Game Analysis: Team Fortress 2

LD1000-Verse: Team Fortress 2

legodemension1000’s rendition of the mercenaries on Flickr.


‘…The objective here is to make YOU that better medic!’

– ArraySeven the Master Medic Main


Team Fortress 2 is a game that combines both humor and an excellent design into a masterfully-crafted casual FPS.

Game Play Analysis

Formal Elements

The Basics

Name of the game Team Fortress 2
The platform PC and Xbox (but discussing PC version here)
Time played (should be at least 30 minutes) 90 hours (Steam)
If you could work on this game (change it), what would you change and why? Due to the VAC system being unfitting for this game(as it doesn’t protect from multiple accounts being generated for botting), hackers and bots are common in public lobbies. The game itself doesn’t have any issues, but the anti-cheat could use some improvements.


How many players are supported? modifiable (through community server modding)

maximum of 24 (12 on each team, 2 teams total) on casual games

maximum of 12 (6 on each team, 2 teams total) on competitive. This is alternatively called highlander.

(this analysis will focus on public, valve-hosted casual lobbies)

Does it need to be an exact number? no, but matchmaking tries it’s best to make the teams have an even number of players. This is capped at 24 total players in a single lobby.
How does this affect play? Team composition is important if the individual/the team wants to win. 12 v 12 is a large number, so fights are much more large-scale.

Team composition is not heavily enforced, at least not by in-game limitation. However, the general player consensus is that having more than 3 classes is overkill, and players might be persuaded to pick a different class.

Some types of player frameworks:

  • Single Player – like Solitare.
  • Head-to-head – 1 vs. 1, Chess.
  • PvE – Player vs. Environment, or multiple players vs. the game. Common in MMOs like World of Warcraft.
  • One against Many – Single-player vs. multiple (obvy).
  • Free-for-all – Every man for himself (1 vs. 1 vs. 1 vs. 1..). Most common for multiplayer games, from Monopoly to Modern Warfare.
  • Individuals Against the System – Like Blackjack, where the Dealer is playing against multiple players, but those players have no effect on each other.
  • Team Competition – Multiple vs. multiple, i.e. sports.
  • Predator-prey – Players form a circle and everyone’s goal is to attack the player on their left and defend themselves from the player on their right.
  • Five-pointed Star – Eliminate both players who are not on either side of you.
Team Competition (12v12)


What are the players trying to do? Win the game;

More descriptively, capturing the point in order to win (think of capture the flag)

this gets bit more complex between the different game modes, but all the modes have objectives that players need to capture in order to win.

Some common objectives include:

  • Capture/Destroy – Eliminate all your opponents pieces (Chess).
  • Territorial Acquisition – Control as much territory as you can, not necessarily harming other players (RISK).
  • Collection – Collect a certain number of objects throughout the game (Pokemon).
  • Solve – Solve a puzzle or crime (Clue).
  • Chase/race/escape – Anything where you are running towards or away from something (playground game Tag).
  • Spatial Alignment – Anything involving the positioning of elements (Tetris or Tic-Tac-Toe or that game at Cracker Barrel).
  • Build – Advance your characters or build your resources to a certain point (The Sims).
  • Negation of another goal – The game ends if you perform an act that is forbidden by the rules (Jenga or Twister).
Arena: Destroy (the enemy).

Capture the flag: Capture(points) by destroying (the enemy).

Control point: Territorial acquisition, game win after controlling all the territories.

King of the hill: game fought over a single control point

Payload: push the cart(the payload) by standing next to it. the control points are checkpoints, and the cart moves faster if more people are pushing it.

(Mann vs Machine and Pass time were excluded due to it being a PvE environment and socialization-based game format, respectively.)


There are three categories of (what the book Rules of Play calls) operational rules:

  • Setup – the things you do at the beginning of a game.
  • Progression of Play – what happens during the game.
  • Resolution – How an outcome is determined based on the game state.


What controls are used? WASD for movement

mouse movement (left-right, up-down) to change the camera and your aim

M1 to shoot, M2 to activate special abilities (Demoman’s sticky detonation, Medic’s Übercharge)

1 2 3 to change your weapon- primary, secondary, melee, respectably.

Shift to crouch, space to jump.

Was there a clear introductory tutorial? No. There is something called ‘training mode’, but it’s so well-hidden. I learned this existed after watching a YouTuber discuss some problematic aspects of the game.
Were they easy to understand or did you find yourself spamming the controller? controls are the same as everyday pc games. What was more frustrating about the lack of a clear introductory tutorial was how the game doesn’t tell any information on how to play, like class abilities and team composition.

