Tutorials are great. I like games with tutorials that help explain things. The best sort of tutorials are ones which make hints pop up and fit with the rest of the game, but you have the option to turn off the hints in your options menu. Games with shit tutorials will put me right off, like Warframe originally did. Team Fortress 2 and its tutorials though are… lacking, to say the least.
Well, the Soldier tutorial isn’t THAT awful. It covers the barest of basics of the game – movement, jumping, switching weapons and shooting, before putting you in a game with bots. The bots are also the most basic of bots, and it’s almost impossible to lose. That’s fine. It’s a very basic tutorial designed for the first time you open up the game. After that though, you’re kinda on your own.
I say that because the rest of the tutorials – for Demoman, Spy and Engineer, only go over the bare minimum again. You learn nothing of advanced mobility, of the huge number of things that can destroy a Spy’s cloak or disguise, of alternate weapons for the classes or anything like that. You also don’t get the nice mini match on Dustbowl with bots.
On top of that, you don’t even get basic tutorials for the other classes. Does a brand new player know to double jump as Scout, put out burning players as Pyro or spin up early as Heavy? Probably not. Heck, the basic tutorials don’t even cover explosive and crouch jumping, which are all but required if you want to ever get good at TF2.
Thing is, these things can and are taught to new players eventually, but not in an easily accessible way. There’s loading screen tips, which are wholly random (and sometimes not even very good) and there’s the official wiki, but not everyone is willing to leave their game and look at a wiki to learn something. The only place where new players can go and test things out is either by playing against bots, or jumping head first into either a casual matchmaking server or (rarely) a community server. And then newbies get shouted at for not doing very well by mean but experienced players, or they only ever play with other newbies so they don’t see these things to learn them.
In-game resources, particularly tutorials, need to be abundant. And perhaps even intrusive, as long as there’s a way for players to turn tutorials, hints and tips off. But there is literally no reason to not have better tutorials, better information and better testing areas for players, if you want them to improve.
The lack of a sandbox in TF2 is an issue too. It’s nowhere near as bad as the lack of a sandbox in games like League of Legends and its millions of item combinations, which take time, effort and minions to obtain, but there are a lot of item combinations in Team Fortress 2 and a place to test them out would be great for a new player. With a small, added area to do basic rocket jumps, maybe, since not everyone knows that Jump servers exist. Ideally, you’d be able to access all TF2 weapons in this mode. Hats would be optional, but another way to try before you buy might be good for selling hats and keys as well. Overwatch has a very nice sandbox area and something similar would do wonders for TF2.
That’s not to say that Overwatch’s tutorial is better. You start off with Soldier 76, who has a sprint on his shift ability. Which is find and dandy and all, but I then assumed everyone else has a sprint ability, picked Reinhardt in the sandbox area and proceeded to charge off a cliff. But the whole sandbox mode is a super good way to be able to test things out.
But what can we do? Valve seems to be far too slow in doing anything, and TF2 is nearly 10 years old now. Well, we’re not completely without hope. We can help teach newbies, tell them ourselves, rather than constantly ranting that everyone in the server is retarded, both inside and outside the game.
We know these things. We need to teach others.