Having played through (almost) all of the Scream Fortress maps, perhaps it’s a good time to review Valve’s selection of maps for this year’s Scream Fortress.
Starting off with Crasher, it’s a whole new way of playing the Capture the Flag gamemode; a fun one at that, given that your team doesn’t throw the match. Instead of attempting to steal the enemy’s intelligence from their base and returning it to your own, one player gets to be a giant version of the class they are playing, with 20 times their health, permanent crit boost (as long as they are alive), and a variety of other changes, at the cost of movement speed and overheal. Their objective is to get to the enemy’s gate to damage it without dying. Giants can attack each other and other players. Medics can still heal the giant, though they cannot ubercharge them, and their healing is less effective. Therefore, the typical strategy is to get a competent Heavy as the giant, and have the rest of the team help out the giant get to the gate. It is recommended to use the Vaccinator (as its ‘uber’ still works) or the Quick Fix (for faster healing speed) given that there are players willing to play Medic. Giants could also play the Pyro class, given their range and ability to damage the entire enemy team easier. The Soldier class equipped with a Concheror banner and the Direct Hit rocket launcher also works wonders.
Up next is Soul-Mill, another reskin of the Sawmill map, this time with the usual Scream Fortress mechanics. There isn’t a significant change for Soul-Mill, other than the fact that players can try going through portals to another world and get out of it for overheal, temporary invincibility (stock Uber), and temporary crits. Sawmill is a good map on its own, so there isn’t much to say about its spooky counterpart.
Ghoulpit is also a reskin of an older map, that being Sludgepit. It’s a payload map, which I have yet to experience for both variants. Looking through community reviews, it seems to be a positive experience, so perhaps it’s the usual Scream Fortress chaos on a regular map.
Spookyridge is an attack/defend map with some unique mechanics. There are interactive spiked coffins, which are presumably meant for new, unsuspecting players. Going inside will cause the coffin to close, killing the player, and spawning a green skeleton NPC. There are portals to several places which could be used to your advantage in flanking or making big brain plays, but like other places you could teleport to in Scream Fortress, it chips away at your health while you’re in it, so best be mindful of that. Having gotten the map several times, it’s certainly much more defender-sided, especially the second point. Perhaps the portals could provide an advantage, though I have yet to see anyone make use of them. It is by no means impossible to win as the attacking team, just gives a bigger challenge given the possible placements for sentries, hard-to-contest angles, and more.
Helltrain is a regular CTF map set on two gigantic trains traveling at high speeds. Unlike other CTF maps, there is a round timer, and players fight for a ‘coal core’ instead of a briefcase. Stalemates are possible, although given the large size of the map, it is unlikely with a competent team. In the case that it occurs, all players are sent to hell to play ‘the floor is lava’. The last team standing wins. The trains travel to different six environments, and everytime it reaches a new one, a giant slot machine rolls and decides the effects that players may get, similar to the Ghost Fort map. Though the mansion-styled interior of the locomotives look great, they are somewhat confusing to navigate through, with a lack of guidance as to where players should go. Given the expansive nature of Helltrain, finding the carrier of the intelligence is another nuisance in itself. The next thing you know, you and your team would have difficulties attempting to find the enemy carrying the ‘coal core’, and by the time you’ve spotted the carrier, they’re already dancing off in their own base. Helltrain, though visually impressive, leaves a lot to be desired.
Last but not least is Bonesaw, a payload race map where both teams attempt to push their carts (or in this case, giant saw) in an attempt to destroy a gravestone of the Mann brothers. Of course, teams need to stay by their carts in order to desecrate their targeted tombstone, and should they die before they could, the saw resets its progress in destroying the grave. I have gotten this map enough times to sufficiently conclude that it is one of, if not the worst maps for Scream Fortress, or TF2 in general. It shares the same lack of guidance that Helltrain has, which effectively makes it confusing to navigate, and the final section feels almost prompted for camping the opponents’ carts. Each team has towers where they could walk a small distance from spawn, which puts them on a balcony that has the enemy team’s endpoint. All you really have to do to prevent the enemy team from winning the match is maintaining a level 2/3 sentry or have a Demoman spam sticky bombs over the tower. It is guaranteed to take a long time, with the towers essentially giving players an easy way to prolong the match. Though the actual winner is decided by the team member that could reach the end of the obstacle course first. Helltower, the Halloween reskin for Hightower, also suffers the same flaw of point camping, but to a smaller degree, and no one ever takes Hightower and its reskin seriously.
p dir=”ltr” style=”line-height: 1.38;margin-top: 0pt;margin-bottom: 0pt”>While Scream Fortress XIV’s maps are somewhat mixed, only 1 of the four original maps are actually decent and fun to play, while the two others are simply reskins. It is expected of Valve to select maps that aren’t quite optimized for gameplay (going back to the notorious case of Snowville in Smissmas 2021), but perhaps we should follow the majority of the TF2 community in being optimistic and forgive all flaws at the slightest efforts of the company, something I wouldn’t do. Still, may your October’s share of TF2 be better than mine.