TF2’s Problematic Learning Curve


♪ Bugle horn call ♪ Every time you play a new game, there’s gonna be some learning you have to do before you can really understand the game’s mechanics, but there’s a very thick line between a game trying way too much to tell you how to play, and not trying to tell you at all. I really hate it when the first two hours of the game is just tutorial. I get it, your game has some complexity to it, but I want to be able to jump into the core of the action without having to read a 30-page briefing of what to expect, how to handle it, what to do, where to go, how to feel, what to see, what to eat — — But ! There’s something I hate even more than that: something I hate more than phonies, the color magenta, titles that end with e-quest-clamations, and my own voice combined — It’s this trend in online games where they don’t try at all to teach new players how to play. Like, I get that they’re supposed to learn through experience, but I like it when games let you progress at your own pace. I like games that respect your ability to seek information, and not shove it in your face. I had never played a Dark Souls in my life, but when I jumped into the third one, it did a pretty radical job of teaching me the mechanics without forcing me to play through a virtual Simon Says to know how to play it. If you want to know how to do shit, you just run over the messages and read ’em. BAM! You’re done. I’m not talking about these games though; I’m talking about games that flat out don’t give you the information at all. Or at least they do, and it’s really cryptic and hard to understand. Team Fortress 2, a title that I hold closer to my heart than anything else in the world, is a repugnant example of this. TF2 doesn’t make any effort at all, any effort at all, to teach new players how the mechanics of their world works. When you first get the game, your first instinct is to just join a game, because well, it’s the first thing you see when you open a menu. Once you do that, and you find a game, and you join it, you’re put onto the “Pick Class” menu, and let’s pretend I’m a new player. Right now, I have no clue what the fuck’s goin’ on. We’ve got 0 medics, too many specialist supports, not enough power classes like heavy or demo, but none of that information is shown to new players. Instead, all they know is what classes their team already has, and mind you, they have no clue what any of these classes really do. So now you’ve got to blindly choose a class based on what their description tells you about them, but each description is extremely brief, and only paints enough of a picture to give you a vague understanding of their role. So now you’ve chosen a class, and you’ve chosen it at random, mind you, because this early in, you’re not gonna know what the concept of team composition or crucial picks is. The game doesn’t tell you that a healer is needed, or that you’ve got too many of something, so you pick a class based on whoever has the cutest head shot, and then you’re thrown into a game, without a clue of how to play it, no explanation of how your weapons work, no explanation of what your job is, you’re just tossed in and told FIGHT ! Now hear me out here, I get that when you play shooters, it’s inherently the player’s responsibility to teach themselves how to play it, ’cause it’s not like a single player game where you’ve got all the time in the world to listen to drones go on and on about controls, but that’s not really an excuse to make zero effort to do so. When a player has zero ways to learn the basics of a game, they’re gonna have a rough time trying to actually enjoy it, because they’re spending way more time trying to figure out what they’re doing than they are actually playing it. HOLD IT ! Hahaha, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I was wrong all along. They actually do have a tutorial. Four classes. And it’s not EVEN FUNCTIONAL ! I’m serious man, I can’t even start the training, and I have no idea why. It just doesn’t work. Googling it shows that Training has been bug-ridden for years, but let’s say this is somehow only a bug affecting me. Even with access to the tutorial, it barely teaches you the fundamentals of the game. You learn how to jump, crouch, switch your weapons, which sounds like enough, but keep in mind there’s hundreds upon hundreds of factors