Team Fortress 2

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Team Fortress 2, Portal 2 and other Source Engine games were all affected by a particularly nasty exploit until recently. Basically, by uploading custom assets into a custom map, hackers could use them to trigger a "buffer overflow vulnerability" which resulted in the victim PC being open to remote code execution.

In other words, merely shooting at an enemy could cause your machine to be remotely hijacked. The exploit was identified by One Up Security (via Motherboard) who notified Valve. 

"Valve's Source SDK contained a buffer overflow vulnerability which allowed remote code execution on clients and servers," OUP's statement reads. "The vulnerability was exploited by fragging a player, which caused a specially crafted ragdoll model to be loaded. 

Multiple Source games were updated during the month of June 2017 to fix the vulnerability. Titles included CS:GO, TF2, Hl2:DM, Portal 2, and L4D2. We thank Valve for being very responsive and taking care of vulnerabilites swiftly. Valve patched and released updates for their more popular titles within a day."

For a demonstration of how it worked, this very short video tells you all you need to know. Death has never been so scary.

Team Fortress 2

Last week I asked our community to share their sleaziest stories of scamming or being scammed in online games. I expected we'd get some fun tales that we could all laugh about, but instead the comments section filled with anecdotes of such absolute savagery that I lost hope for humanity. Not only are some of you unconscionable in your unwavering commitment to screwing over your fellow person (or friends), but a few of you also suffered dearly at the hands of strangers on the net.

I've sifted through hundreds of comments to bring back what I feel are the worst, sleaziest, most underhanded stories. Whether it's screwing over your best friends for a quick buck or falling for the same scam twice in a row, all of you should feel bad. Really bad. For better and for worse, here are your most underhanded stories of scamming.

Cat fishing anonymous 

It's one thing to use a silver tongue to trick someone into handing over a few items, but it's another thing to get your girlfriend to pretend to be a cam girl in order to scam some poor, lonely soul for 10 million gold. That's exactly what commenter Mugen did while playing Vindictus.

"I once scammed a guy from Italy out of 10 million gold in Vindictus," he explains in the comments. "I told him I was a cam girl and I'd Skype him if he transferred the gold to my character."

Apparently Sleepless in Italy needed a bit more proof before he was willing to part with his precious gold, so Mugen somehow convinced his girlfriend to play the part. "I got my girlfriend to go on Skype with him and she posted fake cam girl pics and pretended it was her," he says. "After we got the payment we let him know he shouldn't trust people online and then deleted and blocked him on Skype. I've never felt so horrible."

Mugen's comment doesn't offer more details, but I have a million questions. How does someone even convince their girlfriend to pull this off? I don't know what makes me more depressed: That someone would stoop so low for gold or that someone would actually fall for it.

Need a lift? 

You should never take a ride from a stranger—especially if it's in DayZ and there's zero reason why that person shouldn't break your legs and leave you for dead. It might not be a traditional scam, but FixTheBloodyGame (let's call him Fix) has a story so brutal that it's only made worse by the fact that they got nothing out of it.

"Back when DayZ was an Arma 2 mod, myself and two friends had become fully geared, had a helicopter, and basically hit the endgame without much else to do," they explain. "What we ended up doing was offering lifts around the map using our helicopter and arranging this via side chat. Needless to say, we had some ulterior motives."

I shot him in the leg with a DMR, snapping them instantly.

FixTheBloodyGame

They stumbled upon a freshly-spawned player trying to get across the map so he could team up with his friend. "We met up in Electro, got him to drop all his gear and loaded him into the chopper and set off flying northeast. After 3 minutes of flying, he got very confused and asked where we were heading. 'Just a quick stop at our base,' we said."

As Fix explains, in the far northeastern corner of the map is an island so small that no zombies spawn on it and most players don't even know it exists. "We dropped the guy off on the island and said he should follow us to get some gear from our 'buggy tents that go invisible.'

After watching this poor sap run around trying to find the invisible tents, Fix decided to get nasty. "I shot him in the leg with a DMR, snapping them instantly," Fix writes.

But it gets worse.

"We quickly bandaged him, healed him up (his legs were still broken) and got him to crawl across this island to our helicopter. As soon as he got close we flew away. After he started getting sad in side chat we flew back to him and fixed his legs—only to snap them and repeat the whole process again."

Fix explains it was only when the island was a tiny dot on the horizon that they fully realized what an ass they had been. "This poor guy just wanted to meet up with his friend. He now only had a few choices: Swim to shore (which would take multiple hours), starve to death (again, multiple hours in real time), or quit the server and never return. There was no suicide button and he had no gear to kill himself with."

"We got a lone message in side chat after all this, a simple ':(.'"

Reading this story, the optimist in me hoped that maybe Fix and their friends would find their conscience and head back for their crippled passenger. Nope.

"Our pilot got very sad for him, the rest of us laughed our arses off."

Sorry for your loss 

XyzzyFrobozz's story is legitimately infuriating and proves that EVE Online isn't the only MMO where you can't trust your closest friends. "I started a guild in Lord of the Rings Online on the Nimrodel server called the 'Rangers of Arnor,'" they write. "I worked hard at recruiting and raiding to the point where we were becoming a medium-sized guild of about 50 people. Word was spreading that we were active and friendly, and so we started getting quite a few applications." 

"A good friend of mine unfortunately took his own life. I had to travel out of state to be with his family and help with the arrangements, so I handed over some of the control of the guild to a 'trusted' friend in the game—specifically the ability to recruit or ban people from the guild. I explained what was going on and that I wanted the guild to continue growing by admitting people while I was away."

