Over the past 3 months, I’ve spent over $400 on Team Fortress 2: Mann vs. Machine. I want to provide an honest and accurate reflection of Mann vs. Machine, in addition to clearing up some of the misconceptions about the game mode that many of the newer players have. For those of you that are looking to continue or start playing MvM, this guide will lay out the basic details that you’ll need to determine whether or not MvM is right for you.
You will not profit
A lot of players start playing MvM in hopes of turning a profit from item drops. Throughout my tours, I’ve managed to pick up 4-5 Australiums (more than average), along with several high-end Professional Killstreak Kits. It is possible to trade these items for steam funds, but this shouldn’t be mistaken for profit. In order to obtain an actual profit, you would need to enter the Steam market with your own money via Paypal etc., aquire ‘valuable’ items, and exit the market by reselling those items via Paypal (or, alternatively, for keys that can then be sold via Paypal). The reality is that this process requires much more effort than its worth. Even if you manage to obtain several Australiums, it’s unlikely that the money earned will surpass the money that you will have spent on tickets. In the event that you do turn a profit, it will be incredibly slim. A $30 profit, for example, would come at the cost of playing the game for a countless number of hours. The verdict: play for fun, not for the drops. If the game becomes boring for you, stop playing.
Poorly designed matchmaking system
The matchmaking system gives rise to a plethora of issues associated with Mann vs. Machine. MvM players are notorious for being poor sports. This is because players with high tours are thoughtlessly paired up with low tour players. Its less fun for players that have low tours to be carried through the game by a 500 tour Demoman, just as its less fun for the high tour player to have to do the carrying. Don’t be confused; high tour players like myself don’t mind playing with new players. Instead, I’m suggesting that low tours need to be evenly paired up with high tours so that they might be able to receive useful tips and help. A lobby full of 5 low tours and a single high tour usually never works because the majority of players aren’t affiliated enough with the game mode to succeed. Instead, one or two low tour players should be paired up with four to five high tour players so that they can receive help, while at the same time not jeopardizing the team’s chance of success. The verdict: there is little that the player can do to improve the efficiency of matchmaking. If you would rather not deal with grumpy players and unbalanced teams, you may want to steer clear of playing until a later update for MvM is released (if ever).
Incorrect use of the voting system
The voting system is used unjustifiably in nearly every match that you will join. People expect that a certain team composition is always fulfilled, along with a specific set of weapons. The reality is that there is alot of freedom in choosing classes, weapons, and upgrades. A good player with bad upgrades is more successful than a bad player with good upgrades. The success of a team doesn’t hinge on a single upgrade or a certain weapon, but there seems to be widespread misconception that it does. Players are quick to kick people for not following a stringent set of rules, mostly because of the last point that I made – the matchmaking system. Players get frustrated after failing to find a team that is capable of completing the mission, so they believe that forcing players to play a certain way will increase their chance of success. After hours of searching, it’s tempting to start making demands, and start booting off players that don’t meet your standards. There are very few instances where kicking a player is justifiable, as opposed to just leaving the server. Typically, these are the generous rules that I follow when deciding to initiate a kick:
1. No kicking before the first wave has been started and/or attempted, period. Give all players a chance, regardless of their choice of class and weapons.
2. The first time that a wave is failed, continue and try again – especially on Wave 1. Wave 1 is typically the most challenging wave for most players due to the lack of upgrades.
3. The second time that a wave is failed is a sure sign that there is an issue with the team. At this point, it will likely be obvious who needs assistance. Give these players a helpful suggestion – a change in upgrades, class, weapons, etc.
4. When a wave is failed for the third time, its likely because there are players that aren’t contributing and/or are being stubborn. If the player(s) are not willing to compromise, re-configure their upgrades, or change to a more useful class in order to contribute more to the team, you can then vote to kick them.
Even then, I will only attempt to kick when the game has progressed to Wave 4-6, where I would rather not leave and start over. Otherwise, you should be willing to leave a server if the team is stuck on Wave 1 or 2. Some might consider this process to be a bit generous, but I see this as being fair. Unfortunately, this process will often get trumped by anxious players that will kick a player within the first few minutes of setup time on Wave 1. The verdict: If you aren’t patient, don’t play MvM.
MvM is expensive
This is fairly self explanatory so I don’t feel like there is much to cover here. Just realize that you’re paying $3-4 for roughly 2-3 hours of play. If you aren’t careful, this can add up very quickly. If you end up wanting to continue on and reach 100 tours or beyond, just know that it won’t be cheap. When you start spending money on the game, it becomes more and more tempting to buy other items that aren’t related or required to play MvM as well – unusuals and other valuable items. The verdict: Be responsible and don’t spend more money than you can afford (unlike myself).