I'm going to say it. I was wrong.
The more I play in it, the more I actually have come to love Valve's new unlock system. Not having the usual speedy access to those sweet, sweet unlockables was disappointing and in that disappointment I was blinded to the good aspects of it. Gone are the days of mindlessly grinding achievements, all you have to do is enjoy the game you already do.
Where I think Valve messed up in this transition of systems, is they should have implemented the trading system promised, or made it so we wouldn't get duplicates immediately. It's frustrating that I've been playing the game for a good long while now and only have the Ambassador to show for it.
I go through cycles - binges, if you will - of Arena. I love Arena. It's like the cool, older-brother of Counterstrike. But, like Counterstrike, I have to be in the mood for it. The one time I played Nucleus, I didn't form opinions of it for good or for bad. I look forward to putting the new maps through the paces... once I feel like getting around to it.
What I can't stop playing right now is the payload race map, Pipeline. This is everything I wanted in my map and more. Attack/defend maps are one thing, but I've always enjoyed 2 teams vying for the same objective: CTF, Hydro, and traditional CP maps. This frantic style of play forces each team to both mind their defences as well as take the offense. The key to victory in these usually isn't in skill levels or in any one given strategy, but the fluidity in which a team adjusts to the situation.
Why I'm swooning hardcore over this map, though, is the changes in strategy the further you progress your cart. In two stages, the further you've pushed the cart, the closer to the enemy base it is. Last ditch pushes at the end are always exciting for both the attackers and defenders, because usually towards the end the cart has to go up only a small hill to win.
And in the final stage, it's a mad push up adjacent roller-coaster-esque tracks. This is the fun part, because these tracks are unforgiving: if not actively pushing the cart, the cart rolls back downhill, near where it started. Also adding to the frustration is the narrowness of the track - if you fall off, or are pushed off, you go back to the ground floor. Did I mention that the two tracks are within shooting distance of one another? Theoretically, both teams could have a firefight with one another while pushing their respective cart. Insane.
Now just let me have those other unlockables...