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The third stage of Gold Rush, the first Payload map to be introduced into the game.
The RED base and final checkpoint of Badwater Basin.
Onward, great bomb-cart!
The Heavy

Payload is a game mode in which the BLU team must escort a cart, usually full of explosives, through a series of checkpoints and into the RED team's base within a certain amount of time.

The third stage of Pipeline, a Payload Race map.

Payload Race is another game mode based on Payload, in which both the RED and BLU teams have an explosive Payload. To win, each team must push their cart through enemy territory to reach the finishing point while preventing the enemy team from doing the same.

Cart mechanics


The cart is pushed by standing next to it – the more people there are, the faster it moves, up to a limit of 3 players. Any additional players beyond 3 do not increase the speed further.

  • Scouts and players carrying the Pain Train count for two people.
  • If a member of the opposing team stands near the cart, it is blocked, and the cart does not move until the opposing player leaves or is killed.
  • Spies disguised as an enemy cannot push their own cart or block the enemy's cart, but will get healed by the enemy's cart. Spies disguised as teammates can push their own cart and block the enemy's cart.
    • Disguised Spies do not get bonuses when disguised as Scout, nor if the class they are disguised as is using the Pain Train.
  • Different ÜberCharges interact differently with the cart, see the table below.
Medi Gun Push Block
Medi Gun
Medi Gun
No Yes
Yes Yes
No No
Yes Yes

If the cart is left unattended, it stops moving forwards and, after 30 seconds, it begins to roll backwards until the previous checkpoint. The cart-pushing team must stand next to it again to once again move it forwards.

On some maps, there are special incline slopes or rollback zones, where an unattended cart rolls backwards. In these zones, the cart-pushing team must continuously stand next to the cart to get it up such hills. These sections of track are marked with chevrons on the progress bar, to help show how far the cart must be pushed to overcome them.

Currently, all Standard Payload maps use the same cart speed. Speeds are measured in Hammer units per second.

Multiplier Speed Rate
Backwards -9 -10%
x1 50 55%
x2 70 77%
x3 90 100%

If any buildings are placed on the tracks, the building is destroyed as the cart passes through it. The cart works as a Level 1 Dispenser for the team it belongs to, restoring health and ammunition to those pushing it. Unlike Level 1 Dispensers, the cart does not have a limit to the amount of metal it can give to Engineers. It also provides ammo and health to disguised enemy Spies.

As of the Engineer Update, the cart has a glowing, team-colored outline effect that enables its position to be identified through walls and from further away, allowing players to keep an eye on its whereabouts at all times.


In Payload, the BLU team must push a cart through a series of checkpoints and into the RED team's base within a certain amount of time. Reaching a checkpoint adds time to the timer.

If a BLU player does not push the cart after 30 seconds have passed, the cart starts slowly moving backwards until it reaches a checkpoint/BLU spawn or a BLU player stands next to it again. If the cart is not moving backwards when time runs out, Overtime occurs, which gives the attacking team five seconds to move the bomb until they lose. The timer resets each time the cart is pushed.

Payload Race

In Payload Race, both teams are issued a cart. The teams must simultaneously push their cart through enemy territory while preventing the enemy team from doing the same. Unlike Payload maps, the cart does not move backwards after any length of time (unless it is on an inclined slope) and there is no time limit; the map only ends when one team successfully pushes their cart to the finish point.

Payload Race maps tend to use rolling slopes much more than standard Payload maps. During Overtime, both carts automatically move forward slowly to prevent Stalemates. Pushing one cart stops the other from moving forward by itself. If the carts' tracks cross paths, and both carts arrive at the intersection at the same time, one cart waits for the other to pass by even if players are on both carts.

Li'l Chew Chew

Main article: Frontier

On the Payload map Frontier, a substantially larger mechanized train engine known as Li'l Chew-Chew is used in place of the standard BLU cart. It has movable jaws with razor-sharp teeth and two headlights as eyes, and a rideable platform on the back.

Providing cover from frontal attacks, Li'l Chew Chew is capable of significantly damaging any player (of either team!) in its mouth when it is moving forwards. The damage done increases as more players ride its rear platform; three or more attackers cause the jaws to deal an instant-kill by "swallowing" the victim whole, leaving no corpse. The platform also has a built-in BLU Dispenser; however, those riding on it have trouble seeing directly in front of the cart, as the main body of the train is in the way. It has a noticeably increased pushing range when compared to normal carts. It cannot be blocked by opposing players from RED team standing in front of it, only when opposing players stand near or on top of the train's platform. Rüdy, a modified variant of Li'l Chew Chew, appears in Wutville.


Main articles: Community Payload strategy, Community Payload Race strategy


Main article: List of maps

Payload maps may be split into multiple rounds, such as Gold Rush, Hoodoo, and Thunder Mountain. These are split into three stages that the BLU team must advance through and win. Stages one and two have two checkpoints and stage three has three checkpoints (two for Hoodoo), counting the final point as such.

