PC Gamer

Following the rollout of Team Fortress 2's major Meet Your Maker update earlier this month, Valve has issued a patch to address some of the biggest problems with the new matchmaking functionality. The company acknowledged last week a lot of the most pressing concerns, and many of them are now fixed thanks to the new patch.

First of all, match leaving in casual mode will no longer incur a penalty, but to balance that out, Valve will increase the penalty in competitive mode in a forthcoming update. "The current system increases matchmaking ban times based on the number of abandons over a period of time," the notes read. "We are making a change to more quickly move serial abandoners into really long ban times. We will also subtract the maximum number of rank points possible, per abandon. The amount lost will be far higher than what could normally be lost in a completed match."

As for changes that will come into effect with the new patch, queue times should now take less than 90 seconds across the board, and empty player slots in in-progress games will now be filled up more frequently. Vote-kicking functionality has been added, and players can now select their preferred maps (though if they're added to an in-progress game, that won't apply until the next match).

Valve also outlined further plans for future updates, including ways to address griefing and high ping. The full update notes are over here. In the meantime, read Josh Wilkinson's impressions of the new matchmaking update here.

TF2 Blog

Thanks for all of your feedback over the last couple weeks. In our previous post, we talked about a number of issues with the Meet Your Match update and what we were doing to address them. Here's a quick recap on what has happened since then:


Matchmaking:

  • We have been working hard to improve the matchmaking system, greatly reducing queue times and eliminating most causes of errors when attempting to play. On average, queue times are now below ninety seconds for most players. There are still some issues with lower population regions and game modes that we are looking into.
  • We have identified and corrected several issues where players weren't being sent to fill empty slots for in-progress matches. There should be far fewer matches where this happens, and we will continue making improvements here.


Casual Mode:

  • Players are now able to specify the maps they would like play on when using matchmaking. However, it is sometimes the case that players joining in-progress matches (aka "late join") end up on maps they did not select. This will be fixed in an upcoming update.
  • Abandon penalties have been removed, which means players can come and go as they please.
  • Vote-kicking has been added. Players that are kicked retain the experience they've earned to that point, in order to reduce the likelihood of players using the system to grief others.


Next, we would like to give you a quick overview of the things we are working on, and go over some of the issues you raise as needing more attention and work.


Abandons in Competitive Mode:

  • We are going to make abandoning penalties much harsher. The current system increases matchmaking ban times based on the number of abandons over a period of time. We are making a change to more quickly move serial abandoners into really long ban times. We will also subtract the maximum number of rank points possible, per abandon. The amount lost will be far higher than what could normally be lost in a completed match.
  • In addition, we are investigating several options to offset the impact abandoners have on games that are in-progress. More on that when we have details to share.


Griefing in matchmaking:

  • We are working on systems that will give players with high numbers of in-game reports automated cooldowns from matchmaking, to discourage disruptive behavior.
  • As a side note, you can report players while in-game by clicking the "Report Player" button - located in the "Play" section on the main menu.


High ping and queue times:

  • There are still cases where players can wait longer than we'd like. This is more common in lower population regions and game modes in Casual Mode matchmaking, and the result is that players sometimes end up on a server where their ping is higher than normal.
  • One solution we are investigating is allowing matches to start with fewer than 24 players -- in cases where there are not enough available players to form a complete match, or when the players being considered are too far away. The system will instead prefer to start a smaller match more quickly, with a more appropriate ping, filling the remaining slots as more players become available.


Experience and incomplete matches in casual:

  • Right now, leaving a casual match results in no experience being earned. We are looking at changing this to avoid penalizing players for having to leave after investing significant amounts of time into a match, while still providing rewards for playing matches to completion.


We are monitoring the game around the clock, and we continue to read all your feedback and suggestions. Thanks again for taking the time to help improve TF.


PC Gamer

Matchmaking is a completely new experience for TF2. It combines the unfettered and wacky world of public play with some intense competition and small team sizes. From casual pubbers to competitive superstars, everybody will need to be aware of the differences and adapt to reach the top. Climbing the ranks from Fresh Meat to Death Merchant isn t easy, so here are some do s and don ts for both new players and experienced pros trying to excel in matchmaking.