Apparently even a real-life tragedy won't stop some people from abusing power. Xyzzy returned to a terrible surprise. "When I returned I found the guild had grown by five players... and that my 'friend' had kicked me from the guild and taken it over as his own."

"I never played LOTRO again."

I don't blame them.

Insanity is doing the same thing twice… 

We received a mountain of entries involving Runescape. This MMO is a madhouse of skullduggery, but Jake Brandt's story stands out because he was so hilariously naive as to fall for the same scam twice in a row.

As he explains, his pride and joy was his full set of adamantium armor, which was the second-most powerful in the game at the time. Around that time, Jagex had released special sets of armor that had ornate gold or silver trimming along the outer edges. It was highly fashionable and Jake wanted some. "I had heard about gold trimmed armor but knew nothing else about it, so when a guy on the road offered to upgrade my armor I happily accepted his generous offer and handed over two pieces of my gear."

There's just one problem: there was no way to convert normal armor into trimmed armor. Instead of learning this lesson, Jake decided to roll the dice a second time.

"After a brief mourning period for my lost adamantium equipment, I kept walking down the road and there were a couple of people at a crossroads. One of them walked up to me and offered to add gold trim my remaining armor. I don't remember how I could have possibly thought it was a good idea to try this again, but I did. I even made him swear he wouldn't keep my armor like the last guy."

"And that's the story of the time I ragequit Runescape, never to return."

On the next page, someone gets the shit kicked out of them in real life.

Mistaken identity 

Zed's willingness to think on his feet is astounding. While playing Diablo 2 one day, he found an open public game named "Cody come" and decided to play a trick: He was going to pretend to be Cody. "I joined the match with a stupid idea in my head that I was going to pretend to be the guy's friend," Zed writes. "After joining the game I went to my stash checked out some items and was just doing my thing and the other guy in that current game said 'Hello' and I replied "Hey man, one sec gonna get a drink' and he said 'Cody?' I waited a minute or so and said to him 'Yeah this is my paladin account.' So at this point he was gonna either call my bluff or believe me."

But before the other player could decide, another player joined the game.

It wasn't Cody, but a random PvPer who immediately turned hostile and challenged the two to a fight. "I quickly invited the other guy to my party which he accepted and we ran out of town only to be slaughtered. We lost a boat load of gold and this guy was getting very upset," Zed explains. Then Zed saw his opportunity to strike.

"Now I knew what item he had because I was a dork and could tell if someone had an ethereal weapon. It was obviously one of the high end game rune weapons because we were in hell mode," Zed says. "I told my buddy that with my current build I could kill the amazon if he would just give me the item. I requested trade and to my surprise the trade window opened."

"'You better give it back dude, I'm not joking,' the guy said. I got the item and left the game."

Again, please don't give strangers your rarest items. Even if you think they're Cody.

Don't lose your head 

Many of the stories we received took place while playing games, but BunnyBot 5000 had the unfortunate experience of being scammed through Steam's trading interface. "Several months after Team Fortress 2 had gone free-to-play, my most sought after dream at the time was a Max's Head to accompany my rabbit-themed username, BunnyBot writes. "I had acquired the illustrious hat by way of birthday money, and was open in my flaunting of it."

"Now here's where it gets weird - I had, by this time, made several friends through Steam." As BunnyBot explains, one friend, "Andrew" lived just down the block from him. "Late one night, I began messaging with Andrew and he requested I trade the Max's Head to him as part of some sort of elaborate prank. In my tired, sleep-deprived mind, I figured that Andrew was the kind of guy to do this kind of stuff, and if he tried to skimp me, I could just walk down to his house and chew him out. In my moment of weakness, I traded him my most prized possession."

There was just one problem: BunnyBot wasn't speaking to Andrew.

As BunnyBot quickly realized the moment "Andrew" unfriended him and ran off with his Max's Head, "another one of my Steam friends had a very similar screen name to Andrew's."

When BunnyBot began messaging him thinking he was Andrew, "the sleazy fuck" played along with it and "pretended to be [his] friend."

"I traded this stranger my most prized possession and he immediately unfriended me and made off with his ill-gotten gains," BunnyBot laments. "I learned my lesson that day: Scammers are not always just some kind of weird broken-English bot that tries to add you out of the blue. They could already be on your friends list, lying in wait for just the right opportunity."

Keep your friends close 

Of all the stories we received, Jirka Týr's is easily my favorite. A common theme in most of these stories was that the scammer always got away without consequence, but Jirka paid dearly for his scam.

Back in 2006, Jirka and his four friends, barely teenagers, got into playing Runescape. As he explains, they knew very little about the game and spent a great deal of time on YouTube learning how to play. That's when they came across a video teaching how to lure people into the open-PvP Wilderness so you could kill them and take their stuff. They were very excited. "We were all around 11-12 years old so we had boners harder than steel."

I ended up with 5 really small open wounds, broken nose and few cuts on my face.

Jirka T r

Using computers at their school, the five friends decided to give the scam a try. "We tried pretty hard for a good hour and almost everyone looked through us and reported us," Jirka says. " After another four days of trying and no result, I was kinda pissed off it doesn't work—probably because English isn't my native language and all I could say back then was yes, no, hello, and bye. It was kinda hard and we were just copying and pasting every word we saw in the video."

Frustrated by his inability to trick other players, Jirka decided to turn on his friends.

"One day I started yelling that I finally got some guy and I'm going to kill him," Jirka writes. He explains that he convinced his friends to drop everything to come to his aid but only bring their cash so they had more room to pick up his victim's items. Except there was no victim.

