You're staring at the battlefield, with the machines charging at you like a herd of bulls on parade. The bombtrack is is clear as they march towards the drop zone, but now it's time to take the power back. Grab yourself a fist full of steel and settle for nothing but victory. Not only is that more Rage Against The Machine references than is legally healthy for one article, but it's also a pretty accurate description of what awaits you in Team Fortress 2's Mann vs. Machine game mode.
Thankfully we have 5 handy tips to help you pull through, survive the onslaught and claim victory!
Know your enemy
Okay, I'll stop with the RATM references, but this tip is actually true. At the beginning of each wave you are presented with a number of symbols that will give you a heads up as to what you can expect. Learn these symbols, get to know your enemy and what they are capable of, and plan accordingly. It's much easier to setup a secure defence when you can make an educated guess as to the enemies tactics rather than going in blind.
Work as a team
Team-based gameplay isn't something new to Team Fortress 2 however it has never been as important as right now. A happy team is a successful team, and the key to success is communication. Create a team strategy, and choose a class that fits in with that strategy accordingly. There's no good being a medic if you have three Engineers and no heavy firepower to take out a tank. Keep the flow of communication open, constant and make smart decisions.
Choose your classes wisely
As far as we can tell thus far, the Soldier and Sniper are fairly useless when it comes to an all-out assault against the machines. The Soldier's rate of fire and ammo limits his ability to take on an advancing wave of Minor League Scouts, but he does well against giants and tanks. The Sniper can take enemies our fine, but his rate of fire and the overwhelming amount of bots running at you feels like it will cause trouble for newcomers. So if you're new to the mode, we suggest you stay away from these two until you feel more comfortable.
Support your Engies!
Engineers are probably the most important units on your team at this point - a well maintained sentry gun will take out hundreds of oncoming machines with ease, leaving your other troops open for business to clear out the stragglers. We suggest at least two Engies per team, and as a result you need to support them. Keep them alive and well, and you chances of victory will greatly improve.
Learn the canteen powers and use them
After completing your first mission of Mann vs. Machine you will be awarded a canteen which can be filled between waves with cash found in-game. This will become an integral tool for survival and victory, especially if you plan to head onto the official Valve servers. Learn what each canteen power does, and learn how and when to use them. You can stack a canteen with three charges at one time - three x full ammo during an intense wave could give your Heavy and Medic combo the upper hand for instance.
These tips should keep you alive and well during your time with Mann vs. Mann. There are a number of weapon and character upgrades available at the upgrade station, so make sure you experiment and decide what works for you personally. Let us know if you have a particular strategy that works well in the comments below.
By Stephen Heller