It’s Halloween, and you know what that means: It’s Halloween… in your favorite videogames! Valve’s updated Team Fortress 2 in accordance with the vaguely pagan rites and rituals of Halloween, resulting in exploding pumpkins, new hats, and 666 new achievements. Ok, actually, there are only five new achievements, but we couldn’t resist.
In addition, Valve’s taken a king of the hill community map called “Harvest” and made a few changes. A few ghostly changes. They’ve added a ghost.
“That’s right! The restless spirit of Zepheniah Mann will scare senseless any player unlucky enough to cross his spectral path, rendering them temporarily helpless with fear!” reads the TF2 blog.
The update’s already live, so go ahead and knock on Steam’s desktop icon and say “trick or treat!” Or, if that sounds stupid, embarrassing, and pointless, you can also click on it, we guess. Enjoy!
Is it really time for a new Team Fortress 2 update already? Yessiree, this new update’s as real as that last question was entirely rhetorical. But wait, Team Fortress 2 update, something’s different. Did you get a haircut? Buy a new outfit? Manifest yourself in the physical world so that you might be able to get a haircut or buy a new outfit? Nope! You’re just not serving as a vehicle for crummy class-related stuff anymore. You’re your own man!
Instead, this TF2 update seems to have given form the nod over function. Translation: New hats – and plenty of them. Day one of the update touts 18 new hats, including a Viking helmet and a fireman’s hat, among others.
A new community map rounds out the revelation du jour. Called Arena Offblast, the map’s a “fast-paced, high-altitude community map set in a top secret missile silo wedged into the top of a hollowed-out mountain.” You know, one of those stupidly dangerous places that only people with guns in their hands and chips on their shoulders seem to congregate around.
The teaser site also plays host to a number of hidden pages that – if you’re willing to dig them up – will give you a bit of dirt on the rest of the update’s content. If you’d rather not sully your hands with such menial labor, however, Shacknews found the bonus pages and put them on display.
So, any guesses as to what’s in the pipeline for the rest of the update? Personally, we’re hoping for the ability to don multiple hats at once. If our head’s going to be one giant target, we’ll at least make it a headache for our opponents to hit the part that actually kills us.
Achievements or random drops – pick your poison. For many Team Fortress 2 players, both methods of unlocking unfortunately miss the sweet spot, and for some, they miss the sweet spot, swerve off a cliff, and end up in a hospital where Hannah Montana’s the only thing on TV ever. Valve, of course, knows this, and is working to placate its players – even if that means just handing them weapons with no strings attached.
"It's good for delivering items to newer players over time, so they're not swamped with choices when they're starting out, and they're not required to grind achievements to get them once they reach the point where they want to start making strategic choices," Valve’s Robin Walker said. "For competitive players, it's obviously a bad way to deliver items."
"At the very least, future packs will allow you to use achievements to get the new items, but we might move to a mode where we just give them to you," he added. "As part of our goal of supporting tournaments more, I think we'll probably add better tools for them to control exactly what players can and can't use within matches."
So, would you rather receive free items than deal with TF2’s increasingly convoluted unlock system?
Hate TF2’s new random drop item system? Hate TF2’s old achievement-based system a smidge less? Well then, this news should… make you smile? A little? Come on. Ah, there it is.
As with other classes, the Spy and Sniper can now acquire new items from more than just the rotting wheels of fortune that are their enemies’ perforated corpses. Yep, achievements are back, but random drops are here to stay as well. Now you just have options. Lucky you!
One key difference between these unlocks and the others, though: Spy and Sniper gear comes at 5, 11, and 17 achievements, whereas other classes’ come at 11, 17, and 22. Spy, Sniper, and hassle – one of these things is not like the other.
Things recently dropped by Valve’s new TF2 item system, according to players: duplicates, duplicates, and the ball. And while jumping through achievement-based hoops in order to earn new gear may not have been optimal, at least it made sense. The same couldn’t be said for random drops – at least initially. Thankfully, Valve has decided to pull back the curtain and give us the nitty-gritty on the little orange men who run its drop system. Here’s what the developer said:
"[The] new system watches the amount of time that players are playing TF2, and gives them a chance to find items at regular intervals," wrote Valve's Erik Johnson. "They aren't guaranteed to get the item at those points, but they have a pretty good chance."
How are these “regular intervals” decided upon, though? Johnson explained:
“When we were tuning this system we first looked at the average amount of time that players spend playing TF2 daily. From there, we set the goal of most players having around 20 items in their inventory after a couple of weeks of play. If you're someone who plays a lot of TF2, you're going to get items a lot faster than that.”
Also, if you thought Valve’s hot streak had finally ended with the drop system’s shaky start, fear not. As usual, Valve plans on tinkering with the thing’s inner workings until every rusty bit is replaced with solid gold. Planned improvements include item trading (bye bye duplicate items), more rare items, and some kind of way for players to “influence the system so they can work directly toward getting specific items” that’s not called achievement-grinding. Currently, Valve’s goal is to bring all of those upgrades into the mix before the next class pack.
Well, sounds like there’s no longer anything to complain about here. Back to pacing a hole in the floor and muttering about Half-Life 2: Episode 3, then.
First thing’s first: Team Fortress 2’s Sniper vs. Spy update is live. Hunting bows, new levels, and mother-themed pistols can all be yours after a bit of unlocking. And speaking of unlocking, Valve’s drastically decreased the amount of elbow grease needed to up your arsenal. That’s right – if achievements aren’t your cup of tea, you can now play the game normally and still have a shot at scoring some new gear.
"Items now drop randomly, in addition to the old (pre Spy/Sniper unlockables) achievement tied weapons," Valve’s Robin Walker told Shacknews. "We're going to release info on the new system on the blog tomorrow."
