Environmental death

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(screaming) Holy crap, this goes on forever.
The Scout
A naïve Scout decides to step in the cauldron...
...and meets an unfortunate end.

A death caused by a map element, commonly known as an environmental death or abbreviated env death, can take many forms depending on the various hazards in each individual map. Hazards can be used as a weapon or deterrent against the enemy team, and almost all map hazards grant a tactical advantage to those mindful of them. Awareness of these hazards can not only prevent needless (and potentially embarrassing) deaths on all levels of play, but can even be taken advantage of to bait or push enemies into a quick demise.

Instant death hazards

The following hazards cause instant death regardless of the player's health. They also affect players who are under the effects of invincibility, such as Bonk! Atomic Punch or an ÜberCharge (with the exception of one).

Saw blades

Saw blades found near the middle point of Sawmill.
Flying saw blade in Gravestone.
Main article: Saw blades
Killicon saw blade.png
 Heavy

Saw blades are neutral entities that were officially introduced on Sawmill, and would later appear on a number of custom maps, most notably Trainsawlaser. They move back and forth along a designated path and instantly kill anyone that comes in contact with them. Cosmetically, a saw blade gets permanently coated in blood if it kills someone, which persists until a new round starts.

A new type of saw blade, the Flying Saw Blade appears in Gravestone. These hazards fly various routes through the Sawmill, give short sound cues of their approach, instantly kill players that they hit, and get covered in blood after killing someone.

Maps with saw blades


Trains

A Train on one track within the middle point of Well.
Main article: Train
Killicon train.png
 Medic

Trains are neutral entities that will instantly kill anyone who stands in their path. The arrival of a Train is usually signified by flashing lights at each end of the track and a bell sound playing, which can be heard if players are close enough. In addition, Trains often sound horns immediately upon arrival, most likely as a final warning for players to get off the track. The train appears to be an EMD GP38-2, and its paint scheme strongly resembles Southern Pacific, which once operated these.

It should be noted that touching the sides of a train will not damage players; in fact, players can safely ride on top of trains. This is more prominent on Freight, as trains on said map tow multiple carriages which act as occasional blockages. The carriages come in two variations: shipping containers the same size as the train itself, or flat carts which allow players to jump on top of them.

A notable variation of sorts is "Lil' Chew-Chew", the unique, rideable cart on the map Frontier. If escorted by three or more BLU players, it will "chew" and instantly kill any unfortunate players standing in front of it, regardless of team.

Maps with Trains

Pitfalls

The Pit on Upward's Terminus.
Killicon skull.png
 Soldier fell to a clumsy, painful death

A Pitfall is a common environmental hazard that results from a fall into a pit or off of a ledge or cliff into an area that causes Pitfall death. Common Pitfalls include cliffs at map edges, large open pits at the end of certain Payload tracks, pits that open just before or during Payload Cart explosions, and various smaller pit traps set on several maps.

Different from fall damage, the amount of which is determined by distance falling on to a playable surface, Pitfall acts as an instant kill regardless of the distance fallen or any specific contact with the ground or an object. Pitfalls kill players by way of a trigger_hurt entity, which constantly and rapidly deals damage once within its area.

The point or depth of a Pitfall death in a fall area is not necessarily the visible surface at the bottom, as Pitfall death can be set at an invisible plane through which the player's ragdoll, gibs, weapon, or ammo drop may continue to fall.

Once the level of death is reached, there is no chance of survival in a Pitfall, not even if the player is under the effect of an ÜberCharge. Effects that can delay or slow a fall (e.g., Jumping or Parachute) have no effect on a Pitfall, other than to delay the inevitable, unless the area of the Pitfall can be avoided entirely.

Certain items are treated differently in Pitfall deaths, since they cannot be collected once they fall into a Pitfall. The Intelligence will be reset if the player dies in a Pitfall while carrying the Intelligence, which also applies to the bomb in Mann vs. Machine, the Australium package/briefcase of tickets in Special Delivery, the reactor core in Robot Destruction, and the JACK in Pass Time. Credits that fall down pits are considered collected and are immediately credited to the players. Soccer Balls that fall into Pitfalls remain there for the rest of the round.