and mechanics in the game that aren’t even so much as skimmed through it. Don’t even get me started on how this information is only available in the tutorial, and isn’t able to be checked when you’re in an actual game. But it’s alright, because there’s one other way to learn about the mechanics of the game. One system that could completely undo the fabric of all my arguments, a system that is accurately relaying information to the player, and that system is… Loading Tips. You heard me. This itty-bitty shitty right here is your best source of information as a player. These tips aren’t available as a viewable option per class on the loadout screen, they aren’t organized or categorized, just random tips you can skim through on your stats page or in the loading screen. WHY ? The system is fine as, like, a side addition to your already well-explained game, but they use it like it’s their primary source to learn new things you otherwise might not have known. And because there’s no organization you have to spam through it if you wanna find tips specifically about a class that you’re interested in. And even if, if, theoretically, you manage to get far into the game with virtually zero knowledge of how to play it, and you learned all the basics, you’re still left shit out of luck on learning all the deeper core mechanics of the game: airstrafing, c-tapping, crouch jumping, backpedal speed, damage ramp-up, random crits trickstabbing dominations
crit heals the spy’s hitbox the syringe gun trimping market gardening
rocket jumping the neon annihilator the force-a-nature flame mojo pushing to last [etc] –I didn’t even know what the fuck a Dead Ringer was, till I yelled at somebody for hacking their respawn, and they told me about achievement items! Yeah! Achievement items! That’s right! Because this game has UNLOCKABLE WEAPONS ! So now, you’ve got to learn what another hundred-something items do, and you aren’t even given them for free! You have to unlock them, craft ’em, trade for ’em, buy ’em! It’s stupid. Items like the Sandwich or the Ubersaw are so vital, you almost can’t even play competitively without owning them, and yet new players won’t have access to them, until they’ve clocked in like 100 hours in the game. As somebody who has 75 hundred (7500) goddamn hours in the game, the idea of not knowing what a weapon is, is pretty funny. As someone with 7.5 hours in the game, it’s probably kind of aggravating, and confusing, and dumb. So let’s compare this to another game: Overwatch! [Booing] [Booing]
Oh, boo fuckin’ hoo! Overwatch has a functional tutorial to teach you the basics of the game. It also gives you a handy menu you can open at any time to see exactly what your abilities are and how to use them. And if you’re not sure of what hero to play, ‘ game has that covered too. It tells everybody on your team what the composition is missing, or what it might do well having more of. This makes it easy to pick a hero if you’re not sure what the game calls for. This is all pretty inviting to new players. The game might take more time to get used to than standard shooters because of all the unique abilities and heroes, but the game at least tries to make it as smooth as possible of a transition. So like, let me make an example: My older brother who has no extensive knowledge of the outside core shooters and titles, like Tony Hawk’s Madden NFL NBA 2K17 18 20 PGA Tour 08 & Knuckles. Basically, dude’s hooked on Overwatch now. ‘Started playing on my account. And even though he was going against Master Rank players in Quickplay, he still liked the concept of the game. When he moved on to a fresh account, he started climbing in rank already, because he gets to progress at his own rank, facing players of his own level, he can view information whenever he needs it. That’s a good introduction to a game! TF2 doesn’t even have a ranking system: in Casual there is pretty much no MMR, leading to 12v12 clusterfucks of the top two players on the scoreboard being Gods, and the bottom 98% being people ranging from “frequently plays”, to “just installed it three minutes ago’. Matchmaking in TF2 is also a COMPLETE joke! Ranks are meaningless, there are zero placement matches, and even if you’re the highest rank in the goddamn game, you’ll still get paired up against and with new players. Imagine if we made Little League kids play