Last week Valve stunned the world by making one of its most popular online shooters, Team Fortress 2 (TF2) Free to Play. This obviously resulted in a massive influx of players who for the last six odd years or so missed out on one of the most awesome online gaming experiences there is. When you pit newcomers against veterans who’ve been eating, breathing and doing all sorts of nasty stuff with Team Fortress 2 since 2007, the results will be a bit disastrous since Team Fortress 2 has quite a steep learning curve. And since we were all noobs one time, here’s a basic guide that should help you get by. 

Practice makes perfect

Practise will teach you the basics

Practise will teach you the basics

TF2 may look all cartoony and funny but it is a brutal game where the weak will die, painfully, over and over again. To avoid humiliation, Valve have been considerate enough to add in a Practice mode (present in the main menu itself) through which you can gain a better understanding of the different classes, diverse game modes as well as the maps. And don’t scoff at the bots; they will kick your butt all over the place.

Experiment with and understand your class

TF2 has nine distinct classes each of which have their strengths and weaknesses. Experiment with each of them to see which one suits your play style the best. Newcomers would be better off with sticking to easier classes like the Heavy, Medic or Pyro after which they can graduate to the tougher ones like Soldier, Spy etc. Once you find your groove with a particular class, you’ll be tempted to stick to that class but I strongly suggest becoming more of an all round player as some classes are useless in certain maps.

Choose your destiny

Choose your destiny

After you’ve zeroed in on your class, it’s time to fully understand its pros and cons. Sure the Heavy may seem like an invulnerable obvious choice at first but his slow movement speed makes him an easy target for spies and snipers. Similarly, the scout while fast and nimble can easily be decimated by a Heavy’s machine gun or a well timed rocket. Plus some of the larger maps are crawling with spies and snipers so running around all clueless like a Heavy will get you backstabbed or shot in the head in no time.

There’s no I in Team

A collaborative effort

A collaborative effort

TF2 is a team-based shooter and just so you understand what I’m saying, a TEAM BASED SHOOTER. This isn’t Call of Duty where you can stroke your e-private part after racking up a fifteen frag killstreak. It’s all about fulfilling objectives and working as a team to fulfill those objectives here without which both you and your team lose. Investing in a headset would also be a very good idea since constant typing while trying to avoid being burnt by a Pyro’s flame thrower can get a bit tricky.

Do not cry wolf

I really find it highly annoying – especially while playing as a Medic – when people keep spamming the Medic key even though they have full health. Hey kids, that’s the key you press when you’re hurt so the doctor can make the pain go bye bye. If you feel the need to constantly blurt stuff out, learn the in-game voice commands. That way you can communicate with your team even if you don’t have a headset (although you really should).

Don’t be in a hurry to buy stuff

You enter a server and see people running around with all these cool hats, helmets and weapons and you want one. Someone tells you to go check out the Mann Co. store and voila, you see cool paraphernalia in front of your eyes. But be warned; they come at a very high price. And I do mean that quite literally. Instead take some time to understand the whole trading and crafting system through which you could craft or even be gifted all the cool stuff that’s available in the Mann Co store. As a Free to Play player, you won’t be able to give stuff away but that doesn’t mean your friends can’t pass over some of their drops to you.

The store of pure evil

The store of pure evil

This brings me to the game’s randomized drop system. Back in the day Valve had tied in certain weapons to in-game Achievements and only after fulfilling them could you unlock those weapons. Unfortunately this didn’t work out too well for Valve or the community and so in 2010 they devised a new way to drop items into servers. This new approach is a cross between the old one (where you have to fulfill certain achievements to earn weapons) and a new totally randomized one where random items are awarded to players for every few minutes of game time. This way, even newcomers stand a chance of picking up that shiny new weapon.

Blueprints help you craft

Blueprints help you craft

Over prolonged hours of gameplay you will obviously get the same weapon multiple times. This ties into the game’s Crafting system where similar weapons can be smelted to make scrap metal. Combining scrap metal with other weapons allows you to craft newer items. Of course this all can be a bit daunting at first so take the time to sit down and read through some of the blueprints present inside the game. Zero in on the weapons that suit your class and then proceed to work towards them.

So I guess that about wraps up our beginners guide. There’s a ton of stuff to be learnt in the game, most of which you’ll probably have to figure out on your own in the battlefield. If however you feel I’ve missed some stuff out, do leave your tips/tricks in the comments section below.

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