Maps with Pitfalls

Lava

Infernal Lava flowing through Hell.
Killicon skull.png
 Pyro
Killicon fire.png
 Pyro

Lava is a hazard that appears on a few maps, mostly Halloween-themed.

Infernal Lava: Except for the lava flow animation, Lava is indistinguishable from a Pitfall in most cases. Death is instant for most Lava, regardless of how short the fall may be. The death animation can be the same as for a Pitfall, but can vary with the particular map.

Hellfire Lava: In Hellfire, which is not Halloween-themed, the Lava death is not instant for players at full health, but does occur within a very few seconds, allowing a slim chance to grapple out of the Lava. The Hellfire Lava animation also includes small flares and Fireballs, the player and resulting ragdoll are set aflame, and, rarely, the killfeed can indicate a fire kill.

Maps with Lava (excluding the extended Halloween Pitfalls, e.g. Ghost Fort)

Deadly waters

The deadly waters around Eyeaduct's Loot Island.
Killicon skull.png
 Heavy

Certain waters in some maps are deadly to the touch. The kill mechanics are similar to a Pitfall, but, like Lava, no great fall height is necessarily part of the kill zone design. The death animation is a corpse bobbing in the water.

Stygian waters surround islands in some Underworld locations.

Whitewater rapids instantly kill anyone stepping or jumping in.

Maps with Stygian waters
Maps with whitewater

Crocodiles

The Crocodile area near First Point in Mercenary Park.
Killicon crocodile.png
 Heavy

Crocodiles, introduced in Mercenary Park, are an animated water hazard with sound effects.

Contacting waters with swimming Crocodiles causes certain death, instantly gibbing the player, including players receiving an ÜberCharge from a Medic.

Maps with Crocodiles*
* excluding maps with inaccessible crocodile props.

Gator

Sound advice.
Killicon skull.png
 Demoman

A Gator cutout can be found underwater. Contacting the Gator's mouth causes instant death.

Maps with Gator

Payload Cart explosion

A Payload cart exploding in Badwater Basin.
Main article: Payload
Killicon skull.png
 Scout

During the final (or sole) round of any Payload or Payload Race map, the Payload Cart will explode either when it reaches the final point, or shortly after, triggering a Payload Cart explosion, which will cause all players in the surrounding area to be killed. In some maps, the resulting explosion creates a crater; falling into it will result in a pitfall death.

Maps with Payload Cart explosions

Crushing

The gate of DeGroot Keep.
Killicon skull.png
 Demoman

Crushing causes instant death to any players unfortunate enough to be trapped between two hard surfaces.

The gate of DeGroot Keep, which opens when points A and B are both captured, closes after a certain amount of time, provided the last point isn't captured. If a player is standing underneath the gate when it lowers or is too close to the gate when it opens, they will be crushed to death.

On Stage 3 of Dustbowl, if the BLU team captures the first control point, the spawn gate in the left spawn leading out to the first control point will crush all players unlucky enough to be caught underneath.

On Doomsday and Carnival of Carnage, the platform that raises the player up to the rocket hatch or ticket lock can crush the player if one is unlucky enough to be standing under it if the Australium or ticket carrier is knocked off, or after the rocket is launched or ticket is captured.

On Egypt, all gates open and close slowly, and may crush players. Additionally, on Stage 1, there is an interior room on the path from the RED spawn to point A in which the player may get stuck between two doors if the BLU team captures the first control point. A short while after the capture, the ceiling of that room falls slowly and crushes all players unlucky enough to be underneath.

On Hightower and Helltower, if one team can prevent the other from pushing the cart to the top of the Capture platform, the platform will fall down and crush any player below it.

