On December 2nd, there was a patch. In that patch came things to do with forcing people to use DX9 or higher for competitive matchmaking. This made me very angry. I am now going to proceed by complaining about this.
DX 8 does lack some of the features that DX 9 has. You don’t get outlines around Payload carts and around whoever’s carrying the intelligence. You miss out on various cosmetic effects. Some things glitch out and have a strange fire texture on them instead of their normal textures, which looks awesome on Pyro cosmetics but shit on other things. DX 8 is old and not exactly great. But DX 8.1 is in the minimum specs for TF2, so it’s there for now.
Thing is though, DX 9 is old as well. It was surpassed by DX 10 in 2006. Backwards compatibility though is what made TF2 so successful, as even old toasters could play it.
Zoom forward to today. Things have changed, The minimum and recommended specs for the game are, to put it lightly, wildly inaccurate. A lot of new things have been added to the game – new game modes, new maps, new effects, new everything. Particularly fancy cosmetics. The base game is struggling under the weight.
All this new stuff means our graphics cards and processors have been put under more and more stress over the years. Older computers are falling behind. But paradoxically, so are newer computers. Yes, there’s always people who say “oh my computer is fine, it must be you and your shitty toaster!” but clearly that’s not the case. You see posts every day of people getting new computers and complaining they’ve got low FPS. If you’ve got people with computers capable of running games that have just come out, but incapable of running TF2, it seems a bit silly to blame the people or their computers.
These changes haven’t come suddenly though. The problems have cropped up slowly over time. Someone starts playing the game, gets into it then realizes after a while that the game is running poorly. This is where configs come in, as people in love with TF2 try and fix things so they can actually play again. This is also where DX 8 comes in. It helps a lot of people struggling to run the game, actually be able to run it.
Not having many of the fancy effects from DX 9 and higher means the game runs, well, more clearly. Some people like to use DX 8 for personal taste reasons, as it removes the visual clutter of weapon skins. For many though, it’s a necessary evil. I’m pretty sure many people want to see all these fancy effects and all that, but Team Fortress 2 is so all over the place that if you want to just play the game, you kinda have to mess with it.
If anything, it has gotten worse since the Gun Mettle update and the introduction of weapon skins. This was the breaking point for me. While I’d previously played the game on medium settings, after the Gun Mettle update, I had to turn everything down as low as possible. I’m certain I’m not alone here.
With this DX 9+ matchmaking thing, it just gets worse. Most of the people using DX 8 are the people who have spent time and effort learning about the game. The friendly Heavies on a Valve server aren’t the people who intentionally set their game to DX 8 because either the game doesn’t work or they hate the weapon skins, it’s all the old timers and the experienced people. This movement alienates the people who will one day dominate the top of the matchmaking ladder! And half the time, this isn’t willing. At least for me, it isn’t. If I could use DX 9, I would!
The ONLY scenario in which removing support for DX 8 is good, is if they do a fucking gigantic performance update.
But I doubt that would happen.