I like candy, bubblegum, and taffy. I like costumes, especially disturbing ones. I’ve dabbled in the occult… but I’m not a witch. I’m you.
But regardless of my personal inclinations and/or my intent to steal your identity, I think every Team Fortress 2 player was looking forward to this year’s Halloween celebration. Paper bag masks, exploding pumpkins, and light-hearted scares all mesh so perfectly with random acts of violence, after all. And with a towering boss to battle, new hats, and exciting new crafting recipes, what’s not to love?
Oh, right: the actual maps.
Two Sides of the Same Coin
In case you haven’t noticed, two maps were released this update: CP Mann Manor and CP Mountain Lab. No, nobody’s playing the latter, since there’s no point in playing TF2 any more unless a 10-foot demonic spectre is roaming about, decapitating people at will.
“But still, that’s great news, Winpants!” you cry with glee, “That means there’s even more TF2 topography to enjoy!” But before you get your hopes up, madly searching for a 24/7 CP Mountain Lab server to join, may I interject and spoil your fun? These maps are almost completely identical.
Take a stroll around Mountain Lab. Its tiered, clustered entrances. Its insidious final capture point. Its terrible, terrible mixture of choke points that open up to wide swathes of Sniper Valleys. Look upon this map and despair, as it’s literally a copy/paste version of Mann Manor, except with the spooky filter turned off.
Having two identical maps wouldn’t be so bad if the maps were actually good. Sadly, this isn’t the case. Both maps force BLU into terrible paths that can easily be denied with 1-2 well-placed Sentries and a constant barrage of spam. Both maps feature a gate that connects A to B that closes for no discernable reason after A is captured, forcing BLU to squeeze through the worst clusterfuck corner since Dustbowl 3-2. And once BLU manages to capture A and B, the tides are turned incredibly dramatcically. C is essentially free, as the easy-access attic area means Demomen can spawn camp all of RED’s entrances with a Scottish Resistance or a little help from a single Sentry.
On Mann Manor, this problem is compounded by the spooky lighting, which makes it nearly impossible to see what exactly is raining death down on you. They might as well have named this map CP Dresden.*
Taking Candy from Strangers
Despite my complaints, I’ve still had a lot of fun. The thrill of madly dashing about for gifts and away from the spectral serial killer definitely adds excitement to my otherwise boring routine of scalping people for hats. And, of course, nothing says “Go die in a fire, WiNG” like chain-stabbing half the enemies on the field right when they finally begin uniting with my team to take down Silas Mann.** Just don’t be surprised when a few months have passed and you still haven’t seen CP Mountain Lab win a map vote.
*It’s not a perfect analogy.
**Unity is for hippies.