Gameplay Modes

Gameplay modes

This is a list of game modes in Team Fortress 2. Initially, the game shipped with only three game modes: Capture the Flag, Control Point, and Territorial Control. Numerous updates have added five new game modes (Payload, Arena, King of the Hill, Payload Race, and Medieval Mode), making eight official game modes, along with two training maps. These game modes are spread across 49 official maps and offer a great variety of play styles and games in Team Fortress 2.

Control Points

For the most part, control points are expressed as a flag that changes its design to that of the capturing team--most commonly with a Red Vs Blue theme. In other games, they may also be represented by a symbol or a bar being filled up to represent capture progress. However, in Team Fortress 2 capture points are shown as a circular metallic platform with a team-colored light in the center with their team logo as a hologram above it (neutral points will have a white light and a question mark above them). The goal in the control point mode is simple--enough that you can probably guess it without reading the rest of this paragraph. When a player stands on a neutral or opposing team's point long enough without interference, the person will capture the point. Of course, since this is a shooter game and there is an opposing team, there will usually be a fight when trying to capture. Often times, you will be the defending your points too. There are 2 types of control point maps: 5CP and Attack/Defend. Territory Control is also included here, though it is technically its own game mode.


5CP maps are symmetrical. At the start, the middle point is always neutral and you usually control the first control point. The same goes for the other team. Before you try to capture the other team's control points, you must gain control of the second and middle neutral point. Since the second one usually comes with little resistance, the middle point is the goal at the beginning of the map. Learn the maps well and learn how to get to the middle as fast as possible. In time you will learn, but you should first follow the veterans or play by yourself and study the maps. If both teams have one person or more of each team standing on the same point, the point will pause and no team will be able to capture the point. If one team already owns that point, it won't allow the offending team to capture it.

Quick Tip: Usually the team to capture the neutral point is the winning team in the end. It is crucial you win that point. A tip to do so is work with your team, protect the medic, kill the enemy, and dont die. Use the map to your advantage. If you are a scout, you can easily distract the enemy to allow access for your heavies to come in and wipe everything, if you are a sniper, go for the enemy medic or whatever class is causing the most mayhem, if you are an engineer, maybe you could work with a scout to get you behind enemy lines so you can build a sentry behind the enemy without them knowing! This is the beauty of 5CP. Both teams are playing offense at the beginning. The fight for the middle point is known as the midfight.

If you win the point, you can now go for the 4th control point which is already controlled by the enemy. This point is usually not that hard to obtain. It really depends how the last fight went. If your team killed every person of the enemy team and nobody on your team died in the process, you should probably get on the 4th point right away. If you are the only one standing on your team and the whole opposing team respawned 10 seconds ago, it probably would be best to wait for your team before moving up. After taking control of the 4th point, you can go to the last point which is really close to the enemy respawn so it may take some time before you want to try to take the last point. The more teamwork involved the higher of a chance you will have to receive a successful push and win the game.

Now if you lost the midfight, you need to try as hard as you can to protect your 2nd point. You are already in a bad shape as it is and you do not want it any worse. Depending on what class you are, you should defend it differently. It is always great for a medic and a heavier class like a demoman or a soldier to watch the 2nd point. Having a scout use the maps terrain to scout the area and possibly go behind enemy lines sure may change the tide of things. If you lost the 2nd point, you need to defend last as good as you can. The last point is quicker to control than all the other points. If you lose sight on the point for even 3 seconds, an enemy scout could come up and take the point in that time. Sometimes, even sentries are too slow to kill someone on it.


Attack and Defend is the most popular game mode in all of TF2. Dustbowl is the most played map and even has a professionally made song about it. The concept is pretty easy. Blue team attacks and the red team defends. In order to capture the last point, all the other points must be captured. In dustbowl there are only 2 points. In gravelpit you can capture A and B at the same time but both those points must be captured before C. This is an easy mode to get started on since you know your job is either to attack or defend depending what color your team is.

Territory Control

While technically a separate game mode, this game type is played almost exactly the same as A/D CP. The difference is that while the map itself has 8 CPs, each round divides the map so that only 2 points are reachable at any one time. Once one of them is capped, another round starts. To win, a team must capture all 8 CPs on the map.

This game mode is not really popular since there is a lack of TC maps.

Capture the Flag (CTF)

Capture the Flag has a heart in all FPS gamers souls. The concept, everyone should know. You go to the enemy base, take their flag, and bring it to your base. You can either play as offense or defense. Sometimes servers can get so crowded that it is nearly impossible to even get close to the enemy flag. Lots of servers run their CTF games like this on purpose so the game is more like a DM fest than a real game.

Do not forget this game is about teamwork. The engineer cannot protect the intelligence all on his own even if the sentry gun is in the intelligence room. Also a cool addition is that everyone on your team gets 100% crits for 5-10 seconds after the intel has been captured. Sometimes teams like to communicate with eachother to tell the rest of the team they will have crits soon.

