On Saturday 11th of July, Confusion hosted the SPUF Arena Respawn event with some help from Sham and Davjo and I got to try out Arena Respawn for the first time. Now, I’m a bit of a purist, I like things unmodded in TF2. Plus, Arena was my original game mode after 24/7 Junction, and I was quite good at it, particularly the Arena-only maps that no one else really plays. Not great, since I’ve always been bad at Deathmatching, but I’ve played safe and strategically and also know when to go “who gives a fuck”. So let’s have a look at Arena Respawn and see how it is.
The event was hilarious. I sucked a lot, got dominated a ton, landed a crossbow bolt on a Scout, dominated some people by being a WM1 Pyro doing the same thing over and over and somehow topscored as Pyro on Offblast. If I ever get banned, you know who I’ll come back as now. I wish I actually recorded it, I only grabbed a couple of screenies for this article.
First off, how it works. Arena Respawn plays like normal Arena mode, with some bug exceptions. First off, you can’t win by capping. If you capture the control point, every dead player on your entire team respawns, but standing on the point when captured marks you for death, so you can’t camp the point. There’s also other random rules and stuff, like the last player can get crits if they get a kill and there’s more than 3 opposing players left, but most of these are based on player counts.
Alright, now we know what’s going on, let’s discuss the thing.
Before I begin though, you MUST turn off random crits. They’re not fun for anyone. This is Arena, death is almost permanent. Random crits become even more bullshit when dying is a big thing. It ruined some otherwise incredibly good plays and made other plays seem less impressive. Heck, even the crits-when-last-alive thing is pretty bullshit too, because it makes even a 9-health Kunai Spy dangerous as heck.
As for the respawn mechanic? I actually think it’s really lame, because it respawns ALL dead players on the capper’s team. So it’s just been a really hard battle and you’ve whittled the enemy team down to a single Engineer, while losing most of your team? Oh look he’s got a sentry up and just capped and now it’s 5v1. Capturing the control point should only bring back a certain number of people, possibly based on who captured. Scouts, Heavies and Engineers are much harder to get off control points than lone Medics or Snipers, so ideally that lone Sniper should respawn more people. Alternatively, it should respawn people depending on the number of players alive, so if you capture with 3 on your team and 6 on the enemy team, you’d respawn 4 more people, while capturing with 3 people on both teams would only respawn 1-2 players, as to not overwhelm the enemy. A better case scenario would be to only respawn one random player at a time, prioritizing most points, then Medics, then power classes.
When you can capture depends on the server. Problem is, any more than 30 seconds, and you find there’s not even a chance to capture the control points, let along contest it. Entire wipes, particularly on low player counts and with crits enabled, happen incredibly quickly.
Balance-wise, everything’s game. Engineers can still be troublesome, but with a limit of one per team and no Gunslinger around, that’s not an issue. Most class problems can be easily fixed with class limits. Weapons are also not too bad, although the Vita-Saw is still useless. The new weapon-drop system actually feels pretty good in Arena Respawn, as it opens up more possibilities to both winning and losing teams. Heavy Medic pairs are very irksome if they’re the only two enemies left, due to the constant heals, but how you deal with them will vary. A Demoknight could probably charge in, a Pyro could airblast them away and a Spy could get a backstab, but they’re very hard to get off the control point. The marked-for-death-while-on-your-control-point thing does help a lot though, it stops people recapturing instantly and punishes those who do camp the control point.
There’s also bugs to be ironed out. If a team caps then finishes off the last few players, the losing team will get a Humiliating Defeat warning, even if they killed everyone apart from one person who capped on their own. The Humiliating Defeat lines should be silenced or replaced. I’ve also noticed that you can lose for no reason. While playing, it happened twice, once on Offblast and once on Watchtower. On Offblast, there was still a single Spy alive on RED, but BLU won anyway despite there being time left. On Watchtower, the same thing happened, with two Engineers alive on the point and a Medic and Sniper alive elsewhere – the Medic and Sniper lost despite having whittled it down to an even 2-2. The extra sound cues for respawning and being marked for death while being on the point are also rather annoying.
Finally, there’s the “You Must Sit Out” box. It regularly screws up and often appears when on the winning team, even if they won the last two rounds. The whole sitting out thing has always annoyed me, especially since it often screws over people who have just been team-switched and seems to target everyone, not just low-scoring players. It should only activate when there are less than 6 players per team (10 players total), since every player counts for much more than they would when there’s 20 players or 28 players on a server.
Overall, it’s a good game, but random crits really fuck it up. DO NOT keep random crits on if you’re playing. Turn them off. It makes your awesome killing sprees even more impressive. I think I prefer normal Arena though, and ideally, a better version would be Arena with no capping, no Gunslingers and no Cloak and Dagger.