On Carnival of Carnage, if a player walks over the red strongman button, the giant hammer is swung down on top of it, crushing any players too slow to move away in time. The hammer strike also causes a shock wave that launches nearby players into the air, possibly causing a death by fall damage.

In Mann vs. Machine, the Tank Robots can crush any players that are unlucky enough to be caught between it and a wall or prop as it turns.

On Snowplow, the large device used to damage the train can crush players standing below it.

On Enclosure, Gate 01 can crush players when it closes after Capture point (B) is captured.

Maps with crushing

Cauldron fire

The BLU team's Cauldron in Foundry.
Killicon skull.png
 Heavy

The cauldron is an environmental hazard specific to Foundry, located next to each team's first spawns. Any player who steps into it will be instantly killed while aesthetically on fire. A player that manages to push an enemy into the cauldron will receive the Terminated, Too achievement.

Maps with cauldron fires

Rocket exhaust path

The Rocket exhaust path after taking off on Doomsday.
Killicon skull.png
 Soldier

The map Doomsday features a path where, at the end of the round, the exhausts of the rocket will push a player into a pit located at the end of the route. A player from the winning team that manages to push an enemy into this pit will receive the Lift-offed achievement.

On Steel, if RED successfully defends point E until the end of the game, the rocket above the final point ignites and kills anyone underneath its exhaust.

Maps with Rocket exhaust paths

Grinder

The grinder seen on Mannhattan.
Killicon skull.png
 Pyro

The Grinder is an environmental death that happens when a player gets sucked into a grinding machine. Players killed in this way will cause one of two loud sounds of flesh being crushed to play.

On Mannhattan, this death can also happen to Robots, which causes one of three unique death sounds of grinding metal to play. Additionally, the Manhattan grinder features an inconspicuous banana peel positioned near the machine; stepping on it causes a slipping sound effect and pushes players (and robots) directly into the grinder.

Maps with Grinders

Lasers

The lasers seen on Asteroid.
Killicon skull.png
 Medic

Lasers are an environmental death specific to Asteroid that move up and down along a designated path. Players who come into contact with them will let off visible "sparks" and are killed instantly.

These lasers are notably the only instant-kill hazards that can be safely touched while under the effects of an ÜberCharge.

Maps with Lasers

Tyrannosaurus Rex

T-Rex encounter on Enclosure.
Killicon skull.png
 Scout

Tyrannosaurus Rex is an environmental death specific to the final point "T-REX" of the third stage of Enclosure. When the cart has been pushed a short distance onto the platform in front of the Tyrannosaurus Rex enclosure's gate, an immediate Payload Cart explosion is triggered. A second or so later, the T-Rex slams the gate open, killing and knocking back anyone who has rushed up to see Rexxy. T-Rex steps halfway into the room, amidst smoke and flames, killing any close players and letting out a climatic roar. Any player that then runs up to the Tyrannosaurus Rex during Humiliation is instantly killed and knocked backed.

Maps with Tyrannosaurus Rex

Bubbling Cauldron

Bubbling Cauldron.
Killicon skull.png
 Heavy

Bubbling Cauldron is a Halloween environmental death hazard. Any player that steps around the Bubbling Cauldron suffers health drain, while falling into the Bubbling Cauldron suffers instant death and knock back. When the Bubbling Cauldron is used as the final point on a Payload map, the Bubbling Cauldron has a unique killing explosion.

In Cauldron, standing on or jumping into the Cauldron as it is spewing out Fireballs will instantly kill the player.

Maps with a Bubbling Cauldron

Pendulum Blades

Hallway of Pendulum Blades.
Killicon skull.png
 Pyro

Pendulum Blades are neutral entities that were offically introduced on Monster Bash. They swing back and forth and instantly kill anyone that comes in contact with them. Cosmetically, a blade gets permanently coated in blood if it kills someone, which persists until a new round starts.

