Team Fortress 2

Update: The Steam page for XYK's Team Fortress 2008 mod has been pulled. As reported by Eurogamer, a screenshot from the project's Discord (also now shuttered) suggests Valve could not be convinced at this stage that the TF-2008 team has created a mod for the original game, and is "not just repurposing leaked code". 

As also reported by EG, it appears creator XYK left the project's Discord server with a distasteful parting comment. Our original story follows.  

Original story:Turn back time with XYK's Team Fortress 2008—a TF2 throwback mod that "reverts the game back to its 2008 version".

Due on Steam on January 11, 2019, its creator says the SourceMod is an alternative to Valve's esteemed Team Fortress 2 and is designed for "those who prefer the game before most of the later updates, and want the simpler old interface."

As reported by Eurogamer, Valve has given the TF-2008 team permission to list the mod on Steam—but did ask that the original idea be altered beforehand. It seems XYK et al happily complied. 

"We payed the Steam Direct fee, and are now working on an official Steam release," says XYK on this Facepunch forum. "The Steam team approved of me generating beta CD keys, but we're still waiting on Valve to approve the store page." 

XYK follows that with an update: "Valve has gotten back with us, and notified us of some things that needed to be changed. We have done as they recommended, and are now waiting again, on the store page review."

Here's a trailer: 

And here's some screens: 

Not much else is known about Team Fortress 2008, but you can follow its progress via its Steam page. Again, all going well, it's due January 11, 2019. 

Team Fortress 2

If you have the time and hard drive space, you can squeeze a huge amount of free entertainment out of your Steam client. With that in mind we've organised the best free and free-to-play games together into one list. The free games section consists of games that contain no microtransactions. You might be able to buy extra episodes or DLC packs, but you'll get the full core experience for your download in this category.

The free-to-play section contains games that are supported by in-game microtransactions. We've considered the fairness of the in-game stores when selecting these games, and believe you can get a lot of fun out of them before you put in credit card details. We'll update the list over time as we discover more gems hidden away in the Steam store.

FREE GAMES

Alien Swarm

Link: Steam

Up to four players fight through space stations overrun with hordes of alien bugs. Beating missions earns you weapons and equipment that let you specialise your marine. Expect almost Starship Troopers scale hordes at points, as the AI director tries to push your team to the brink of death.

Alien Swarm is a forgotten Valve experiment, but it's perfectly good fun in co-op. The complete game code and mod tools are available, but the community never produced enough to sustain the game beyond its opening months. It's still worth downloading the game with some friends and enjoying what's there though.

A Raven Monologue

Link: Steam

A beautifully drawn experimental short story about a mute raven trying to interact with his townsfolk. The project is described as an attempt "to tell stories or to communicate an experience using a constrained work of interactive art." It's quick, simple to play, and full of room for interpretation.

Cry of Fear

Link: Steam

A quality Half-Life total conversion that's full of scares. The game twists the old GoldSrc engine to give you an inventory system and a big, dark city to explore. Prepare yourself for relentless tension across eight hours of exploration and combat with 24 different weapons. The download also includes a bunch of custom campaigns and an unlockable extra campaign once you beat the main story. That's good value for a free download.

House of Abandon

Steam: Link

This experiment eventually became the excellent short story compilation Stories Untold. You can still download it to your library by heading to the page linked above and clicking 'Download PC Demo'. The first part follows someone playing a text adventure as things start to get strange, and quite scary.

Doki Doki Literature Club!

Link: Steam

It may look like a cheerful classroom drama but don't be fooled, Doki Doki Literature Club! plays with that facade. Sedate chats with classmates create a languid impression for the first act or so, but dark twists await—there's a reason the game opens with a content warning. If you end up enjoying it then you might also like Pony Island and Undertale. 

Off-Peak

Link: Steam

It's the future, you're stuck in a train station, and everything is weird. Chat with the station's odd inhabitants and explore its twisted side passages to discover surreal little anecdotes and piece together meaning from the assembled scraps. It only takes about half an hour to complete and the music is sweet, so give it a download.

FREE-TO-PLAY GAMES

Dota 2

Link: Steam

Dota 2 is one of the biggest games on Steam. Described simply, two teams of five wizards battle to knock over towers and flatten the enemy base in battles that tend to last between 30 minutes and an hour. In practice it's one of the deepest and most complicated competitive games in the world. Every year the huge International tournament draws millions of viewers, and with 110+ heroes and a consistently shifting meta, this could be the only game you ever need in your Steam library.

The free-to-play implementation is mostly good. Most microtransactions are tied to cosmetics. In addition to individual item purchases you can also buy battle passes that grant access to modes, quests that you complete by playing games, and more cosmetic items.

Warframe

Link: Steam

This third person action RPG about futuristic ninjas can be completely baffling for new players, but if you persist with it you'll find a deep and rewarding game on the verge of some of its most ambitious updates to date. At launch it was a game about repeating short missions—and that's still part of it—but there are also open world zones and plans to add co-op space combat. Warframe has been getting better and better in the last few years, and now we reckon it's one of the best free to play games on PC

You can spend real money to speed up crafting time, and to buy items and frames outright. Everything is perfectly craftable using in-game currency however, and players seem more interested in using the real-money Platinum currency to unlock new colour schemes.