Earlier, Jirka had used all of his cash to purchase a set of rune armor—some of the best in the game. When the first of his friends arrived, he immediately attacked and quickly killed him. "All I saw was his red, steaming face over the monitor," Jirka writes. "I kept my cool and tried my best to have the most serious poker face. He yelled at me 'Why did you kill me you dipshit?' And with all my skill I turned slowly on him, tilted my face a bit and said 'What are you talking about?' I said that couldn't be me because I was somewhere else—I was lying and all it would take to catch me was for him to come to my computer and look at what I'm doing."

Over the next few days, Jirka succeeded in pulling the same stunt on the rest of his friends, looting their dead bodies until he had over 100,000 gold. "I bought every single expensive thing I could find and what did I do when I had all this expensive gear and cosmetic shit on my account? I showed it to my friends!"

This would prove to be Jirka's undoing. Immediately his friends deduced who had scammed them and taken all of their gold. "They didn't react by calling me a swine or an asshole," Jirka says. "It was literally punches, kicks, hitting me with a chair…"

They beat the shit out of him.

"I ended up with 5 really small open wounds, broken nose and few cuts on my face," Jirka writes. He explains that this all happened at his school in the Czech Republic, and his teachers had to call his parents to come and get him. "After my mom saw me she nearly cried and my father was angry as hell."

At the time, however, no one knew that Jirka had broken his nose. "My nose hurt like hell so I went to my mom and told her about it," He says. "She just grabbed me by the nose and yanked it to the side. When it moved, it scared her to the death and I went to the hospital that night, we had no car at the time and even no driver license so we had to wake up all of our neighbours and ask them to drive us."

But getting beat up wasn't even the worst punishment. "My account was completely wiped out.

Nobody from those friends talked to me that year, and I looked like an ogre because my nose was four times bigger than usual."

I guess the lesson here is not to scam people who are within arm's reach of you.

Or, you know, just don't scam people at all.

Comments were edited for grammar and clarity.

Team Fortress 2

Nine years. That’s how long I’ve been running around cp_badlands, and it’s never once felt stale. Added to Team Fortress 2 in 2008, it quickly became a staple of the Control Point mode, where teams are tasked with sequentially capturing five areas of the map and pushing the enemy team back towards their own spawn building. 

It’s a remake of a Capture The Flag map from Team Fortress Classic and it shows, retaining two large bases at either end. Between them lies everything you could ever want as a TF2 player: long sight lines for the Sniper, vantage points for the rocket-jumping Soldier, and hidey-holes where a Spy can lurk in wait of a wandering opponent’s back. 

That’s pretty standard for official maps, which are fairly well designed, but there are a couple of things that set Badlands apart. On most maps, it feels as if the control points have been plonked down and the terrain built around them. In Badlands, they feel almost incidental parts of a wider arena, itself designed to give combat as much variety as possible. 

Take the area around the central point: the point is on a bridge, and below lies a wide valley where players can fight around and between the supports. To the left and right of the bridge are safe houses, with balconies that overlook the area.

It’s a vast space, and at any one time you can expect three or four secondary fights alongside the main battle for the point. Scouts duke it out with their Scatterguns for control of the area below, snipers camp in their buildings trying to take each other’s heads off, and, inevitably, a flanking Heavy wraps around to come at the opposition from behind, being as sneaky as a giant Russian with a minigun can be. It’s manic, and utterly brilliant. 

The same is true of the second point. Once you’ve captured ‘Mid’ you push on to ‘Yard’, another open area with plenty of peaks and troughs. There are three ways to get there, providing plenty of flanking routes, and you’re never sure where your opponent may come from next. 

The control point itself sits close to the defending team’s base, on a towering spike of rock called ‘Spire’. It’s easy enough to reach the top if you’re a double-jumping Scout, rocket-jumping Soldier, or a crafty sticky-jumping Demoman. The rest of team is forced onto a snaking path. It’s a long climb, and the defenders have battlements from which they can rain down hell. 

Some people loathe this, but dodging rockets and bullets on my hike up the path never fails to get my adrenaline going. And once you reach the top, it’s your turn to have the high ground. I play mainly as a medic, and some of my best TF2 moments have come on the top of Spire, barely keeping teammates alive as I tiptoe around its peak.

These open areas mean Badlands avoids tight chokepoints that the defensive team can spam with explosives. Even its most claustrophobic zone – the final control point—has multiple access points and a fast capture time, so you don’t have to grind down the enemy team in order to win. 

Sadly, Badlands has fallen out of favour. Last year Valve removed it from the rotation for the public competitive mode and community servers now running it are usually empty. If I want to get my Badlands fix, I have to watch the pros. It’s part of the rotation for a lot of serious competitions, and it shows the map at its best. There’s nothing like watching a well-oiled team push all the way out of last point—avoiding a back capture from a sneaky Scout—onto Spire, through Mid, and then rolling through the enemy team. Tactics have been tried, improved and bested, and watching new tactics put into practice is always a thrill. 

As the TF2 competitive scene wanes or moves onto shinier maps, Badlands will die out. That will be a sad day indeed, and I fear it could come sooner rather than later. This is my chance to publicly declare my love for it before it fades away. cp_badlands: gone—almost—but never forgotten.

Team Fortress 2

Videogames that are a decade old tend to be pretty well locked-down, which is a nice way of saying that their developers stopped paying attention to them years ago. Not so with Team Fortress 2, however. Valve announced in a TF2 blog post that new balance changes are coming to the game in a "major update," and this time around it's actually telling people about the update before it goes live. 

