Death to Robots



"What coward would send babies to fight!?" - The Heavy (A character from Team Fortress 2)

Mann vs. Machine (MvM) is the latest free update to the insanely popular online shooter Team Fortress 2. After hinting and teasing at the existence of robot doppelgangers TF2 for months now, Valve released the update this August. In MvM, rather than the typical human vs. human combat that players have come to expect, this mode has players forming up in teams of 6 to fight wave after wave of enemy robots.

The mode is very simple to understand, yet keeps up to TF2’s standard of gameplay. Players can use all of their items and weapons they’ve collected in the standard game modes. The robots have the same health as their human counterparts, and do the same amount of damage with their weapons (and even more so, with their giant versions). This, combined with the fact that their numbers are pretty much endless, can make them actually pretty scary opponents. However, players can tip the balance in their favor with the use of upgrades.

The robots drop money when they are destroyed, and this money if collected, can be used to buy upgrades for your class or your weapon in the time between waves of attackers. It’s very similar to Killing Floor, where players have to return to a central shop between waves of monsters. In TF2, the shop is an upgrade booth at the spawn point, and the monsters are a variety of robots based on the TF2 cast.

It’s also very much like a tower defense game, where the main goal is to prevent the enemies from getting to your base, and you have time to plan out your strategies in the time between waves. It all comes together very well though. The variety of upgrades available offers TF2 a satisfying level of tactical depth that you’d expect more of an RPG or Strategy game.

Shooting robots together as a team, collecting the money, and feeling your hard work pay off is very addicting. It’s apparent that a lot of work went into making MvM a robust game mode. Veteran TF2 players, the likes of which have played the game for years, will have just as much fun playing MvM as a brand new, hatless novice will. MvM currently features 3 maps to play on, each with three missions of varying difficulty. The standard difficulty will provide plenty of easy robots to shoot, while the harder settings will test the reflexes and strategies of even hardened TF2 mercenaries.

Valve has set the gold standard with DLC. Team Fortress 2 is still completely free to play, and the Mann vs. Machine game mode is completely free as well. If you are a fan of cooperative shooters like Left 4 Dead, Killing Floor, or Borderlands, you have no reason not to try this. If you’ve grown bored with the typical TF2 gameplay, MvM is the best thing to happen to the game in a long time.