Card Hunter

Link: Steam

Card Hunter is a cute squad RPG based around digital collectible cards. You battle through dungeons under the guidance of a dungeon master, levelling up your squad of heroes, building your deck and enjoying some affectionate tongue in cheek digs at D&D along the way. There's loads to play before you ever see a payment screen and there are also co-op and competitive modes. If only more free-to-play games were like this.

Team Fortress 2

Link: Steam

This team shooter has been around since 2007, but the character designs are timeless and the class design is still magnificent. Few shooters can point to a class as innovative as The Spy, who can disguise himself as an opposing team to sabotage their gadgets and stab their heavies in the back. If you prefer long-range engagements, the sniper has you covered, or you can ambush enemies up close with the Pyro. Whatever your play style, there's a class to match, and with enough play you will be switching between classes frequently to help your team push the cart or take a tricky point.

Path of Exile

Link: Steam

Path of Exile is one of the deepest action RPGs on the market, and one of the most generous for being free-to-play. The basic structure ought to be familiar: pick a class and embark on Diablo-style killing sprees to earn loot and level up. There's a huge amount of class and item customisation to dig into as you start to move past the tutorial stages. Slot different patterns of gems into your armour sets to min-max your character and take them into even tougher dungeons. You only need to pay money for cosmetics that reskin your weapons and armour

EVE Online

Link: EVE Online

This space MMO is famous for producing incredible stories of war and betrayal. Its player-driven corporations are fraught political entities that can be very inaccessible to new players. Even if you don't persist long enough to break into the grand PvP game it's still a gorgeous universe full of beautiful spaceships and nebulae. Some ships and skills are locked off in the free-to-play version, but you can spend a huge amount of time in the game before you need to look at paying for premium access.

Star Trek Online

Link: Steam

Fly ships, gather a crew, and beam down to planets with an away team in this massive free-to-play MMO. It has aged quite a bit since launch and it's riddled with microtransactions, but you can still play through the story and see every side of the game without paying. If you do get drawn in to collecting high end ships and decking out your crew with signature Star Trek livery then expect to pay for it. You can grind for items using in-game currency, but for advance items that will take longer than seems reasonable. If you're looking for a free Star Trek experience, however, it's surprisingly fun.

Realm Royale

Link: Realm Royale

If you like the idea of Fortnite but can't stand building, then Realm Royale might be your next battle royale game. It's still in Early Access, but there are enough features to separate it from Fortnite (which isn't on Steam), and paid-for battle royale games like PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds. Realm Royale has a fantasy element with five classes and different spells and abilities for each. Hunters can leave proximity mines, while mages can heal themselves with ice magic. It's perfectly playable at this stage in Early Access, but expect it to evolve a lot in the coming months.

Battlerite

Link: Steam

An arena-based top-down brawler with shooting, spells and a colourful art style. As we've observed before, it's basically a smartly designed clutch teamfight generator. If you're tired of the long lanes of Dota 2 or League of Legends then you might enjoy Battlerite's punchy, fast-paced encounters, and while it's competitive, it has a cleaner learning curve than the major lane-pushing games. A separate paid-for Battlerite Royale mode is heading to Early Access in September, which has annoyed the community, but you can still find a battle in the original 2v2 and 3v3 modes.

Team Fortress 2

Deep down, I think we've all wanted to burn down a house.

Not out of vengeance, or a half-baked insurance scam, or to send a message to a crosstown mob boss. To me, pyromania is simply the most relatable form of gleeful mass destruction. Who isn't a little bit entranced by a towering inferno? Of course, in real life you can't work out your emotional baggage through incendiary therapy without getting the cops called on you, but videogames fill the void.

If we're being honest, games have only recently really helped us get in touch with our latent pyromaniac instincts. It was difficult to program inspiring flames on a Commodore 64, and the less said about Doom's pepperoni pizza take on lava the better. But that started to change in 2008, with the release of Far Cry 2 and its unprecedented wildfire mechanics.

"To me [Ubisoft] really nailed how fire should feel and I loved how it would burn the grass and environment, such a wonderful touch," says Bill Munk, creative director of Killing Floor 2, which itself is a game with an incredibly satisfying flamethrower. He's right. Open world sandboxes weren't exactly a rarity in the late-aughties, but Far Cry 2 was one of the first times our machines packed the processing power to handle the physics estimations necessary to set those open-worlds on fire. We haven't looked back since.

"I really think flame weapons are so fun because of the extreme destruction they cause to NPCs and to the environment," continues Munk, when I ask him why he thinks players enjoy a healthy bit of incineration every now and then. "It's such a fun power trip, not to mention fire-based weapons are generally more forgiving on how accurate you need to be with your aim." 

Today, we're seeing games that play with fire on a more granular, mechanical level, rather than the engine-porn stagecraft it's been used for in the past. The best example I can think of is probably Larian Studios' Divinity series, which has persistently injected an immersive suite of environmental effects into the relative solemnity of a turn-based RPG.

