On Multiplayer Personalities

In a bit of site news, I’ve added a new page at the top called “What I’m Playing.” It’s exactly what it sounds like, just a simple list of games I’ve been playing lately.

One game that’s on there that wouldn’t have been there two days ago is Team Fortress 2. I’ve had the Orange Box for a while, obviously, but TF2 is probably my least-played of the package. There’s not anything innately wrong with the game, it’s just that I’ve always been more of a single-player gamer, my twenty-one-month addiction to World of Warcraft notwithstanding. Dealing with the attitude of the average twitch gamer online isn’t really something I enjoy doing.

But yesterday, after reading about the impending “Heavy Update” to the game, and looking at all the changes that Team Fortress 2 has undergone in the last few months, I decided to give the game another shot. At about two in the morning, I looked up and realized I really needed to go to bed.

It really isn’t the same game I bought a year ago. It’s constantly evolving, which I haven’t ever really experienced in an FPS before. I admit I’m a fan of the new achievements for the medic, pyro, and soon the heavy, especially because they happen to be my three favorite classes to play. I’ve logged more time on the medic than on all the other classes combined, but the heavy and pyro are in pretty close competition for second place.

There’s something about the game now that makes it easier to deal with assholes. Maybe it’s the voice chat. I think it’s easier for someone to be a jerk online when they don’t actually speak, and obnoxious behavior like screaming over a microphone will get you booted from a game a lot faster than, say, typing in all caps.

But in addition to gameplay changes, I also found that the game itself has taken on a bit of a narrative shine. Partially as a result of Valve’s “Meet the Team” videos, the game’s classes seem to be much more distinct characters than I remember.

For example, I can’t stand the scout now. I hate him, even when someone picks him on my own team. The snarky Boston accent and arrogant personality only make it more infuriating when I’m unable to send a syringe through the temple of a Red Sox fan rushing me with a scattergun.

At the other end of the spectrum, of course, is the heavy. Part of it is the feeling that when I’m feeding my medigun to a heavy, we’re the most powerful combo on the battlefield, and I feel warm and fuzzy whenever my fat, Russian cohort thanks me with a “We make good team!”

Even the three classes without “Meet the Team” videos attached to them have developed personalities. The pyro is a psychotic maniac. The spy is a smooth ladykiller. The medic is a man of mystery. (Seriously, I get the feeling the medic has some kind of dark past.) Apparently, one of these remaining three is going to get a new video with the coming update. I’m pulling for the medic, obviously.

So now I’m going to wrap this up, because I’m going to go play some more.

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