Maps with a Pendulum Blade

Fire Pit

The Fire Pits
Killicon skull.png
 Pyro

Fire Pit is a Halloween environmental death hazard found on Cauldron. Any player that steps into it will be instantly killed.

Maps with a Fire Pit

Non-instant death hazards

These environmental hazards do not kill players instantly, but can eventually cause environmental death.

Fire

Torches and braziers at the BLU spawn point on Egypt.
Killicon skull.png
 Spy

Environmental fire, introduced in Egypt, is different from Flame Thrower fire or other fire damage produced by players, as it doesn't result in an afterburn effect. Instead, environmental fire slowly damages player's health only only as long as the player stands directly in the hazardous zone.

Environmental fire does not ignite Sniper arrows.

Maps with environmental fires

Fireballs

A "Fireball" plume in Hellfire.
Killicon skull.png
 Pyro

Fireballs, introduced in Hellfire, are rising plumes of Flame that cause fire damage to any player coming in contact with it.

The amount of damage a player receives from a Fireball broadly corresponds to the player's base class health; that is, each player that stands in full contact with the center of the entire plume will lose over half of its health regardless of class. Each class (except Pyro) also suffers brief afterburn from even the slightest contact with the plume.

Fireballs do not ignite Sniper arrows.

Another type of Fireball, introduced in Cauldron, has a chance of spewing out of the cauldron when the point is capped. These Fireballs rain over a large portion of the map, dealing large amounts of damage to unsuspecting players. However, these Fireballs do not cause afterburn.

Maps with Fireballs

Drowning

Water corridors on Well.
Main article: Water
Killicon skull.png
 Pyro

Players under deep water (water in which the player is completely submerged) have a period of approximately 12 seconds before they begin to suffocate. Failure to rise above water will cause them to continually lose 5 health every second until they drown. Any health lost by suffocation will slowly regenerate at a rate of 10 health every 2 seconds as soon as a player reaches the surface. Going back underwater, however, will cease health regeneration until the player surfaces again.

Maps with deep water

Health drain

Killicon skull.png
 Demoman

Health drain is a steady or increasing rate of health loss experienced in one or more specific areas of particular maps. Basic examples are Underworld locations in certain Halloween maps. The effect is also experienced inside the flying saucer in Probed. The drain is a damage-over-time effect similar to the effects of bleeding or afterburn; but, it is neither triggered nor time-limited. Health drain occurs only when a player enters a specific area and continues only as long as the player does not leave the area or until the player is killed.

Maps with Health drain

Steam

Hellish cloud of lethal steam on Brimstone.
Killicon skull.png
 Heavy

Steam, volcanic gas, or poison gas is a damage-over-time effect introduced on Brimstone. The time and area of effect are indicated by a rising cloud of vapor and fluid splashes (compare with Pumpkin bomb explosion splash). Players that enter the cloud suffer damage-over-time so long as they survive and remain in the cloud.

Maps with steam

Shake

Shake, tremor, or earthquake is a visible and audible cue effect that shakes a player's world view and aim. While the effect causes no direct damage, the effect can be somewhat disorienting and otherwise interferes with a player's ability to attack, defend, and navigate. The effect can serve as a warning of a monster or another effect. The world violently shakes for players as the Horseless Headless Horsemann chases them down. On Eyeaduct, shaking accompanies the spawning of MONOCULUS. Strong shaking is a map-wide cue of the Skeleton King on Helltower, while only very weak tremors warn of a Baby Skeleton spawning nearby. Earthquakes warn of the release of hellish steam on Brimstone.

Maps with shaking

Shrinking Water

Shrinking Water is a fast-moving wall of water that closes in, shrinking the playable space. When entered, the player starts to drown at a rapid rate; if not acted apon quickly, the player will soon drown.

Killicon skull.png
 Heavy
Maps With Shrinking water

Bosses/Event-specific Hazards

These environmental hazards are unique to Halloween and Invasion event maps.

