TF2 Basics #1: Dustbowl map guide

TF2 Dustbowl

This guest guide was written by Neth, a veteran of the Singapore Team Fortress 2 scene. Neth plays with former competitive  team 5th Company (-V- Co.) and was a member of -V- Co.’s World Cyber Games Singapore National Finals 2009 TF2 champion team.

With Team Fortress 2 now a free-to-play game, there’s been an increase of new players trying out the game. Unfortunately, many of them are pretty lost and clueless about what to do in the various TF2 maps. For today’s guide, I will explain in detail how to play both the attacking and defending sides in one of the more popular maps, Dustbowl (cp_dustbowl).


Dustbowl contains three different stages where the BLU team has to capture two capture points in each stage in order to progress to the next area, while the RED team tries to defend the capture points from the BLU team.

At the start of each round, the RED team will have 60 seconds to set up their defences and get ready for the attack from BLU. For each capture point that the BLU team successfully takes, additional time will be added for them to attempt to capture the next point; it is ideal to capture the first point of each map as fast as possible so you get enough time to break down the RED team’s defences on the next point.

Looking at the map of Dustbowl, you can tell that Dustbowl is actually one big map that contains all three stages; only a certain section of the map will be open each round for each of the three stages:

An overview of the cp_dustbowl TF2 map

An overview of the cp_dustbowl TF2 map

Stage 1

For the first stage of Dustbowl, the BLU team has three different points of exit, labelled on the map as 1, 2 and 3. Exits 1 and 3 are on high ground, while exit 2 is situated on low ground. The RED team should take note of these three locations as these are possible locations where you’ll be facing the BLU team as they attack. Medics from both teams should be ready to use their ÜberCharge when the gates opens at the start of the round, as both teams tend to fire projectiles at these exits.

cp_dustbowl first stage layout

cp_dustbowl first stage layout

Once the BLU team are able to break out of their spawning locations, they will have to attack the capture point “1.1”, which is situated inside a hut. There are four openings to this capture point. The main entrances at the front and right of the hut are indicated with blue arrows. The other two openings require players to either rocket or sticky jump to reach elevated platforms which are situated at the side and back of the hut.

For the next capture point “1.2”, the BLU team will have five possible points of entry to attack the capture point. Most players would prefer to use exit 4 — accessible through the elevated mine shaft from point 1.1 — when attacking as it provides the shortest possible route to the capture point. Exit points 5 and 6 and 7 and 8 are pairs which have both top and bottom openings. Players usually use the vantage point from the higher openings to provide cover for the team attacking through the lower exits to the capture point. ÜberCharges from medics would be ideal in helping the team to push forward to the capture location.

Stage 2

For the second stage of Dustbowl, there are only two exit points for the BLU team. This stage can be considered as one of the harder areas to push out in Dustbowl, as the RED team would often spam projectiles at the limited and narrow exit points. Once again, the medic’s ÜberCharges is indispensable here. Once the BLU team manages to push out of their spawn point, capturing the 2.1 capture point is relatively simple as it is located straight ahead on the second floor in an open and exposed area that is not easily defended.

cp_dustbowl second stage layout

cp_dustbowl second stage layout

For the second capture point of the second stage, there are four openings where the BLU team will be able to attack from. Most players would like to build up their ÜberCharges in the tunnel of exit 3 as it is a relatively safe place to be. Most of the battle will occur just outside of exits 4 and 5 in the open area in front of the tunnel exits as both teams tend to collide at that area.

Once the BLU team manages to break out into the courtyard in front of exits 4 and 5, they will be able to either go through the middle path, flank from the left side or attack via the higher ground at the middle building. It is important to get hold of the high ground as it provides an advantage against the RED team. Also, the RED spawn is relatively close to the capture point, so the BLU team should be cautious of the RED team spawning while they are attempting to capture the point.

Stage 3

For the last stage of cp_dustbowl, there are three exit points, two from the front and one from the side. BLU players exiting from 1 and 2 have to be caution of the building in front of the exit as the RED team will normally attack from that sheltered area. ÜberCharges are almost necessary for the push to the capture point as the RED team will often deploy multiple sentry guns on both sides of the capture point. The RED team should take note that there are two spawn points for the RED team; the fastest way to the 3.1 capture point is from the left spawn (as shown on the map) as it has a passage way providing direct access to the point. However, this passage way will be closed once the BLU team takes the 3.1 capture point.

cp_dustbowl third stage layout

cp_dustbowl third stage layout

The second capture point for this stage is considered one of the hardest sections to push and clear without good teamwork as the bend labelled “4” is basically a choke point that will be filled with projectile spam. The BLU team should take note that in additional to the endless rockets, grenades and sniper fire, the medics on the RED team will often use the Kritzkrieg 100% critical bonus buff to help add more firepower to the chokepoint 4. Be prepared to fall back and take cover, or even pop an ÜberCharge to save your team.

There are two buildings before the capture point, one on the right and the other on the left (labeled RH and LH respectively). It is not compulsory to take control of these two buildings, but doing so provides a huge advantage to the BLU team as they will have a wider area to attack the red team.

While there is an underground passage leading to the capture point, with the entrance marked by the arrow and the exit labelled “5”, this passage is not often used by players as the RED team will hold a high ground advantage on BLU players exiting from the passage. However, since this passage is rarely used, it is possible that the a few players on the BLU team try to use the element of surprise to push in from here together while the rest of the team attacks from the front.

Have your say. Add your comments:

  • GFoppy

    Any specific tips for engineers on the attacking team? Never could quite figure out the best spots on Dustbowl to set up teleporters/sentries.

  • Neth

    Well, for starters, it would be best to place sentries like at the “staging” area before the area where you push to deter the RED team from pushing your team back. Engineers can help with the push by packing the sentries and deploying them just behind their team and attack from long range with the wrangler.

    For teleporter, I suppose a secured area slightly further from where your sentries are would be better, so that it won’t be prone to random spam, or when enemies tries to push out.

  • YangChewrens

    Shithub servers cannot play engie block already in stage 2. Spoil the fun. Lucky there are 10,000 other local servers for each shithub server.

    For engies teleporter at stage one before point no. 4 behind the one way door in the absolute corner. Stage 2 teleporter at the end of the long tunnel before the one way door(point 3). Stage 3 at point 4, but only in the blocked area above the stairs. Should be quite obvious when playing, nearest to the last cap point, but always have a physical barrier to prevent damage.

    This is the opinion of a 500hr+ pub player, so pros/competitive dudes, pls don’t criticize.

    Put sentries to defend tele-points, dispensers a little further out to heal teammates.