Comp responsibly

The key to any good team is finding a composition that works. You need a balance of healing, damage, and mobility to win in matchmaking as in all 6v6. While the classic team composition in competitive TF2 has been one Medic, one Demoman, two Soldiers, and two Scouts, this has been turned on its head in matchmaking. Without any class limits or weapon bans, teams are free to run multiple Medics, while classes like Heavy can run amok with items like the Gloves of Running Urgently. The prevalent strategy at the moment in matchmaking is to run two Medics, two heavier classes such as Soldier, Demoman, or Heavy, and two Scouts. This gives your team a great balance, but teams can still succeed with a huge variety of compositions.

The most important thing to remember is that you need a Medic if nobody else is stepping up, take initiative.

Study the maps

If you re a diehard casual player dipping your toes into competitive TF2 for the first time, you ll need to learn the maps. Matchmaking omits maps suited for large teams (like Goldrush, 2fort, or Badwater) even though they are excellent in public play. Instead you ll find yourself on capture point maps such as the newly official Sunshine and Metalworks, along with Gullywash, Snakewater, Foundry, Granary, and more. Attack/Defend and Payload maps such as Gorge and Swiftwater are also featured, so it s important to have a good grasp on the maps before playing competitively.

Learning the names for areas as well as discovering all of the flanking routes is a necessity you should also use your new knowledge to flank your opponents and attack from alternate routes to gain an advantage in games.

Practice new skills

For any newer players, this is the perfect time to learn some advanced techniques. TF2 is a game with a lofty skill ceiling and many techniques that the best players use aren t obvious when playing casually. Matchmaking has also drawn in a broad spectrum of players with varied experience; if you want to get to the top then you ll need to know how to rocket jump, airstrafe, dodge, and aim like a pro. This will help you move around faster than your opponents, avoiding their shots and continuing to deal damage. While the game itself doesn t have tutorials for these skills yet, there are a wealth of guides online over eight years of them! With practice these techniques can become simple and the advantage they give you is staggering, especially in matchmaking where mobility is so important.

Don’t lose track of ubers

Due to its small team sizes, matchmaking revolves around the use of Ubercharges. Don t lose track of them, as your positioning and decisions to attack or defend should be based on which team has uber. Medics are the most important class in the game for both their healing and their Ubercharge, which give a huge advantage to the team. They can allow you to push through choke points, attack sentry nests, pull off a clutch defense, or destroy the whole enemy team. Be aware though that the same can happen to you, so it s important to roughly keep track of the enemy Medic s percentage as well as your own. Every 40 seconds, a Medigun uber can be built keep that time in your head and have a healthy respect for the German doctor and his patients.

Tweak your loadouts

All of the weapons that we in the TF2 competitive scene decided to ban are legal in TF2 s new matchmaking mode. If you believe a weapon is unbalanced and needs a nerf, there s no better way to demonstrate that than to use and abuse it. Using incredible individual weapons such as the Crit-a-Cola can be devastating, but also keep the synergistic weapons in mind such as the Disciplinary Action. Some classes practically require unlocks to be effective: the Reserve Shooter and the GRU spring to mind. Utilizing the right combination of these powerful unlocks can increase your team s abilities even without altering the composition.

Switch it up

Don t stick to a single class in matchmaking. While you may have a main that you love and adore, matchmaking is the perfect opportunity to test out your skills on a variety of classes. Only a few classes are useful all the time in matchmaking, and one of the core concepts in the game is switching up your classes to keep a good team composition for the situation. This doesn t mean you should play a different class every life, but like Overwatch, be prepared to switch it up to fit your team. The team needs mobility and damage at a midfight, a tanky defense when on last, and a lot of balance in between. Picking a class that fits those roles is a great way to start thinking about how you can best help your team to win.