I've always found this screenshot, where a rustic wooden platform is scorched to the depths of hell, to be an effective shorthand for why people who don't necessarily play a ton of strategy games still fall in love with the absurdity of Original Sin's magic systems.

"We tried to tweak duration, area and availability of fire skills so that the player is frequently put into position where their battle plan is spinning out of control and they need to improvise and take risks," says Nick Pechenin, systems designer of Divinity Original Sin 2, when I ask him how fire has been a useful tool in Larian's game design. "It was also important to us that although the ways in which surfaces are created and interact with each other have almost no randomness, smallest deviations in how the player targets their skills and positions their characters lead to wildly divergent outcomes, essentially generating fresh combat experiences every time."

It was fun to hear someone speak so intelligently about the mechanical theories behind cauterizing your enemies. For me, fire effects in videogames aren't about all clever design. Fire taps into my baseline, brain-bypassing id—the caveman wants and needs of my idiot gamer brain. But I suppose that's how it should be. A good blaze should be emotionally and aesthetically resonant, and when done right, it serves a distinct gameplay functionality buried deep below our perception. To borrow a J-school aphorism; it is showing, not telling, to the highest degree. With that, here are some PC games that excel in the art of pyromania. 

Return to Castle Wolfenstein

The urtext of video game flamethrowers; a lot of people's first quintessential next-gen experience back in 2001 was torching bunkers in that gorgeous, liquid-orange id Tech 3 goodness. I remember this thing being a little bit overpowered, mostly because of its ridiculous range, but frankly any good flamethrower should be. The only good Nazis are the ones conflagerating to death at your feet. 

For bonus Nazis-on-fire action, check out this trailer for the 2009 Wolfenstein's Flammenwerfer.

Far Cry (series)

We talked about Far Cry 2 above, which will always and forever be the crown prince of video game fire effects. But we also must give a nod to the other games in the series, specifically Far Cry 3, which had its finger on the pulse of the nation when it included a level where your shit-for-brains protagonist burns down a marijuana growing operation while a Skrillex/Damian Marley collaboration blasts off in the background. (It was 2012, what did you expect?) Truly a magnificent moment in the history of gaming that will only continue to get more hilarious as time goes on. 

Terraria

Terraria does such a great job with its physics for a 2D platformer, and one of my favorite ways that manifests is when you're digging through the sediment and throwing down an endless bread crumb of torches to guide your way back to the surface. It can be a pain to farm gel and wood to make sure you never run out light, but there's something kinda dramatic about zooming out and seeing the vast network of dimly-lit mineshafts you've inadvertently created. Especially for someone like me, who's always been bad at the aesthetic parts of crafting games. 

Alien Isolation

Alien Isolation is a game about being completely screwed, but one of the very, very few times you feel like you have a chance in that awful, no-good, godforsaken spaceship is when you've got the flamethrower on your side. One big angry ball of flame is all it takes to put the xenomorph on its bony heels, and that respite can be downright euphoric. The flamethrower as the odds-evener, as it should be. 

Diablo (series)

Blizzard prefers a heavy touch when it comes to their aesthetic design, so it's no surprise that their darkest franchise lays it on pretty darn thick whenever we make a journey to the underworld. Diablo's hell is absolutely unreasonable; a giddy orgy of blood, lava, blackened gothic chapels, and belching geysers of flame. Personally, I'm partial to Azmodan Lord of Sin, best known for lobbing infernal orbs of molten rock at your hapless barbarian (a mechanic that was later beautifully integrated into Heroes of the Storm). Good on you, Blizzard. We can only hope that Diablo 4 brings an even heavier dose of hellishness. 

Shovel Knight

This is PC Gamer, which means we can't mention Super Mario 64, or Banjo Kazooie, or Sonic The Hedgehog on this list. That's a shame, because the mascot platformer is forever betrothed to lava levels—nothing quite ups the ante like the chance to singe the overalls right off of Mario's nubile body. Thankfully Yacht Club, who has dedicated its existence to bringing picture perfect 8-bit-esque adventures to Steam, picked up the slack. Of course Shovel Knight has a lava level, and of course it learns from the masters by bringing a candyflipped Bowser's Castle that's challenging, dramatic, and thoroughly retro. If we could bottle and administer the feeling you get when you use that indestructible shovel to traverse the lakes of Hell, everyone on earth would realize that videogames are a force for good. 

World of Warcraft

It's been a long, long time since I played a Fire Mage in World of Warcraft, but one of the most satisfying feelings that MMO ever produced was the Presence of Mind/Pyroblast combo back in vanilla. I'll break it down for you: Pyroblast was this ridiculous, deep talent-tree spell that let you hurl a massive fireball at an enemy after a six second casting time. That made it kinda useless, because the downtime was so heavy. That is, unless, you also specced into Arcane to pick up Presence of Mind, which, when activated, would make your next spell cast instantly. You see where I'm going now, right?

Presence of Mind/Pyro quickly became my favorite thing to do to people in Warsong Gulch. I'd reckon to guess that it led to more Alt-F4s than anything else in Warcraft's early years. Well, that's not true. Remember when Rogues could stunlock you for, like, half a minute? Man, maybe World of Warcraft Classic is a bad idea.