This game mode is recommended if this is your first FPS. It is really straight forward and you can be a credit to your team even without experience. Just about every class is useful when used correctly on the CTF maps. I recommend doublecross as well since it is not much of a spam fest whereas 2fort is. Try to refrain from 32 slot servers unless you are simply casually playing this game.

Payload (PL)

Payload is another noob friendly game mode. The objective is as simple as A/D. If you are red, you are defending your base. You are trying to stop the blue team from achieving their goal of pushing the bomb cart all the way to your base. The bomb starts at the blue respawn and ends at the red base. When on blue team, to push the cart you must simply be close enough to it. If you are red, to stop the cart from moving, either touch the cart to block it from moving or kill the enemies that are touching the cart.

Generally the map is straight forward. The main tip I can give to a player that wants to be successful is to learn to aim real well. Unlike other maps, there usually is not much of a way to sneak around and flank the enemy. Payload maps are usually hard to do those advanced techniques. If you have had any FPS experience, this is probably a good place to start. Almost all classes are useful and you will learn what your favorite class is quickly.

When defending, a good strategy is to have defenses at multiple areas. In a full 12v12 server, it is a good idea to have 3 engis and a couple medics and a couple heavy classes and a sniper and maybe even a scout or two. Anyways, if all 3 engis built sentries at the same location, the enemy could fire all their ammo at that area and wipe out the whole defense. If the defense was spread out strategically it could allow the defense that was wiped to respawn and start a new defense at the same or new location.

Remember that teamwork could mean everything, if you have no medics because nobody will play it and you decide to step up, it could mean the difference between losing and winning. Maybe you dont care about winning but if you do, you will do what it takes right? Well a medic + heavy pair could really speed up the cart if you are attacking. Or maybe you could work with a spy and have him sap all the sentries and communicate the team to tell them when to attack. There are countless opportunities to work as a team. It just takes a special person with a microphone or maybe just the chat box to coordinate it. Sometimes players can just watch their teammates and guess what they are up to and take action but it is always good to communicate.

Payload Race (PLR)

Payload Race is a much more advanced version of Payload. Both teams have their own bomb carts and are working towards the same goal this time, to get their bomb to reach the enemies base before their enemies do so. Unlike Payload mode, the cart will not move backwards after any duration of time and there is no time limit; the map will only end when one team successfully pushes their cart to the finish point. However, parts of the track may feature slopes or other obstacles on which the cart will quickly roll back down to the bottom unless it is being constantly pushed. Sections of the track that can do this will have chevrons on the progress bar to help show how far the cart must be pushed to overcome them.

Payload Race maps are either multi-stage or single-stage. Pipeline and Nightfall are split into 3 stages, whereas Hightower is 1 stage only. Winning in each of the first two stages will give an advantage to the winning team in the next stage (the cart is pushed slightly forward from the starting point).

Remember that stopping the other from pushing their cart is just as important as pushing your own. There is a limit to how fast the cart can go, once you reach that point focus on stopping the other team.


The goal of this mode is to eliminate the entire enemy team or capture the central capture point. If you die, you have to wait till next round to respawn. If your team loses, you may be subject to auto balance which forces you to wait longer if others are waiting to play. The maps are symmetrical and are basically a giant midfight with no respawns.

If the arena server you are on has random crits enabled, do not bother to continue playing on it. If you get hit by a random crit, you know how cheap it is. Usually it is okay since you just respawn in 10 seconds anyways and its all funny. Its even better when you get the crit and kill 5 enemies at once. Thing is, in Arena mode, you have to wait a long time before playing again. If you have to wait 5 minutes just because someone hit you with a crit, you would probably be mad right? Regardless, the first person to kill someone gets a crit boost for 5 seconds or so. This is ok since it is not so random and adds a minor twist to the game. Some servers may disable this option.

Having a medic is always great. There are barely any healthpacks so having a dispenser or a medic nearby is a lifesaver for your whole team. Next tip is your aim. The better your aim, the more credit to team you will be.

King of the Hill (KOTH)

King of the Hill maps carry the koth_ prefix and use a similar layout to an Arena map. King of the Hill focuses on a single control point at the center of the map, which is locked and neutral at the beginning of the round. Teams must make their way to the Control Point and capture it when it becomes available. Once the point is captured by a team, their team clock will start a three minute countdown. If the enemy team manages to capture the point back, their clock will start counting down while the other teams clock freezes at the time the point was recaptured. Generally, the first team to capture the point will end up the winner. This is not always the case but is usually true. A great strategy is to spawn camp and have a medic+ heavy/Soldier/Demoman combo. Scouts are wonderful on most of the king of the hill maps. Engineers can be useful to make sure the enemy cannot go behind enemy lines to cause too much mayhem.