Thankfully they came to their senses. Valve fixed the unlock controversy with a patch today that makes the item unlock system work how it should have worked all along: Items are once again unlockable through earning achievements in addition to being found through drops. I’ve noticed that the drop rate has been increased as well (found 3 items, that I already had, in under an hour of actually playing).
Now that I have all the items unlocked, I feel like I can just enjoy the game. I spent an hour plinking arrows at people on a standard point capture server and I did better than I thought I would. It took some learning, but now that I have the strafe and shoot down I’m able to take out people semi-consistently. It really is all about anticipating where people will be when your arrow reaches its destination. People tend to behave and move in certain ways as certain classes and once you figure out (and certain players habbits) it makes the bow great fun. The Spy items, aside from the now nerfed/fixed Ambassador are fun too. The Dead Ringer and Cloak and Dagger are both really great for creating entirely new ways to play the Spy. I’m absolutely horrible as a Spy even with the new items, but I’ve seen some people use them to achieve amazing results.
I’m really enjoying the multiple ways to unlock items. Honestly, it’s a bit easy and if you play for any time at all you’re going to get items but that’s how a FPS game should be – all skill with these extras being fluff. Thinking about this combination of ways to earn gear, it reminds me of Mythic’s new sigil system coming to WAR in the next patch. No, this won’t turn into a post comparing TF2 to WAR, but I want to touch upon how progression being more open ended and more flexible can be a really good thing if the entire game focuses around the gameplay — in fact it allows a game to focus more on gameplay. Earning gear through achievements/sigils in a MMO could be something to build upon and I’ll be able to think about it more after WAR’s 1.3 patch.