Team Fortress 2

It's pretty hard to balance a flamethrower in a multiplayer game. Usually they're either totally weak and watered-down, or an ultra-scarce pickup that you see once every 20 games. So hats off to Valve for not only building out the Pyro as a crucial part of the Team Fortress fabric, but also making him fun to play! Torching a crowded control point feels great, but every good Pyro knows the value of the secondary shotgun when you get locked down in a dual with a Scout or a Soldier or something. The variation between the loadout makes you feel useful and multi-dimensional, rather than the kid hogging the cool weapons and sandbagging the team.

BioShock (series)

I love the way Jack's hand looks when he's got the Incinerate plasmid equipped. All of the biological upgrades in Rapture are horrifying in their own visceral ways—I never ever need to see that Insect Swarm cutscene ever again—but something about walking around BioShock's dead corridors with a left hand that's smoldering from the inside out is awesome, and troubling, and could probably serve as a tentpole for some half-baked fan theory. In this Randian dystopia, the Left is on fire! I also think BioShock does perhaps the best job of letting us live our deepest, truest arson fantasies. Just snap your fingers and set anything on fire. Easy as that. Great for clearing out crazy people in a fallen kingdom, and also probably great for party tricks. 

Dark Souls

You have to think that From Software knew their take on pyromancy was awesome, considering how it's, by far, the easiest school of magic to use in a game that's famous for its abstruseness. No degenerate attunement system, no gatekeeping stat requirements, just throw on your fire glove and start roasting skeletons. Everyone who's spent some time in Lordran knows exactly where they were the first time you were invaded by some refined griefer who rained ungodly hellfire on your poor, PvE-tuned knight. We all rushed back, retrieved our souls, and vowed to get our revenge in New Game Plus. And probably started learning pyromancy.

Team Fortress 2

Today's question is inspired by some of the social media conversations doing the rounds lately about professions, which started with this tweet. We thought we'd change the subject to gaming. No matter what games you love, you'll always read or hear opinions on them that you disagree with. Maybe it feels like people aren't getting the thing that's good about the game in question, or perhaps they don't see why something is important to PC gaming when you do. 

Well, let's complain about those people. Today's PCG Q&A: What does no one seem to understand about a game you love? Leave your answers in the comments.

James Davenport: The intricacies of Dark Souls' lore don't matter

Just let that imagery wash over you. Read item descriptions, sure, but to play Dark Souls—any of them—you don't need to know a goddamn thing about the story. There's a history there if you want to dig deep, but I play games like I read books the first time through: I just go. Getting hung up on every paragraph in a Pynchon novel (I'm that guy, sorry) means you'll never finish the thing. Same goes for Dark Souls. You'll start to notice patterns and catch onto its bleak themes naturally. Too often I hear about people turned off not just by the difficulty of Dark Souls, but by the fantasy setting—decrypting obtuse histories with long-winded family trees ain't easy either—and how little it outright tells you about anything. 

At risk of sounding like an English major (I'm an English major), Dark Souls is a poem. It doesn't need to be understood. It needs to be felt. And it feels metal as hell. So bleak. Here's my take: humans are the worst. We're always hungry, easily bored, envious, anxious, destructive beings. Committing every scrap of Dark Souls lore to memory will tell you the same thing over and over with different players, and that's the point. So, memorize those names if you want to, or just take a nice, depressing, self-critical bath in Dark Souls assurance that we're screwed and it's our fault.

Evan Lahti: Team Fortress 2 is the most influential PC game of the past decade

Many of the most significant trends in PC gaming were guinea pigged and test tubed in Team Fortress 2. The modern, living multiplayer games began with the "Sniper vs. Spy" update in May 2009. TF2 can be credited for the style of multiplayer storytelling seen in games like Overwatch—the way characters chatter with each other dynamically mid-match, and the way games' stories are told outside them, bleeding into marketing, teasers, comics, and other media in a way that we almost expect at this stage. Stuff we take for granted like characters being reinvented for the benefit of shaking up the meta—the way we react to a shotgun rebalance or guided rocket in Fortnite—started in TF2. The ubiquity of loot boxes and cosmetics, which TF2 popularized. And though it's almost hard to remember at this point, the destigmatization of free-to-play as a model for PC games in the West—in 2011, many PC gamers associated free with an absence of quality. 

Tom Senior: You don't have to be interested in WW2 to enjoy Company of Heroes

Games based on historical conflicts sometimes target a specific group of players who are really into that particular era, but you don't need to have an appreciation for authentic Sherman patterning to enjoy a quality RTS like Company of Heroes. I appreciate the dedication of the art teams that want to accurately present companies that really fought in the war, but to newcomers historical accuracy can imply that you need a dense understanding of the setting to get the relationships between different units.

In some serious strategy sims, you do, but Company of Heroes applies abstracts units' strengths and weaknesses into a familiar rock-paper-scissors pattern that anyone can learn. Unit and vehicle speed have been balanced out so you can perform combined arms attacks in a small space without jeeps hurtling off into the sunset. Artillery has been adjusted so it doesn't completely destroy half the map. It's an intense game, but perhaps not in the way you might assume. If you're used to fantasy and sci-fi RTS games, why not grab it in a Steam sale and see.