Josh Sideshow Wilkinson has more than 7,800 hours played in TF2. In the last six years, he's climbed to the top of the competitive scene, placing 2nd in Europe last season with his team Perilous Gaming. Sideshow is also a writer, caster for teamfortress.tv, analyst, and tournament organizer.

Product Update - Valve
An update to Team Fortress 2 has been released. The update will be applied automatically when you restart Team Fortress 2. The major changes include:

  • Fixed a common client crash that prevented the game from starting
TF2 Blog
An update to Team Fortress 2 has been released. The update will be applied automatically when you restart Team Fortress 2. The major changes include:
  • Fixed a common client crash that prevented the game from starting
Product Update - Valve
An update to Team Fortress 2 has been released. The update will be applied automatically when you restart Team Fortress 2. The major changes include:

  • Updated Casual Mode
    • Fixed a problem where in-progress games with open slots would not receive new players
    • Fixed a case where players would sometimes not receive experience (when playing a match to completion)
    • Fixed not getting domination/revenge events
    • Added a feature to the game mode selection screen that allows players to play on specific maps
    • Added the Vote Kick option
      • Players that are kicked will receive partial experience after the match ends
    • Maps previously using the stopwatch timer will now play to completion, regardless of the first team's time
  • Added a "Create Server" button to the "Find a Game" menu
  • Fixed the party chat window sometimes not drawing
  • Fixed Australium weapons not drawing correctly in the character loadout screen
  • Updated the Dr's Dapper Topper to fix a material issue
  • Thanks to Justin G., aka sigsegv, for these reports:
    • Fixed sentry buster sounds not being cleaned up properly after detonating
    • Fixed a bug related to bot death detection
  • Updated Taunt: The Balloonibounce to end the taunt if the player is moved
  • Fixed a regression in the Pyro's flamethrower where flames could sometimes damage players behind obstacles and walls
  • PASS Time update
    • Updated several HUD materials to support mat_picmip
    • Fixed seeing the wrong cap limit in the win panel
TF2 Blog
An update to Team Fortress 2 has been released. The update will be applied automatically when you restart Team Fortress 2. The major changes include:
  • Updated Casual Mode
    • Fixed a problem where in-progress games with open slots would not receive new players
    • Fixed a case where players would sometimes not receive experience (when playing a match to completion)
    • Fixed not getting domination/revenge events
    • Added a feature to the game mode selection screen that allows players to play on specific maps
    • Added the Vote Kick option
      • Players that are kicked will receive partial experience after the match ends
    • Maps previously using the stopwatch timer will now play to completion, regardless of the first team's time
  • Added a "Create Server" button to the "Find a Game" menu
  • Fixed the party chat window sometimes not drawing
  • Fixed Australium weapons not drawing correctly in the character loadout screen
  • Updated the Dr's Dapper Topper to fix a material issue
  • Thanks to Justin G., aka sigsegv, for these reports:
    • Fixed sentry buster sounds not being cleaned up properly after detonating
    • Fixed a bug related to bot death detection
  • Updated Taunt: The Balloonibounce to end the taunt if the player is moved
  • Fixed a regression in the Pyro's flamethrower where flames could sometimes damage players behind obstacles and walls
  • PASS Time update
    • Updated several HUD materials to support mat_picmip
    • Fixed seeing the wrong cap limit in the win panel
PC Gamer

Image by Deviantart user Ragepandademoman, click for link.

After over a year of building excitement, Team Fortress 2 received its official matchmaking update last Friday. It hit alongside a community-focused Pyro vs. Heavy metagame, a large change to quickplay servers, and a patch which rebalanced weapons for 6v6. While the quickplay and balance changes have equally enraged and disappointed, matchmaking mode is a great way for casual players to hop in and try competitive TF2 straight from the main menu. It s a good start, and hopefully it s just the first iteration.

Team Fortress 2 s matchmaking mode bears many similarities to the way its niche competitive scene has played for years. Matchmaking throws players into a 6v6 game, designed as a new challenge for experienced TF2 players. It allows you to rank up, earn medals, and track your stats in every competitive game. You ll need to have a Premium TF2 account and a working phone number tied to your Steam account to play, or for those without phones, a $10 matchmaking pass available. After the crackdown on LMAOBOX earlier this year, Valve are clearly committed to expunging cheaters from TF2 as in CS:GO.

