So, you’ve plunked down some of your hard-earned money for The Orange Box and you’ve already finished Portal and have bugged the shit out of all your remaining friends with jokes about cake. Now what? Perhaps you want to jump into some enjoyable online competition with Team Fortress 2, the premier shooting-at-other-people game. Maybe it’s because of the awesome, vaguely-like-The Incredibles graphics. Maybe it’s because of the attention to detail both in gameplay and presentation. Maybe you just want to shoot at people and yell “TAKE THAT YOU QUEER” over your headset. Whichever of these is your personal barometer of importance, you can be sure that Team Fortress 2 will satisfy it.
However, with nine distinct classes in Team Fortress 2, the barrier to play may seem slightly daunting. Do not fret! Valve has thoughtfully designed a game where even a rank newbie can jump in and immediately begin playing like a veteran! Just be sure to follow these simple tips and you will soon be indistinguishable from the vast majority of Team Fortress 2 players so long as you shout homophobic slurs two or three times an hour.
The Heavy. Beginning players often gravitate to the Heavy, possibly because he is a big fat guy and many players will look rather like the Heavy (minus the obvious muscle, of course), but also because his gameplay is quite simple. Remember, anybody playing a Medic is your slave, and everybody loves hearing you shout for the Medic twenty times in a row. After all, nobody deserves healing ahead of you, because you are the big strong Heavy and everybody else is just a tiny ant that you will squish. You never have to duck or hide because you have 300 hit points, more than anybody else, and 300 is practically infinite. Oh, and make sure you always spin your barrel so you can fire at a moment’s notice. Who cares if it makes you an easier target? 300 hit points, baby!
The Soldier. Hey, remember how back when you played Quake 2 everybody always wanted the rocket launcher? The Soldier is the only class who gets the rocket launcher! That means the Soldier is the best class of them all! Your slow-moving rockets are especially fantastic for long-range combat with Snipers. In addition to getting the rocket launcher, you also get to rocket-jump. Rocket-jumping is awesome, and you will always have enough hit points to survive the landing, and you definitely won’t lift up in a slow, graceful arc that makes it easy to be shot to death in midair.
The Demoman. The Demoman comes with two grenade launchers. The first grenade launcher shoots grenades that explode on impact with enemies, and which clatter around if they miss. If you are a Demoman, ninety-nine percent of your grenades are intended to miss. You don’t even have to come close. Just keep shooting grenades wherever you like. If anybody complains, explain to them about “suppression fire” and why you’re actually winning the game by filling that alleyway with grenades. Now the enemy team has to attack through one of the other two entries – you’re helping pin them down! The other Demoman grenade launcher fires stickybombs which can kill your teammates if you trigger them at the wrong time. The wrong time is never “when there is at least one enemy in range of my stickybomb explosion,” even if four of your teammates are there. (You may also want to explain “attrition” to them as well.)
The Scout. You can outrun anything. You saw it in the trailer – the sentry guns and the Heavy can’t shoot the Scout, because you’re just so fast. Would the trailer be inaccurate? And the Scout counts double for capturing control points, which means you should always break into a dead run for the control point. Going anywhere else is a waste of time. Maybe you can double-jump every so often for variety, but Scouts have one job to do, so do it. Heck, suicide charges worked for the Soviets at Stalingrad and for Iran in the Iran-Iraq war, so they should work for you too!
The Pyro. Never, ever, ever switch from your flamethrower. So what if it’s useless at long range? What happens if an enemy suddenly pops out right in front of you? You’ll be glad you had the flamethrower then! Heck, why even take your hand off the trigger? Just rush the enemy with your flamethrower going full blast. You’re bound to set some of them on fire before you die, and if you’re playing a Pyro, the only thing that counts is how many enemies you set on fire, as opposed to how many you actually kill. Also, it says in the rulebook that you should ambush people with your flamethrower, so go ahead and do that. Nobody else has read the rulebook and thus will not be expecting you to hide in all those obvious hiding-place that jut off long corridors.
The Engineer. The Engineer is the last line of defense for any team. That means you build all your structures at the control point closest to your base. Even the teleporter exit. The other players can handle all those other control points – you’re going to guarantee that your opponents never take the last one. And if you stalemate your opponent, that’s very nearly as good as winning! Also, remember to build the sentry gun first because the dispenser just gives you more metal to build other structures, while the sentry gun can shoot people (if they ever get close). And never forget that every ammunition box is, by definition, yours. Other players understand this and never need ammunition. They’re too busy dying trying to get those control points the other team controls anyway; they’ll never need all their ammo…
The Sniper. Some people will tell you that the Sniper is the toughest class to play in the entire game. Those people are stupid. Sniping is easy: you pick a point a long way away and shoot at anybody who goes through that area. Don’t hide your laser sight, because the other team isn’t paying attention to it anyway, and you want to be at exactly the right spot so you can get more headshots. Also, remember that the best time to play a Sniper is when you’re attacking and trying to gain ground, because the class excels on offense. Does your attacking team have less than four Snipers? Then why not play one? You can always use more Snipers! It’s a support class – doesn’t everybody like to be supported?
The Medic. Your Ubercharge is quite possibly the most dangerous ability in the entire game, so be sure to use it on a class that can really make best use of it. A Sniper, say, or maybe a Scout. And remember, if you have to Uber up a Heavy, don’t bother staying close to him or anything like that. And be sure to try and kill people with your needle gun from time to time. That way, they respect you.
The Spy. Disguise yourself as a class the other team doesn’t have. They’ll be even more confused that way. When attacking an engineer station, stab the Engineer then try to take out the sentry gun. Don’t worry about being detected while cloaked – it never happens, and if you uncloak while the enemy can see you, they’ll probably be too busy to notice anyway. The Spy: the easiest class to play!