Blimey. There's a lot to talk about.
I've just had a couple of hours playing Team Fortress 2 in the Mannconomy update - the first to introduce microtransactions and purchasable items in Team Fortress 2. First of all: the game hasn't changed. It's still Team Fortress 2. And it's still about reds and blues fighting it out.
But there's a lot that's new.
First, the store. You'll have to load cash into your Steam wallet before you play, and that's as easy as buying a game on Steam. Just load up your balance before you play. Once in-game, every time you hit escape, you'll see the latest offers and prices. Today, it's the sniper's crocodile hat. The store is relatively simple to browse - and it's not just limited to weapons. There are a vast array of items to try. Many are cosmetic - you can paint your weapons, hats and banners different colours. Some are kerazy - you can pay to engage in duels with a frenemy. Or you could pay to reward everyone on the server at the time with a new weapon. Just like that. Next time PC Gamer is drunk, we may reward you for being there for us on our TF2 server. Play more TF2 on our server.
There are bonuses, too. If you spend over a certain amount (the store's just gone down again, so I can't see the actual cost) you'll be rewarded with a special Mann-Company hat, for instance.
What wasn't expected was the sheer cost of the items. I bought (for testing, you understand) the Polycount pack - a bundle that's on-sale right now. If you bought all the items seperately, it would come to over £90. For all the Polycount items, I had to pay £30. Some of the rare hats are £11.99. That's a big fat wodge of cash to be planting down.
In-game, the Polycount items are pretty fun. I really like the new Soldier weapons. The rocket launcher heals for 15 health on hit - and that makes smart soldiers near indestructible. The new sniper rifle coats its victim in piss - but won't do headshots - which seems a bit pointless. The Pyro's new flamethrower is terrifying to face - it fires faster, and the complete item pack makes her run faster, too. Fear it. The spy items were a bit of a bust for me - they wouldn't equip, so I didn't get a chance to test them. The new scout pistol shotgun is pretty tough to face, and he gets a mackeral. It's for checking for spies. Yes really.
Item trading is really, really simple, and it just seems to work. If a friend is online, you can just invite them via their friends list. Otherwise, you can enter the URL of their steam profile to engage in a trade.
So there we go. The items are good, but expensive. The store works, and I predict it's going to make a fortune. Tonight, Team Fortress 2 entered a new era.
Have you tried the update? What do you think? I'm still... uncertain. I thought I was going to hate this. But... I kinda like guns.