Steam Big Picture Mode goes beta in September

It has been a busy week for Valve. The company announced that Steam’s Big Picture television-friendly mode will enter beta in September, debuted a new cooperative mode for Team Fortress 2 dubbed Mann vs. Machine, and revealed that Portal 2’s puzzle-creating Perpetual Testing Initiative can now manufacture stages for the game’s cooperative mode.

Big Picture Mode, which was announced last year, reformats the Steam experience for the living room. The GameTrailers TV interview with Valve’s Greg Coomer revealed some details on the new interface, which is designed for easier usability several feet away from the screen and is fully navigable with a controller. Steam will be able to easily switch back and forth between its normal interface and Big Picture Mode, and all games will be playable from either regardless of whether they support controllers.
Team Fortress 2 continues to receive significant updates even as it nears the fifth anniversary of its October 2007 release. A new game mode pitting six players against hordes of encroaching robots dubbed Mann vs. Machine went live this week, in the largest change to the class-based shooter since it went free-to-play in June 2011. A special Mann Up mode offers guaranteed special loot after successful missions, though it can be accessed only with $1 tickets, which are consumed upon victory; $2 Squad Surplus Vouchers can also be used to award an extra piece of loot to everyone on the team after winning a round.
That wasn’t all Valve had for fans of cooperative play. It also announced this week that its puzzle creation suite for Portal 2 can now make test chambers for the game’s co-op mode, meaning players will no longer be limited to single-player for user-made levels. Valve also introduced a quick-play feature, which automatically queues up highly rated stages, allowing for a seamless experience from one puzzle to the next. Owners of Portal 2 have been granted 75-percent-off gift coupons for the game to enlist their friends.

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