Andy Kelly: The open world in Mafia II isn't important

A lot of people get hung up on the fact that Mafia II's open world is pretty bare bones. I remember reviews at the time criticising the fact that there was 'nothing to do', meaning a lack of GTA-style side missions and distractions. But to count that against the game is missing the point spectacularly. Mafia II is a linear, heavily narrative-focused action game, telling a superb story across several time periods. And the city, as pretty and inviting as it is, is really just an elaborate backdrop to the action.

When you realise this, and retune your GTA-wired brain, you'll realise how good Mafia II really is. It's not trying to present a world full of stuff to do, but using its city to tell what is, to me, one of the best stories on PC. There are a few collectables, such as those infamous Playboy magazines, but I wonder if the developer felt like it had to include something to encourage exploration. But it really didn't need to, because Empire Bay is an incredible virtual city, regardless of how 'empty' it is.

Andy Chalk: Thief's "monster missions" are the best and anyone who says otherwise is wrong

Thief's "monster missions"—Bonehoard, Lost City, Return to Cathedral, and the like—are not just the best parts of the game, they're the most important. Thief is a fantastic narrative B&E sim, no doubt, but what makes it magic is, literally, the magic, and the monster missions are the spark that gives it life: Whether you're breaking into Bafford's or rummaging through Rampone's, in the back of your mind is the knowledge that somewhere out there is a world far greater and more wonderful (and terrifying) than the cold, stoic pragmatism that gets Garrett through the day. Garrett's sole "supernatural" ability reflects that dissonance—wounded by magic and healed by mechanics, he's simultaneously better and worse for his encounters with both. That division is central to the genius of Thief, and it's impossible without magic and the monsters it spawns: Politics are dirty and Garrett's gotta pay the rent, but the real world—the world that gives Thief its unique and brilliant life—lies beneath.

Samuel Roberts: Blitzball in Final Fantasy X is a pretty good minigame, but you have to learn it

I've never met anyone who likes Blitzball in Final Fantasy X except me. It's basically underwater football—or more accurately, polo, I'm told, but I don't know what that is—since everyone in the game's tropical universe can hold their breath forever. It's built entirely on roleplaying-style stats, with numbers representing shooting power, blocking, passing and so on. You can also recruit players who are just wandering around the game's world, making it feel like a real part of its fiction and not just a distraction.

Problem is, it's really hard when you start. You only have to play one game as part of the story, and it's ludicrously difficult. It's only later, playing against some lesser teams and understanding what the different numbers mean, that you start to get it. After ten or so matches and with a stronger roster, it becomes clear that it's a deep, interesting and challenging minigame that's worth playing. 

Joe Donnelly: Football Manager is great fun, even if you don't like football

I'm going to sort of copy Tom here. On the face of it, Football Manager targets a specific group of players: those who're into football. If you hate football, Football Manager probably isn't for you. That's obvious. But if you like football, or if you can simply stand it—enough to select a team, set a training schedule, and handle innocuous questions from the press on a semi-regular basis—then I think you'll like Football Manager. If you can follow the above and are also interested in strategy sims, I'm convinced you'll fall for it.     

Because at its heart, Football Manager is a strategy game about balancing numbers, managing statistics, gambling on variables, and leading one team to victory over several others. There's fewer guns and tanks and less colonising than the average wargame, granted, but signing up and coming superstars and lifting trophies provides similar thrills. If I were English, I'd sign off with something cheesy here, like: give Football Manager a try and bring football home. But I'm Scottish, which means I play Football Manager to ensure my pathetic national team stands a chance of actually qualifying for a major international tournament. France '98 is but a distant memory. 

Team Fortress 2

By way of speedrunning, roleplaying servers and performance subcultures, I love communities that tailor games to suit their own esoteric interests. To this end, Team Fortress 2's annual trick jumping competition The Beginnings is underway.

As reported by Rock, Paper, Shotgun, The Beginnings 5 hosts contests in trick jumping, speedrunning and a live race. "Do you have what it takes?" asks this Reddit post. "Beginnings 5 is an organized event for competition within TF2 jumping. This year we will be holding three separate competitions, a speedrun competition, a trick jumping competition, and a live race. 

"There are in-game medals to be won. To be eligible for a participant medal you must send in a run that's faster than the showcase time of the map you submit a run on, send in a trickjump that isn't obviously bad, or participate in the live race."

The Reddit post points those interested this way, and notes that the race will be held on  June 23 and will be streamed on Twitch here. 16 racers for each class will take part, this post explains, with racers going head-to-head till two jumpers meet in the grand final. To enter, players are required to submit eight demos—four in POV, and four in SourceTV. 

The following map showcase is impressive all told, but I was particularly taken by the moves from five minutes onward.

More information on The Beginnings 5 lives here. Here's Evan's words on how Team Fortress 2 changed FPSes forever.