"In the past, we've made blog posts about changes we've already shipped or stuff we've tossed onto the smoldering scrap-heap of failed ideas," Valve wrote. "This time—based on your feedback—we're going talk about changes while we’re still working on them." 

The list of changes, "based on online community discussions, emails, playtime data, conversations with players of all skill ranges, and play testing," is not complete, but is instead a "sneak peek" at what Valve is moving toward. Some changes, to both items and classes, are still being worked on and aren't "ready for review," and some that are listed may be changed prior to the update's release.  

Valve is also "going deeper" with some classes than others. The Scout, for instance, will see a number of changes: The triple-jump enabled by the "Atomizer" bat, for instance, "is just too strong" because opponents don't see the bat and thus can't anticipate the Scout's enhanced jumping ability until it's too late. Because of that, the update will require that the bat be deployed, rather than simply carried, in order for the triple-jump ability to be used. It will also suffer a 50 percent "deploy time penalty" in order to prevent a "quick-switch by-pass." 

The Engineer, on the other hand, is getting far less attention: The only listed change for that class is that the "Rescue Ranger" weapon will consume metal (at a 4:1 metal-to-health ratio) when used to make ranged repairs to buildings. Previously, ranged repairs with the weapon required no metal, which made it a little too powerful.   

Ahead of the update, Valve is inviting player feedback as it tunes and finalizes these and other changes. "Hearing from you helps us prioritize our work and influences the direction the game moves in." 

A rollout date for the latest TF2 update hasn't been set. 

Team Fortress 2

I tried.

Without bagels, I’d probably live to be 100 years old. But I have regular access to bagels and sourdough loaves and this sandwich bread always in my house called Birdman that’s covered in seeds and I don’t know why. I eat the stuff so fast I’ll be surprised if I make it to 50. 

In videogames, bread often gives you health instead of slowly seeping it away, a beacon of hearth and health. It’s been this way since the earliest games, and as technology became more capable of producing detailed environments and uncanny human likenesses, so too advanced the fidelity of the loaf. But the evolution of bread didn’t happen in a straight line. Diverse genres, art styles, and game engines shifted the purpose and priority of bread throughout the ages.

To get a clearer picture of how game bread has or hasn’t evolved, we’ve taken a look back at its implementation in some best games ever made to some of the most obscure.

BurgerTime (1982) 

As one of the earliest depictions of a hamburger bun, BurgerTime did a decent job. And it should have, given the name. Notice the inference of sesame seeds on the top bun and how the light diffuses on the bottom bunk. Early pixel art set a high bar for bunwork. 

Ultima VI: The False Prophet (1992)

A decade later, the burger genre fell out of vogue and fantasy roleplaying games stepped into the limelight. Ultima IV didn’t feature bread in a major way, but was an early example of inventory art, proof that you didn’t need the latest in computer graphics to make a great loaf. 

Jesus Matchup (1993) 

As a preteen, I went to a Catholic church camp even though I’m not and have never been Catholic. I ate the body of Christ even though I wasn’t supposed to and my friend Brian chastised me after the fact. He said I needed to get confirmed first and that I broke some kind of holy rule. The bread was just a thin wafer, like a sugar cone without the sugar, and maybe the aftertaste of it was a taste of hell itself. Jesus Matchup’s brown lump captures my disappointment exactly.

Ultima Online (1997) 

Pixel loaves hadn’t evolved much between Ultima IV and Ultima Online, but for one minor detail that changed the bread game forever for a few months. Ultima Online’s bread features a small blemish, giving the impression of a bite or piece ripped away for light post-adventure munching. The loaf went from inanimate prop to inanimate prop with history

Thief: The Dark Project (1998) 

Whether Thief should commended or condemned for its early attempt at modeling a 3D loaf is beyond me. All I know for sure is this: that’s a log. 

Someone’s in the Kitchen! (1999) 

You may know Steven Spielberg for his hit films like E.T. and Jurassic Park, but did you know his name was once mentioned in a trailer for a game he probably had nothing to do with? Someone’s in the Kitchen! isn’t just good reason to call the police, it’s a bad point-and-click edutainment game with one hell of an opening theme song. Also, you make a sandwich in it while a demon toaster—who is going to kill me, I saw it in a dream—judges your creation. The bread looks like my little brother sat on it, and is a shade of yellow I’ve only ever seen in bathrooms built in the 70s. Clearly, the late 90s weren’t great for game bread. 

The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind (2002) 

Even the modern masters of 3D bread had to start somewhere. In Morrowind, Bethesda drew inspiration from something other than felled trees and instead turned their eye to the sky, probably. I’m guessing here. They managed to suggest bread by texturing a footballish shape with what look like photos from the visible surface of Jupiter, a perpetually storming gas giant. 

World of Warcraft (2004) 

Just two years later an MMO, known for prioritizing multiplayer features over looking good, managed to bake bread that an Orc could tolerate. While the left loaf looks like a water chestnut, the precise angles and light divots up top are a convincing enough illusion. The right loaf, except for it’s undercooked coloring, nails the shape. And the inner texture marks a defined border between crust and light, fluffy inside. I’m tempted to throw some mayo, lettuce, tomato, and a bit of thinly sliced night elf meat on there just looking at it.

The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion (2006) 

Maybe Bethesda should’ve prioritized bread resolution DLC over horse armor. At a glance, one out of ten times I’m going to say that’s bread. The other nine times I’m going to say that’s a large misshapen potato. I lived in Idaho for a while. Got invited to a ‘Baked Potato Party' and yeah, they get that big.

Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale (2007) 

While 3D game bread moved into potato territory, Recettear reaffirmed that pixels were still the way to go. Its depiction of Walnut Bread takes a good squint to make out, but when you get up close, the shades of gold and brown and white light diffusing on the outer crust nearly flash the entire baking process on the back of your eyelids. “Walnuts, soft dough and a bit of sugar…” do more than an extra dimension ever could.

Dinner Date (2011) 

I’d flake on a guy who thought it’d be a good idea to dip that twisted loaf in some red shit too. And look at that distribution! I’m not sure what’s being distributed, but half of that isn’t even bread, it’s Dark Brown Stuff. Jesus, man. We should never be able to see inside the bread if the tech isn't ready and can’t simulate a good bake. 

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011) 

Star Baker goes to Todd Howard this decade. Look at the fidelity of this loaf. A nice rise, detailed textures, and I can nearly hear the muffled tip-tap from the even bake. Forget adventure and the snowcapped mountaintops and vampires and dragons—like a toilet in a Tarantino movie, a good loaf is the keystone of any open world. 

Minecraft (2011)

Well regarded for its wild redstone contraptions and horrifying monuments to pop culture, Minecraft’s bread has been largely ignored, and for good reason. You’re one of the most successful games of all time, and a brown lump is the best you can muster? I’ve felt more love radiating from an old hotdog bun.

Scribblenauts Unlimited (2012) 

You can tell this was made in a bread pan, small specks imply the bread is airy and light, you can summon it whenever you like, and nearly every humanoid creature will eat it. It’s a crude child’s drawing, sure, but Scribblenauts built put time into simulating natural, albeit simple, bread world behaviors. Consider it this immersive sim, the System Shock, of bread. Place it in the world, and the world reacts to its presence.

Bioshock Infinite (2013) 

Source: David Miles on YouTube

If one game knows how good its bread is, it’s Bioshock Infinite. If you were to press pause and inspect the 3D baguette, it’d be possible to nitpick small design decisions, like texture resolution, flour distribution, and grain density, but because the bread is sandwiched with context—the dancing bread boy and his believable reaction to owning a baguette inside a big patriotic amusement park city held up by balloons that Ken Levine imagined using his brain, his very own personal brain—it doesn’t feel out of place. Realism is helpful, certainly, but the game world needs to feel alive, like a natural home for bread above all else.  

Team Fortress 2: Love and War update (2014) 

Bread is only monstrous when left to mold, and Team Fortress 2’s Love and War update bottles the essence of in a cute, tragic short film. There’s little purpose to the bread in-game aside from a few dough-themed items. Personally, I interpret it as a commentary on the state of game bread as nothing more than a simple prop and HP potion skin, new ideas and advances left in the pantry to rot. I see you Valve.

I Am Bread (2014) 

As a goofy physics playground, I Am Bread is fine. I do take issue with how controlling a slice feels like maneuvering a heavy sponge. Bread isn’t heavy and sandwich bread isn’t durable. One fall off the table and it’s over, usually. I Am Bread forgoes natural bread behaviors for the sake of a joke, but I’m not sure we’ll be laughing when our kids start to think they can wash the dishes with a sandwich.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (2015) 

Everything about The Witcher 3’s world feels hand-placed. Small villages, big cities, and even monster-infested caves are brimming with life and purpose, but in order to maintain such a sprawling illusion, nearly all props and people are static. NPCs sit in the same place spouting the same lines and props like bread just sit there, looking delicious, but forever out of reach. What an awful game.

Fallout 4 (2015) 

After setting a new standard for 3D loaf work in Skyrim, Bethesda dropped the atom ball in Fallout 4, spending more time on the bread box than any bread at all. Modders came to the rescue again, modeling slices, sandwiches, and adding recipes any old ghoul could follow.

Dishonored 2 (2016) 

Karnacan bakers know how to bake bread. Lovely rise, nice crust, but a bit low res I’m being honest. Eating it gives you a small dose of HP, but the animation is a simple swipe-and-swallow maneuver. It’s pan for the course, and not much else. In 2016, it’s a good bake, but it’s not a great bake. 

The future of videogame bread

How far have we come, really? From BurgerTime’s advanced bun art to Dishonored 2’s simple dark loaf, videogame bread feels without a sure destination—a lumpy mass that needs more time to prove. Perhaps the future holds loaves we never could have imagined, or abominations, such as virtual reality pumpernickel that virtually tastes like sourdough. 

Will Call of Duty: WWII pay proper homage to the history and show families turning their nose up at National Loaf? Maybe someday we’ll spend as much money on naan as we do on spaceships in Star Citizen. All we know for certain is that bread will be there, a short roll for every dodge roll and an abundance of biscuits to crowd every RPG inventory.

PC Gamer

Videogames have bugs. This is a fact of life. Some are obvious and easy to squash, and others are a little trickier to nail down. And then there are bugs like the one Valve fixed yesterday in Team Fortress 2. According to this Engadget report, it was around for a full decade—since TF2 was released in 2007—before it was noticed last month by TF2 Classic developer Nicknine, and reported by Redditor sigsegv_. 

The bug occurred when a player selected the Scout, Heavy, or Sniper as their first class upon joining a server. After that, switching to Soldier, Pyro, Demo, Engineer, Medic, or Spy on the same server would leave their local and server-side animations slightly out of sync. It worked the other way as well: Beginning as Soldier, Pyro, Demo, Engineer, Medic, or Spy, and then switching to Scout, Heavy, or Sniper would have the same effect.   