Pumpkin bombs

A Pumpkin bomb on Harvest Event.
Main article: Pumpkin bomb
Killicon pumpkin.png
 Sniper

Pumpkin bombs and reskins are special objects found on all Halloween maps except Monster Bash and MvM Ghost Town. On Cursed Cove, they are replaced by Explosive Barrels. Pumpkin bombs are rigged with explosives and detonators visible on their exteriors from certain angles. Additionally, their detonators will occasionally glow.

Once a Pumpkin bomb receives any amount of damage from any source, or is hit by a projectile which would not normally damage anything (for example, the Rocket Jumper's projectiles and Mad Milk), it will trigger an explosion, dealing heavy damage to all players near it. This does not cause instant death; any class with enough health or who is under the effects of invincibility can use these bombs for an explosive jump.

Pumpkin bombs should not be confused with Halloween pumpkins. A simple way to tell them apart is that Pumpkin bombs do not move, whereas Halloween Pumpkins will rotate similar to Health packs or Ammo crates. Pumpkin Bombs will always spawn in the same spots, while Halloween Pumpkins will drop where a player is killed.

Pumpkin bombs should also not be confused with Pumpkin MIRV, a magic spell.

Maps with pumpkin bombs

Alien Walkers

An Alien Walker on 2Fort Invasion.

Alien Walkers are placed around the Invasion maps, which explode after being damaged, similar to the Pumpkin bomb.

Killicon skull.png
 Sniper
Maps with alien walkers

Explosive Barrels

An Explosive Barrel on Cursed Cove.

Explosive Barrels appear in Cursed Cove. They explode when damaged, similar to the Pumpkin bombs and Alien Walkers. However, their damage is much greater, instantly killing anyone within range. Jumping from the explosion is only possible under the effects of Invulnerability.

Killicon skull.png
 Sniper

Maps with Explosive Barrels

Dynamite Balloons

A dynamite Balloon on Laughter.

Dynamite Balloons appear in Laughter; they explode when damaged, similar to the Pumpkin bomb.

Killicon skull.png
 Sniper
Maps with Dynamite Balloons

Horseless Headless Horsemann

Main article: Horseless Headless Horsemann
The Horseless Headless Horsemann.
Killicon horseless headless horsemann's headtaker.png
 Engineer

The Horseless Headless Horsemann is an enemy boss that appears in Mann Manor and a few additional Halloween maps. As the undead form of Silas Mann, this character rises out of the currently contested control point after a pre-determined amount of time, and proceeds to hunt down and kill players on both teams. Due to his immense size and strength, the Horseless Headless Horsemann deals heavy damage to any player or building that he strikes. He continues his massacre until killed by a player (or players). All kills by the Horsemann count as environmental deaths and trigger the relevant achievements.

On Carnival of Carnage, the Horseless Headless Horsemann appears during the "Bumper Car Soccer" and "Falling Platforms" bumper car duels, wielding a gigantic blood-spattered Necro Smasher. While he can be killed as usual, he is unable to directly damage players, and can only knock players back with his swings in an attempt to send them into the map's Pitfalls.

Maps that feature the Horseless Headless Horsemann

MONOCULUS

Main article: MONOCULUS
MONOCULUS.
MONOCULUS! 
Killicon monoculus.png
 Sniper

MONOCULUS is a boss that appears in Eyeaduct and a few additional Halloween maps, and takes the form of the RED Demoman's missing eye, haunted by the Bombinomicon. MONOCULUS spawns out of the contested control point or other locations under various conditions, which also instantly kills any players unfortunate enough to be standing there at the time. A spawned MONOCULUS proceeds to kill players on both teams using rocket-like eyeball projectiles, which are always critical hits and can kill any class (apart from the Soldier and the Heavy) with a direct hit. Such rockets can be reflected by a Pyro's compression blast. MONOCULUS continues attacking until it is killed or its time is up. Any death caused by MONOCULUS is classed as environmental.

The boss MONOCULUS should not be confused with "invokum monoculus", the magic spell, which summons a team-loyal MONOCULUS.

