The reaction to the new Gun Mettle Update has been refreshingly positive. Sure, a lot of people think the new skins look stupid and dislike how they’re blatantly ripped from another game, but the day I lose sleep over a cosmetic mini-game is the day I re-evaluate my life. The part of the update that mattered was all those delicious weapon tweaks. Pretty much every commonly-complained about weapon got hit with at least a minor adjustment, and a few new weapons are now seeing use in new and unheard-of ways. Two other points of contention involve what this contract system could mean for the competitive scene (STAR_’s recent 8-hour Twitch had some great insight into this, but sadly that link won’t work long because Twitch deletes Broadcasts after 30 days), and what the new weapon-dropping thing means for TF2 gameplay in general. That little roller coaster of emotion revolving around Mediguns and their Ubercharge remains, in my opinion, the single most contested thing to come out of the update, with practically everyone wondering what the hell Valve was thinking.
But honestly, I don’t fault Valve for trying. If I were Valve, I’d add something meta-shattering like that Ubercharge mechanic. It’s huge and crazy and I’d want to see if the community could adjust to something that big because, if Valve is going to follow the same model they’ve been doing for CS:GO, they’re gonna want to keep altering the meta every so often to keep people interested. I highly doubt it’s stopping here.
The way I see it, it’s turning Uber into something completely new. If you play competitive TF2 using the old model, yeah it’s gonna hurt. But isn’t that what a changing meta is all about? Actually changing how you approach the mechanic in question? This might give openings for the Quick-Fix and Vaccinator, this might make teams use Ubers differently, this might promote faster quicker plays. It looks bad at the moment because people are trying to play the old way, but the old way might not work anymore.
Like, it might plum just not work. And now some new way needs to be learnt. I think that’s what Valve was hoping to do.
Well, rather than just claim that the meta can shift, here’s an example. A team decides to start a 5CP match pushing mid without a Medic. He starts the round as Pyro and they attempt to frag the enemy medic and take Mid due to their extra firepower. The Pyro suicides once mid is won and uses the elevated spawn to get to the dropped medigun before it despawns cause he’s got 30 seconds to do so. Or actually, a Sniper might work better than a Pyro, cause he could hang back and stay near the forward spawn while still doing his job. Maybe a Mad Milk scout or Concheror soldier is used to replicate a Medic temporarily, there are so many team-healing methods these days that a team should be able to gamble a missing Medic for one midfight.
I have no idea if any of that would work. It’d be suicide before. But there’s probably something bizarre like this that can be taken advantage of by a creative team who isn’t so entrenched in the current meta they can’t even think outside of it. What I’m trying to say is, adapting to this new mechanic might require literally turning the entire playbook on its head and starting from scratch. Is that really a bad thing?