Team Fortress 2

It's a question that has troubled many a videogame scholar: Who would win in a fight, Team Fortress 2 or Overwatch? While the former gets points for being the original posse, the latter brings a undeniable sense of flair. It's a tough call, but we finally have a clear answer thanks to talented Source Filmmaker animator The Winglet, who made the video above to settle it once and for all.

Clocking in at just over eight minutes, it's a surprisingly lengthy (and hilarious) video that shows each cast of characters duking it out on one of TF2's Payload maps. I love that each character archetype, like Widowmaker and TF2's Sniper square off against each other as the larger battle rages around them. There's also a particularly hilarious scene involving Mei and Spy that I won't spoil. But damn, I couldn't stop laughing.

You can check out The Winglet's other videos here.

Thanks, Kotaku.

Team Fortress 2

Which games would make great movies or TV shows? That's the question we've put to the PC Gamer staff in this week's PCG Q&A, and almost all of us preferred the idea of TV series to films (perhaps because game movies are destined to be dumpster fires forever). Let us know your suggestions in the comments, too!

Andy Kelly: a Silent Hill anthology show

The cursed town is different for every sinner who's lured to it, and I think that's a perfect setup for a series of standalone horror/mystery stories. The supernatural nature of the setting would allow the writers to come up with some really twisted, mind-bending plotlines, and the town would provide some loose structure, making all the episodes feel like part of a whole: similar to the brilliant Inside No. 9, in which every episode is set in a house or other indoor setting numbered 9.

With the success of shows like Black Mirror, Electric Dreams, Inside No. 9, and Room 104, the anthology is making a comeback, and I think I prefer them to ongoing narratives that take 80 episodes to wrap up. So I'd love to see Silent Hill, which is basically an anthology series itself, get the same treatment on TV.

Tom Senior: BioShock

The next time Netflix want to embark on an lavish showcase project like Altered Carbon, perhaps they should take a look at the underwater city of Rapture from the BioShock universe. Watching one guy sneaking around firing bees out of his arms isn't going to be good television, but a show set during the fall of Rapture—before the events of the first game—could be great. You've got warring factions, competing philosophies, demented splicers and the oppressive threat of the ocean itself wrenching districts apart. 

It could be a decent horror show, though it will be tricky to find heart and empathetic characters among Rapture's central ideologues. It's nothing a little retcon can't fix. Follow a few good souls as they fight hard to stay sane and escape as society implodes. It might be hard to find room for a second series, but hey, Bioshock 2 turned out pretty well didn't it? 

Chris Livingston: BioShock (but it's a sitcom)

I'm thinking BioShock but as a Friends-style sitcom, set in Rapture just as everything is going to hell. The gang still meets for coffee (if they can scavenge it out of garbage cans) and wrestle with personal relationships but with the backdrop of a ruined and leaking libertarian paradise filled with lunatics where superpowers can be bought from vending machines. Episodes could include "The One Where Phoebe Dates a Splicer", "The One Where Joey's Corpse Is Harvested for ADAM", "The One Where Chandler Kills His Boss With A Swarm of Bees", "The One With All The Thanksgivings", and "The One Where Ross Discovers He Has No Free Will After Caving In Andrew Ryan's Head With a Golf Club". So no one told you Rapture's gonna be this way (clap-clap-clap-clap-clap) Your home's a joke, it broke, your best friend's D.O.A....

Tim Clark: PUBG or Fortnite as reality shows

The obvious answer is a PUBG or, better still, Fortnite reality show. Just a bunch of poor bastards on an island trying to rapidly build log cabins while their neighbours fire at them with sniper rifles from the tree line. In the current climate we’re probably less than 18 months from this show being commissioned by ITV2 in the UK. “C’mon Chad, stop sobbing, the frying pan is actually a pretty sweet piece of...” *BLAM* “...looks like we lost, Chad. GG WP.” 

Jody Macgregor: Team Fortress 2

I'm saying Team Fortress 2 because what I really want to see is more of the shorts Valve have made for it. Expiration Date was 15 minutes long and that was rad, and the Team Fortress 2 comics have been hilarious as well, so I'd love to see what they do with a string of connected half-hour episodes. I only ever reinstall the game to play it when they do their 'Scream Fortress' Halloween events, but I would watch the hell out of that. 

James Davenport: Dishonored

They should make an anime out of Dragon Ball FighterZ.

But I think a Dishonored movie or HBO-quality series is a no-brainer. Frame it as a political drama and leave the assassin stuff in the margins. I'd love to see the world described in all the diaries and notes and books depicted on a massive scale. Season two or three can see the characters off to Pandyssia, the wild continent described in Sokolov's journals, in search of a lost friend or dark truth. Toss in some kissing and I think we'll have a hit on our hands. 

Andy Chalk: The Final Station

I struggled with this, because I'm not really a TV/movies guy, but I think The Final Station would make for a brilliant (if not particularly coherent) film. Action, drama, tears, Brutalism, and a weird future-train that's prone to breakdowns: What's not to love? I doubt very much that it could be pulled off in any kind of satisfying fashion, and if it was it would surely be a tremendous box office flop. But give me a cinematic experience that's equivalent to the game—the desolation, the mystery, the loneliness of survival in the midst of pure existential horror—and you'll get my money in exchange. 

