Let me just say firstly that this is in no way an attempt to slandeanger Valve. This is me reiterating public knowledge, and some personal opinion, that me, and many others of the TF2 community have expressed displeasure with so we can discuss it in a mature way. I believe that the TF team at Valve are some great people going by how nearly polished most updates released are, and a fair amount of updates are great at drawing in new players and reigniting the interests of some veterans. All that being said, let’s look at some of the issues that popped up since the Meet Your Match update. Wall of text ahead, you have been warned: A lack of communication
This is the biggest offense throughout the many years for a long time. The biggest consequence of this was how Meet Your Match turned out: In the 200+ day update drought, the only form of communication came in the form of:
- The Competitive Matchmaking Public Beta
- The infamous “(MYM) will be neato” quote on Facepunch
Note the inclusion of the Public Beta, was, at most, for stress tests which is to see if the game was able to handle multiple players being matched at a time. Actual playtesting to balance weapons accordingly for the 6s format, not so much, as evidenced by the little weapon balancing added in the update itself. More on that later.
Also, infamously, Valve refused to reveal the detailed patch notes for MYM until a few hours later for no reason. In contrast to it’s current competitor, Overwatch, Blizzard is seen being active on Overwatch-related discussion boards answering questions that address bugs, future patches and updates. Also noted was Blizzard’s decision to show changelogs before updates drop, with their own reasoning about certain changes. This has rarely, if not never, happened to TF2’s updates.
A suggestion Valve could do to improve this aspect, as stated by this comment here by u/Refinery_Sundown,
is to open up communication, in which Valve should make proposed changes, note the opinions of both the casual and professional scenes alike to the changes, and make further changes accordingly. Of course they can't just take the balancing ideas directly from one side without consideration for the other as both sides tend to view the game differently than the other, but in the end, as TF2 is still Valve's IP, it is still up to them to act appropriately to what is suggested by the community and make needed changes to improve this game while not upsetting the two sides of the TF2 playerbase. Little action taken against script kiddies
Yet another major issue, except this has been bugging TF2 since the inception of the infamous LMAOBOX series of scripts. (Out of respect for actual hackers, the term ‘script kiddies’ will be used to refer to Archonet and the hundreds of manchilds with the LMAOBOX scripts.) Script kiddies have ruined pubs, official and community alike for years. The worst hit was on Valve servers, where a lack of moderation meant script kiddies could go on hour-long steamrolls with no consequence.
A year ago, Valve made a change that prevented weapon spread from being modified client-side, the first of a few victories against script kiddies that stopped some time later. A month ago, the first VAC wave struck TF2, banning many script kiddies and caused others to question the legitimacy of LMAOBOX’s promise of being ‘the #1 undetected cheat for TF2’.
And then the victories stopped.
With TF2’s status as a free-to-play game, script kiddies can simply create alternate accounts and resume their reign of terror on public matches. The situation got worse with the decision to add an Access Pass that allows players to get past the strict Mobile Authenticator requirement that would have otherwise banned them. While having a high price, it is evidenced, from the presence of script kiddies in CSGO (a game that goes for $15 by default and $7.50 during sales), the price of owning LMAOBOX premium and the high-value backpacks of hackers such as Archonet and (formerly) Max Box, that a paywall means little when hackers are willing to throw any amount of cash to continue having their own definition of ‘fun’ while ruining games of others.
In contrast to CSGO, another Valve title with a history of cheating like TF2, Valve has set several deterrences against hackers, the most notable being the CSGO Overwatch (no, not the competitor) which allows high-ranking players to review demos of CSGO competitve matches from the perspective of hackers and judge the accused accordingly, and frequent VAC waves/active VAC system on Competitive matches. TF2 can take away a few of CSGO’s methods of dealing with script kiddies and use it for it’s own competitive and casual modes to deal with another wave of script kiddies re-emerging from the ashes of the last VAC wave. (Suspected) Little understanding/playtesting of their own game
While there is little evidence to back up this claim, this can be proved from a few examples: the Crit-a-Cola and the Righteous Bison.