seriously in the Major League. That’s pretty much what competitive TF2 is right now. So what does this all have to do with learning curves? The point I’m getting at here, is that TF2 has an extremely steep learning curve, takes almost no steps to teach the player how to progress as an individual. Overwatch has a comparatively smaller learning curve, but does a *way* better job of making it easy to understand. If you’re bad at Overwatch, it’s because you probably still need to get comfortable with the game, and maybe develop some better gamesense. If you’re bad at TF2, nobody can even blame you! Because unless you sift through dozens of guides and videos amassed by the competitive community, which all get outdated after every weapon and class rebalance, you won’t have any way to know how to actually improve as a player. TF2 is like if we forced kids to assemble their toys like factory workers, before they were allowed to play with them. It doesn’t make sense! And don’t tell me the game being old is an excuse — It gets updated every other week, and has an active development team, while staying top 5 on Steam at all times. I don’t expect them to be able to explain every single weapon, and every engine-exploit-turned-stable-feature in the game, but even the most basic mechanics like hitting F6 to open a menu that tells you what your current items are capable of doing would fill such an essential hole that the game’s currently empty of. I like to think part of this is why the game is struggling so much to break back into relevancy. It’s hard to make you game popular, when no-one really quite knows how it’s meant to be played. Anyways, let me take a minute here to clarify something: good learning curves are not equatable with skill ceilings. Overwatch gets its easy learning curve by dumbing down mechanics and making it as baby proof as possible. Complex maneuvers are boiled down to hitting a key, and there are significantly less mechanics that factor into an individual’s ability to comprehend the game. TF2 is hard to master, but that isn’t inherently bad, because objectively, TF2 requires a lot more individual skill, to succeed as a team. The issue is, the game does a bad job of preparing players to fill in their role on the team. and part of this isn’t just because they don’t spoonfeed you instructions on how to abuse engine features, it’s because there’s no established global ruleset. The closest thing to one is Matchmaking, which limits you to six players, but has zero class limits, zero weapon bans, and nobody even plays that shit anyways, so obviously nobody takes the feature seriously in a sense that it’s what TF2’s future is gonna be. And I don’t think that’s because players are close-minded or stupid, and don’t get me wrong, they’re very close-minded and stupid, but that’s not why they hate Competitive. They hate *this* Competitive, because it sucks. Ignoring the fact that, like I said, Valve takes no effort to teach players their game, the game is also not balanced competitively. At least, not without community tweaks. There are weapons which become borderline overpowered in the right hands, there are also items that are borderline direct downgrades, but players use them anyways because they don’t realize it. My point is, it’s a bit of a fixer-upper. ♪ Background music ♪ TF2 would be a fuckin’ awesome e-sport if Valve took the proper steps of fixing up the game, in both rebalancing it as well as opening the gates for new players to get familiar with it. It has more creativity, soul, and personality than any other shooter I’ve ever seen, and that includes Overwatch! Overwatch has mountains of personality, but it doesn’t have the touch Valve titles have from their on-point writing and ability to make games fun at their core. In fact, all comparisons between the two games I’ve made here are purely to highlight the high points and low points of each game. It’s not even to directly compare them. Overall, I just think TF2 will struggle to find itself back at a high point of relevancy ever again, unless it manages to really outdo itself on improving. And I mean, as long as they don’t pull some stupid shit like taking an entire half a year to put out the first rebalance update after the matchmaking release, I think things might actually turn out alright. OH GODDAMN — ♪ Outro music in the description ♪