Image by moonyelloweyes, click for link.

Ranking up is exclusively based on your wins and losses, with a hidden ELO deciding who you get matched against. You can track every aspect of your competitive history directly from inside the lobby along with stats for your entire career, something I think is really missing from Overwatch and CS:GO matchmaking. Ranking up will also send you higher up the leaderboards, letting you see where you stack up globally and among your friends.

Although it s a simple system, and lacks features seen in CS:GO such as map picking, it works well. Hopping into a lobby alone or with friends sends you to a 6v6 game that is matched for your rank, and the competitive experience is refreshing after an uncoordinated pub. At three to 10 minutes on average, the games are fast enough that even a total roll isn t disheartening, and games can be highly rewarding when players communicate over voice chat and are motivated to win. Unfortunately the search time is currently quite high, making you wait five to 10 minutes for a game which could last half that. This may be the reason map picks are currently not implemented: anything that splits the player pool extends the waiting time even further.

Australium (gold) weapons are "awarded upon completing a full Advanced or Expert Tour of Duty in Mann vs. Machine mode," according to the TF2 wiki. Image by iKonakona.

Unrewarding rewards

After spending many years involved with TF2 s competitive scene, I m aware that much of the TF2 community doesn t enjoy playing competitively purely for the sake of winning. In this update Valve had an opportunity to make the ranking up process engaging with contracts or achievements, or could have combined ranking up with unique cosmetics as with Australiums in MvM. They chose to do neither, and are relying on hype and the raw enjoyment of leveling up to draw players into competitive. If it works, it will prove the mantra of 6v6 players: if only casual players knew about competitive, they d love it! But to me it seems like a missed opportunity for them to pull more players away from other modes of play, especially when the precedent has been set in MvM. TF2 is a casual game with a casual audience. Just offering them the opportunity rather than enticing them to stick it out and improve may not be enough.

The matchmaking ruleset is where the format starts to diverge from what people have previously thought of as competitive TF2. Valve has gone with an open approach, without limits on classes or weapons. If your team want to run six Pyros with the Phlogistinator, you can. You might not win but you can!Matchmaking has been hailed as the second coming by the passionate competitive community, but they seem unaware that their version of 6v6 is now the old 6v6. The game that they love in all its intricacies has been overshadowed in one swift update, eclipsed in terms of players by a version of 6v6 that is significantly different.

In order to compromise between the competitive, technical gamemode of old 6v6 and the wants and needs of the average TF2 player, Valve have had to tread a middle ground. The lack of class limits is the most important change; the tournament class limits have grown organically after years of testing, and were required to preserve the competitive nature of the game. A good sport needs rules in order to be set the parameters for skill and strategy. A good esport needs strong rules as well to avoid unpredictability and chaos.

The lack of weapon bans will also create a new feel for the game. There are a ton of unbalanced weapons still in TF2, despite the recent balance patch. These weapons are not fit to be used in tournaments, as they let solo players become killing machines or create defences that are impossible to break through. A core concept of a competitive game is that your impact should be proportional to your ability, but many of these weapons were designed so a casual player could have an impact in a 32-person server. Valve have indicated that they aim to rebalance those weapons based on statistical feedback from matchmaking, and I hope that happens soon.

There are a ton of unbalanced weapons still in TF2, despite the recent balance patch.

Other changes were pushed to TF2 along with the matchmaking update. These included a revolutionary optimization update which makes the game far smoother for players, and a major change to the quickplay system. Rather than being thrown into a pub gamemode of your choice, quickplay (now Casual) sends you into a 12v12 game where teams are encouraged to play to win. If you want to hop into a laidback pub, you have to find a community server. When our community met with him last year, former TF2 lead Robin Walker promised to revolutionize the way casual players think about the game; that s Valve s aim with this change, but at the moment players feel robbed of their classic, laid-back pub experience. Valve are banking on community servers to flourish once again and fill that gap.