Samuel Roberts: KOTOR

Since they insist on making Star Wars films until I die, why not adapt a decent Star Wars story that already exists? KOTOR is set so long before the Bad Trilogy that you could adapt BioWare's RPG without contradicting anything. You've got a great ensemble, a killer twist and an interesting backdrop. It sounds better to me than this Han Solo movie, anyway. Plus you can make a killer sequel, too. 

Team Fortress 2

It's the weekend, which means it's time for the PCG Q&A.  We ask a question to our PC Gamer writers, then you answer the same question in the comments below. This week brings out the worst in us all: What's the meanest thing you've done in a game? 

Wes Fenlon: Knights of the Old Republic 

Knights of the Old Republic 2 took a nuanced look at the differences between the light and dark sides of the Force, challenging what you think of as good and bad and the justifications for your actions. It was thoughtful enough to make me strive to be better, to do what I thought was the right thing, even when that thing had complicated repercussions. But the original KotOR wasn't that thoughtful, and its more traditional light vs. dark breakdown made the dark side way more fun

The powers! The powers were so much better. And the rewards were, too! Why do a fetch quest for some dumb alien for 100 credits, when I could then bully him into giving me 200? Why would I listen to Carth Onasi blather on when I can make him miserable, crushing his moral righteousness with every decision? Why let Bastila be Malak's servant when she could be my own?

I think I made the meanest possible decision at every point in Knights of the Old Republic, and was rewarded each time with a more entertaining story and cooler abilities. Honestly, though, making Carth miserable was reward enough in itself.

Chris Livingston: Team Fortress 2 

Way back in 2008, Team Fortress 2 released it's second major update, centered around the Pyro. One of the new weapons was the Axtinguisher, an axe that would result in a critical hit to an enemy on fire. At the time, to unlock the new weapons, you needed a bunch of achievements first. So, I went to an achievement server and started grinding.

Some of the achievements required teamwork, such as delivering a certain amount of damage while being healed by a medic. At some point during my grind, another player appeared and offered to help me out. For hours this extremely nice guy helped me grind out all the Pyro achievements I needed to unlock all the Pyro's new goodies. Finally, my eyes bleary, my wrist cramping, I ticked over into completion and had my new Axtinguisher.

'Now help me?' the player asked in chat, wanting to farm his set of achievements. I glanced at the clock. It was about 3 am. I had to leave for work in three hours. There was absolutely no chance of me helping this incredibly generous person who had devoted his entire night to being my assistant. I know, it's a terrible thing to just quit without a word and leave him stranded. But even more terrible is what I actually did. I wanted to test my new Axtinguisher, so I set him on fire, hit him with the axe, killed him with a crit, and then I quit without a word. Damn me. Damn me to hell.

Tyler Wilde: Rocket League

When playing Rocket League it is generally considered unkind to, while winning 8-0, score a ninth goal at the buzzer for no reason other than to watch your own replay, which as the timer hit zero will conclude with the match immediately ending. It's not the meanest thing in the world, but obviously unsportsmanlike, and I always feel bad about it, even when I do it on accident, and especially when I do it on purpose, which I only do because it's so hard to resist an open net. If that isn't mean enough for you, here's a college football game that ended 222-0, which is pretty mean.  

Steven Messner: Runescape

Back in the early days of Runescape, long before its multiple overhauls, scamming was a pretty common and easy to pull off activity. There wasn't much moderation back then, so it was largely the player's responsibility to make sure that any trade deals wouldn't go awry. It was a lesson I learned the hard way after having a full set of adamantium armor—the second best at that time—stolen from me. The scammer used a well-known exploit to swap items in the trade window at the last second before both players accepted the deal, so thinking that I was getting an amazing deal for selling my armor, I instead got some useless bones. I was furious and looking for payback.

A few minutes later, walking along the road penniless and armorless, I spied another relatively new player wearing a set of steel armor. It was hardly expensive and I could've had my own set in just a few hours of grinding, but for a new player steel armor was a big deal. I wanted revenge, and this poor sap was going to be my victim. I walked up to him and asked about his armor and began telling him that it was possible for me to 'trim' his armor. At the time, the developers Jagex had recently rolled out variants on a few armor sets that had a cosmetic lining around their edges that looked pretty cool, so most players were after it. I told this poor sap that if he gave me his armor, I would return shortly with it trimmed. 

Of course, that was a total lie, it was impossible to modify already existing armor like that. Still, he handed it over and I walked off with my new set of steel armor. I didn't even wait until I was out of eyesight to put it on. About an hour later, I started getting messages from the poor guy eagerly asking if I had trimmed his armor and when he could expect it back. I didn't have the heart to tell him, so I just ignored him. Every day for about a week he messaged me, and every time I wouldn't reply. It was a heartless thing to do—especially because the armor was barely worth anything to me. I had replaced it for something better within the day. I'm a monster.

