Team Fortress 2 recently got a new update. In broader strokes, it's pretty standard stuff: new contracts, new weapons, new maps, coordinated aerobics, etc. Players, however, have uncovered some small details that impact the game in a big way.
The update, titled Tough Break, includes four community-made maps and a new $US5.99 ($8) campaign with 26 new contracts that unlock four new weapon collections. So basically, if you want the coolest parts of this update, be prepared to shell out -- and not just in the normal bullet way. There are also new taunts, including the magnificent Mannrobics dance, but... they cost money as well. Specifically, $US10 ($14) for the ability to gloat at somebody -- despite the fact that spending $14 on a taunt strikes me as one of the last things I'd want to gloat about. But, of course, there are ways around all of this if you just play the TF2 market. For some, however, that's a pretty sizable "if".
To mitigate some of the aforementioned sticker shock, Valve's also introduced a weapon loaner program, which allows you to borrow specific weapons for the duration of contracts that involve them. You can't trade or craft loaned weapons, but they're free and work exactly as advertised.
The most quietly impactful part of Tough Break, however, is a slew of balance changes that have players alternatively elated and worried. Nearly every class has picked up new/better ways to acquire health, and weapons badly in need of nerfs -- for instance, the crit-happy Half-Zatoichi -- got them.
Players are, however, divided on some fairly significant changes to the Pyro. A popular Pyro weapon called the The Degreaser got nerfed bigtime, which some think will encourage more variety in Pyro builds. Others, however, feel like Pyro players have been backed into a corner.
Meanwhile another Pyro weapon that some consider to be less skill-oriented, the Phlogistinator, got buffed with a brief taunt invincibility period. So, regardless of your opinions on what all of this means, Pyro is definitely Different now.
Also controversial are changes to the Engineer and Demoman. The Engineer got nerfed in a handful of small ways -- especially when faced with a Spy's Sapper, which now renders the Engineer's sentry gun inoperable for even longer. Some see it as needless overkill, given that the Engie's already suffered in recent times. The Demoman, meanwhile, received tons of changes that primarily focus on making the Demoknight (that is, a melee-focused Demoman) less effective. Many felt like the Demoknight was overpowered, but others are now unsure of the build's viability against classes like Pyro.
Another change that's having unintended consequences is the new outline that appears around friendly players for ten seconds after you spawn, allowing you to see friends through walls and structures. On paper, it's a great addition, especially for new players. You can see where your teammates are and suss out where they're headed. However, some players are finding that it hurts spies pretty badly, given that if you find someone in your base who looks like a teammate but doesn't have the outline, it's a dead giveaway that you're dealing with a disguised spy -- emphasis on "dead."
Players are also reporting significantly decreased framerates in the wake of the new update. However, there appears to be a pretty easy fix for that: just go into your Steam settings and opt out of the beta program. Apparently that will get things back to where they're supposed to be. For now, anyway.
There are also tons of new voiced lines, which NISLT collected here:
As for things not in this update, you've probably noticed that competitive matchmaking is still nowhere to be found. Players did, however, uncover a "ranked background" hidden in the files of a small update to Tough Break. Valve has said that official competitive TF2 servers are finally on the way, and there's ample evidence to suggest that it's happening soon-ish. Consider this more fuel for that fire, more hats for the bottomless hat dungeon.
So that's the new update in a nutshell. Have you uncovered any big changes that didn't immediately stand out? Which ones do you think will have the biggest long-term impact on Team Fortress 2?