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In the latest of TF2's seemingly eternal supply of updates, the mercs are faced with their most outlandish threat yet.
The update brings four new community created maps, some of them 'Invaded' versions of existing maps and others entirely new. The Watergate map introduces a new 'player destruction' mode, in which both teams have to collect beer from dead players and deliver it to a UFO in the middle of the map.
It's set up in much the same way as the Gun Mettle Update, with an 'Invasion Community Update Pass' available from the store which gives you a coin that tracks kills on invaded maps for the month that the event lasts. You don't need to buy it to access the maps, and all the money raised goes to the update's community creators.
Buying the pass also makes you eligible for random drops of 'Space Cases' that can contain anyone of a bunch of the new cosmetics that have also been added. When Valve have done similar things with CS:GO, I've often been able to make back the money by selling my first couple of crate drops—so long as it's in the first day or two before the price of them comes crashing down on the community market.
I still dip in to TF2 every now and then, and updates like this one are a great excuse for you to do the same.
Halloween has come to mean two things: rotting childrens' teeth with autumnal-coloured sweets, and Team Fortress 2. Every year for the past six years, Valve has pulled out all or most of the steps to throw a spooky shindig for its now free-to-play multiplayer shooter.
Er, except this year. Valve explains here that it's rather busy working on the next major update, so in lieu of a proper Halloween event it's bringing back all of the previous ones at once. Not only that, but there will be a showcase of the best community content.
After revealing that the forthcoming update will feature "new maps, cosmetics, and a new campaign with contracts and weapon collections", Valve went on to explain the nature of this year's seasonally spooky box social.
"Sharp-eyed readers may have noticed that there s something missing from that list: Halloween. The reality is, if we produce a holiday-specific event map this year, it means we'll have to stop working on everything else. So: We ve decided to turn Halloween mostly over to you. This year s Halloween Update will be a showcase of all the best Halloween-themed community content (items, maps, taunts and unusuals) you guys can come up with. We ll also be activating every one of our past six Halloween Updates, so there'll still be plenty of spooky holiday-themed game modes to play.
"Over the next month we ll be looking through the Workshop for anything tagged 'Halloween', so if you ve been working on an item you think would be perfect, make sure you get it submitted and tagged before October 18th, 2015."
You'll be pleased to hear that there are "no restrictions" on this year's Halloween items, meaning they can be viewed all year round. So if you're inclined to make TF2-themed stuff, and to put on Steam Workshop, go nuts.
When I was a young lad, my bedroom walls were all a dull shade of sky blue. Then my parents painted, and I enjoyed a slightly fresher-looking shade of sky blue. I'm not bitter about it or anything. I'm just saying that I wish Randy Slavey was my dad. Because Randy Slavey has created what has to be the coolest, and perhaps only, Portal-themed bedroom ever—the kind of thing a grown-ass man (like yours truly) would be proud to sleep in.
Slavey details the process of creating the bedroom over on Geekdad, beginning with the demolition of his son's previous bedroom, which Slavey built 15 years ago. After that, the real work began: priming, taping, and painting, much of it by hand, including a line of 255 individual circles representing the lights for the door triggers. Thanks to some less-than-perfect advice from the guy at the paint store, painting the furniture, which you'd think would be a much simpler process, sounds like it was even worse.
Then came the detail work, including a hidden message—you know which one—plus turrets, a companion cube, and Wifi-controlled LED bulbs in the ceiling. But what ties the room together are obviously the portals: round mirrors, ringed with colored rope lights and strategically mounted for that "3D to infinity!" look.
It is, and yes I'm going to say it, a triumph, and based on his reaction, Slavey's son clearly loves it. I don't blame him. Catch the full collection of photos, and a breakdown of how it was all done, at Geekdad.
According to determined intenet sleuths, Team Fortress 2 is being invaded by UFOs. Datamining the Team Fortress 2 update that rolled out earlier today, a user on the Facepunch forums discovered a bunch of new assets listed in the code. Words like 'invasion' and 'saucer' feature prominently, as does references to posters that feature these.
Then there are other TF2 players who have actually spotted UFOs by, you know, playing the game. Another user on the Facepunch forums spotted one of the aforementioned posters in the 2fort map, and YouTube user waterandroid even made a video of a flying saucer appearing in the skies above Dustbowl, as below:
Someone on Reddit has collated all of the evidence so far, and it's pretty compelling. I'd go so far as to say it's conclusive. The UFO Invasion update has been rumoured for a while after all, with this very unsubtle video leaking back in July. Oh, and Halloween is coming next month, so I wouldn't be surprised if all these sightings culminate in something around then.
In Why I Love, PC Gamer writers pick an aspect of PC gaming that they love and write about why it's brilliant. Today, Phil sings the praises of KOTH_Harvest in TF2.
Team Fortress 2 has some great battlegrounds, and—unlike pre-Global Offensive era CounterStrike—its community never settled for just a handful of favourites. Some, such as ctf_2fort, cp_dustbowl or pl_goldrush, are more easily found than others. Its seemingly endless server list always contains a few packed-out servers for just about every map. Even Hydro.
My favourite is Harvest, a community-made map taken on by Valve as an official part of the game. It s a King of the Hill map, a mode introduced two years into TF2 s now almost decade-long life. King of the Hill was based on the philosophy of small, compact environments, first introduced in Arena mode. It doesn t have Arena s restrictions, though, meaning there s no single life or limited player count. King of the Hill maps work just like any other TF2 map, only they re condensed around a single capture point. Your team s job is to capture that point and hold it for three minutes—with the time remaining for both teams ever present as part of the interface.