It sounds harmless enough, but the practical impact was most definitely not. As you can see in the video, the mismatch between local and server-side hitboxes meant that shots that should have hit sometimes would not. And once it happened, players were stuck: Switching back and forth wouldn't clear the error, nor would dying or going to spectator mode.     

"It's because the player models for scout/heavy/sniper have their pose parameters listed in one order, while the player models for soldier/pyro/demo/engie/medic/spy have their pose parameters listed in a slightly different order (move_x and move_y swapped)," sigsegv_ explained. "And it's also worth pointing out that in MvM [Mann vs Machine], the bots re-use the same 22 player slots over and over: when a robot dies, that player is switched to spectator, and then when it's time for another robot to spawn, the player is switched back onto blue team and changed to the class that the new robot should be. So, in effect, different MvM robots are somewhat equivalent to a group of human players who die, change class, and then respawn; which means that they were also susceptible to the bug." 

It's not a huge bug, as evidenced by the fact that it went unnoticed for ten years, but that's also what makes it so notable now. TF2 is not your average ten-year-old game: It's still one of the top five games on Steam, with tens of thousands of people blasting away at each other 24 hours a day, and is supported by a very active modding community. Yet somehow, this bug, which impacts the game at its most fundamental level—did you shoot the guy or not?—has slipped through the cracks until now. In a way, it's almost a shame that Valve fixed it.   

The full list of changes included in the latest TF2 update is below.

  • Improved Steam Voice support for servers that have enabled it
  • Removed sv_use_steam_voice convar. Steam voice is now selected via "sv_voicecodec steam"
  • Fixed demos not properly recording Steam Voice status, resulting in potential corrupt voice in demos with differing default settings
  • Will now use the native Steam Voice sampling rate, instead of clamping to 11kHz
  • Improved compatibility with Steam client beta
  • Fixed OS X voice communication sounding high-pitched when using the default CELT voice codec
  • Fixed an animation bug that would cause the client and server hitboxes to become out of sync
  • Fixed the Scout not playing the correct animation when using the Shortstop's Alt-Fire to shove someone
  • Fixed some missing VO sounds for the Scout when he picks up a baseball
  • Fixed Spectators seeing the fake death notices for the Spy when he feigns death
  • Fixed the Widowmaker not doing increased damage when the Sentry's target is a building, boss, or tank
  • Fixed not earning Crikey meter progress with The Cleaner's Carbine when damaging a building, boss, or tank
  • Fixed the Scout not getting assists for shoving players while using the Shortstop
  • Fixed not being able to use non-tradable Giftapults
  • Fixed powerups sometimes being removed from the game in Mannpower mode
  • Fixed a case where the scoreboard would not update properly when players volunteer to switch teams in Casual mode
  • Fixed a case where Casual servers would spontaneously terminate with "Server shutting down" upon losing connection with the matchmaking service
  • Updated the logic used to pick the maps players can vote on in the end-of-match map vote on Casual servers to help maintain healthier game mode representation across regions
  • Casual servers were often rotating to unrelated game modes during votes, resulting in partially filled servers in certain regions
  • Updated the player_bodygroups that are hidden when equipping The Dark Falkirk Helm and The Sole Saviors
  • Updated the model/materials for The Snowmann to fix some LOD issues
  • Updated the localization files
  • Added Gift Wrap back to the Mann Co. Store at a reduced price
  • Added TF2Maps 72hr TF2Jam Winter Participant 2017 community medal
  • Added Rally Call Charity Tournament community medals
  • Added ozfortress Season 18 tournament medals
  • Added new survey questions to the end-of-match survey for Casual and Competitive modes and fixed a bug where multiple surveys could be displayed at the same time
PC Gamer

Although skin gambling in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has been around for a number of years, last year saw Valve crack down on a series of sites—issuing cease and desist orders to several gambling outlets for using their Steam account for commercial purposes. Valve is now turning its head towards its other major online shooter, Team Fortress 2. 

If you're unfamiliar with how skin gambling works, Evan's detailed overview in relation to CS:GO is worth checking out as it's a similar process in TF2. At this stage, Valve hasn't revealed its next move beyond stating its intentions. 

As featured on the Team Fortress 2 website, Valve released the following statement: 

"In July of last year we outlined our position on gambling web sites, specifically noting that Valve has no business relationship with these sites. At that time we also began blocking many CSGO gambling accounts. You can view the original post here.

"More recently, some gambling web sites started leveraging TF2 items. Today we began the process of blocking TF2 gambling accounts as well. We recommend you don’t trade with these sites."

Following last year's crackdown, a number of shuttered CS:GO gambling sites suggested the way in which they operated was entirely legal, and that they'd relaunch following talks with Valve. A cursory Google search would suggest this has not been the case, which of course sends a pretty clear message to those still operating under the radar.

PC Gamer

Smissmas, the magical time of year when men with big guns, questionable morality, and an unusual commitment to a two-tone color scheme are given all-new, all-festive ways to inflict violence upon one another, has once again come to Team Fortress 2!. This year's magical event features a slew of new Festivizer weapons, 17 winter-themed community cosmetics, and—just in time for the holiday season—three new taunts. 

Apart from the new stuff, the holiday update will also make some improvements to Casual matches and autobalancing. At the end of Casual matches, players will now automatically be formed up into a new match with the same players and teams, and will be given the opportunity to vote on which map is played. A new autobalancing system will encourage players to switch sides when necessary by offering bonus XP to volunteer turncoats. 

And of course there will be stuff to buy in the Mann Co. Store, much of it on sale. It doesn't look to be the biggest Smissmas update of all time, but then again, as Valve says, giving people gifts can bite you in the ass. Maybe you should just be thankful for what you get. Speaking of which, you can get the details at teamfortress.com.

