Just popping by to announce that we now have some sort of official map testing system! Named Mann Co. Beta Maps, this gives us the chance to play new maps that Valve want us to test, while they work out all the bits and pieces. I’ll just point you over here briefly while I ramble on.
Anyway, yes, this is something that we should have had years ago. Like, really, years ago. The one thing after unique classes, hats and the Meet the Team videos that makes TF2 stand out is the quality of Team Fortress 2 maps, both official and community. And new maps, alongside new weapons, are what keep the game fresh and fun and new. So it actually surprises me that it’s taken so long for Valve to add a beta map testing thing. Or even a Map Workshop, akin to that of Garry’s Mod, although I suppose they avoided that because of third party sites. Still, considering how far in we are into the life of Team Fortress 2, it’s odd that they haven’t done this already.
But here we are now, with beta maps. But really, they’ve just added unfinished maps to the game, accessible via quickplay with a checkbox or for everyone else by using the server browser as normal. There’s no fancy system for reporting bugs, they’ve just said “here, have some beta maps, have some fun, then post on your community forum of choice and email us the links” rather than building in some sort of more direct way of commenting. I suppose you can’t have it all, especially since the workshop always ends up being spammed with “plz ad dis valv” and those silly pictures, but it just seems a tad thrown together.
What’s more surprising is that they’ve shown us what is probably a variant of the moonbase map that we’ve all been looking forward to. It’s called RD_Asteroid, with the RD standing for Robot Destruction, clearly a new game mode. They’ve clearly done a lot of work already on this map, and at a first glance, the fact that it’s got basic developer textures seems almost insulting. Nonetheless, it looks great already. A lot of people have commented saying it’s like a good version of 2fort, and a better version of Capture the Flag in general. The space theme is very nice overall, even without a majority of the textures, but parts of the map are quite tight and confusing. That’s the whole point of beta though, so you can test and change these things.
So on the flip side, not only are we getting more maps in the future, we get to test new game modes too. Valve gets praise for letting us have a look at these things, we get new maps to keep us occupied for ten minutes and everyone is happy.
The most surprising thing though is the fact that the other new map, Cactus Canyon, doesn’t have a single cactus in it.