The Case For Mann Vs. Mann
Why Mann Versus Machine delivers, but is only a distraction
Team Fortress 2 is, by a half-decade after launch, a resilient and very popular multiplayer shooter that has shocked conventional wisdom by refreshing itself again and again. The newest update was larger than most before it, but instead of offering a new way for players strategize against each other, it offers an entirely new gamemode that pits players against bots.
As a seasoned TF2 player (I have clocked 749 hours according to Steam at the time of writing), the update didn’t provide an alternate gameplay mode that I’ll feel like coming back to again and again. I've played all the maps, even enjoyed them well enough, and I was beaten handily in the “Iron Will” mode despite my best efforts. I’ve tried all the classes, I’ve seen all the content there is to see (until the community whips something crazy up. Here’s hoping).
MvM was hailed as a new dawn for TF2, a mode that would bring new players to the game and old players back for many more hours. In a sense, it has definitely attracted players, but mainly by sheer weight of hype. The new mode isn’t bad in any way, and it isn’t seriously broken (at least as of now-- opening day/week was another story). The update delivered on every promise.
But for me, it lacks what keeps me coming back to TF2. While there could hypothetically be more teamwork in MvM, in my experience there is much less than in actual competitive CP/Payload/etc. because instead of facing off against a dynamic, equally matched team of human rivals, you only have to strategize against predictable, limited, path-following robots. It’s not like this is any surprise, of course, but when most people hear that there are both co-op and competitive modes in a multiplayer game, they assume the co-op mode has more cooperating. Not so.
MvM certainly doesn’t break the Mann versus Mann scene, however. Normal-ass TF2 is, in my opinion, better than ever. Breaking into the game now is still viable and fun. MvM doesn’t add a new dimension to the game, but the old dimension is still my favorite multiplayer game of all time.