73 Comments

  1. Preston Hart

    August 11, 2019 at 5:27 pm

    laughs in crusader kings

  2. JustJudgeJudy

    August 11, 2019 at 5:40 pm

    You could just go on free achievement servers for the sandvich and other stuff…

  3. NK Goblin

    August 12, 2019 at 8:12 am

    Gmod Darkrp is a learning curve. Fuck I watched a 10 minute tutorial on how to play and I still don’t know what to do.

  4. justin

    August 13, 2019 at 3:57 am

    what do you have against magenta?

  5. BlindingLight 7

    August 14, 2019 at 4:34 am

    You don’t know how to play, and then your a pro

  6. Unfinitypae 10

    August 14, 2019 at 5:50 am

    Omg he showed long dark LONG DARK (thank you)

  7. Flame

    August 14, 2019 at 7:22 am

    "updates every week"

  8. Mr. Meme

    August 14, 2019 at 5:28 pm

    Overwatch is just a knockoff of TF2

  9. Southern _Kiwi

    August 14, 2019 at 7:18 pm

    "Loading tips…
    The itty bitty shitty source of info" 🙂

  10. Diarmuid Crowley

    August 15, 2019 at 2:40 pm

    Overwatch Trump's tf2 fight me

  11. Mr.Wankpants

    August 16, 2019 at 3:20 am

    Why the hell does it seem most people are progressing slowly? I have about 350 hours, but I can rocket jump effectively enough to actually market garden, pogo and shit, I can juggle players with pipes (not loch and load. That shit is for people who don't want to learn to hit pipes), I picked up trading easily enough that I got a couple of unusuals (Not amazing all for demoman. I am a demo main though)Maybe its because of how much tf2 I watch on YouTube or because of my past experiences with shooting games, but I can pubstomp a decent amount of my casual games.

  12. NA

    August 16, 2019 at 11:56 am

    Honestly, TF2 is hella easy to grasp and played as a 12 year old

  13. Melita Recto-Sambajon

    August 16, 2019 at 12:54 pm

    M8 thats why people make Guides

  14. Suppen Glück

    August 16, 2019 at 1:18 pm

    try a paradox game u fuck

  15. METALOZON

    August 16, 2019 at 6:58 pm

    Overwatch has a better tutorial because the game is for kids and it looks gay.

  16. BlackRoseAnarchy

    August 16, 2019 at 10:13 pm

    Laughs in LoL learning curve

  17. Huey

    August 18, 2019 at 12:24 am

    Honestly, I didn't start TF2 in a casual match, I hopped on all the idle/achievement servers to get more used to the movement and weapon feel of each class and I played on community servers for months until I played casual. I just didn't think there was pressure to perform well or do anything particular in those servers and that's why I think new people feel more comfortable going to those servers. It's nice to have those maps where you can just mess around.

  18. Илья Чемагин

    August 19, 2019 at 11:01 am

    That's why tf2 lasted 10 years, cause its learning curve is only for strong people, not for virgin overwatch players

  19. Wintergloom

    August 21, 2019 at 3:31 am

    I never really had a problem learning this game, but I started when I was a kid and they had only the core set of items. Over time new stuff was added in and eventually the game became extremely bloated with items. I left for a couple years and came back and the game had changed into something I didn't even know anymore. If you didn't start playing this game when it came out you're going to be lost.

  20. Hatwox

    August 22, 2019 at 3:47 pm

    Doesn't…tf2 have tutorials.. I played it. And it has not matches….

    Oh wait…. He covered that
    Wait it has achivement items ?

  21. Bartek 6

    August 23, 2019 at 11:05 am

    I understand that the game don't tell you much, but there are some people out there who just don't think. I met so many engineers that don't know how that sentry shoots or that metal exists or spies that don't get that enemy team thinks. Im sometimes so done with my team when they don't know what intel is. Some people don't know or some are just stupid in my opinion.

  22. Christopher Stone

    August 23, 2019 at 12:19 pm

    Overwatch is trash

  23. Scott Seibel

    August 24, 2019 at 11:51 pm

    TF2 went to crap with the inclusion of crafting, keys, etc… It was great in the old days, whipper snappers. Seriously though, it was good back then.

  24. Gordan Freemen

    August 25, 2019 at 10:03 am

    I was completely fine with it, modern gamers are just lame, impatient spoiled brats
    Context I saw in SFMs, gameplay footage, trailers, hl2 play through was enough for me understand the game for at least 56%

  25. Tysen Steffler

    August 25, 2019 at 6:41 pm

    I like how paladins learning curve is a fucking dead line

  26. The jugernaut killer

    August 26, 2019 at 5:20 am

    Pss boy you should know about how a subclass can change the full class thats means you can't know what you really need. Is a team based game where all the pieces of the puzzle can be different.

  27. mike paul

    August 26, 2019 at 10:21 am

    dude the game is free to play it will have paid wepons

  28. ioS Androedo

    August 26, 2019 at 8:04 pm

    I have 700 h excuse me f6?

  29. Mek101 What if?

    August 27, 2019 at 10:18 am

    Wait… F6?