Badwater Basin and Upward have a single round with four checkpoints, including the final point. Advancing the cart to the next checkpoint gives the BLU team extra time. Advancing the cart to the final point moves the map onto the next stage. When the cart reaches the final point on the final stage, the Payload cart explodes, killing anyone standing too close to it and destroying the RED team's base as well.

Payload Race maps can be single or multi-stage. Pipeline and Nightfall are split into three stages, whereas Hightower consists of only one stage. Winning in each of the first two stages gives an advantage to the winning team in the next stage (the cart starts slightly forward from the starting point).


Payload maps carry the pl_ prefix; community maps are identified with an italic font.

Name Picture File name
Badwater Basin Plbadwater.png pl_badwater
Barnblitz Barnblitz.PNG pl_barnblitz
Bloodwater Pl bloodwater.png pl_bloodwater
Borneo Pl Borneo.jpg pl_borneo
Bread Space Pl breadspace.png pl_breadspace
Brimstone Pl fifthcurve event.png pl_fifthcurve_event
Cactus Canyon Cactus Canyon.jpg pl_cactuscanyon
Camber Pl camber.png pl_camber
Cashworks Pl cashworks.png pl_cashworks
Chilly Pl chilly.png pl_chilly
Corruption Pl corruption.png pl_corruption
Emerge Pl emerge.png pl_emerge
Enclosure Enclosure main.jpg pl_enclosure_final
Frontier Pl frontier.jpg pl_frontier_final
Frostcliff Pl frostcliff.png pl_frostcliff
Ghoulpit Pl sludgepit event.png pl_sludgepit_event
Gold Rush Goldrush.jpg pl_goldrush
Gravestone Pl rumble event.png pl_rumble_event
Hassle Castle Pl hasslecastle.png pl_hasslecastle
Hellstone Pl millstone event.jpg pl_millstone_event
Hoodoo Plhoodoo.png pl_hoodoo_final
Phoenix Pl phoenix.png pl_phoenix
Pier Pl pier.png pl_pier
Polar Pl coal event.png pl_coal_event
Precipice Pl precipice event final.png pl_precipice_event_final
Rumford Pl rumford event.png pl_rumford_event
Snowycoast Pl snowycoast.jpg pl_snowycoast
Spineyard Pl spineyard.png pl_spineyard
Swiftwater Pl swiftwater.jpg pl_swiftwater
Terror Pl terror event.png pl_terror_event
Thunder Mountain PL Thunder Mountain.png pl_thundermountain
Upward Engineer Update Upward.png pl_upward
Venice Pl venice.png pl_venice
Wutville Pl wutville event.png pl_wutville_event

Payload Race

Payload Race maps carry the plr_ prefix; Community maps are identified with an italic font.

Name Picture File name
Banana Bay Bananabay main.jpg plr_bananabay
Bonesaw Plr hacksaw event.png plr_hacksaw_event
Hacksaw Plr hacksaw.png plr_hacksaw
Helltower Plr hightower event centertower.jpg plr_hightower_event
Hightower Hightower.png plr_hightower
Nightfall Nightfall stage2.png plr_nightfall_final
Pipeline Pipeline.jpg plr_pipeline

Related achievements

Leaderboard class scout.png Scout

Stun 50 enemies while they are capturing a point or pushing the cart.

Leaderboard class soldier.png Soldier

Hamburger Hill
Hamburger Hill
Defend a cap point 30 times.

Ride of the Valkartie
Ride of the Valkartie
Ride the cart for 30 seconds.

Leaderboard class demoman.png Demoman

Kill 25 players defending a capture point or cart.

Scotch Guard
Scotch Guard
Kill 3 enemies capping or pushing a cart in a single Stickybomb detonation 3 separate times.

Leaderboard class heavy.png Heavy

Pushkin the Kart
Pushkin the Kart
Get 50 caps on payload maps.

Stalin the Kart
Stalin the Kart
Block the enemy from moving the payload cart 25 times.

Leaderboard class engineer.png Engineer

No Man's Land
No Man's Land
Use a sentry gun to kill 25 enemy players that are capturing a point.

Leaderboard class spy.png Spy

Is It Safe?
Is It Safe?
Backstab 50 enemies who are capturing control points.

Update history

April 29, 2008 Patch (Gold Rush Update)
  • Added Payload mode.
  • Added map: Gold Rush.

August 19, 2008 Patch (Heavy Update)

  • Added map: Badwater Basin.
  • Added proper handling of cart blocking recognition to Payload maps

December 15, 2008 Patch

  • Fixed Engineers being able to upgrade the bomb cart's dispenser found in Payload levels
  • Fixed bomb cart's dispenser being solid to players and projectiles

May 21, 2009 Patch (Sniper vs. Spy Update)

  • Added Payload Race mode.
  • Added maps: Hoodoo and Pipeline.

July 8, 2010 Patch (Engineer Update)

  • Added maps: Hightower, Thunder Mountain, and Upward.

February 24, 2011 Patch (Community Map Pack Update)

  • Added maps: Frontier and Nightfall.