So then, about the whole urine thing. Valve recently blew the lid off the Sniper’s final item, and well, we sort of wish they hadn’t. See, it’s pee. Um, yeah.
You thought the hunting bow was old school? Now the Sniper can fling his bodily fluids about like some kind of primate. Just pop a jar of his patented “Jarate” on your foes and they’ll absorb 35% extra damage for a little while. Also, if you live by the Laws of the Wild, they’ll forever be marked as your territory. Your damp, odorous territory.
Better still, fire doesn’t stand a chance against Jarate. And for your buddies who don’t stand a chance against fire, well, being covered in the Sniper’s yellow stuff is definitely the lesser of two evils.
So, what are you waiting for? The update’s completely free, and – until Monday – the game is too. Or, if you’re ready to commit, Valve’s knocked 50% off its price. Try and then buy. Or don’t. You really can’t go wrong here.
Tread softly and carry a big stick seems to be the motif of the Spy’s latest implement, and the self-described “cannon” sure seems to fit the bill. Nope – no subtlety here. Just big, loud, accurate lead. Oh, and your mom.
“There are two sorts of men in this world: the sort with blood pouring out of a hole in their heads, and the sort holding the Ambassador [hand cannon]. It has the ammo count of a revolver and the pinpoint accuracy of a sniper rifle, even at long range. (But remember, a gun that packs this much heat needs to cool off between shots, so make every shot count.),” says the Team Fortress blog.
The gun’s barrel – in keeping with Meet the Spy’s risqué twist – initiates its potent humiliation-death combo with an engraved picture of your enemy’s mother. And if your mom doesn’t (ahem) have it going on, well, the image actually can be unseen. The death part tends to take care of that.
Update: Valve's brand new "Meet the Spy" video has surfaced on Youtube. It's rib-wrenchingly hilarious, as expected. Go check it out, then try figuring out the, er, fascinating web of relationships found therein. You'll understand after you've seen it, so go now!
Close range hunting bows? Electrically charged shields? How’s a Spy supposed to put food on the table with such uncouth technologies standing in his way? Well, you gotta spend money to make money, as they say -- and it seems TF2’s classiest killer did just that.
Oh, you’re wondering about that whole Sniper update thing? Well don’t. It’s been, er, cut short.
As such, the Spy’s now hogging the spotlight, and as a certain incapacitated gunner might attest, the Spy’s shopping trip was a rousing success. First up, he nabbed the “Dead Ringer” Spy watch which, if you’re hit with a non-lethal shot, cloaks you for up to eight seconds and leaves behind a fake corpse to complete the illusion. After that, you can run or make with the stabbing. Either one's better than being dead, obviously.
Next up in this strange convergence of time-telling and murder is the “Cloak and Dagger” Spy watch. It grants you permanent invisibility – so long as you stand completely still. So if you always thought more games should involve being completely immobile, your particular specialty will bring you infinitely regenerating cloaking abilities.
Both items will be hitting just in time to combat the Sniper’s new toys on May 21. Along with head slot items. And new maps. And a new game mode. All for free. See, other developers? This is how you do DLC.
Shooting people in the head for a living comes with quite a suite of occupational hazards (people trying to murder you quickly comes to mind), but luckily, Valve takes great care of its employees. This time around, as part of its Sniper update blowout, Valve hasn’t quite given the Sniper eyes in the back of his head, but don’t think the developer doesn’t have their favorite sociopath’s back. With his brand new tribal shield that’s apparently older than “recorded time,” the Sniper won’t ever have to worry about pesky backstabbing Spies again.
Well, until the priceless heirloom takes one – and only one – for the team and explodes into itty-bitty pieces, that is. Fortunately, Valve’s expert squad of fun-gineers has a backup plan.
“All the tribal craftsmanship in the world, it turns out, cannot stop a modern butter knife. So we taped a car battery to it. Sure, the added weight of the redesigned Razorback’ll slow you down a little. But any poor sap dumb enough to backstab you while you’re sporting one is getting a surprise to the tune of 10,000 volts. Plus, if they want to stab you again, they’ll have to wait until their knife cools down. Which is lucky for you, since the Razorback collapses into a million finely crafted pieces after a single stab,” reads the Team Fortress 2 blog.
Also coming in the Sniper update is a new mode called Payload Race. The mode, described as “Gladiatorial Cart Combat,” sees both sides attempting to push a cart into enemy territory, while also keeping each other’s carts off their respective lawns. And, on top of that, if you end up too dead to continue pushing your cart, it hurdles back downhill. Them’s the breaks, you might say – until you realize that the cart doesn’t have any. Then you’ll just say some other, less publically acceptable words.
Remember that scene from Lord of the Rings where Boromir was stuck clean through with, like, a billion arrows? And you were all like, “Man, I wish I could somehow apply this awesome form of carnage to a brightly colored Valve FPS”? Well, Valve heard your repeated horn calls cries, incredibly specific reader, and will soon be giving you the chance to rain down pointy doom with the Huntsman hunting bow.
Coming in the upcoming Sniper update (which is, itself, coming later this week), the Huntsman will probably give you some new perspective in your games of Cowboys vs. Indians. Said Valve about the first in a line of new unlockables for the Sniper:
"’Now, hold on,’ you keep saying. ‘Aren't bows and arrows primitive and harmless?’ Why don't you ask the dinosaurs? Except you can't, because the cavemen bow and arrowed them to death. One headshot from the Huntsman can mean an instant crit, in addition to a bolt-riddled corpse hanging from a wall that's gruesome and funny.”
The Huntsman will come equipped with 18 arrows and a special charge shot. The rest of the Sniper’s new toys are to be unveiled throughout the week. We’re hoping for some kind of animal companion. How about you?