Resources & Resource Management

What kinds of resources do players control? ammo, health, secondary items(sandvich, mad milk, jarate… etc), class abilities like the Übercharge(medic), cloak meter(spy)
How are they maintained during play? GUD information
What is their role? to limit resources and determine player death
A resource is everything under the control of a single player. Could be the money in Monopoly or health in WoW. Other examples are:

  • Territory in RISK The number of questions remaining in 20 Questions Objects picked up during videogames (guns, health packs, etc.)
  • Time (game time, real-time, or both)
  • Known information (like suspects in Clue)

Game State

How much information in the game state is visible to the player? state of the control points (controlled by other players as well),
A snapshot of the game at a single point is the game state. The resources you have, the un-owned properties in Monopoly, your opponent’s Archery skill all count towards the game state. Some example information structures are:

  • Total Information – Nothing is hidden, like Chess.
  • Info per player – Your hand of cards is only visible to you.
  • One player has privileged info – Like a Dungeon Master.
  • The game hides info from all players – Like Clue, where no one knows the victory condition.
  • Fog of War – In video games, where certain sections of the map are concealed if you do not have a unit in sight range of that area. You also cannot see other players’ screens, so each player is unaware of the other’s information.


In what order do players take their actions? free for all (network limitation included)
How does play flow from one action to another? every action has it’s own responses from another player
Some structures include:

  • Turn-based – Standard board game technique.
  • Turn-based with simultaneous play – where everyone takes their turn at the same time (like writing something down or putting a card down in War).
  • Real-time – Actions happen as fast as players can make them. Action-based video games.
  • Turn-based and time limits – You have this long to take your turn.

Player Interaction

Some examples:

  • Direct Conflict – I attack you.
  • Negotiation – If you support me here, I’ll help you there.
  • Trading – I’ll give you this for that.
  • Information Sharing – If you go there, I’m warning you, a trap will go off.
Team-based direct conflict

Theme & Narrative

Does it have an actual story structure? yes, but unimportant to playing the game. it’s set off to the side on the game’s website, not in the game.
Is it based on a historical event (or similar)? Somewhat. the game is set in the middle of the cold war(the 60s-70s), somewhere in Nevada, US. This is important for the humor of the game, but not so much for the story.
Does the theme or narrative help you know how to play? yes. the game takes between mercenaries of two companies (RED: Reliable Excavations and Demolitions, and BLU: Builders League United).

RED is, well, red, and the materials used for the level design is earthly (like wood). BLU is blue, and takes colder design elements like metallic and concrete buildings. This helps players intuitively recognize the characters and levels.

Regarding the ‘lore’, it doesn’t take itself seriously enough to incorporate story into the game (nor have a serious, brooding story). The in-depth story was made well-after the game launched.

Does it have emotional impacts? It’s meant to be a relaxing and humorous, carefree environment.
Also, look for en media res (does it start in the middle of the game)? yes- players respawn after a certain time period if they die. since other players are still alive, the game is still in progress.

The Elements in Motion

How do the different elements interact? two teams attack each other.
What is the gameplay like? constant combat, while following the roles of each mercenary
Is it effective? yes. through this system, team play is much more emphasized.
Are there any points where the design choices break down? no.

Design Critique

Why did the designer make these particular choices? the designers wanted the game to be non-serious as possible.
Why this set of resources? since the game was in development for about 10 years, they could utilize newer technology that impacted the gaming industry.
What if they made different decisions? TF2-esque game with a different mood already happened before, with the Team Fortress classic (which was released in 1996, developed with the Quake engine from the same year).
Does the design break down at any point? sometimes the maps get confusing if you’ve not played them before. The design is definitely focused on players who know the general level layout, then new players.

Graphics & Sound

Does the game art pair well with the mechanics? Simple and stylistic, it leaves more room for the player to interpret the game itself than obscuring it with difficult design elements.
Did you find any bugs or glitches? lel
What about sound? yes, the sound design is simple yet dopamine-releasing. whenever the player lands a shot, a ‘ding!’ effect will play, which is very rewarding to hear.

For medic specifically, with his crossbow, a gallant sound-effect (the sound of a holy choir singing, and the sound of multiple bird wings flapping) will play, which is probably the most satisfying thing about playing team fortress 2.

Can you spot any technical shortcuts? no, Valve is meticulous regarding that aspect of gameplay.

Various Stages of the Game

To wrap up, some things to keep in mind (as if there aren’t enough already) as you play: if you’re new: look up guides on how to play. the game is not intuitive to the beginner AT ALL, and different weapon variations from the stock will change your playstyle as well. (also, don’t be fooled by items with gold borders, stocks can do their job just fine)

There’s always going to be a sentry nest (engineer) somewhere ahead.

know your roles, play them, and don’t overextend. be a team player.

What challenges do you face, and how do you overcome them? the enemy team/by eliminating them.
Is the game fair? mostly, except for random crits that just happens, not rewarding good behavior or anything. this was designed to ‘break stalemates’, but it’s just not a good design choice.
Is it replayable? Are there multiple paths to victory or optional rules that can change the experience? definitely replayable: different items, 100+ official maps, various game modes, and team composition makes every game a new experience.
What is the intended audience? casual shooter players who want to enjoy the game, rather than grinding out a loadout.
What is the core, the one thing you do over and over, and is it fun? killing enemy players is likely the core, and yes it’s super satisfying.

This analysis form was adapted from



Mr. Le Duc’s Game Analysis Resources

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