Maps that feature MONOCULUS

Area Explosion

Area Explosion occurs in order to punish players who have stayed for too long in Eyeaduct's Loot Island and Ghost Fort's Skull Island. A while after the gates to the Bombinomicon and the Skull Island Topper have lowered, the place will be engulfed in a series of explosions that will instantly kill anyone still there.

Maps with Area Explosion

Bomb Head

Killicon underworld.png
 Spy

On Ghost Fort, during the battle against Merasmus, the Bombinomicon will turn a random player's head into a bomb, forcing the camera into third person and temporarily removing their weapons, and instruct them to run into Merasmus to blow him up. If they take too long to run into Merasmus, the bomb on their head will explode, causing a lot of damage and rocketing them skyward if they survive the explosion, which may also cause them to take fall damage once they land. If they manage to run into Merasmus and explode on him, they will still be thrown high up, but will be granted temporary invunerability and crits.

On Laughter, players who stay too long in the Underworld will have their heads turned into bombs as an incentive to speed things up and return to the regular map. If they fail to leave the Underworld, the bomb will explode, gibbing them.

Maps with Bomb Heads

Merasmus

Main article: Merasmus
Merasmus.
MERASMUS! 
Killicon merasmus.png
 Soldier
MERASMUS! 
Killicon merasmus2.png
 Sniper
MERASMUS! 
Killicon merasmus3.png
 Scout
Engineer 
Killicon merasmus4.png
 Spy
Killicon fire.png
 Heavy

Merasmus is a boss that appears in Ghost Fort and a few other Halloween maps. Merasmus is the former roommate of the RED Soldier on a vendetta since the Soldier ruined his home. On Ghost Fort, Merasmus spawns near the control point after a pre-determined amount of time. A spawned Merasmus kills players on both teams using a variety of spells and attacks. Merasmus continues rampaging until he is defeated or his time runs out. Any death caused by Merasmus is classed as environmental.

Maps that feature Merasmus

Skeletons

Main article: Skeletons
The Skeleton King.
Skeleton 
Killicon skeletons.png
 Engineer

Skeletons were introduced in Helltower and appear on several other Halloween maps. They are animated skeletons that can appear in varying circumstances. Green skeletons attack everyone, while team-loyal ones can be summoned by Magic spells. They come in different sizes, from tiny ones, medium-sized skeletons which split into smaller ones when killed, to the huge and durable Skeleton King who is guaranteed to drop a rare magic spell upon death. Any death caused by neutral (green) Skeletons is classed as environmental.

Maps that feature Skeletons

Related achievements

Leaderboard class scout.png Scout

Fall Classic
Fall Classic
Cause an environmental death or suicide using the Force-A-Nature's knockback.


Foul Territory
Foul Territory
Cause an environmental death by stunning or slowing an enemy.


Leaderboard class demoman.png Demoman

He Who Celt It
He Who Celt It
Use the Sticky Launcher to kill an enemy player via environmental damage.


Leaderboard class medic.png Medic

Medical Intervention
Medical Intervention
Save a falling teammate from dying on impact.


Pumpkin.png Scarechievements

Attack o' Lantern
Attack o' Lantern
Cause the deaths of 5 players by exploding nearby pumpkin bombs.


Backpack Full Head Of Steam.png Foundry achievements

Terminated, Too
Terminated, Too
Kill a player by pushing them into the cauldron fire.


Doomsday icon.png Astro-chievements

Lift-offed
Lift-offed
Push a player into the rocket's exhaust path at the end of the round.


Halloween_achievements#2013:_Bereavements Bereavements

Helltower: Mine Games
Helltower: Mine Games
Perform 17 environmental kills in Hell


Halloween_achievements#2014:_Merasmachievements Merasmachievements

Carnival of Carnage: Bumper Crop
Carnival of Carnage: Bumper Crop
Kill 30 enemies by bumping their bumper cars off the tracks.


See also