Are you ready to FIGHT? Are you ready to SCRAP until every ROBOT you see is SMASHED INTO A PILE OF ASSORTED BITS OF CASE AND WIRING AND OILY BITS OF COLD MECHANICAL SOUL that is conveniently for the purposes of this sentence ALSO called SCRAP?
Of course you are! It's MANN VS MACHINE TIME AND...oh, hang on.
IN AN ESTIMATED 32 MINUTES, IT IS MANN VS MACHINE TIME!
Yes, the latest patch for Team Fortress 2 is out - and it's a popular one. I've been trying to get into a game for the last hour and a half, and have yet to actually manage it thanks to full-to-bursting servers and connection errors after patiently queuing up like some kind of polite, quiet person. I was originally planning to bring a quick hands-on verdict of a round or two. Instead, all I can say is that the matchmaking screen is very calm and soothing, and a credit to menu screens everywhere.
It will of course settle down once the entire internet has stopped hammering it, and in the meantime you can read the player guide right here to see the robots you'll be fighting and how the character upgrade system will work. The most surprising thing though is the addition of "Mann Up" tickets for an extra fee. You don't have to buy these to play, but they do buy you access to special servers where rare items can be found. Tickets are only used up on completion of a successful mission though, so you don't have to worry about wasting one on a bad team. There's also a progress tracking element involved, but as far as I can tell it looks like it's a similar deal to the existing crates - an option if you want to fast-track your collection of weird and wonderful gubbins, but by no means mandatory.
There are three MvM maps, Decoy, Coal Town and Mannworks, each with three "Missions" - one Normal difficulty and two Advanced for each. Unlike regular Team Fortress, you earn money for kills, which can be spent on character upgrades that last the duration of the match, with the addition of canteens for instant mid-game power-ups like a five second Ubercharge.
I'm looking forward to trying it all out.
Please would everyone else stop connecting for a few minutes so that I can.