There is one map in TF2 that I really, really love, despite how everyone I ever play with immediately wants to switch over to play pl_upward. Seriously, what’s the deal with that bloody map, the last point on that thing always have like 10 Level 3 Sentries on it. Anyways, my most favourite map in TF2 is pl_frontier.
When we talk about Frontier, we’ll have to talk about the map’s most recognizable feature, and also one of my most favourite things in TF2. Ladies and gentlemann, may I present to you … Lil’ Chew Chew.
Lil’ Chew Chew is the payload cart for pl_frontier, and is one of the unique selling points of this map. Like all other payload carts, you can hide behind it, push it towards the end to blow something up, and works as a mobile Level 1 Dispenser for BLU. Unlike other payload carts, Lil’ Chew Chew eats people.
Yes, Lil’ Chew Chew can actually gobble up a whole chunk of your health if you stand in front on it while it’s moving. The damage scales according to the number of players riding on the platform, with three or more players being an instant kill for whoever stands in front of it. Lil’ Chew Chew doesn’t care if you’re Ubered, Bonk’d, on a Godlike killstreak or on BLU and is actually pushing the cart, he’ll eat you up like how Heavy eats a Sandvich. Lil’ Chew Chew does not give a damn who you are, as long as you’re within biting range while it’s moving, you will be fed to the big blue metal land piranha.
Aside from that, the rideable platform behind the cart allows three or more people to ride on the cart comfortably, and the large train head provides excellent cover for whoever’s pushing the cart. Lil’ Chew Chew is BLU’s greatest ally on Frontier, and its sheer usefulness makes me forgive all the time I dropped an Uber because I stood in front of it while it’s moving. Not to mention, this thing is so much cooler than the other plain ol’ objectives. Valve should probably come up with a control point that catapults whoever’s standing on it to the next point when it’s captured. Or an intelligence briefcase that works as a jetpack.
I can’t have Frontier be my favourite map if the only thing I like is the payload cart, of course. Aside from Lil’ Chew Chew, the map itself has plenty of flank routes and shortcuts for both RED and BLU. As someone who frequently plays Flank Heavy/Pyro, this feature is a godsend since it means I can travel around chokes while being mostly unnoticed. No one expects a stealth attack from behind when they’re busy fighting for control over a chokepoint, and that’s when I give a little reminder to the enemy team that I exist.
The amount of flank routes and shortcuts gives me so much more options. The map itself is quite advantageous for RED, where they generally have a height advantage, with Lil’ Chew Chew is the BLU team’s trump card. In that sense, these flank routes are what that lets a player from either team play around the other team’s advantages. I really love this element of being able to outwit enemies, sneak past the chokepoints where the enemy team is comfortable with the advantage they have, and strike when the enemy team least expects it.
But the true unique point about this map is how the map is generally more favourable to RED, as mentioned before. BLU gets an armoured vehicle, so RED gets the terrain advantage as compensation. Whether the map is made for the cart, or the cart is made for the map, I do not know, but they balance each other out, giving both teams a more-or-less equal fighting chance as long as they play to their strengths.
The “Map VS Cart” design philosophy in Frontier gives each team a different advantage to work with and around, and this difference, I suppose, is what draws me to Frontier. I can either have the map on my side, striking at the enemy team from above and around the enemy team, like Batman with a gun in broad daylight. Or I can have a vehicle of doom that tramples over everything in its way, punching a hole in enemy defenses and shielding everyone from harm.
In the end, it is how the cart and the map play off each other that makes me love Frontier like how aabicus loves orange chicken, where the sour and zesty taste of the sauce goes with texture of the chicken… wait sorry, Frontier. I was supposed to be talking about Frontier. The map and the cart complements each other and makes Frontier a great map for me. Some day, when I am old, and Valve has finally gotten around to releasing Half Life 3, portal 3 and Team Fortress 3 as the Orange Box 2 bundle, and the last Team Fortress 2 server has shut down, I’ll still remember Frontier with fondness, and the times where I rode the cart through gunfire to score a point.