Smissmas 2013: A Completely On-Time Review

Lots of cool stuff this year, like balance changes, free tags, and a festive crossbow!

Merry Smissmas everyone! Today I’d like to talk to you ab- What’s that? It’s already 2014, you say? Maybe I wrote this on the 21st of December and Aabicus screwed something up again. Regardless, it’s time to discuss the somewhat divisive Teufort festivities that we got this time around. Also, a note to those who read my only other article thus far… I promise this isn’t going to be another complaint-fest about me losing my toys. This is my attempt at an article that actually matters. If my last entry was a page in some crappy tabloid, this is my article submission for Time Magazine. Or maybe just Sports Illustrated. You get the point.

Let’s start with the easy stuff, shall we? As is the usual for this time of year, we got a new crop of Festive weaponry as well as the now-standard slew of community-made items. While I haven’t seen quite enough of the new cosmetics to develop great opinions, I feel safe saying that the Steam sale rewards didn’t look like they were remotely worth the effort or luck required to get them. As for the Festives? I’m a bit conflicted, personally. The first year’s batch of Festives were functional but rather lazy, with a simple string of Christmas lights wrapped around each weapon. Last year’s, in my opinion, were pretty inspired. Fun placement of lights/bells/ribbons made them much more appealing to me than the first set, especially with the Festive Buff Banner’s passive nature allowing it to function as a Christmas-y cosmetic. This year’s feel like a valiant attempt that falls short of what was accomplished in 2012, and despite things such as candy cane projectiles for the Crossbow or my appreciation of the attempted gift box theme for the Black Box, I can’t overlook how odd several of the actual models look, or how lazily Festive Jarate was handled.

Notably, the new festives did one thing right: including the crossbow!

Moving on into also-easy but different-enough-for-me-to-open-another-paragraph territory, changing the Hat and Misc. slots into 3 generic Cosmetic slots was… probably meant to be more interesting than it actually was. If the equip regions were more refined, this might have allowed for somewhat interesting combinations, but even then, most people (myself included) already have at least one beloved hat we’d prefer to go with our loadout, and since a third Misc. slot (or a fourth Cosmetic slot, I suppose) doesn’t seem likely to come soon due to the engine’s entity limits, this really felt more like a tease at better loadouts than it does a genuine improvement.

Unusual options were also added to Misc. items, which would be more interesting if they hadn’t also removed the glitch allowing for “clipping” items to be equipped. Without wishing to go on another article-long rant akin to my Halloween Spell tirade (especially since this didn’t even affect me personally), I once again find myself questioning Valve’s approach. While it’s been made clear that even long-standing glitches, however unharmful, are subject to removal, one would think that a less extreme measure could have been taken. If traders are to get screwed over, it should be because more of their precious hoarded items are redistributed to the masses so they can be obtained by the less-fortunate of Teufort. It should NOT be because items they paid good money/keys/buds for were arbitrarily nerfed without so much as a warning.

Moving on to… things I have surprisingly little thought about, the weapon balance changes. I can’t bring myself to care much about the alternate banner buffs, which seem like interesting incentives but don’t shake things up enough to elicit a stronger reaction from me. The same goes for the Crit-a-Cola and Diamondback (the latter of which I expected to hate more, but I haven’t fallen victim to it once since the update hit). The Soda Popper buff I actually find interesting, since it encourages an alternate playstyle (as opposed to the less recent Baby Face’s Blaster nerf which brought it more in line with the stock scattergun), practically bringing us an entirely new weapon, which I admit helped it sting less when I remembered that this was our first year without actual new weapons. Last, but completely least, the Short Circuit is… broken. Everybody is entitled to their own opinion, but I don’t see how anybody can legitimately defend a weapon which allows you to completely shut down explosive projectiles with no repercussions besides “not having the Wrangler”. If it behaved this way only in MvM, or if it were possibly to upgrade it to act as it does now in MvM, I would be fine, but in PvP I find it downright disgusting.

Special mention goes out to this year’s Stockings, which generously included some nice freebies such as tags, backpack expanders, some extra weapon drops, and… regrettably, tickets. Without attempting to double the length of this article with my complaints alone, let me say this much. Some of the worst match-ups I’ve ever gotten out of the matchmaking system  happened during this holiday break because of those tickets. Countless teams with over half of the members having a blank Tour number and absolutely no Mann Up experience managed to be worse than even my experiences with Boot Camp. Something I hoped would generate even more MvM rewards only served to bring productivity to a halt as countless people in predicaments similar to my own were unable to complete missions if we didn’t have enough friends to form full teams with.

So… yeah. Despite all of my negativity (and believe me, after last time, negativity wasn’t the feeling I wanted to have while writing this), it was definitely an interesting update, with potential somewhat weighed down by some of the choices made, especially since the holiday break meant that less favorable changes have had to stick around longer than many of us would like. Regardless, I hope everybody had a merry Christmas and will have a happy New Year!

Did I mention there’s a FESTIVE CROSSBOW‽

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