Naturally, for this to work with TF2 s standard compliment of 24 players, the map design has to be really good. Largely, it is. King of the Hill maps are a patchwork of tight, balanced sections that naturally favour certain classes, but that always gives the player a possible counter to prevent any one class from dominating. Often these are heightened with the unpredictability of environmental elements. Sawmill has twin saw blades around its capture points, a sadistic boon for a Pyro or a Scout with a Force-A-Nature. Nucleus has a network of precarious catworks that hang over a deadly drop.
Harvest has no such gimmick—at least not in its regular variant, that is. It s a symmetrical map with a dilapidated shed housing its central control point, and two large farmhouses situated opposite each team s spawn. This is all it needs to house each of TF2 s nine classes. It s a beautifully intricate space, giving each class a location to shine and each opponent a way to counter or circumnavigate that threat.
Snipers, for instance, can take residence at the back of the map—towards the side of either farmhouse, or even standing on either of the small side-sheds. As always, it s a perilous position. The sight lines are long, but narrow. Snipers are vulnerable to enemy players using cover for a sneak attack, or to long-range classes firing down the spawn trench. Pyros, meanwhile, can revel in the ambush potential afforded by the enclosed control point, but are at the mercy of Soldiers and Demomen who, with a simple rocket-jump, can fire through the exposed roof.
Seemingly innocuous details provide potential windows of situational safety. Players might not think twice about the small section of fence that extends out next to the spawn point. For a seasoned Spy, though, it s the perfect decloaking point to rejoin your team in a natural looking way—at least until a Pyro gets wise to the tactic. Each farmhouse, too, is its own minibattleground, simultaneously used for alternate routes to the central area, a potential respite from danger, and a direct means of reaching the Soldier who s inevitably camped on its roof.
In motion, the interplay between classes across these conflict hotspots paints a picture of beautiful carnage. The lack of space gives King of the Hill maps a sense of chaos and immediacy. After rounding the corner of Harvest s farmhouse, you re forced to make a series of snap decisions as to where you ll be the biggest credit to your team. It s guaranteed that at least three miniature battles will be occurring at once, and all could be potentially crucial in capturing—or holding—the objective. It s a great map to spectate, purely in terms of violence per square foot.
How much do I love Harvest? I paid real money for a Map Stamp to reward its creator, Sean Heyo Cutino. I d barely be prepared to do that for most Valve-made maps. Especially Hydro.
When I saw the release trailer for Half-Line Miami, I assumed it was a gag whipped up by somebody bored with the wait for Half-Life 3, or a set of skinned levels built in Hotline Miami's level editor. It is neither. Half-Line Miami is a free, fully playable mash-up of Hotline Miami and Half-Life 2, complete with the G-Man introduction, and it's really good.
The actual gameplay is straight out of Hotline Miami, but the maps, enemies, and sound effects are taken from Half-Life 2. And instead of the usual assortment of blunt objects and firearms, you're equipped with the gravity gun, which works exactly like it does in HL2: Pick something up—explosive barrels included—and then fire it at your enemies to turn them into pulp.
There are eight levels in all, one for each area in Half-Life 2. For players who are into the DIY thing, it comes with a level editor as well. The soundtrack by Sung is pretty fantastic too. And it's free!
"I made this game as a declaration of my love for these 2 games, and as an experiment in game design," creator Thomas Kole explained.
Grab it—trust me, it's worth your time—at Itch.io.
Team Fortress 2 has a new mode! It's called Pass Time, it's in beta, and you can see what it looks like above.
A little overwhelming, right?
It's an American Football/Football (delete as applicable) style mode, but also there are guns. Your team's job is to grab a ball from the centre of the map, and punt it into the glowing target deep in the enemy's base.
If you're carrying the ball, you can't use a weapon. You do, however, get a brief speed boost—and can see the location of all teammates and enemies highlighted around the map. You can also pass the ball—allowing for the possibility of it being intercepted.
It's pretty exciting. At least, it was across the brief period I played. I went in to grab a screenshot, immediately scored a goal, declared myself King Of All Team Fortress 2, and left.
Interestingly, the mode was envisioned by Bad Robot and co-developed by Escalation Studios. "PASS Time marks Bad Robot's first foray into rapidly iterative content, and they're really excited to get feedback on their beta so they can work with the TF community to evolve the game," says the TF2 blog's announcement post. "This is a new way of doing things for them, and they're looking forward to working with you to see how it grows over time."
To recap, the production firm co-producing the new Star Wars film has teamed up with Valve to create a new sports-influenced capture-the-flag style mode for Team Fortress 2; a game about hats. Videogames are weird.
If you'd like to play Pass Time: open TF2 and, in the Play Multiplayer menu, select "Play Beta Maps". Alternatively, go to the server browser and search for "pass_warehouse".
This free new level for I Am Bread, available as of 5pm today GMT, is all about Team Fortress 2. As a slice of bread determined to be part of a sandwich, you can climb all over the Heavy and even fire a minigun.
This update is part of Bossa's ongoing collaboration with Valve that saw Bossa release a Team Fortress 2 themed operation for Surgeon Simulator two years ago. It's not the first update for I am Bread, however; we also got "Starch Wars" on May the Fourth. If you haven't played I Am Bread and this update is tempting you, make sure you read my review first. Oh, and if you hurry you might be able to catch Bossa streaming the new update over on Twitch.