Team Fortress 2 is a game that needs no introduction. From the various jokes, hats, art, and videos made about this game, it has reached an iconic level that is rarely seen in any online game.
Even almost 15 years since its release back in 2007 on Steam, it still holds a large and passionate following from both old and new players alike.
However, as beloved as the game is, it has yet to see the same level of passion and care from its developer, Valve. It’s been almost 5 years since the game has had its last major update, Jungle Inferno.
The only new content that has been added to the game since Jungle Inferno is community-created cosmetics, taunts, and war paints. While it’s nice to see at least something new added to the game, it’s still frustrating that Valve refuses to add what players really want in the game.
The one thing players have desired for years is for Valve to at least comment or put any effort into addressing the oppressive bot issue in their official servers. Bots, cheaters, and hackers are an inevitability in any online game even more so if the game happens to be free to play such as TF2.
However, the bots found lurking in TF2 have made the game as close to unplayable as possible. A large majority of any casual matches hosted on Valve’s official servers are flooded by a disgusting number of bots.
There are many variations of bots that give them their own irritating traits; however, a majority: play as Sniper and use hacks to land perfect headshots on players that cross their line of sight. Some bots will spam voice chat with sounds or music played on a loop and others will spam text chat with dubious links or nasty comments.
Even more frustrating are bots that steal the names of other legitimate players and then quickly call a vote kick on the player they stole the name from in an attempt to confuse other players into kicking real players from the match allowing for more bots to arrive.
Players cannot even have the satisfaction of watching bots fight each other as a sizeable portion of bots contain a whitelist of other bots that allow them to focus on deleting human players and while working with the other bots to increase their control over a match.
In certain patch notes, Valve claims that it has introduced “security and stability improvements” to Team Fortress 2. However, it is never explained exactly what has been improved and any improvements made have had no notable effect on quelling the bot crisis.
Even in 2021 when Valve released a patch specifically aimed at dealing with bots and cheaters, this only caused free-to-play players to become unable to use text chat while the bots were only halted from their standard activities for about a day.
As bots are always online and are able to score points easily from scoring headshots on other players, their casual rank would rise exponentially higher than any real player attempting to play casual mode on official servers.
This has resulted in fans going as far as to contact anyone related to the creation or development of TF2 for assistance in this situation. They have gone even as far as to reach out to some of the voice actors for TF2 to see if they have any insights or contacts in Valve who would know if the situation was being looked into.
While most of them have stated they have no direct ties to the development side of Team Fortress 2, this passion has brought upon the aid of one of the voice actors in the quest for information. Robin Atkin Downed, the voice of the Medic, has gathered grivances of the community and has forwarded them to Valve.
In the meantime, another fairly massive issue has arisen within Team Fortress 2’s trading sphere. On May 20th, a massive exploit has been reported to occur when one person sends a trade offer to another.
In this example, we will have Player A trade a key for a rare weapon Player B owns. Player A sends a trade offer to Player B. While Player B is in the process of accepting the trade, Player A can utilize the key to unbox an item before the trade goes through, once the trade occurs Player A will have the rare weapon and the unboxed item while Player B is left with nothing.
This exploit has resulted in many trading sites temporarily halting all trades and/or implementing site restrictions. It should be noted that this is not an issue that plagues only Team Fortress 2, but Steam trading as a whole.
Many players have wondered what would be the best course of action for the community to combat these issues. Unfortunately, the answer is not as cheery as one may expect. As best put by the YouTuber, After Breakfast with SquimJim, “What we can do is absolutely nothing. This is entirely 100% on Valve as a company. They’re the only people who can stop it”.
The sad truth is even with the use of community servers to avoid bots and reputable traders to trade items, these are only a bandaid fixes on the issue that is far more complex. It is up to Valve to personally step in and face these issues head-on for any real change to come to the game.
However, there is the slightest glimmer of hope in this situation. Many Team Fortress 2 content creators announced their plans to host a peaceful protest on various social media sites on May 26th. Players are told to share the positive experiences one has had with Team Fortress 2 and end it with #savetf2.
We at Niche Gamer plan to share our positive experiences with Team Fortress 2 and conduct a short stream with various staff members. Please follow Niche Gamer on Twitch to view this event.