Just finished a nice lazy evening of TF2. There’s something about this game that is tickling all the right places for me lately. Given certain maps, the variety of classes & the chaotic nature of it’s spawn-system, TF2 is strikes me as more strategic than it’s tactically driven cousin, Counter-Strike. It’s like a chess game where the pieces aren’t out for the entire game, just for 15 seconds.
Counter-Strike is tactical because it’s always concerned with the present engagement. Each round is a distinct contest between both sides. One that is only concerned with the present engagement. Whether or not that engagement should happen is not even a concern. Chess is the same way.
TF2 on the other hand, is strategic. Certain maps become wars fought over potentially endless periods of time. Capture points become the scenes of titanic struggles. A near perpetual balancing act, always in flux. The non-linear level design and capture system creates the potential for strategic thinking. Players do not have to progress across the map from A to B to C to D, ad nauseum.
Certain points must be taken before others are opened, but, as is the case with Blackmesa, the back-and-forth between these points, the ease in which they’re won or lost is always in motion. Sometimes it makes more sense to capture a point two steps removed from the linear progression in order to lock out the caps closer to your end cap. This type of level/game design rewards non-linear thinking. It’s always better to find the weak points than to try to a brute force solution. This is exactly the difference between tactical and strategic thinking.
Also, I wanted to mention something about the achievement system. There’s been a lot of moaning and bitching about the internets about how achievements encourage grind and kill the fun. I’m sure this is true for some, but for myself, I’ve never cared. I was in it for the play. Though, I was happy when Valve opened up unlockables with their random, time-based algorithm. It makes things a bit more even.
In the two months or so since the update went live, I’ve collected/found/achieved a large number of the unlockable weapons which has gone a long way to making me feel on equal footing with the mob of TF2 regulars that eat&breathe this game.
Anyhoo, these were just some thoughts I was having about why I’ve been so infatuated with TF2 lately.