I started playing Team Fortress 2 when the beta came out and continued to play it once Valve released the game on Steam, and later on to the retail market. Team Fortress 2 back then was a perfect blend of a fast paced shooter that reminded gamers more of the good games of old times than those ultra-realistic shooters like Battlefield or Modern Warfare.
Recently Valve turned Team Fortress 2, which never cost more than $19.99 by the way, into a free to play game. Users who sign up can play the game for as long as they want, and if they make a purchase in the store get an upgrade to the full version of the game that gives them a larger backpack among other things. So, for less than $1 you get the full game which is an unbelievable price if you ask me.
Team Fortress 2 is a team-based shooter. Each player takes command of a class in the game which all have their specific purposes in the game (well almost). The Soldier and Heavy for instance usually are at the center of the battlefield, supported by Medics. Then you got an Engineer who can build defense turrets and so called dispensers to replenish health for teammates and teleporters to bring them quickly to the Battlefield. The spy can sap the engineers buildings and backstab anyone. Then you got the Pyro, which I believe is often played by gamers who only use the keys W for forward and left mouse button for fire.
The two remaining classes are the Demoman which is probably the best character in the game damage wise and the Sniper, which in my opinion is completely useless.
Valve has added maps and game modes to the game every since it was released. You get the standard capture the flag maps, so called capture point maps where both teams compete to win all capture points on the map, payload maps where one team has to move a bomb to the destination and others.
New players should start with easy to play classes like the Soldier or Engineer and move from there to more complex classes like the Spy or Demoman. Game wise I would suggest to start with CP type of maps as they are usually well balanced.
Part of the game are items that you find on a regular basis. You can find new class weapons which often act differently but are not inherently more powerful than the standard weapon. There are some exceptions though. Regardless, you will find items regularly. Each character has three weapon / equipment slots, a hat slot and two misc slots.
Let me give you an example. The Medic, the character who can heal team mates by firing the medic gun at them builds up a so called Ubercharge with the weapon whenever it is used. When it reaches 100% it can be used to make the medic and the team mate who is healed invulnerable for some time. You cannot capture or steal the flag in this time, but you can be sure that the other team is running. That is, unless they have clever players or a charge of their own.
The Medic can find a gun called the Kritzkrieg, which as the name implies swaps invulnerability for criticals. Your team mate fires crits with every shoot in that time.
I won't get into trading or crafting that much. You can trade items with other players and craft items that you really want if you got the right ingredients.
Here is a short video demonstrating Simon's inability to play the game :) [Simon is one of the guys from Yogscast]
Almost everything has been done the right way by Valve. The game is fun to play, it has a great server browser, you can enter and leave games in no time, and maps and classes for the most part are well balanced. It is also pretty easy to ignore the "commercial" aspects of the game. Yes, you can beat anyone with the basic weapons. If there is one thing to criticize it is the lack of proper capture the flag maps. You got some good ones like Doublecross or CP-maps that have been turned into CTF maps like Well, but the game lacks one that brings more gamers to that mode of play.
You need Steam to get Team Fortress 2. You can download Steam from the official website. Once you have installed steam open the Store in the interface and search for Team Fortress 2. Click on the first hit and then on Install this game to install it.
And if you are new to the game, you might want to take a look at this comic here which gives you a good understanding of what you will experience the first time playing the game.
Back in 2007 I published some Team Fortress 2 tips which can still help you in the game. Some functionality may have changed though in the meantime.
Have you played Team Fortress 2? If so, what are your thoughts?
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.