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See GoldRush

Soon, Team Fortress 2 fans will be treated to the first of many major updates that Valve plans to release over the next coming year. Expect the update to go live on Thursday, April17 or Friday, April 18. Along with a major makeover for the Medic class, the new update will come packed with the highly anticipated new map, GoldRush.

In GoldRush, the attacking team must push a cart forward along a series of railroad tracks past a series of checkpoints, while the defending team is charged with preventing their progress until time runs out.

The attackers have several factors working in their favor. Standing near the cart slowly heals you over time, which helps make up for the fact that you’re a sitting duck standing out in the open. Also, the more players your team has near the cart, the faster it moves, which means that if your team crowds around the cart, they can quickly power their way through to the next checkpoint. Ample ammo and health kits spread out along the tracks will also help the attacking team stay healthy as they endure the bombardments from the defending team.

However, the defending team has their own set of advantages over the attackers. The 60 second setup time will give Engineers plenty of time to erect level three sentry guns to create choke points. There are also lots of side paths running parallel to the carts’ tracks that’ll allow the defenders to blast away at the attacking team from all sides. Finally, if the defenders can keep the attackers away from the cart for long enough, the cart will slowly slide back towards the attacking team’s last checkpoint, undoing their progress.

According to Robin Walker, co-author of the Team Fortress Quake mod and designer for Valve, “Both teams need to be able to adjust their strategy depending on what approach the other is taking. GoldRush has been designed taking all nine classes and their abilities of Team Fortress 2 into account, which means there is a spot for everyone and their favorite class to be useful.”

After our brief time with GoldRush, we have to say that it’s most awesome. The level seems well designed and is pleasantly reminiscent of Dust Bowl in terms of how it looks.

GoldRush’s compact size with its complex and intricate series of intersecting paths is another great example of the “quality over quantity” philosophy on game design that we love seeing.

At the same time however, it seems like the defending teams will bear a slightly bigger burden when it comes to meeting their win condition until players become intimately familiar with the map. Until all the nooks and crannies of GoldRush become common knowledge, we suspect that defending players won’t be able to take full advantage of their setup time. But once they do, the attacking teams might need to be prepared for rockets and bombs flying at them from rooftops and rocket launching sentry guns firing at them from maddening locations once players learn all of GoldRush’s ins and outs.

We’re also curious to see if defending teams start team stacking with Engineers (where everyone picks the Engineer) for cheesy turtling tactics. This could lead to the attacking team meeting an unfairly ridiculous amount of fire from sentry guns as soon as the match begins. But perhaps this would be no different from the occasional Scout rush that’s no longer quite as popular in Capture Point matches.

Either way, there’s no doubt in our mind that fans will have a blast with GoldRush and the new Medic updates. We just wish the update came sooner. When will the next class update be available? When it’s ready. And if they’re as cool as the current one, the wait will surely be worth it. In the meantime, click here for a visual tour of GoldRush. We’ve posted the latest screens from the new map for your enjoyment.

Apr 16, 2008

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