Reader Review: The MANN-Conomy Update

If you haven't played Team Fortress 2 in a while, you might come back to find it's completely different. Recently Valve activated an in-game store, giving you the ability to purchase items that would normally be obtained through gameplay. For those who worked hard for their hats, is the MANN-Conomy a depression? Kotaku AU reader Steven evaluates the update as a whole.

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This review was submitted by Steven Bogos. If you’ve played the new update, bought something from the new store, or just want to ask Steven more about it, leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Team Fortress 2: The MANN-Conomy Update

Last week saw the release of the most controversial Team Fortress 2 update to date: The MANN-Conomy update, which brought us item packs for five classes, item-trading, an in-game store for items and of course, many new hats. The big talk has been attributed to the in-game store, which allows you to buy TF2 items for real world monies. Some say Valve have finally sold out, others say it’s a step in the right direction. Let’s have a look at the ups and downs.

LOVED

Five for Free: At the core of this update, we have item packs for five classes (as well as new melee unlocks for the medic and heavy) that not only drop as freely as any item beforehand, but also have fairly simple crafting recipes for fanatics like me that have accumulated a stockpile of weapons. Valve seems to have put a tad more effort into the balance of these weapons (with a few exceptions) making them cool, interesting additions to change up the play style of your favourite class.

Hat for Hat: The long-touted trading feature has finally arrived and it works pretty much as well as we had hoped. Players can trade any item in their backpack with other players via three methods – selecting them for their friends list, their current game, or entering their steamID profile. When used in conjunction with the store's popular trading section, it makes swaps of hats and weapons a generally painless experience.

Optional Shopper: Valve have stated that that all items that effect game play, and most cosmetic items, will continue to drop or be crafted as they always have, with only a handful of purely cosmetic extra’s exclusively available at the store. You can skip the whole thing and still remain competitive.

HATED

Pay to Win: The new item sets contain ‘set bonuses’, when all of the items of the set are worn. Unfortunately, the set bonus only activates when you also have the hat of the set, giving players willing to shell out the $17.50 for one of the new hats an instant advantage over us poor saps waiting for the God of RNG to favour our free item drops. Valve said they will remedy this with crafting recipes for set hats, but I’d rather they remove the bonuses completely.

Open Sesame: Also included in this update are the new ‘Mann Co. Supply Crates,’ which drop just like normal items and have a chance of containing super dooper ultra rare hats that have cool particle effects. The catch? To open them you have to purchase a key... which is only available at the Mann Co. Store. Sure, I can just trade or delete the box, but my overwhelming curiosity means I just must know what is in... THE... BOX! If the keys also dropped it would be fine, but making them exclusive to the store is a bit underhanded.

So put away your pitchforks, TF2 fans, Valve hasn’t quite sold out yet. They’ve simply offered up an alternative way for lazy/rich folks to get items, without taking away the good ol’ fashioned method from us cheapskates. Once the red mist clears, you’ll realise that Valve have given yet another completely free update to one of the greatest, most avidly supported FPS games of all time. Think about that next time you buy three Call of Duty maps for ten dollars.

Reviewed by Steven Bogos

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Comments

    i was under the impression the crate keys did drop, just less often than the crates themselves

    Is anyone annoyed of the fact that they have changed this game so much from when it was first released?
    I loved what it originally was, the different weapons for different classes, it was simple yes, but simple for a good reason. Then they started adding more weapons for the various classes, I didn't mind it too much as a little variety is always nice but as a casual gamer I didn't like that you had to do so many achievements to earn them.

    This is about the time I started to lose interest. They added hats (that I personally think look stupid and don't suit the characters designs/Persona's) and this whole crafting system which turned it into some weird WOW freak child.

    I know I'm in the minority on all of this and I have only had 5minutes to write this up but I feel that this isn't the game I originally paid for.

    Thoughts?