  30. HG 80

    August 28, 2019 at 7:44 pm

    Dont tell me tf2 Is just old as an excuse it gets updated every other week and has an active development team while staying top 5 on steam at all times.
    Oh FUNKe…
    I only you'd have known.

  31. Lagkage Guldager

    August 28, 2019 at 8:02 pm

    do you wear braces

  32. Super Clutch

    August 28, 2019 at 11:13 pm

    but, the best part is, once you get those basics down…

    you are a god amongst men

  33. comadmania

    August 29, 2019 at 1:33 pm

    THIS VIDEO SHOULD BE ABOUT WARFRAME… warframe is very complex game and NO TURORIAL… yeah theres tutorial how to move and kill… THATS IT NO MODS NO STORE TUTORIAL NOTHING.

  34. comadmania

    August 29, 2019 at 1:42 pm

    they need to make more people work on tf2 not like 7 people

  35. Tiago Pestana

    August 31, 2019 at 9:54 am

    toxic overwacth player:
    FUNKe

  36. D3rpy Jogos

    September 1, 2019 at 1:59 am

    I didnt knew what was that f6 and i have Just like 200 l 100 hours in tf2

  37. Nate

    September 1, 2019 at 7:38 am

    Just play it and watch other people on your team. Trial and error. It wasn’t that hard for me. I must just be amazing

  38. Johannes Järvi

    September 1, 2019 at 6:36 pm

    And here we are with over 600 days wothout any major updates

  39. Alberto Fupalo

    September 2, 2019 at 3:20 pm

    I mean, I’m fairly new to TF2 and I kind of just learned from playing casual more, playing as every character, and watching videos on it.

  40. Fishy_RTS

    September 3, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    And yet here we are gods of headshoting

  41. Brenda Petro

    September 3, 2019 at 10:21 pm

    i am an engie main. also i am good at TF2 for having only played 33 hours!

  42. Nick August

    September 4, 2019 at 2:01 am

    When I picked it up I used mvm as a tutorial then jumped into matchmaking when I understood all the characters. Now I got over 200 hours under my belt and I know basic rocket jumping and I'm practicing demo trimping. Also any tips for trimping and rocket jumping? I'm stuck trying to gain speed and sustain direction for air melee hits and hard landings.

  43. Jacob Bryant

    September 4, 2019 at 11:06 pm

    Opening background is Pinkerton by Weezer

  44. White noise

    September 5, 2019 at 1:08 pm

    I played the orange box on console and watched soundsmith and lazy purplr videos so i had a pretty decent idea of what each class does and what all the wepons do

  45. illuminati230

    September 5, 2019 at 2:39 pm

    "tf2 will find it hard to get back into relevancy" it takes literally less than 10 seconds to get into a casual match

  46. How 2Die

    September 5, 2019 at 7:08 pm

    Hey aht is that game ? 0:48

  47. AV3S Tube

    September 5, 2019 at 10:39 pm

    Top 2 players gods?? I recently was top scoring in a hightower match as a huntsman sniper…

  48. TziaYu

    September 6, 2019 at 12:21 pm

    7:58 wait f6 does something? how tf have i not known that for this long

  49. NoobMaster69

    September 6, 2019 at 4:25 pm

    Most new players would probably pick spy gecause he looks somewhat cool

  50. the Law

    September 6, 2019 at 9:36 pm

    mate random crits are still in the game budy you start you shot and a random crit kills 4 people umm oh ok gess what now guys are going to try spamming that shit over and over hoping that they get a noder crit mate df

  51. Discord Dan

    September 7, 2019 at 2:38 am

    That heavy at 2:47 is fuckin booking it down tge corridor

  52. Jason Chiu

    September 7, 2019 at 4:33 pm

    Didn’t the vitasaw get banned from competitive

  53. Craftwork

    September 8, 2019 at 3:10 pm

    It actually took me a year to realise Scout was able to Double jump

  54. Jacob Tihelka

    September 12, 2019 at 7:57 pm

    yea, but rn cause valve is just… valve, so u can learn everything from community, so many tips, videos and much much more that are updated every time, Tf has one of biggest communities, so Valve is just using it, rather than make it better

  55. Sage-Bong 2: Bruh edition

    September 12, 2019 at 8:06 pm

    "tf2 gets updated every other week and has an active development team"
    Of course this statement did not age well.

