Field Report: Team Fortress 2 'Mann vs. Machine'

We jump into a Team Fortress 2 Shacknews server to get a report on the recently released Mann vs. Machine.

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After nearly five years of fighting over control points and briefcases of intelligence, the mercs of Team Fortress 2 have a new challenge before them--mechanical monstrosities looking to destroy any and all things bearing Mann Co.'s name. TF2's new Mann vs. Machine mode introduces co-op for the first time, bringing up to six players together to fight back the soulless automatons. To do my part in the fight, I jumped into Shacknews community member re-verse's server to fight alongside fellow Shackers against the robotic menace. Team Fortress 2 veterans will notice the difference between traditional multiplayer and Mann vs. Machine almost immediately. Cohesive teamwork is emphasized here more than any TF2 game mode to date. Teams need to cover robot spawn points to stop machines in their tracks before they bring a bomb to the player base. Robots employ various tactics, including robot Scout rushes, multiple airblasting Pyros, and Demo grenade spam and teams must adapt to each enemy tactic in order to survive. New voice over lines from each character are a big help, as the characters will yell out if a teammate is down or if an enemy Sniper or Spy has entered the field. Once killed, players can respawn, but any time that passes can be costly given how quickly robots are able to move the bomb up.

Larger boss bots come in different varieties.

While traditional multiplayer sees every class playing a pivotal role in the game, Mann vs. Machine places some weight on certain classes. In particular, success is almost impossible without a Medic and an Engineer. Medics need to be aware of their surroundings at all times and heal teammates quickly, while making sure to upgrade their Medigun or Kritzkrieg between rounds. Engineers' sentry guns can mow down waves upon waves of robots to the point that the robots eventually deploy a sentry buster (a large bomb with legs) to take them down. Dispensers also prove to be invaluable resources, since many players tend to run low on ammo amidst the fracas. While all of TF2's weapons are balanced to a degree in the game's traditional multiplayer, a number of those weapons may see their usefulness diminished significantly. The Pyro's Backburner, for example, is great for ambushing opponents in multiplayer, but its advantages are reduced during an all-out robotic blitz. The Engineer's Pomsom 6000 ray gun has been called overpowered in the main multiplayer mode, but its buffs are far less useful against the machine menace. And Spies are at an intense disadvantage given the sheer number of targets he needs to cover in order to be effective. One thing to note is that all weapons can be upgraded in between waves, with upgrades customized to suit each specific weapon. For example, the Soldier can either choose to increase the clip or damage dealt from his rocket launcher or opt to increase the Buff Banner's deployment time. Upgrades are purchased with money picked up from successfully taking out waves or from defeated enemies. In fact, teammates fighting over money drops may be the one instance where they'll fight amongst themselves.

Don't let them escape with the bomb.

Upgrades are pivotal, as later waves introduce more powerful robots. Larger bosses include a Giant Soldier that only shoots crit rockets, giant Heavies flanked by multiple Medic-bots, and oversized Scouts that bash your brains in with their baseball bat. Another wrinkle includes a colossal tank with an enormous HP bar. Even with Kritz and Buff Banner assistance, the tank can take a lot of punishment and will destroy the base if it makes it that far. Taking out the tank becomes more difficult, considering that the other robots will still be trying to escort the regular bomb to your base, as well. Team Fortress 2 already has a loyal player base, but Mann vs. Machines has the potential to create an entirely new fanbase. It employs many of the familiar TF2 mechanics that veterans love, while emphasizing a new sense of camaraderie over competition. There are only three maps (Decoy, Coal Town, and Mannworks) for MvM so far, but given how much fun this game mode is to play, I expect that number to rise soon. In the meantime, grab your friends and prepare for the machine uprising.
Field Reports provide our first-hand experience with the latest games, but should not be considered a review. This report is based on the Windows version of Team Fortress 2. The game is now available for PC and Mac.
Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

From The Chatty
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    August 17, 2012 2:00 PM

    Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Field Report: TF2's Mann vs. Machine.

    We jump into a Team Fortress 2 Shacknews server to get a report on the recently released Mann vs. Machine.

