Team Fortress 2 Tough Break patch is coming with a lot of very impactful balance changes, new maps and a lot of new cosmetic items

Its been a while since I've lasted played Team Fortress 2. When I left it off it was becoming a game completely focused around cosmetics and increasingly ridiculous weapons that served no practical purpose. But, looking through the patch notes now it seems that Valve have been busy and the game currently seems far better than the one I left behind, mostly due to some excellent updates.

And Tough Break is one such update, with its focus not on adding new weapons but rather fine-tuning balance, adding new maps and giving players interesting ways to earn cosmetics besides simply through random chance. Here's my quick overview of the changes showcased so far:

The biggest addition is the new contract system and if you've played CS:GO the past year you already know how it works. This set of contracts will set you back $5.99 and the whole event will run for three months.

There are 26 contracts, or in other words quests, which will require you to use a specific weapon in order to complete various tasks. If you don't have the weapon in question a free version will be made available to you for the duration of the mission.

Completing a contract will reward you with either new skins or weapon cases which require their own keys to open. You might think that getting one of these weapon cases is a rip off because you have to pay money on top of paying money but if you're so inclined you could always sell them on the community market as they tend to fetch a high price, especially early on.

So despite the buy-in price being a bit steep at $5.99 I would still say that if you're someone that plays TF2 a lot or enjoys collecting cosmetics then the contracts are well worth it. If CS:GO missions are any comparison you'll get to have a blast completing the challenges and then either leaving with a bunch of new cosmetics or all of your money "refunded" through sold cases, not a bad deal all things considered.

Team Fortress 2 Tough Break update brings in weapon contracts with unique weapon rewards

A rainbow colored grenade launcher, for the Demomen that want to spread holiday cheer as well as explosions

Next up are the four new community-created maps. Even though I haven't played in a while I recognize some of these names so I'm guessing the maps were making rounds on community servers for a while now before Valve officially added them.

They are: Snowycoast - a payload map, Vanguard - a control point map, Highpass - a king of the hill map and last but not least, Landfall - a capture the flag map. There isn't much to say about the new official maps other than I'm glad Valve decided to go with a nice spread across both game modes and visual styles, it helps keep the official servers feeling fresh.

And if you want to celebrate your triumph in these new maps there are a couple of new taunts available as well. Once you get tired of doing the Conga in your spawn room you can limber yourself up with some mannrobics whose video made me realize how freakishly large hands are in the TF2 universe.

The second new taunt is the extremely cool bucking bronco for the Engineer, I couldn't imagine a taunt fitting a class any better. Finally, the Demoman's badpipes, a taunt that unleashes a sensory attack so deadly even Slaaneshes noise marines would recoil in terror. I'd suggest you only go with this taunt if you want to ensure world peace in the TF2 universe as everyone sets aside their differences in order to hunt you down.

Team Fortress 2 Tough Break updates brings forth new maps and cool new taunts, including the dreadfully sounding badpipes.


The fluff aside, it is the balance changes in this update that are going to affect the game most heavily. I won't go over all of the changes, I'll just focus on what I believe are the big ones, so if you want to you can check out the full patch notes here.

One of the biggest changes is the weapon swap time being reduced from 0.67 to 0.5 seconds. It might not sound like much, but when it comes to high level of play even such small timings can mean the difference between life and death. I haven't done the math but imagine a scout vs soldier duel, if both are extremely skilled and land each shot the scout will usually win due to the higher rate of fire.

Now, with this change, perhaps the soldier will have enough time for a rocket + shotgun before the scout finishes him off. This is one of those changes I feel is going to be mostly ignored by everyone yet is possibly on of the biggest changes the TF2 team has done in ages. We'll just have to wait a see how things work themselves out over the next few weeks.

Pyros have received some much needed buffs because let's face it, the class so far functioned as a portable airblast rather than anything else. The flamethrower's damage falloff over distance has been reduced so Pyros should find themselves actually using their main weapon in order to do damage now rather than swapping about constantly.

Another really good Pyro change is that extinguishing allies grants the Pyro 20 health, which doesn't sound amazing but if you pull off a clutch airblast in the middle of a fight and regain 40 health you could last just a while longer in order to dish out some serious hurt. Either way, a most welcome change that promotes teamwork with Pyros.

Team Fortress 2 Tough Break update is coming with a lot of balance changes that will help out Medics and Pyros the most.

If you've been a good mercenary the whole year you might find some buffs under the tree

The third set of changes is for the Medic. Medics now have a slightly higher health regeneration when healing someone that is hurt and, more importantly, UberCharge build rate is increased by 3x during setup time so you won't end up feeling like a dolt if you came in to a match slightly too late.

And the final few changes are mostly related to Demoknights and I'm not sure I really like the idea of nerfs to almost all Demoknight tools of trade. Perhaps the increased shield bash damage will compensate for all of the reduced damage and resistance but it still feels a bit lame watching an already sub-optimal version of the Demoman become even worse.

That's it for this overview but if the rumors are true there are even more changes coming as this is only day 1 of the Tough Break update. While I can't confirm that, I can at least assure you that if a new day brings with it a new update I'll cower it in detail once more.