  56. Duane 427427

    September 13, 2019 at 7:15 am

    Sooooo

    tf2 is ass confirmed

  57. Lee Hong Hui

    September 13, 2019 at 8:23 am

    I clock 81 hrs and I am awesome with heavy and scout

  58. sarcasm boi

    September 14, 2019 at 1:17 am

    I learned how to play from youtubers

  59. KhanThe GamerGod

    September 14, 2019 at 2:04 am

    “Him tf2 bad learning curve” me: * LAUGHS IN FOR HINNER*

  60. Derpolnischfrosch

    September 14, 2019 at 1:41 pm

    lel admits on video that he broke the termes of use

  61. Noon noon

    September 15, 2019 at 5:15 am

    what is that game on 0:48

  62. Nothing And Everything

    September 15, 2019 at 12:31 pm

    3:45 and if you died you can see in left-down and it is more usefull … which class you used you will se your class's tip

  63. Azerith

    September 16, 2019 at 12:02 am

    I love when tf2 players go into paladins thinking its really simple and easy to play. They just hop into casual not knowing about the literal infinite combinations of card sets and skills that the characters have. Paladins is the most complicated team based shooter ever made.

  64. Void

    September 16, 2019 at 12:32 am

    Tutorial isint bugged for me

  65. Void

    September 16, 2019 at 12:39 am

    Everyone needs to @ this to valve on all social media

  66. The Craft Mechanic

    September 16, 2019 at 12:47 am

    “It gets updated every other week”
    I’m sorry, WHAT?

  67. QWERTY kwurt

    September 17, 2019 at 12:46 pm

    the sad thing is that valve doesn't care about tf2, or counter strike, or anything but dota 2 now

  68. Mat Dv

    September 18, 2019 at 11:57 pm

    I just know how to pyro. Backburner, jetpack, get behind em and fry em

  69. Tennessee_ 200

    September 19, 2019 at 3:01 am

    I've tried playing tf2 atleast three times and I ended up just sitting in a corner confused about everything. And I have been watching videos about tf2 for years.

  70. Placek 5678

    September 19, 2019 at 4:25 pm

    I one time complete tutor but its restarting every time steam cloud save and now itd broken

  71. Alpha

    September 23, 2019 at 1:48 am

    The good part of no good tutorials is because effort players wold keep the game alive untill he/she master his/her favorite class

  72. Syuko Shiomi

    September 23, 2019 at 4:00 pm

    Too bad Overwatch tried too hard to make itself very competitive. It's either the Meta or just lose or get reported for not being a Meta slave.

    I honestly like the tidbits and summaries of each hero and their ability, but that's all close to meaningless since you can only play heroes in the Meta or get flamed/reported

    On the other hand, I was super clueless with TF2 for a few months. Just going about doing whatever I wanted, and it only changed when I delved into TF2 more and wanted to dedicate more into it.

    For me, TF2 is a tutorial-less clusterfuck of bullets and bombs that's very enjoyable to play. And it being tutorial-less and unforgiving towards new players is just one way to find dedicated players, in my opinion.

    Games you can pick up and learn in a few hours is nice, you get into it and enjoy it to the point of dedicating your game time into it or moving on to something else. With TF2 and its noob unfriendly environment, it will show you how just playing blindly would get you nowhere. This either makes a person quit, or make them strive to learn and get better at the game. And I see that as some sort of test, a test to see if you're willing to pour hundreds and thousands of hours into a single game that tells you close to nothing about it

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