than the standard pistol and nearly twice as powerful? I've killing people from across the map with that thing.
Payload Race is pretty good, but the one problem I have with it is that there's no time limit, meaning it could literally go on forever (and sometimes does). I also don't like the bleak visual style of PLR_Pipeline, so I can't wait to see the mod community jump in and toy with this concept. It's a very good idea.
Randxian, there's nothing wrong with limiting newcomers while giving those who've been playing longer all of the rewards. That's how it's supposed to work. I think the 40+ hours I've spent on the spy class justify my getting that Cloak & Dagger.
Posted: May 25, 2009 (08:46 PM)
You're pretty much the only person who I've spoken to who likes it. It's only more powerful for headshots but my accuracy is decent enough anyways to the point where I don't need it. Since I mainly use the revolver as a getaway weapon (or if I'm trying to take down a scout or weak enemy) the slower firing and weaker everything else is not very helpful to me. The only time I see it useful is for the snipers with the back shields (seriously now that is pretty lame, worst update of all time EASILY) since a single critical HS should be enough to bring them down.
The watch looks really cool (based on how I've seen people use it) but also looks like one of those things that becomes more and more useless overtime once people realize how to stop it. Sort of like how spies were back in 2007; a decent spy was pretty much unstoppable but now since everyone spy checks and Valve added a few nerfs it is a pretty balanced class.
Posted: May 25, 2009 (09:36 PM)
Wow. Everyone I've talked to about it says it's overpowered; I mean, people go down MUCH quicker for me whenever I'm using it, to the point that it's NOT a getaway weapon like the pistol was. Maybe you just, um, need to get better with it.
Posted: May 26, 2009 (02:25 PM)
I guess it just depends on how you play spy. It does nothing for me but I guess it would be beneficial for those who prefer to shoot rather than knife.
Posted: May 26, 2009 (03:39 PM)
One thing that's certain through all these split opinions: Valve's public relations have been outstanding. They've kept everyone in the loop, explained their reasoning, responded to criticism, and even created an entire in-joke surrounding their own leaking of the footage. That's more dedication to the user base than pretty much any other dev that springs to mind.
Posted: May 26, 2009 (04:47 PM)
I'd rather backstab if I can, but shit happens. One of the things I've learned is that a successful spy is often a lucky spy, so the Ambassador is a nice ticket out whenever I get in a jam. That's been my experience with it, anyway.
Lewis, that's a good point, but I really don't see Valve making any major adjustments to the upgrade system in the near future. They do keep close relations with their fans but they seem confident enough in the new renovations that they won't be giving in to the complaints. This situation will probably end with TF2 players just begrudgingly accepting the random item drop system.