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How To Not Suck At Team Fortress 2


I'm going to assume you're reading this for one of three possible reasons. One, you're still new to Team Fortress 2 and you're not really sure what you're doing, frustrated, etc. Two, you're not new, but you could use some pointers. Or three, you just read shit I post. Honestly, this FAQ of sorts is really more for a fourth option: those that truly, utterly suck at Team Fortress 2, but blame the fuck out of everything and everyone else rather than trying to get better.

Don't get me wrong. There are some games that it just doesn't seem fair how the classes are balanced, how the perks work, that there seem to be achievements for stupid things so you have lots of players doing stupid things to get them instead of just playing the game...you get the idea. And while I could feed into those, the thing is Team Fortress 2 doesn't really fall into a lot of the common potholes of modern FPS multiplayers.

That said, here are a few "pro tips" for not sucking at Team Fortress 2.

1. Be Versatile

Team Fortress 2 has the most important lesson you could possibly be taught right in its title: TEAM. It is not meant to be a one man free for all, deathmatch, or whatever. You are supposed to work in a team to accomplish an objective. While it is still possible to have fun with teams of 1 or 2 people a piece, you're meant to have about 8 people per team.

So you really shouldn't be seeing things like 4 snipers per team, a team full of medics, more than maybe 2 spies per team, or whatever. If you recognize a need, fill it. For example, there have been a number of times where I'll join a server as a medic and they clearly don't need anymore. Now, I really like playing as a medic, which I'll discuss why it's such an important class for beginners in the next section, but if they already have 3 or 4 medics, I'll typically switch to a heavy.

This is a very basic strategy, so let's go through a few more scenarios so you get the basic idea. Are you getting pushed back? Heavy. Are you trying to push forward and you really just need to capture that next point? Heavy or scout. Are you at a stalemate? Depending on the circumstance, that could mean switching to a sniper, heavy, or spy (yes I also really like the heavy class).

The idea is to read the battlefield, take into consideration what you already have, and if someone is asking if someone will change, then figuring out what to do. If what you're doing is already working, perhaps you don't need to do anything new. But if it isn't, think about it in between deaths, then make the change. It's not necessary to stay as the same class throughout the entire match, so making changes when necessary will assist in the overall team effort.

2. Experiment And Learn

So let's say you fall into the "newbie" category. You probably don't know anything about the maps, classes, different weapons, how to build or upgrade shit, what the different aforementioned shit does, which classes work best in what situations...yeah, it can be a little overwhelming at first. Most newbies want to just jump in with a "normal" class and have fun.

I recall a good friend of min, Origim, originally saying "okay, which class just has a machine gun." There wasn't a straight answer I could give him. The heavy has a chaingun, a few other classes have automatics, and the sniper has a machine gun as a secondary weapon (by default), but there wasn't a "normal" assault class. He went with the sniper class which upon further reflection seems like the most obvious class for Origim anyway, since he usually plays as a sniper in other games we play.

This is where being a medic comes in handy. The medic has three...uh..."weapons." Like most classes, he has a melee weapon: a bonesaw. He also has a rapid fire syringe gun. I wish the syringes had varying effects like poison, dizzyness, or whatever, but they don't. It's actually one of the weakest guns in the game, if not the weakest. The third and final..."weapon"...is the one that's important: the healing cannon.

One of the most common strategies in TF2 is to pair up a medic with a heavy, with the medic constantly healing the heavy until you unlock ubercharge, then using ubercharge to unleash devastating and unprecedented justice upon your enemies. But the main reason I say a medic is an excellent starter class is, no, you probably won't be getting a lot of kills with them, but you'll get to see what other players do, how they work, where they go.

It's almost like they're mentoring you by accident. Just by playing as the medic and shadowing one of your teammates to heal him, provided you pay attention, you can learn all kinds of tricks and strategies. Of course, just watching isn't enough. One thing I find that works pretty well is play as each class at least once, then "job shadow" as I've stated.

Each class has a purpose, its own devoted fanbase, and also a major negative. For example, the scout barely has any health, the pyro has limited weapon range, the heavy is slow as shit, and so on. For each class, there is a definitive reason why you would or would NOT use them. Sometimes it comes down to playstyle, but usually it boils down to what works in terms of strategy and the situation at hand.

3. Don't Whine

This is a big one, so pay attention. DON'T WHINE. There are a few reasons people whine and whine and whine when playing TF2. One, you think certain classes, maps, strategies, etc. are worthless. Two, you're barking out orders (or just whining in general) and don't understand why everyone else "isn't acting like a team." Three, you're not having any fun (aka random whiny bitching).

I won't lie. Some nights you get on and all that happens is you get raped. Over and over. Constantly. We'll talk about this more in the next section, but for right now, remember this: it's a team effort and that doesn't necessarily mean your team sucks, but it could mean you suck. If you've followed the information I've already given you and you still suck, don't worry, it will just come with time.