The Crit-a-Cola for the Scout was shown, in the competitive beta, to be terribly OP, which turns the Scout, an already powerful class in the 6s format, into a more dangerous glass cannon by giving him 6 seconds of minicrits and a 35% speed boost at the cost of taking 25% more damage while active. Valve’s response was to add a 2s mark-for-death attribute, which any high-level Scout main would be able to escape from before it comes into play, and changes little to what is otherwise a powerful Scout playstyle.
This is not made because of the tears from bisonmasterrace
, but rather because of what many perceived to be an odd choice for the rebalance. Previously, the Bison’s ability to hit multiple targets was proved to be an intended feature as evidenced by the presence of a loading screen tip that mentioned this ‘bug’. Meet Your Match’s patchnotes, oddly, list this as a bug and was removed, alongside a projectile speed nerf and damage fall-off for every enemy the projectile passes through. While the latter may be deemed as necessary, the projectile nerf made the Bison a weak Soldier secondary choice, limiting the weapon choices for Soldier to his banners and the stock shotgun.
Other changes were just as questionable, such as the passive Medic buff of being able to match the speed of a Scout just from pocketing one via other medi-gun, a feature that was previously exclusive, and the other selling point of the Quick Fix sidegrade.
Players have long lamented for the return of the inactive TF2 beta to allow players to help playtest weapon changes and additions, which may be something Valve might want to consider given the interest of players wanting to help improve the game and spot imbalances quickly before an update rolls out. The many issues of Ranked Competitive
This isn’t something I could speak much about as I mostly play TF2 on a decent PC. But from what I understand, the following graphical flaws are present:
- Locking viewmodels to 54, and disabling the ability to turn off weapon viewmodels in Competitive.
- Forcing a set of graphical options (which is set to high) to standardise the TF2 experience, supposedly to cater to stream viewers who might wonder about the differing graphics from their own.
- Disabling FPS-improvement configs while playing Competitive
And as for gameplay?
(Previous) and current issues on Casual modes
- Abandoners are currently punished too lightly, and others are punished too severely. A ragequitter, or a person who unexpectedly loses connection mid-way will receive a 30 min ban for leaving a game before a game ends while the players who stayed from start to finish receives nothing. This is an issue that was known to be persistent even on the Matchmaking Beta.
- The matchmaking service being unable to match people correctly via their skill. You can queue as a Rank 3 and still end up on an unbalanced match where everyone except you and 2 other guys at ranks above Rank 1.
- The inability to choose the maps they want to play; something that was present in CSGO’s, but is oddly absent in TF2.
- High punishment for losing, and low rewards for winning. This example here shows it in progress.
Up until last Friday, a lack of a votekicking system, and difficulty to join games in progress, made Casual a difficult replacement for the former Quickplay system. As mentioned earlier, script kiddies can go on long stomps and face no consequence because players can’t vote-kick the cheater, and abandoning the match is not an option because of the 30-min ban. As for the latter, you can join a horribly unbalanced match of 3v11 on Casual and you can do little about it but hope for more players to get dropped in.
These issues, while thankfully fixed with Friday’s hotfix, was terrible as it has the possibility of turning away new players and returning players who just wanted to hop in and play and not get stomped and get unhappy. Withholding rebalances to the two classes that needed it the most
Probably just a personal opinion, but Heavy vs Pyro should have never happened and both classes' rebalances should be released alongside MYM together instead. Especially since these two classes are currently unviable for the 6s format that Competitive MM is based on. As for new weapons, Valve should hold back from adding more until the current weapon pool is tweaked to be balanced, the main reason why there were weapon bans before official matchmaking was a thing.
I get needing some kind of community event would re-ignite some interest in TF2, but this should only be done when they key features of the main update were in it’s final polishing stages. Having to further split the TF team to focus on both fixing MYM and pushing out Heavy v Pyro will only slow down progress for both updates and anger the community more.
Anyway, these are some issues that I, and many others are unhappy about. I know this might anger some players and turn off some Valve employees and I wouldn’t be surprised if I got witch-hunted/ignored for this. But hopefully the community and Valve can sit down and discuss about these glaring issues maturely.