Death Run, or Obstacle Course on certain servers, is a variant of the VS Saxton Hale Mode and Freak Fortress 2 custom game modes which strongly involves precise movement, fast thinking, excellent perception, and map knowledge. The objective in this game mode is to survive traps and obstacles triggered by the opposite team and get to the end of the course.
In Death Run, the RED team consists of the "Runners" and the BLU team, usually consisting of a single member, is the "Activator(s)". The Runners must navigate an obstacle course filled with traps that, when activated by the Activator or sometimes triggered by a Runner, will instantly kill any Runners caught in its range of effect.
The Activator can take the form of a number of bosses, such as Saxton Hale and TV show characters, or a default character model.
When the round commences, the activator and runners spawn on two different sides of a special wall which allows only the Activator to view the players on the field and where traps are hidden. On the Activator's side, there are various podiums that, when hit with a melee weapon, will activate a specific trap; these sides may also feature special pads used to catch up with quicker or more experienced runners. The Runners' side consists of narrow hallways filled with a deadly arsenal of traps which can include traps that will push the players into opposing surfaces (crushing them), break-away floors which drop Runners into spike pits, and gas chambers which slowly drain health over time, functioning identically to afterburn or bleeding. Many courses also including platforming sections that involve jumping onto small platforms to cross a giant abyss that will either inflict heavy fall damage and trap them in the crevice or, more commonly, kill them instantly.
Some maps offer multiple endings as opposed to the default teleportation to the Activator's side and instantly winning. The first runner that completes the course will get to choose between multiple portals that, when walked through, transports all remaining Runners and the Activator to one of the following possible outcomes:
- Instant Win: The first Runner that finishes the course is teleported into the Activator's side and all Runners receive the Arena mode round win screen. During Victory Time, Runners may attack and kill the Activator, depending on the server's boss health setting, which can varied based on the amount of players on the server, but will remain relatively low due to the unusual nature of Runners winning.
- Minigame: The surviving Runners and Activators are transported to a separate area of the map where a minigame will be played. This minigame varies from map to map, but there are common minigames in the community.
- Obstacle Dodge: This will feature a hill in which oncoming obstacles will roll down and will kill anyone unfortunate enough to get in their way. A winner is decided when all other players have died or someone reaches a designated point on the map.
- Color Match: Runners (and sometimes the Activator) will be transported to a specially colored floor that will drop any person not standing on the correct color, designated by a monitor or panel on a wall in the room. Once a certain time has been achieved or enough players have died, a winner will be declared and he may go free and kill the remaining enemies.
- Humiliation: The remaining Runners are teleported into a room where the activator is helplessly trapped. The runners are usually given a set of buttons which trigger traps that instantly kill the activator, similar to the traps throughout the map. Sometimes a humiliation ending replicates as a scene from a movie, where the runners watch the activator die.
- Fight: One or all of the runners and the activator are teleported into a pit where they must fight to the death.
- It is recommended to choose Instant Win if you are the last one alive or there is a small amount of players left.
- Many maps contain secret endings, which can be accessed through an easter egg or entering a valid combination of numbers on a keypad.
- Some maps simply cause the runners to win without any special endings upon reaching the end.
- Pay attention to sprays throughout the map, for most experienced players use sprays to mark both breakable floors and traps which are impossible to escape from.
- Many maps have breakable floors to prevent rushing, so always be careful when walking through normal looking walkways. It is recommended to hit the floor with a weapon to avoid mistakes.
- Some maps have a gate or wall which opens only when the activator has used a certain trap or has gotten through a part of the map to prevent rushing.
- Always look for easter eggs, which are usually very well hidden and require skill to access. Some can be beneficial, however most are aesthetic and can be things such as music or a special effect on the player who activated it.
- Both Bonk! Atomic Punch and Übercharge allow you to survive crushing traps and a few exploding traps, but watch out for knockback and traps that drain health.
- Some maps have a "Deathwall", a special 'trap' which appears when a certain amount of time has passed and slowly traverses through the map killing anyone slow or delayed enough for it to meet up with it.
- Many maps have a section with passageways, which only one is safe to pass. Always wait for somebody to show you the door to prevent using invalid advice. If you know that the "Kill-Doorway" has an activation button which causes it to change the door which kills you, think before going through the door everyone else has recently entered, as the activator may use it when enough people go through the correct door.
- Most servers disable all primary and secondary weapons that can inflict damage. Try to equip melee weapons that increase your speed to rush through traps.
