I say this to you with the unvarnished factualism of plain talk: I love Arena Mode.
— Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address, 1865
Arena is a game mode added during the Heavy Update in which RED and BLU are pitted against each other in a battle to the death. The goal for both teams is to kill all of the opposing team's players, with no respawning during rounds; instead, players will be sent to spectate upon death. If both teams survive one minute of fighting, a control point unlocks, allowing a team to win by capping the point.
Arena maps are designed to keep the class diversity of Team Fortress 2 while focusing goals around combat between two teams. Whereas other game modes lean towards a broad, overall strategy for the team, Arena concentrates on the specific tactical choices the teams make in a single fight.
Arena features smaller maps that play out more quickly. The round ends once either team has no players left in the arena, or when the control point has unlocked and been captured. Rounds tend to be very fast and highly competitive, with an emphasis on a team's class makeup and plans to counter the opposing team's class choices.
Arena mode is suitable for smaller matches such as three-versus-three, while still comfortably supporting huge knockdown twelve-on-twelve brawls. There are usually very few, if any, Health kits, and even then they are often far from the main action, near stage hazards, or both. Ammo boxes are also few and far between. This forces teams to rely more on Dispensers and Medics.
Players may have to sit out to keep team numbers balanced if they were on the losing team, but players on the winning team never have to sit out the next round.
Loadouts changed during the countdown before the match do not do so in-game unless the player commits suicide. Changing classes and back also works if done so before the countdown ends.
The First Blood critical hit buff is unique to the Arena game mode, and can be used to give the player an advantage against the enemy team.
Arena maps carry the arena_ prefix; community maps are identified with italic font.
- Added Arena mode.
- Added maps: Badlands (Arena), Granary (Arena), Well (Arena), Lumberyard, and Ravine.
February 24, 2009 Patch (Scout Update)
- Added map: Watchtower.
May 21, 2009 Patch (Sniper vs. Spy Update)
- Added maps: Sawmill (Arena) and Nucleus (Arena).
August 13, 2009 Patch (Classless Update)
- Added map: Offblast.
- Fixed a problem with Arena mode first blood Crit-Boost not removing itself at the correct time.
October 6, 2015 Patch (Invasion Community Update)
- Added map: Byre.
- Fixed servers running arena mode constantly entering and exiting the pre-round state while empty.
October 5, 2021 Patch (Scream Fortress 2021)
- Added map: Graveyard.
- Updated Arena mode.
- Fixed players being able to late-join the game.
- Fixed players on team Unassigned being able to kill other players.