It's time for the latest chapter in Valve's ongoing battle with Team Fortress 2 bots: this week sees a new update that should, in theory, make bot behaviour slightly less annoying.
As detailed on the Team Fortress 2 updates page, TF2 was patched on Tuesday with a number of measures that should limit what bots get up to when in-game. There's now a tool to control how many times players can change their name in a match, for instance, and for public matchmaking it seems this has been set to zero - thus preventing bots from frequently changing their names or mimicking real players.
The update also introduces a grace period at the start of matches to prevent players immediately calling votes, which should put the brakes on bots that are trying to deliberately clog up the vote-kick system. Similarly, players joining an in-progress game will face a cooldown before they can call a vote. Kick votes will also "end early and automatically pass if the vote target leaves the match during the vote".
The patch notes also detail "numerous security and stability improvements," a pretty vague statement that hopefully includes further measures to deal with the bot problem. From looking around the TF2 subreddit, it seems the update hasn't eliminated the bots entirely - but it should help clip their wings and prevent some of their more annoying habits.
Team Fortress 2's bot infestation has been a problem for years, but the situation seemed to get markedly worse during summer 2020, prompting a wave of complaints and the creation of several vigilante mobs to hunt down the bots. Over the past year bots have been seen spamming chat with racist and homophobic slurs, broadcasting excruciatingly loud noises over mics, and - worst of all - even advertising links to child sexual abuse images. Valve has previously brought in some measures to help deal with these, such as limiting which new accounts could post in chat, and preventing bots from changing team names. It seems there is still more work to be done, however.
Moving on from all of that horrible stuff, the latest update does also add some more pleasant changes: there's a new Summer 2021 cosmetic case, for instance, which adds 18 community-contributed items and six community-made Unusual effects. The Snakewater map has been tweaked to improve movement and prevent clipping - seemingly at the expense of its kitchen.
And, of course, the localisation files have been updated.