- Most servers disable the usage of Scouts, unless the map is large enough for the activator to easily catch them should they rush. The Medic is the next fastest class, excluding the Escape Plan Soldier and Chargin' Targe Demoman, etc.
- It is recommended to equip a Sandvich or Dalokohs Bar/Fishcake while playing as a Heavy to restore health. This is also helpful for surviving traps that drain health.
- As a Medic, you can heal a player stuck in an enclosed trap by using the Amputator. You can also Ubercharge to help yourself and your patient to potentially survive an explosive trap.
- As a Demoman, take advantage of the Chargin' Targe to speed through long traps other classes wouldn't be fast enough to pass. However, you must be extra careful about breakable floors and holes when charging. Consider equipping the Persian Persuader to increase your charging speed, or the Claidheamh Mòr if you don't have one.
- As a Spy, you can use your Invisibility Watch/Enthusiast's Timepiece to rush the map. You can also use your Dead Ringer's explosive damage resistance to survive traps other classes normally wouldn't. Mind that many servers have disabled the Invisibility Watch/Enthusiast's Timepiece.
- As a Soldier, use your Escape Plan to travel faster through the map, but watch out for falling damage. It is also recommended as well to equip a Buff Banner to slow down in platforming sections.
- As a Soldier, using the Disciplinary Action can help you or another person rush with a higher chance of success, but it is often looked down upon due to it often being used before players begin a platforming section, ultimately causing them to fail and most likely die because of the Soldier.
- As a Spy, when you're cloaked in front of a trap, you can run in a little circle so the activator hears the footsteps and thinks you are passing by the trap, and the activator should hopefully activate the trap without killing anyone.
- If there are no other options, it may beneficial to sacrifice a player in order to spring a trap and spare the lives of the rest of the runners. Generally Heavy and Soldier players are good picks for this role, as they have bigger health pools than the other classes and may be able to survive the traps.
- Some maps disable weapons altogether, you can instead trick the activator by jumping in and out of the trap, or by rushing the map while the activator focuses on the bulk of the team.
- "Freerun" refers to a round where no traps will be activated, normally to get to the minigame option on the map.
- Be sure to Crouch jump (Ctrl + Space) instead of jumping, as most jumping based obstacles are too far apart for simple jumping to suffice.
Some servers only let players choose Sniper as their Runner class. This is because:
- Scout: An exceptional fast class with a smaller hitbox than most classes. His double jumps makes platforming easier and less dangerous. Bonk! Atomic Punch, the Soda Popper's Hype Meter, and his various other movement enhancers make him difficult to kill and predict.
- Soldier: His ability to rocket jump and slow movement speed make him less than ideal for the precision heavy platforming sections. It also makes him rather unpredictable and hard to time traps against. His high hp and Concheror health regeneration make him difficult to kill in non-instant death traps.
- Pyro: The Detonator and Scorch Shot's jumping abilities also make Pyro a difficult class to predict and navigate platforming sections. The Powerjack's speed boost also can be difficult to adjust to for new Activators. But he is otherwise seen as the second default class.
- Demoman: The sticky-jumping ability, but otherwise slow movement speed make him a difficult class to win with. The Wee Booties and Bootlegger raise his health to Soldiers' default health which can prove probably difficult to kill for the same reason as Soldier.
- Heavy: Abysmally low run speed and a large health pool makes him terrible for most situations, but the utility of the Sandvich makes him outlast most other classes.
- Engineer: The utility of his buildings can make almost any course easy. If an Engineer were to complete a course with buildable areas active, he could easily build a Teleporter to the end while the rest of the team wait at spawn. His ability to Sentry-jump may also prove difficult to predict. Dispensers may heal teammates and thus extend games to otherwise unnecessary lengths. The Eureka Effect's Teleport to Spawn mechanic can entirely negate a Killwall.
- Medic: ÜberCharges and his Mediguns' utility make him a top-tier class for any engagement, but proves especially useful in the Death Run gamemode. He also sports natural health regen and an above average run speed, making him extremely useful. Mirroring blast jumps can also be quite helpful to Quick-Fix Medics.
- Spy: Cloaking makes him the hardest of all classes to kill. The Dead Ringer can also make him VERY hard to kill. His Disguise Kit can lead Activators to a false sense of elimination, which proves especially annoying.
The reason of why Sniper isn't banned:
He has average movement speed. Moreover, his health pool is the average 125 up by default, with it only being able to be increased to a Medic's 150 hp.