People like to complain about stupid things like the maps or how the classes are uneven or how weapon X needs nerfed or whatever. These people are what I like to call stupid. As I said before, there isn't even one class that's absolutely useless or absolutely overpowered. They ARE balanced and lend themselves well to different playstyles. Sure, there are certain ones I barely play as such as the engineer, demoman, or soldier, and yes, usually it's because of personal preference.

I never complain about the map unless I've played the same goddamn map for 2 hours. And really, at that point, if they don't want to change it, I can always...well, you already see the next section, so you get the idea. Maybe it's because I'm not the type to complain normally or maybe it's because I just shut up and try to have fun. I don't know, but yeah, I usually end up having a lot of fun even if I'm getting absolutely annihilated.

Finally, I want to get into a personal gripe I have with..."generals." These are the aforementioned people that, for whatever reason, have elected themselves to be king of the team. The reason I truly dislike these people is often they have roughly the same (or less) skill level as you, but think they know better than the team and oh, if only they would follow ME and quit using blind, dumb tactics.

Look, if the team's sucking, I can understand this mentality. But if we're actually doing okay, then beyond saying things like "really, we don't need 4 snipers," "why aren't there any medics," and "why isn't anybody trying to capture point," you need to shut the fuck up. You don't have some major epiphany to drop on us. Now, if you've been playing for a while, have an insanely high skill level, AND the team is sucking, again, I understand the desire to do this.

You are not this man and this is not a sneaking mission. Shut your face.

But it doesn't make you any less annoying. I was recently in a game where there was a guy constantly barking out orders over text. Now, there were three problems here. First, again, I don't like generals. Second, text chat? That meant he had to stop, very slowly type (most people can't quite reach my typing speed of 80 WPM) in some random order (often along with unnecessary insults that took even more time to type), hit enter, THEN resume the fucking game.

Why are we losing again? Oh yeah, because we have some IDIOT who thinks he's King Shit that stops every so often, completely and totally wide the fuck open, to scold and chastise US for "doing it wrong." Irony much? And finally, we weren't doing that bad. Actually, we ended up winning. Eventually I got tired of his shit and kept texting (only when waiting to respawn) "hey I think we need to push the cart" and "I bet we'll win if we push the cart."

And guess what? After we won, I immediately quipped "YEEEEAUUGH!!1 My strategy worked!" And he ragequit. Good times. People were laughing and having fun, he was concentrating on why we were sucking...when we weren't. But you know, there was one more thing I could've done...

4. If You're Not Having Fun, LEAVE

Team Fortress 2 is a video game that people play online to have fun with while shooting their friends in the face and doing menial tasks like capturing points, pushing carts, and so on. At its most basic core, TF2 is really nothing more than GoldenEye, but without a dedicated deathmatch mode, meaning there's a much stronger emphasis on teamwork. It can also get rough.

Sometimes you get a bunch of idiots who are AFK. Other times you get one or more generals in a team or just in general idiots with some sort of grudge because "OH MY GAHD THAT GUY CALLED ME A FAGGIT." And sometimes it's hard to say whether it's you or the rest of the team that sucks or maybe the other team is just employing the Rapemaster 5000 DX strategy or they're just that good or...well, you get the idea.

Sometimes, for whatever reason, it's just not fun. But you know, unlike bowling, pool, basketball, or whatever, quitting in the middle of a game isn't exactly frowned upon. Some people might think you ragequit, but if you're not having fun, then bro...you're not having fun. Why keep doing something you're not enjoying? For the faint sliver of light in the darkness of constant, undeniable rape?

Because you've got something to prove? Seriously man, let it go. Everybody has a bad night. You're not going to get better because you keep playing when you're not having fun. Give it an hour or so break, change servers, find some friends that are playing and play with them. Something. The bottom line is it's a game and games are meant to be fun.

There's no reason to keep playing if you're not having fun and it doesn't matter WHY you're not having fun either. TF2 can be an incredibly fun game and also a very difficult one if you're matched up against a really skilled team or you're stuck with a really crappy one or it's just not your night or whatever. I'm not saying anything that isn't already obvious, but it's a point a lot of us take for granted.

If you're not having fun, for fuck's sake, just leave. It's not going anywhere. You can always come back later.


Team Fortress 2 can be an incredibly fun and surprisingly deep multiplayer experience. Playing with friends is fun and it's amazing the different shit you can learn just by paying attention and backing people up, even if you're not a medic. Millions of people can't be wrong and the fact that it's free now, well...that just opened the floodgates for all sorts of new players. Give it a shot, have fun, and enjoy yourself.
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About gunsageone of us since 2:58 PM on 04.11.2008

I've been gaming since 1987. I used to be a big Nintendo fanboy, then Square jumped the shark, so I followed. Eventually I realized neither Square nor Nintendo were the only companies out there worth following and my collection more or less speaks for itself now. I love to meet up with people on XBL, though I haven't done much online with the Wii. I've also been writing game review articles since 2004 on the old Project Wonderboy, then Morphine Nation, and now back to the new Project Wonderboy and various other sites.

I also help out in writing for a local videogame store website (VGMX). Not much else to say, really, when it comes to gaming. I wouldn't consider myself an expert, but I would say I'm experienced.

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