June 23, 2011 Patch (Über Update)

  • Added map: Barnblitz.

April 17, 2012 Patch

  • [Undocumented] Payload carts no longer maintain player overheal.

May 10, 2012 Patch

  • Added Enabled/Disabled inputs for the mapobj_cart_dispenser entity.

June 27, 2012 Patch

  • Fixed cases where the Payload HUD looked like the cart is still on a hill when it isn't.

February 1, 2013 Patch

  • Fixed exploit where players could be pushed into enemy spawn rooms by the Payload cart.

June 18, 2014 Patch (Love & War Update)

  • Fixed physics debris triggering the Payload cart's finale explosion in pl_upward.
  • [Undocumented] Added new voice lines for the Administrator for Payload Race.

December 8, 2014 Patch (End of the Line Update)

July 2, 2015 Patch #1 (Gun Mettle Update)

  • Added map: Borneo.

July 4, 2015 Patch #1

  • Fixed an exploit related to taunting and then dying on the final control point of Payload maps.

July 15, 2015 Patch #1

  • Fixed an exploit related to the final control point and dropped weapons on Badwater Basin, Barnblitz, Borneo, and Gold Rush.

October 28, 2015 Patch #1 (Scream Fortress 2015)

  • Added map: Hellstone.

December 17, 2015 Patch #1 (Tough Break Update)

  • Added map: Snowycoast.

July 7, 2016 Patch (Meet Your Match Update)

  • Added map: Swiftwater.

October 21, 2016 Patch (Scream Fortress 2016)

  • Added map: Brimstone.

October 20, 2017 Patch (Jungle Inferno Update)

  • Added maps: Banana Bay and Enclosure.

October 19, 2018 Patch (Scream Fortress 2018)

  • Added map: Gravestone.

October 10, 2019 Patch (Scream Fortress 2019)

  • Added map: Precipice.

October 1, 2020 Patch (Scream Fortress 2020)

  • Added maps: Bloodwater and Hassle Castle.

December 3, 2020 Patch (Smissmas 2020)

  • Added maps: Pier and Wutville.

October 5, 2021 Patch (Scream Fortress 2021)

  • Added map: Terror.

December 2, 2021 Patch (Smissmas 2021)

  • Added maps: Bread Space, Chilly, and Polar.

July 8, 2022 Patch

  • Fixed Payload cart not rolling back.

October 5, 2022 Patch (Scream Fortress 2022)

  • Added maps: Bonesaw and Ghoulpit.

December 5, 2022 Patch (Smissmas 2022)

  • Added maps: Frostcliff and Rumford.

July 12, 2023 Patch (Summer 2023)

  • Added maps: Cashworks, Phoenix, and Venice.

October 9, 2023 Patch #1 (Scream Fortress 2023)

  • Added maps: Corruption and Spineyard.

December 7, 2023 Patch (Smissmas 2023)

  • Added maps: Camber, Emerge, and Hacksaw.


The cart spinning bug.
A cart derailed from the track.
A cart with a head start.
  • The cart may sometimes randomly spin vertically.
  • The capture progress HUD sometimes does not report how many players are pushing the cart. It may also display the cart as being blocked when it is not.
  • Dying due to the cart explosion causes the Deathcam to focus on a specific point of the map while displaying the name of an opponent, even if no enemy was involved in the player's death.
  • It is possible to derail the cart as it is falling by launching it with an explosion. This works because it becomes a physics prop when it reaches the end of the track.
  • A very rare glitch occurs when the doors to BLU do not open, and the map stays in Setup Time. The cart slowly pushes itself and cannot be blocked.
  • Occasionally, a Payload cart may be already moved from its default position at the start of a round, even if it has not been pushed and the game is currently in Setup time.
  • If a player repeatedly picks up weapons on top of the final checkpoint on certain maps, the dropped weapon may slip through the hatch and detonate the final checkpoint early.
  • On certain spots the player can be pushed inside of map geometry, such as the tunnel exit before Upward's 2nd point while standing on top of the cart.
    • It is possible to get stuck inside buildings this way.
    • It is also possible to get inside an enemy player's model


Concept drawing depicting a different style of cart.
  • The default Payload takes the shape of a "Fat Man" implosion-style plutonium atomic bomb. This type of bomb was dropped over Nagasaki during World War II.
  • Hoodoo uses a different cart model. The map description reveals the cart to be carrying a "dirty bomb" – a nuclear explosive consisting of little more than radioactive material strapped to conventional explosives, such as TNT.
  • On some of the carts, there is a Heavy quote written into the paintwork:
    • The default cart bears the words 'Cry some more' scratched into the paintwork.
    • The Hoodoo cart has the words 'So much blood!' painted in white on the front-most barrel and the word 'Bonk' written in dust underneath one of the straps.
    • Lil' Chew-Chew bears the words 'All of you are dead!' scratched into the paintwork in front of the smoke stack.
  • The light on the Payload cart is the same as the one duct-taped on the Combat Mini-Sentry Gun.



Concept art

Unused content

The following models are present in the game files.