James Davenport: Kingdom Come Deliverance

I know I've done worse. I've selectively blocked these memories to maintain a healthy self-image, but yesterday's incident is too fresh to forget, I'm afraid. I'm no real monster like Steve or Chris, but last night during a session of Kingdom Come, I went through the woods just to see what I'd find. What I found was a hunter, someone I suspected of poaching due to how rude he was when I arrived. I walked up to say hello but he told me to get lost right away. I stuck around because fuck that guy. He brought out his fists, I brought out my sword, he brought out his sword, and I stabbed him enough times to send him running off through the forest. I could've let him go, but I didn't. I chased him for a few minutes, set on murdering the poor man. 20 hours in my Henry was a fairly virtuous kid, kind to strangers and non-violent whenever possible. But here I was running down someone because they were rude to me. Clearly I was imprinting a personal, petty desperation for revenge onto this Good Virtual Boy, and he would be my unwilling puppet until the deed was done. It took a few arrows to the back to slow the guy down, each smacking into his back with a dull thud. The final arrow dropped him to his knees with a groan. His body went slack and the woods were silent again. I didn't feel any better, but I made a decent amount of coin off flipping his clothes and weapons.

Team Fortress 2

Well, you can add Team Fortress 2 to the growing list of entries into the Steamed Hams meme. A mapper called Whomobile has created a Steamed Hams map for TF2, in which players collect steamed hams and deliver them to Skinner's house, which intermittently catches fire. Players, upon dying, drop steamed hams. (That's what Skinner calls hamburgers. It's an Albany expression.)

If you're not familiar with the Steamed Hams meme, it stems from an episode of The Simpsons called "22 Short Films About Springfield," in which Principal Skinner invites Superintendent Chalmers over for dinner, accidentally burns his roast, and attempts to cover it up by passing off Krusty Burgers as his own cooking. The skit culminates with Skinner's house burning down with his mother trapped inside while he pretends the flames are the Aurora Borealis, in an attempt to avoid embarrassment in front of his boss. The episode has been the source of a number of video remixes posted to YouTube, including a surprisingly good "Steamed Hams but it's Metal Gear Solid."

The features list for the map, at least, is breathtakingly honest:

  • Not Very Well Balanced!
  • Gigantic Sightlines!
  • Based off a meme that will die off in a month!

I didn't see anyone actually playing the map on any community servers, but I ran around it solo for a few minutes. There's an approximation of the Krusty Burger across the street from Skinner's house, and there's huge stack of newspapers in Skinner's garage area, presumably a nod to the episode where he got pinned underneath them and was presumed murdered.

Also, I sincerely doubt the meme will die off in a month, or ever. Memes are eternal. Plus, "Steamed Fortress 2" has a nice ring to it.

Team Fortress 2

Update: So it seems that the report below was incorrect. I initially wrote that Valve was banning Linux users with Linux usernames that included the word 'catbot', but Valve has said those claims were a "tactic employed by cheaters to try and sow discord and distrust among anticheat systems".

It's a bit confusing because a Valve moderator on GitHub, as you'll see below, initially seemed to confirm the story by saying that the banning of users was "deliberate". But another Valve employee has since clarified the matter in a Reddit post.

"VAC will not ban you for simply having catbot in your user name (either your Steam profile or on one or more of your Linux accounts). The bug report—and I suspect many of the posts in this thread—are a tactic employed by cheaters to try and sow discord and distrust among anticheat systems.

"VAC has many different types of detections and we cannot discuss what they do publicly because doing so makes them less effective. However, one thing I can disclose is that all detections require that the detection occur while a user is actively cheating and connected to a VAC-secured server.

"Linux historically hasn't been a problem for cheating--the base rate of cheating is significantly lower on Linux than it is on Windows. Unfortunately, a 'healthy' community of cheaters grew up around catbot on linux and their impact on TF became large enough that they simply could no longer be ignored. Those banned users are very annoyed that VAC has dropped the hammer on them."

Original story:

Catbots, if you're not familiar with the term, are player-created bots that flood TF2 servers, lining up headshots on everything in sight. They're all called things like 'catbot 1574', and they're a nuisance. But in an attempt to stamp them out, some players are claiming that Valve has crossed a line. Anybody with 'catbot' in their Linux username (yes, not their Steam username), will now find themselves with an automatic VAC ban, regardless of whether they've actually booted up TF2 or not.

Now, I don't know how many Linux users have 'catbot' in their username, but there is at least the potential for friendly fire here. On the GitHub thread where the issue was uncovered, one user said that their Steam account was VAC-banned despite claiming to never have cheated. Another said: "I installed Ubuntu on a virtual machine and named the computer catbot-918 and installed Steam, within an hour of not playing anything I received a VAC ban."

A GitHub moderator for Valve confirmed that the policy was in fact a deliberate attempt to combat bots, adding that it was "not open for discussion on Github" (which, on my reading, doesn't mean that the issue is not open for discussion at all, just not on GitHub).

Valve does have a responsibility, and a right, to stop cheaters playing its games. But as a lot of people on this Reddit thread discussing the issue have said, it does seem a bit ham-fisted to ban someone simply because of their choice of Linux username. And besides, it looks like catbot setups have already switched to a different username, which was inevitable. It's probably not the last we'll hear of it.

...

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