You would think they would have learnt the first time.
I dislike being nasty towards Valve, especially when they did originally create Team Fortress and the Orange Box to be a milestone in gaming history. However, you would expect them to put some thought into how releasing their ‘Team Fortress Achievement Packs’ may affect game play for the rest of the world.
As posted previously I described how the Medic achievement pack affected game play on all servers, influencing the player’s choice of class to create, saturating a team with Medics unbalancing the game and creating strategy problems. The exact same has happened with the Pyro achievement pack. Since its release, players are choosing to be Pyro over any other class regardless of the 10 that are already distributed throughout the same server.
This is just one problem. Many other factors contribute to and amplify it. This is something Valve failed to take into consideration when releasing achievement packs. One significant factor is the release new ‘weapons’ for just a single class. This just creates an unbalanced game. Why should someone who ‘grinded’ the achievements and obtain all the new weaponry (in most cases considerably stronger than its predecessors) always dominate and win against those who prefer to gain achievements genuinely? It is an unfair advantage that should have been noticed by Valve after they released the Medic’s achievement packs.
You would think that the choices Valve have made for Team Fortress 2 have already affected the game enough however they also decided a ‘Free Team Fortress 2 Weekend’. Oh, this just makes my day. Now the servers are full of Pyros with overpowered weapons, and with all newbie’s controlling them. Thank god I will only have to endure the newbie problem for a weekend.
The Solution: I’m not going to say how stupid Valve’s decisions are and then not provide any plausible solutions to this madness. To begin, it’s not like Team Fortress 2 Achievements have never existed before, just take the example of when the game was first released. There were 17 achievements which did not affect game balancing. The achievements although requiring you to be a certain class in some situations, all had something in common. There was an achievement for all classes. Not a pack of about 30 achievements for one class. That is the point that Valve missed completely when designing these new achievements packs. The achievements should be released progressively for all classes. This creates an even distribution of classes throughout servers keeping the game in balance and experienced players happy at the same time.
As for the new weapons, it would be more appropriate to ensure that all players are on an even footing. New weapons should be released progressively like the achievements. If for example, five achievements were released at one time for each class and then rewarded with a weapon unlock at the end of each five achievement milestone, it would ensure a much more even game play. Each weapon of course would need to be balanced in strengths and weaknesses to maintain equilibrium between the experienced and the not so experienced. Previously Team Fortress 2 exemplified this quality before the achievement pack updates.
Hopefully Valve will see the problems they are creating after this latest release. Meanwhile, the Pyro ‘achievement hype’ will continue for a few weeks – I will need to find another game in the meantime.