It’s that time of year again, another update from Valve at Halloween. And this time around, they’ve done a bit different. While it’s not turning the game on it’s head, the fact that a new mini game has been added (letting modders have even more fun with the game) while keeping the same base gameplay in tact shows that Valve still has a few tricks up their sleeves. However, there are slight concerns from parts of the TF2 community, believing that the update is not up to the usual quality of past updates.
There are a few concerns, in particular in the map choice and some imbalance with the curse system that comes with the Halloween theme. The map, sd_doomsday_event, is based on the original sd_doomsday map, which wasn’t a popular map to begin with. The open area on the point is susceptible to spam and sentry fire. There seemed to be better choices for maps for the update, however every map will have a problem of some sort. However, what’s more concerning is the ability to exploit the curse system. When a curse is about to happen, everyone is summoned around the point, and do a little dance, before the curse is applied. The problem is simple: if you know the curse is coming: you can setup and throw down stickies as a demoman or a minisentry as an engineer, to attack the team when they come out of the curse. Entire teams can be killed this way, and can really alienate a section of players attempting to enjoy the game. It’s a surprising missed element from Valve, and wasn’t addressed in a set of updates that occurred after the original release of the update. It is concerning that a huge element was missed, and more exploits are being found as the game is played (like sentries being able to be built behind walls). This was finally fixed in an second update on 11/4/2014.
However, the main change here is the bumper cars game that happens when someone is successful in capping the tickets (intelligence) at the main point. All players are dropped into one of three variations of bumper cars: soccer, elimination, or duck collecting. The controls aren’t the greatest but seem to be purposefully that way, and these games can lead to utter chaos. And chaos in a good way, as players seem to loosen up and just enjoy themselves after the bumper cars hit the battlefield. While some players may get bored with it after a couple of times, a majority of players have kept on going back to it.
Valve gives away 6 Halloween costumes this time around for all players, which is greater then the median of 5 that was given in years before. However, in prior years, the more you played, the more costumes/gifts you can earn, and that’s not the case this year. In particular, the costumes are not tradable at this time, so if you get a set of costumes for a class that you don’t play, the only way to get them is to pay in the store.
But overall, the event has been a good change of pace for TF2, and has shown that Valve still can bring entertainment, even 7 years after the original release. And there seems to be more to come. Testinglol, a user who has a high track record in predicting updates in the past, has found evidence that a Spy versus Engineer update is on the horizon, by looking at several class names in the games DLL files. So the Halloween update may be a perfect time for those who have left or not played TF2 to jump right back in.