Why I like Helltower

In the days leading toward the sixth annual Scream Fortress event, Valve have been kind enough to give us easy access to past events. Yesterday I played on Helltower with two decent teams and, for the first time, some idea of what I was actually doing. My team lost, but it was fun anyway.

I’ve seen enough articles about Hightower already. Personally I think it’s a rather boring map, good for training in propelled jumps and sniping but little else. Snipers can be so annoying. But the Helltower version? Much more interesting!

I know people are complaining that Scream Fortress should be scarier, but I find the Hallowe’en stuff makes for a better atmosphere. A choking, bat-infested atmosphere raining magic upon us mortals. All the spellbooks, the skelingtons and the disappearing bridge make for some cool new mechanics. A magic spell aimed at the right place can rid you of those pesky Scouts. Instead of Market Gardeners, the map is haunted with whatever the players conjure up. Basically I’m a big fan of the event.

Vintage C Keith was kind enough to drop in and throw healthies at me, unwarned of my switch to the Demopan playstyle. Armed with a pan and a grenade launcher, I slowly made my way up the scoreboard and got a good feel for how Helltower works. It’s possible to make some fearsome rampslides off the tower, so you don’t need stickybombs to get around fast. The exploding pumpkins are awesome as traps and jumping aids.

When you do end up falling into the Chasm of Doom, at least it looks cool. There’s a glowing lake of lava at the bottom, rather than just a crack. The carts themselves are also different from Hightower. Instead of bombs, they are mine carts bearing the corpses of the Mann brothers, desperately trying to win the race to hell. Of course, the players then go to hell as well, which I think looks fantastic. Word of advice: don’t activate the Chargin’ Targe if you can’t see where you’re going. I spent my first two seconds in hell charging and the next minute as a ghost.

Skeletons, pumpkins, spellbooks, corpses in carts… they’ve really chucked in a lot of material here. Because of the sheer amount of Hallowe’eny things, I got utterly confused when I played on Helltower last year. Back then I was new to TF2 and relied a lot on Medic to show me how to play. Now that I know the difference between the Cow Mangler and the Pomson 6000, it’s not confusing at all. It’s just a lot of fun.

Say what you want about Scream Fortress, I think it does what it’s supposed to do. If it were scarier, some players would be put off. If it were less spooky, some players would get bored. When I consider Helltower and how it differs from the normal map, I believe that Valve have done a great job with it. Now we have a teaser of this year’s event and it looks to me like it’ll be a real blast. With bumper cars?

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