You play enough of a map, eventually you become good at it. You learn all the nooks and crannies, all the secret little hideouts, the best places to do X and Y and Z. And maybe eventually you’ll realise you’ve wasted a ton of your life on one single map and should probably move on and learn about the vast number of other maps out there. Or maybe you’re all normal people who, unlike me, play more than one map at a time. Maybe, maybe not.
One of the many maps though that pops up on a regular basis is Badwater Basin. It’s an old-fashioned Payload map. BLU pushes a cart with a bomb on it along a railroad track that makes no sense. Red has to stop them. Generally by spamming a ton of Engineers on last. By all means, Badwater isn’t a bad map, especially not compared to piles of shit like Goldrush and stage three of Thunder Mountain. Those are just flat out bad and tedious and deserve to be set on fire, which is a shame because stages one and two of Thunder Mountain are genuinely rather good. But I hate Badwater. Irrationally almost.
My hatred comes from an old friend, actually. Being the only friend I had who played Team Fortress 2 apart from my brother, I’d often get invited onto the same server as her. The server was called TF2Newbies, but it was anything but newbie friendly. The map was also running Badwater all the time. Not because it was a Badwater 24/7 map, but because everyone kept on voting for it. Occasionally, we’d end up on something like Dustbowl, but it might as well have been a permanent Badwater server.
Of course, being the newbie that I was, I’d regularly get my ass kicked. Over and over again. Mostly by Engineers and Snipers. I’d also occasionally get stuck inside doors and spawn rooms, because I was always the unlucky sort of person who would respawn just as the enemy team captures, leaving me trapped in a ditsy little grey room forever.
This constant gameplay made me hate Badwater. And I still do. Because of the first and last parts of the map. But mostly because of that damn tunnel.
Seriously, that fucking tunnel. Surely you’ve all seen it. It’s like the biggest choke point in Team Fortress 2. A long, narrow path with no flanking potential, no escape routes, no nothing. It’s just you, the cart and a billion enemies spamming things towards you. There’s nowhere to hide apart from behind the cart. And that barely protects you.
That tunnel wouldn’t be so bad if there wasn’t another gigantic, Sniper and Engineer filled area outside of it. While the rocky area towards the first point isn’t anywhere near as bad as the tunnel, it’s still a haven for Engineers, with plentiful ammo kits and rocky crevices to hide behind, and one gigantic view point for Snipers. The only thing that redeems this area is the fact that Soldiers and Demomen can be rather mobile around here.
The rest of the map isn’t that much better, but at least the sight lines aren’t as horrible. There’s that infamous spot though where Engineers could build a nest, and because of the size of the doors, they can block themselves in with a teleporter. Combined with a sentry’s wide coverage, this meant that Spies can’t even do their damn jobs of sapping things properly. At least not without alerting every Engineer on the map that there’s a Spy ’round ‘ere.
Then we’ve got the last point. Luckily, there is actual high and low ground that can be taken. But it’s a huge area easily covered by tons of defensive classes, who will make the use out of that high ground. Rounding that corner, you can expect anything and everything. But most of the time all you get is sentries. If it wasn’t for that little off-shoot just before the penultimate bend in the track, BLU would have to go in blind every time. Most of the time they die anyway though because of the hordes of sentries strewn around like confetti.
And before you say “but this map is fine if your team is competent!”, no one is ever competent in this game.