Imagine that you’re a first time player. You’ve spent a while downloading the game, or downloading updates and converting to Steam Pipe if you used a CD, and you’re looking forward to seeing what all the fuss is about. As the game loads and you reach the main menu, you’re rather confused. Thankfully, a little notice pops up, suggesting that you play the tutorial.
The first tutorial and the only one available when you first start the game is Soldier. There are tutorials for Demoman, Engineer and Spy too, that unlock one at a time as you complete them. The Soldier tutorial is fairly detailed, covering basic movement, switching weapons, health and ammo and accumulating in a simple game against AI bots, on Dustbowl, briefly introducing other classes. For a starter tutorial, it’s pretty good. The other tutorials though do lack, as they don’t introduce you to any real gameplay. It’s not needed with Demoman but it’d help explain the concepts of Engineer and Spy better. Once you finish the tutorial, you’ve also got the option to play against AI bots.
They’re all incredibly basic tutorials, but the problem is, they aren’t THAT useful when you enter gameplay with real people. Bots are programmed in a specific way and it’s quite easy to predict what they’ll do even in a small number of games. The Engineer tutorial gives you pretty much no idea what to do outside of how to build your buildings, move them around and destroy them. Alright, granted, you’re not going to learn everything from a single tutorial, but these are a bare minimum and offer little help against real players.
But when it comes to real players, on real maps with real objectives, it can be very daunting. You have no idea how long I spent running around Goldrush because I was lost and confused. There’s often a feeling of uselessness when you first start a game, a slight frustration that you’re a dead weight for your team.
That’s where playing Medic comes in. The unusual thing about playing Medic is that it teaches you pretty much everything apart from combat. Well, it teaches you a bit about combat, but not the full on comp stuff like Soldier and Demoman. The biggest part of playing Medic is learning how to not die constantly and the importance of positioning. But even if you’re a newbie, you are still helping your team by healing them, rather than just dying a billion times over and giving another domination to that Demoman-Medic pubstomping pair.
Medics are useful for your team, even if they’re not very good. And you learn a lot by following team mates, seeing where they go, what they are doing, without having to worry about killing things and missing every single shot.
On the flip side, I’m not saying that Medics should be the main introductory class. I mentioned that in the title. But they make a good second introductory class where you can learn more than just firing rockets and hoping that they hit people, or worse, firing a rocket and watching as it flies back towards you because you didn’t know Pyros could airblast your rockets. Put two and two together, or in this case Soldier and Medic together, you get a nice, solid understanding of how things work when playing against other players.
On a final note, please can we get some better tutorials, Valve? Just an all round tutorial covering weapons, drops, switching classes, things like that. Perhaps completing it grants the player with one random, untradable hat or something?