Communication makes the world go round. Actually, that’s a lie, the reason the Earth spins is to do with the conservation of angular momentum and gravity and things like that. But communication does make life a LOT easier in pretty much everything in life. Team Fortress 2 is no exception to that rule.
Two things pop into mind when you think about communication in TF2 – heavily community-based servers where everyone knows each other and competitive games. In competitive TF2, communication is a matter of life and death – no matter how good a team is, bad communication will bring them to their knees. It’s very common for a team to use a Teamspeak or Mumble server to communicate, rather than using TF2’s internal voice chat. Why? Well many believe it’s clearer and less laggy. These external programs also give you far more options, like using an open microphone rather than push to talk, a less in-the-way overlay and text-to-speech options. Finally, external programs mean you can continue chatting to your friends or teammates, before, during and after your game, or while switching to a new game completely.
Communication is great. I’ll admit, I still have to work on my communication skills, especially competitively. It’s what separates the goodies from the baddies. It also makes the life of Medics and Engineers far easier. Medics can call out that they’re injured or close to Uber and Engineers can warn that their buildings are low or being sapped, so their team mates can pull back and help defend or stave off an incoming enemy attack. Allies can also call out who is dead or alive and coordinating attacks and counter-attacks is far simpler.
Still, in-game voice chat does its job and comes with a couple of basic functions, most important of which is the ability to mute micspammers. As with all nice things, there’s always someone who has to ruin it. Luckily, all you have to do is pause the game, hit the mute player button and find the perpetrator in the list.
The sad thing is that most people don’t speak. Which is a shame, because it’s so much easier than trying to type in chat. Voice commands do help a little, but nothing is as concise as proper speech. But when people DO communicate, even just a little, great things can happen.
The other day, I was playing on a random cp_Fastlane server, a game mode not often seen, let alone a map. I was playing with Sham, Keith and Davjo, we were messing around in Mumble waiting for our other team mates to arrive. But I was amazed to find that there were a couple of people actually talking in the server. With all those extra voices, we managed to coordinate several defenses and pushes that won us the game and would have been impossible otherwise.
More than just a few pushes happened though. I wasn’t playing Medic (a shocker, I know) since there was already one on our team and the player count wasn’t high enough to justify a second Medic. Unfortunately though, this Medic was a newbie who didn’t seem to understand the role very much. He just hang around spawn, slowly building Ubercharge by healing an Engineer sitting by his nest, following him whenever we moved forward or back. Other team mates had tried communicating via chat, but it took a friendly voice from someone called Medic to eventually convince the Medic to follow and heal other team mates apart from the Engineer/. When I came back to the same server later on, I saw the same Medic occasionally healing others, not just the one Engineer who was now playing Soldier.
See, a lot of good things can happen when you talk. It really does make all the difference.