The Smissmas update is not exactly that Smissmas-y. Yes, Miss Pauling is supposedly on holiday. Yes we’ve got the noise makers and the stockings. Yes there’s a festive crate wandering around. But there’s no spirit or anything going around. Once everyone’s dumped their Giftapults and Secret Saxtons, that’s kinda it.
Previous years weren’t much better, but they did bring new weapons for people to use. Just a few generally, but enough. This year we’ve received not new weapons, but weapon reworks and not always in a good way. It’s not really a rework if a weapon is made pretty much unusable. Or if it goes the other way and makes things stupid. Who seriously looked at the Phlogistinator, one of the least skillful weapons in the game (no combos, no assisting allies, no airblast, just getting full MMMPH and walking), and thought it needed a flash of Ubercharge, a flash of Quick-Fix Megaheal at the same time, followed by a Kritzkrieg charge? Probably someone who has a strange one, I guess.
There were maps too. All community maps. Same as every year. But now I think about it, there’s something bothering me. There was an update recently that had pretty much everything this update had. Yes, I see what the problem is.
Tough Break was basically Gun Mettle 2. Everything’s the same mostly. Bunch of community maps that aren’t the ones the community has been begging for *cough*SUNSHINE*cough*. Bunch of very obscure and often needless weapon changes that don’t fix things that need fixing. A vague attempt to fix bugs that also creates more bugs. And a CS:GO-like campaign in which you shell out money for a pass, so you can do a bunch of random tasks to get loot, some of which requires more money to access. If anything, Tough Break was 100% predictable, and if this is the reason why we got a half-assed Halloween from Valve that made us do all the work, then I’m disappointed.
The ONLY new thing is the idea of using specific weapons to do contracts. Which is great if you get a Black Box, Beggar’s Bazooka or Loch N Load contract, but shit if you get a Sandman contract. Or a contract that requires you to get points on defense, only to be teambalanced when you’re nearly done. You’re basically just doing things that you should be doing anyway, except less efficiently because you need to fill up a little bar that’s not technically related to the game’s objective.
But what worries me most about this is that they’ve set a new precedence for TF2 updates. Every major update will probably consist of some sort of pass in the Mann Co. store, which allows you to get special crates which need a key to open, combined with missions to get you a bunch of reskinned stock weapons and a chance to get yet more crates that need keys to open. Throw in some maps, cosmetics and taunts made by the community and some nonsensical balance changes and that’s pretty much every update from here on. Minus the campaigns, that’s kinda been every update from the last year or so as well.
This pattern of paying to get crates is insane. We used to just buy a key to open crates, with a chance at wasting metal to craft new hats. New weapons would be craftable. The influx of community maps is alright, but the maps picked feel like they’re chosen at random, especially now when we’ve got Halloween variants of maps that don’t have their normal versions made official.
You know what worries me the most though? We’re happily swallowing all of this. People are happy to dump $6 onto TF2, then a few more dollars here and there to open cases. So what if you make your money back if you get lucky and sell early, you’re still buying into all of this, you’re still giving Valve money.
I fear this is it for TF2 updates. If the future is going to be nothing more than cases and contracts, then I don’t want to be part of it. Guess I should be thankful for the free maps and weird balance changes.