Team Fortress 2 has languished a bit in recent times. Truly outstanding updates have been few and far between. Thankfully, Valve just gave the game a new injection of life.
TF2 now has a Steam Workshop section for maps. That might not sound like a big deal given that Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has been doing it for ages, but it is — at this point in TF2's ceaseless life cycle — exactly what it needs. Previously, many excellent player-made maps stayed confined to custom servers, with only a few Valve handpicked and polished for official updates rising to the top. The custom map scene was kept alive by third-party sites like tf2maps.net. As official updates grew more and more sparse (not to mention insubstantial), players began to feel like TF2 was dying.
Now new maps are easily accessible. All you've got to do is click "subscribe" and you've got access to a treasure trove (and/or crate) of new maps — including previously under-the-radar maps like the Valve-rejected Snowplow. You don't have to wait ages for them to download when you join a server either. The community is ecstatic:
Others feel like this is a big step in the right direction, but there's still more that needs to be done:
Granted, it's not all roses. There are already reports of people uploading maps they didn't even make.
Still, it's kind of astounding that this didn't happen sooner. TF2 has been the poster child for the Steam Workshop pretty much since day one, with its teetering tower of hats (and other items). Better late than never though. For both players and mapmakers — once a dwindling part of the TF2 community — this provides much-needed incentive to leap back into the cartoon dust cloud of fists, shotguns, and mutated tumour bread. Will it sustain TF2 in the long run? It's tough to say. Ideally, Valve will start chipping in bigger updates at a faster clip again. If nothing else, they could at least give us competitive matchmaking. But if this is their way of handing the game over to the community (more so than they already have), well, there are far worse ways they could've done it.