PC Gamer

Hero shooters are the latest gaming trend, team-based competitive multiplayer shooters featuring objective-driven game modes and large casts of colorfully designed characters sporting fantastical weapons and abilities. That s a serviceable but still somewhat shortsighted definition. The hero shooters we have today already cover a range of styles and goals. They re all shooters, so we see a lot of overlap in how they actually play, but each one approaches things differently and has something distinct at its core.

Basically, hero shooters are like the Powerpuff Girls, so let s talk Chemical X.

We ll start with Blizzard s Overwatch, seeing as how it has become the poster child for the genre. Overwatch is popular for many reasons, but primarily because of its heroes and their diverse playstyles and personalities. Game director Jeff Kaplan said it best when we spoke with him at BlizzCon 2015: the heroes are the content of the game.

More than any other hero shooter, Overwatch puts individual heroes first, not overarching classes. This wasn t always the case, though. In an April interview with GameSpot, Kaplan said the Overwatch team started with a class-first perspective. It was lead hero designer Geoff Goodman who eventually proposed making as many classes as we could come up with and simply turning them into highly specialized heroes.

Overwatch heroes are roughly grouped into four classes, but hero-specific strengths are stressed more than in, say, Team Fortress 2. In Overwatch, you pick a hero based on who your team needs and who the situation calls for, whereas in TF2 you have more room to choose a class based solely on how you like to play, illustrating the subtle difference between team-based and class-based gameplay. A skilled Heavy can fill several roles and always be useful, but you can only do so many things with Roadhog or Reinhardt, which brings us to hero switching.

Instead of making individual heroes more flexible, Overwatch made all hero switching available on the fly. You can choose from several suitable heroes in any situation, but you can t take the same approach with all of them, at least not effectively. Reaper and Tracer, for example, are both offense heroes who can make short work of enemies, but they play very differently and have different counters.

This creates the type of rock-paper-scissors meta we see in MOBAs like Heroes of the Storm, which is a noticeable influence on the way Overwatch heroes interact, both as allies and as enemies. There s also a bit of fighting game spirit to Overwatch. The way they use huge casts to segment fundamentally similar gameplay forms an interesting parallel with games like Street Fighter V and Tekken 7, which also live and die by their rosters.

Heroes are obviously central to all hero shooters, but careful character design is of unmatched importance to Overwatch because each of its heroes must not only serve a unique purpose but also mesh well with tightly clustered teams. Everything starts there, and anything that encroaches upon the fun hero gameplay, as Kaplan puts it, is swiftly changed. Furthermore, Kaplan told Kotaku in July, maps and modes are quite deliberately designed to promote hero interaction by bringing teams together. This lines up with what assistant game director Aaron Keller told us in September: "if and when we release a new game mode in the future, it will be about teams pushing on a single objective.

At the opposite end of the spectrum and it is a spectrum, this genre-hopping blur of a genre we have Gearbox Software s Battleborn, which doubles down on MOBA elements while turning Overwatch s character design on its head. Overwatch is about selecting and re-selecting the most suitable hero, but Battleborn is about building a hero that does what you want.

In Battleborn, hero abilities aren t static. Heroes bring the same skills into every round, but through the game s helix system of A/B upgrades, these can be tweaked to fit the play style you prefer. Characters fall into designated classes like healer and skirmisher, but they can still wield a mix of offensive, defensive or supportive abilities, just not all at the same time. So, rather than which hero to play, the question becomes how to play your hero.

You can further customize heroes through gear which augments stats like cooldown reduction and maximum health. Gear functions like the items in Dota and League of Legends: earn currency and buy pieces as the match progresses, with the added kick and progression of collecting gear through loot boxes and, from your collection, building character-specific loadouts. The influence of MOBAs is even more obvious in Battleborn s waves of minions and its base-destroying incursion game mode.

This should also sound familiar to Borderlands fans. Tailoring skill trees to suit different play styles? Boosting your most relevant stats with equipment? Hoarding gear? That s a day in the life of a Vault Hunter if I ve ever heard it. And come to think of it, Alani could pass as a sister siren to Borderlands 2 s Maya. There s plenty of Pandora in Battleborn, that s for sure, just as Overwatch s focus on individual hero characters can be traced back to Warcraft.

Beyond prominent MOBA elements, Battleborn brings some promising ideas to the still-developing hero shooter genre. For starters, it has a story mode. It isn t a particularly spellbinding tale (though the stellar opening cinematic helps) but it does provide welcome context for the game s world and the motivations of its heroes, not to mention a more in-depth tutorial and testing ground. Meltdown, Battleborn s take on payloads, is also noteworthy. In it, teams defend their minions as they march toward the goal and try stop enemy minions from doing the same. This means players have two objectives and can choose to defend or attack in every round, which ties into the game s split hero development.

Overwatch and Battleborn alone illustrate some of the balancing acts hero shooters have to manage. Through the strict limitations it places on game modes and character abilities, Overwatch gains the freedom to create characters like Mercy and Symmetra, who aren t at all suited for offense roles. Battleborn is all about customization, so it s possible for players to consistently play the hero they re most attached to rather than the hero their team needs right now. There are pros and cons to each approach: I can t see incursion working in Overwatch, but Battleborn heroes tend to run together a bit, and there s no doubt as to who s winning the sales race. Somewhere between these two extremes lies Paladins, Hi-Rez Studios free-to-play contender. Lead designer Rory Drybear Newbrough described Paladins as half shooter, half MOBA when we spoke with him last December, and the current state of the game backs him up.