The most important change I d like to see are some perks for players to play matchmaking. Valve have a long history of creating gorgeous cosmetics (or sourcing them from the community) for MvM which entice people to spend money and time grinding that mode out. Rare drops of unusual weapons when ranking up would make matchmaking more exciting and take the focus slightly off of advancing one s rank. Even implementing contracts or achievements that are specific to matchmaking would make each experience fresh and encourage players to return.

This is not the end for the struggle of competitive TF2, it s actually the beginning. If matchmaking is a success and even a tiny proportion of TF2 s active players become competitive regulars, they will associate competitive with the experience they get in matchmaking. Their numbers will outweigh the classic idea of competitive TF2 and they may find it impossible to identify with the professional players and the tournaments they play in. It would be a disaster for TF2 if another schism within the competitive scene to opened up after the split between competitive and casual had been healed.

The arguments have yet to brew about whether tournaments such as the upcoming world championship, insomnia58, should remove class limits or weapon limits but for anybody keeping up with Overwatch s nascent competitive scene the similarities give a queasy feeling. Is it possible for TF2 tournaments to keep some basic class limits and weapon bans without alienating their audience of matchmaking players? I think so, but it will require careful navigation around the rocks.

Josh Sideshow Wilkinson has more than 7,800 hours played in TF2. In the last six years, he's climbed to the top of the competitive scene, placing 2nd in Europe last season with his team Perilous Gaming. Sideshow is also a writer, caster for teamfortress.tv, analyst, and tournament organizer.

PC Gamer

As you may recall, Valve announced matchmaking in Team Fortress 2 as a high priority feature back in April last year. It may have taken a touch longer to arrive than expected, however it was finally added to the multiplayer first-person shooter on Thursday.

Which is good news, right? Except certain decisions regarding how it s been added have ruffled more than a few players feathers, and have caused Valve to spend the last few days announcing and implementing changes in order to get them back on side.

Part of the Meet Your Match update, 6v6 ranked matchmaking was introduced to TF2, alongside a new Competitive Mode. The old Quickplay mode was also scrapped, with 12v12 unranked matchmaking Casual Mode taking its place the latter of which, alongside some pretty gross queue times and players being punished for leaving casual games, seems to have upset certain facets of the game s players.

We hear you, said Valve in an official blog post in response to the backlash. The queue times you are currently experiencing are a bug, not a feature. It is something we are actively working to correct. Several backend issues appeared post-launch that culminated in long wait times. Removing this issue is our highest priority right now.

Second, abandonment penalties. We had put in a ten-minute cooldown period to encourage players to complete matches. Your feedback has convinced us that it is more important for players to be able to come and go as they please. Today's patch will remove abandonment cooldown penalties from Casual Mode.

Map selection in Casual Mode is another tweak users should expect in the not-too-distant future. The post also mentions that Casual Mode levels can t be lost, nor do they affect matchmaking. We did a poor job of communicating that Casual Mode Levels are in no way similar to Competitive Mode Ranks (which do affect matchmaking, and can be lost), the post adds, before reiterating that, although not as vocal as it could be at times, Valve is listening to all player feedback across all forums.

A Casual Mode patch was rolled out on Friday with another "more comprehensive" one due in the "very near future." It s also worth noting that the TF2 community still appears to have issues with kicking cheaters and the apparent lack of autobalancing within the now absent substitute system. Fingers crossed that too gets sorted in time.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

Valve launched matchmaking for Team Fortress 2 [official site] on Thursday but its reception wasn’t wholly positive. As well as introducing 6v6 competitive ranked matchmaking, the Meet Your Match Update replaced TF2’s casual ‘quickplay’ with 12v12 unranked matchmaking – and that second mode has frustrated some. Its problems included long waiting times and limited options, but Valve are working on those and more. Over the weekend they acknowledged these complaints and launched the first update aimed at correcting some of casual matchmaking’s problems.

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