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      August 17, 2012 2:15 PM

      only thing bad is hard to get in a damn server.. wait times are ridiculous. they need more servers

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        August 20, 2012 4:55 AM

        Use the server browser and filter by mvm, it shouldnt take you more than a few minutes to find a server. Even if you find a 0/32 mvm server join it and it will be populated fairly quickly

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      August 17, 2012 2:17 PM

      First off, I have to thank re-verse for hosting the Shack server!

      Second, Vividtoid (an awesome Heavy, btw), ConsFEARacy, and the rest of the crew that I played with yesterday. Enjoy the video at the bottom!

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        August 17, 2012 2:20 PM

        Why thank you! I didn't even realize that was you. :(

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          August 17, 2012 2:31 PM

          That may have been intentional on my part. :)

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        August 17, 2012 4:48 PM

        Made it to the front page! :-D


        Name is misspelled. :(

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      August 17, 2012 2:32 PM

      You share the money across all players. Nobody has to fight over anything.

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        August 17, 2012 2:34 PM

        You mean I frantically dove for cash for nothing? Don't I feel silly?

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          August 17, 2012 2:35 PM

          money fades away after a while, so better someone gets it before it does than no one

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            August 17, 2012 4:16 PM

            also the scout is basically designed to be the sole money grabber. other classes can get killed way easier doing it and they're better positioned in an ambush position.

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          August 17, 2012 2:42 PM

          There's an achievement for picking up $ and it only counts what you pick up yourself.

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      August 17, 2012 2:46 PM

      Small error in there: The money you collect is shared with the team. So no need to fight over it with your teammates. If your team collects all the money dropped you even get a bonus.

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      August 17, 2012 2:51 PM

      spies aren't really disadvantaged, they can be insanely useful. they can totally halt a wave for a few seconds, and buy valuable time. a fully upgraded sapped was a lot of fun to play with last night for me.

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        August 17, 2012 2:53 PM

        Spy's normally my go-to class, but I'd have to imagine they need to be insanely skilled to be useful here. Can't imagine their knife (especially The Eternal Reward) doing a lot of good, but I didn't think about the Sapper!

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          August 17, 2012 2:56 PM

          i upgraded the sapper and the pistol (gave it shots-fired-pass-through-enemies buff that i can't remember atm, and the increased fire rate), and was doing really well.

          dropping the sapper on a wave when it first enters the playing field gets them all bunched up nicely.

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          August 17, 2012 3:08 PM

          dead ringer seems to be a necessity. for a knife i think any would be ok. the kunai might even excel here

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      August 17, 2012 3:08 PM

      my favorite loadout is righteous bison focused soldier. that thing gets nasty good very fast and stays useful

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        August 17, 2012 3:53 PM

        I couldn't decide if I thought sniper was good for MvM or not, but speed-firing my fully upgraded Deus Ex Sniper Rifle was so much fun!

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          August 17, 2012 4:04 PM

          I was doing alright with it but I switched to Heavy during the tank only waves

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          August 17, 2012 4:22 PM

          sniper works great against the slow moving giants

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          August 17, 2012 4:28 PM

          Sniper sucks for it, but he can be pretty devastating with fast-reloading jarate against big swarms.

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            August 17, 2012 4:50 PM

            yeah the Jarate getting upgraded is critical

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      August 17, 2012 3:49 PM

      Woot, I think this is the first time my name has been mentioned in a news story since sCary ran my early preview of Unreal.

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      August 17, 2012 4:06 PM

      Hijack! thecatinthehat and I are on the SHKN.WS server. Come join us!

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      August 17, 2012 5:33 PM

      Hey I made it into the video! My scout skills are pretty pathetic, but at least I handled the $ picking up part well enough.

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      August 17, 2012 6:56 PM

      Demoman's primary is all you need. That thing is rad when you upgrade the reload speed and firing rate (and damage, of course). Almost everything dies to it.

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      August 17, 2012 7:01 PM

      I was having fun using the half zatoichi upgraded with +2 crit on kill and extra damamge. (SInce on kill you get full hp again)