      I definitely see your point, but the fact it's not the same game I paid for years ago is the whole reason I'm still playing. The changes have always made it fresh, given me more reasons to keep playing (If I get another couple more weapons I can then craft another hat!) and the new weapons means I'll get less bored with the classes, and they also help cover up any problems they have (See engineer)

      Valve has kept the game fresh with a vast variety of FREE updates. It's a great game.

        Absolutely agree. This game easily represents the best value game I ever purchased (I've since purchased four copies for friends!).

        From a marketing / business standpoint, TF2 is pretty untouchable for a game of it's genre.

        However just as you said that the constant changes / additions are what keeps you coming back Mic, the opposite is also true for myself.

        I purchased this game expecting a new Team Fortress. What I got at launch was anything but. Since then is has continued to distance itself further and further to the point where the two are like chalk and cheese.

        All to it's advantage, the game is extremely popular, and this store system will no doubt see valves revenue increase substantially, particularly as it's revenue generated from an existing title.

        *sigh* I still mourn for TF.

        I can totally see your point, and it seems to represent the majority of most tf2ers. I just want it to be what it used to be all about, running gunning, repairing,medic..ing?

        Now It seems like the game is forcing me to do this damn crafting crap just to stay in the game. Taking me out of the action.

    Currently hating nothing but 'Has anyone got an x to trade, anyone? anyone? anyone?' over the air, but I guess that'll die down in a bit. Happy that they're still updating the game an getting new players on board though.

    If you don't like the crates, trade them off. People are willing to give quite a bit for them if you are discerning in your bargaining. Furthermore, word on the forums is that they run off a separate item cap, but I haven't found anything conclusive on that.

    In my opinion valve should not have made it you can purchase hats from the original game. I worked my ass off and FINALLY got a fedora, I come back home from holidays and find that the fedora isn't that rare anymore because all these people went and bought it. I see my fedora has been branded vintage, but the name to me is fully cosmetic, its still the same fedora everyone else has. I think all the items purchased from the store should have a tag on them, like a price tag in game to indicate who the REAL tf2 players are.

    It makes sense to me. Everything they do costs money, from free updates to hosting servers. They have no reason whatsoever to do this other than keeping their fan base happy, keeping people using steam and having a good reputation in gaming world. All of which aren't secured income.

    If they can keep all this stuff free while making a bit of scratch on the side then power to them.

    I would also like to confirm that keys drop - I done seen it happen. There's only ONE* item you can get in the store you can't get with luck and patience - the time limited "buy any item and get this free" hat.

    People compare it to WoW, but this is a fairly big trend in the gaming industry. The idea of "selling power" (i.e. selling in-game advantages over other players) is almost heinous in a competitive online game.

    This solves that problem, the indirectly sell you the "shortcut" to acquire that advantage quicker.

    Honestly, I have no problem with Valve trying to make a little extra cash (although I think the weapons are a bit overpriced).

    I've logged hundreds if not thousands of hours playing TF2. Over the course of 3 years Valve has created fresh content again and again, with no purpose other than to make a good game better.

    If I buy a few items, say $30 USD worth, I would have spent $50 USD on this game, and it would have still given me excellent value for money.

    It's alright. I think the advent of trading kind of diminishes the detriment of the so-called "pay to win" system.

    The perceived advantages actually aren't that game-breaking, or even that game unbalancing. the least balanced ones are clearly the scout and sniper, because the soldier one, who gives a damn, really, and the other two come with balancing detriments.

    The scout fixes the scout with certain weapons, though. The milk and the pepperbox are actually a terrible set of weapons, though, because it rapidly reduces the amount of boolets the scout can make. Essentially, the pepper box should be used in conjunction with the pistol most of the time to avoid reloading in tough situations, and I would trade that for the precious 15 health any day.

    The sniper doesn't die from headshots. Yeah, that is kind of cheesy, but most of the time snipers who really have to worry about headshots predominantly aren't extremely team-helpful snipers. Basically this item set is begging people to sit in 2fort battlements being useless pricks, and they have to wear a silly hat at the same time. Makes them easier for spies to identify. annoying but hardly game breaking.

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