The long-awaited multiplayer shooter sequel Team Fortress 2 made its debut in the impressive The Orange Box package last year, and offered fast-paced team shooter action and a colorful, distinctively cartoonish look. Valve Software is gearing up to release a brand-new update to the game in the form of Goldrush, a new playable map that hosts a new gameplay mode known as Payload, as well as new items and achievements for each class, starting with the medic.
The map we played was called Goldrush and featured tight corners similar to those of the existing Dustbowl map. The level takes place in a small mining facility with team bases on either end and plenty of sharp turns and elevated perching spots in between for snipers and demomen to plink away at passing foes or pelt with bombs. The Payload game mode is based around a movable object that must be pushed by one team member to the opposing team's base. In the case of Goldrush, the object was a mining cart loaded with a bomb that needed to be moved past three "capture points." The team in the offense role is required to move the cart across all three points into enemy territory, while the opposing team must keep the payload from reaching its goal within the time limit.
Even though Goldrush has many alternate routes to get from one end of the map to the other, including an aboveground route and several crow's nest-like perching spots, the payload in this map must be pushed along a set of railroad tracks on a tightly defined route, so that it's easy to tell where the action is. Thankfully, despite all the sharp turns and tight corners, there are still plenty of places for snipers and demomen to ply their trade, plenty of open areas for soldiers to storm, and lots of nooks and crannies for heavies (and their miniguns) and pyros (and their flamethrowers) to dig in and repel all comers. Medics also seem extremely in demand on such a compact map since the ordnance flies fast and furious, while the invulnerability power conveyed by the character's medigun healing device is extremely useful for grinding the payload forward in a highly contested area.
In addition to Goldust and Payload, which should be making their way onto Valve's Steam service shortly, Team Fortress 2 will make new additions in the form of new class-specific items and medic achievements. The medic class, which is arguably at its best in a full-on support role, has been made more interesting with 36 new achievements that require a good mix of healing support and offensive kills. On earning 12, 24, and all 36 of these achievements, medics will be able to unlock a total of three new weapons: the "blutsauger," a non-critical-hit weapon that draws health from enemies when it hits; the "critzcrieg," a new medigun that builds up charge which, rather than eventually building up to invulnerability, builds up to critical damage for the player the medic is supporting; and the "ubersaw," a powerful new melee weapon that will directly charge the medic's medigun with any successful hit and, with four hits, fully charge it to "ubercharge" levels.
Team Fortress 2 remains as fast paced and enjoyable to play as ever, and the new mode and achievements should further promote smart team play over goofing off. We're told that the new improvements should be coming online to the game in the coming days.