I originally got Team Fortress 2 with my cheap Orange Box and tried to play it for a while. I played as a stereotypical W+LMB Pyro and not knowing any of the maps which was not really fun.
However, I recently started to play TF2 again1, but this time I concentrated on the Medic. Also, the TF2 team had updated the game to have more tutorials and even a practice mode. These were exactly things that I was missing the first time around I tried to get to know this game.
I had read from various sites that Medic is a good starting class for three reasons: you don’t need to know the maps that well nor aim that well, the team benefits from a medic and not that many want to play as it. The one thing going for playing as medic is that you get to know the maps as a side-product and you don’t really need to aim. Also, the chronic lack of medics on the servers seems to be quite accurate. It’s relatively easy to be in the top 5 on scoreboards as the lone Medic on the team and playing as one you feel being credit to the team.
The game might be called a war-themed hat simulator, but in reality, a newbie won’t see any hats - besides the Ghastly Gibbus, which is a hat of shame, and the occasional promotional hats from playing or buying other games. I still probably have more promotional items than what I have acquired in-game.
From Medic, it was quite easy to try my chances as a Heavy and from there to Pyro again. As a Pyro, it’s somewhat important to know the map or you’ll spend a lot of time dead. Another nice feature of Team Fortress 2 is that the numerous achievements are set in a way that you learn different aspects of the game by trying to complete them. Also, achieving the milestones gives you access to upgraded weapons, so you have an incentive trying to master your class.
So far, I haven’t played Spy, Engineer nor Sniper. In my opinion these are a bit more specialized. However, it seems that the completely new players are thinking in an entirely different way.
The game is now free to play, and I really encourage anyone to give it a try. There’s no reason to feel intimidated for this game, because it’s fun even when you die (a lot).