Although still in beta, Paladins foundation is well established, including its much-vaunted deck system. For each hero, you can build equippable decks of five cards which, once acquired mid-match, buff various abilities and help fine-tune your play style. It isn t as open-ended as Battleborn s helix system, but that s not necessarily a bad thing. The goal of decks, Newbrough said in a recent interview with PaladinsWorld, is to give players multiple build options without warping characters to the extent that they are difficult to identify or play around. This preserves the concept of instantly recognizable characters a cornerstone of hero shooters since Team Fortress Classic while creating greater room for player choice.

Paladins also pursues new combinations through its heroes, which, according to Hi-Rez COO Todd Harris, are predominantly rooted in the studio s own Global Agenda despite similarities to Overwatch. Some heroes overlap more than others, but even familiar abilities can be interesting when rearranged. For instance, Androxus wields a defensive deflection ability, generous jumps, a six-shooter revolver and a rocket-powered ultimate. Similar abilities are seen in Overwatch but the combination is novel, and Paladins is not devoid of originality. As Blizzard grapples with Symmetra s place in the meta, Ying offers a good example of how to combine turrets and teleportation in a way that s powerful and satisfying.

Even so, and even for a beta, Paladins has yet to hit its stride. Everything checks out on paper: it takes inspiration from the most successful hero shooter yet, the biggest genre in esports and lessons learned from Global Agenda. It s also free, which is a good thing to be in an increasingly competitive market. The trouble is that it doesn t yet have an identity of its own. Overwatch is a dynamic team-based FPS, and Battleborn, while a bit of a commercial flop, is firmly a first-person MOBA with added objectives. Paladins isn t quite there yet. It seems to know what it s made of but not what it wants to be, and in this it echoes the state of the hero shooter genre as a whole.

The good news is that the concern is not what hero shooters can t do, but what they haven t done so far. Creating new and interesting heroes is great, but they stand the best chance of finding an audience if they do something we haven t seen in hero shooters before. The only guiding principle seems to be to build game modes that intuitively support your heroes abilities, something Overwatch and Battleborn both managed despite being wildly different. There s no limit on what those game modes can be, only on what type of heroes suit them.

Overwatch makes a good argument for hero-driven design, and Battleborn shows that unconventional elements can be folded in without upsetting the core FPS gameplay loop. More importantly, Overwatch s 22 heroes can t do everything, nor can Battleborn s 25. Meanwhile, Paladins is still trying to figure out what its heroes are best at, something its forthcoming new mode, which Newbrough describes as a co-op experience against challenging AI, may answer.

This is perhaps the most valuable lesson for budding hero shooters like Gigantic, Lawbreakers, Battlecry, Dirty Bomb and who knows how many games to come. I don t want to see this genre become a race to dethrone Overwatch by way of character design. That s a loser s market, and hero shooters have the potential to revive and improve so many game types. It s all a matter of finding a niche and creating a good-sized roster of heroes who really synergize with it.

For one, objective-based multiplayer goes way beyond 'defend the thing and push the thing', or in Paladins case, 'defend the thing then push the thing'. Where s the fast-paced capture the flag hero shooter that promotes mobility and map awareness using heroes couched in creative movement? Lawbreakers definitely has a shot at filling that slot, but it often feels like more of an arena shooter that happens to have five classes which is fine, by the way. The point is, CTF is another classic game mode that could benefit immensely from a broad cast explicitly engineered with it in mind.

Then there s the big, white elephant that seemingly nobody is talking about: where is the hero shooter that shamelessly apes the original Star Wars: Battlefront? With droidekas, shock troops, engineers and plenty more unique classes, it s already half a hero shooter. Just imagine a modern spiritual successor, divorced from the tapestries of Star Wars but informed by the years of MOBA refinement on display in Battleborn. Sprawling, ever-changing battlegrounds peppered with command posts and crawling with NPC squadrons led by heroes I have a dream!

Future hero shooters should also consider options outside PvP. Players can work as a team without fighting other players, and PvE-focused games like Left 4 Dead are crying out for hero shooter cousins. Overwatch proved this in its recent dalliance with horde mode, the Junkenstein s Revenge brawl. As our own Evan Lahti said, that brawl didn t really work because Overwatch doesn t have the maps or heroes to support it. Where is the hero shooter that does?

For once, the bewildering vagueness of the term hero shooter can be called a positive thing. This cockamamy genre could become a nearly boundless formula for reinvigoration, a way to explore and experience familiar game modes from a refreshing new perspective via dozens of fun characters.

PC Gamer

Team Fortress? More like Scream Fortr oh, I see Valve already did that, as it's the name of TF2's annual Halloween event. Joe brought the slightly disappointing news that there would be no all-new giant spookathon this year; instead, the game is getting a few new titbits, while all the old Scream Fortresses will be returning, as with last year.

The TF blog announces that Scream Fortress VIII has just kicked off, bringing with it "three new Halloween maps! All classic Scream Fortress Maps! All-new contracts! New taunts! And a Creepy Crawly Case with the chance to get our newest unholy Halloween creation: a taunt Unusualifier!" Yeah, that's right, an Unusualifier look it up in your Lexinomicon.

What's more, for the duration of Scream Fortress VIII, "all unusual cosmetics that you unbox from any case or crate will have a Halloween 2016 unusual effect, and the chances of receiving an unusual cosmetic across all cases, even old ones, will be DOUBLED," says Valve. Double-things are almost always good news whoever heard of Single Fine, for example?

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