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Valve updates Team Fortress 2 for fairness, community responds

When Valve introduced the first four class updates to Team Fortress 2, an achievement system was used to help unlock new weapons and items. According to Valve, that system did not work as intended. In the end, instead of playing the game toward fun and rewarding goals, hardcore players would grind achievements to unlock the game's latest weaponry. At the time, users complained the achievement system was changing the landscape of Team Fortress 2's online community -- mostly because some of the achievements were so difficult to acquire regularly.

In response, Valve has changed the new weapon system with the latest update (Spy & Sniper). In the new system, Team Fortress 2 utilizes Valve's Steam Cloud, automatically rewarding players new weaponry and items previously only attainable through completing achievement related tasks.

According to Valve, the new system is designed to reward gamers based on how long they play Team Fortress 2. Play more, get more. But according to the game's forums -- and multiple emails to Joystiq -- some players are unhappy with the changes.

The issue most players seem to have with the system is the lack of goals. With the original achievement system, players were aware of how close or far they were to receiving new items. Since the new system randomly gives players items, players have next to no control over the system. One TF2 forum thread complained the drops are too generous, but was quickly shot down by the rest of the community who cite the average at about 1 drop every 2-3 hours of play -- some complain of never seeing a drop since the update released.

According to Valve, the system will be refined. "Like everything else we build, we'll be iterating on this system for a while, and have a lot of features planned," Valve's Erik Johnson wrote on the Team Fortress 2 blog. One of the new feature planned is an item trading system, which is why users are seeing duplicates of some random item drops.

One of largest (and most recent) threads on the Team Fortress 2 forum summarizes the issues players have with the new system. According to the five-star rated thread, players now feel as though the original achievement system is meaningless, that the new system is far too random and too frustrating.

"Being forced to helplessly wait for the desired item while a cascade of useless ones haunts them appears tedious and pointless, especially since they could have easily got their items with the previously active system," wrote thread creator, Weirdomancer. Valve has said they plan to add more functionality, including the ability to influence the system so players can work toward a goal.

In our opinion, the first thing that needs to be addressed is the group breaking the system: Idle users. Regardless if they are playing or not, users can log into spectator mode and still gain items, rendering the purpose of the system moot. For now hardcore fans wish the system to be brought back to the way it was, but with refinement we anticipate players will come to accept the system and do what's most important, play the game they bought.

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