Team Fortress 2

Team Fortress 2 is a multiplayer first-person shooter game developed and published by Valve. It is the sequel to the 1996 Team Fortress mod for Quake and its 1999 remake, Team Fortress Classic. It was released in October 2007 as part of The Orange Box video game bundle for Windows and Xbox 360.[1] A PlayStation 3 version followed in December 2007 when The Orange Box was ported to the system.[2] Later in development, the game was released as a standalone title for Windows in April 2008, and was updated to support Mac OS X in June 2010 and Linux in February 2013. It is distributed online through Valve's digital retailer Steam, with Electronic Arts handling all physical and console ports of the game.

Team Fortress 2
Tf2 standalonebox.jpg
Box art, depicting eight of the nine playable characters. From left to right: the Medic, the Scout, the Soldier, the Heavy (in focus), the Demoman, the Spy, the Engineer, and the Pyro. Not pictured: the Sniper.
Developer(s)Valve
Publisher(s)Valve
Designer(s)
Composer(s)Mike Morasky
EngineSource
Platform(s)
Release
Genre(s)First-person shooter
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

The player can join one of two teams, RED or BLU, and choose one of 9 character classes to battle in game modes such as capture the flag and king of the hill. Development of the game was led by John Cook and Robin Walker, the developers of the original Team Fortress mod. Team Fortress 2 was first announced in 1998 under the name Team Fortress 2: Brotherhood of Arms. Initially, the game had more realistic, militaristic visuals and gameplay, but this changed over the protracted nine-year development. After Valve released no information for six years, Team Fortress 2 regularly featured in Wired News' annual vaporware list among other ignominies.[3] The finished Team Fortress 2 has cartoon-like visuals influenced by the art of J. C. Leyendecker, Dean Cornwell, and Norman Rockwell,[4] and uses Valve's Source game engine.

Team Fortress 2 received critical acclaim for its art direction, gameplay, humor, and use of character in a multiplayer-only game.[5][6][7][8] Valve continues to release new content in the form of submissions made through the Steam Workshop. In June 2011, the game became free-to-play, supported by microtransactions for in-game cosmetics. A 'drop system' was also added and refined, allowing free-to-play users to periodically receive in-game equipment and items by use of a random number generator. Though the game had an unofficial competitive scene for many years, both support for official competitive play through ranked matchmaking and an overhauled casual experience were added in July 2016.[9]

Gameplay

 
A group of RED players attack a BLU base on the map "cp_well"

In most modes, the blue and red teams compete for a combat-based objective.[6] Players can choose to play as one of nine character classes in these teams, each with their own unique strengths, weaknesses, and weapon sets. In order to accomplish objectives efficiently, a balance of these classes is required due to how these strengths and weaknesses interact with each other in a team-based environment. Although the abilities of a number of classes have changed from earlier Team Fortress incarnations, the basic elements of each class have remained, that being one primary weapon, one secondary weapon, and one melee weapon.[10][11] The game was released with six official maps, although over 110 maps have since been included in subsequent updates, including community-created maps.[12][13] When players choose a gamemode for the first time, an introductory video shows how to complete its objectives. During matches the "Administrator",[14] voiced by Ellen McLain, announces events over loudspeakers.[15] The player limit is 16 on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.[16] In 2008, Valve updated the PC version to include a server variable that allows up to 32 players.[17]

Team Fortress 2 is the first of Valve's multiplayer games to provide detailed statistics for individual players. Some examples include the total amount of time spent playing as each class, most points obtained, most captures or objectives achieved in a single life, etc. Persistent statistics tell the player how they is improving in relation to these statistics, such as if a player comes close to their record for the damage inflicted in a round.[12] Team Fortress 2 also features numerous achievements for carrying out certain tasks, such as scoring a certain number of kills or completing a round within a certain time. New sets of class-specific achievements have been added in updates, which can award new weapons to the player upon completion. This unlockable system has since been expanded into a random drop system, where the player can also obtain items simply by playing the game.[18]

Game modes

Core game modes

Team Fortress 2 contains five core game modes.

  • Attack/Defend, also known as A/D, is a timed game mode in which the BLU team's goal is to capture RED control points. The amount of control points varies between maps, and the points must be captured by the BLU team in respective order. To capture a control point, a player must stand on it for a certain amount of time. This process can be sped up by more players on one team capturing a single point. Once a control point is captured by the BLU team, it cannot be re-captured by the RED team. The RED team's job is to prevent the BLU team from capturing all the control points before the time limit ends. Once a point is captured, the time limit will extend.[19]
  • Capture the Flag, also known as CTF, is a mode which revolves around the BLU and RED teams attempting to steal and capture the opposing team's flag, represented in-game as an intelligence briefcase. At the same time, both teams must defend their own intelligence. When the intelligence is dropped by the carrier – either by dying or dropping it manually, it will stay on the ground for 1 minute before returning to its original location if it is not picked up again. A team's intelligence can only be carried by the opposing team. The first team to capture the enemy's intelligence three times wins.[20]
  • Control Points, also known as CP, is a timed game mode where there are several control points placed around the map, with 3 or 5 control points in total depending on the map. These are referred to as "3CP" and "5CP," respectively. The game will start off with only the middle control point being available for capture, with the other control points split equally among both teams. Once this middle control point is captured, a team can begin capturing the enemy team's points in respective order. The time limit is extended on the capture of a control point by either team. For a team to win, they must capture all the control points within the time limit.[19]
  • King of the Hill, also known as KOTH, is a timed game mode that contains a single control point at the middle of the map that can be captured by both the RED and BLU teams. Upon capturing the control point, a team-specific timer starts counting down, but stops upon the point being captured by the opposing team. The first team to have their timer count down to 0 wins.[21]
  • Payload is a timed game mode where the BLU team must push an explosive cart along a track, while the RED team must prevent the cart from reaching their base. To push the cart, at least one BLU player must stay within the range of the cart, which will dispense health and ammo every few seconds. The cart will increase as more BLU players attempt to push it. Payload maps have multiple "checkpoints" along the track. Once these checkpoints are captured, they may adjust the spawn locations of both teams. Capturing a checkpoint will also increase the time limit. If the cart is not pushed by the BLU team for 20 seconds, it will begin to move back to the last captured checkpoint, where it will stop. The RED team can stop the cart from being pushed by being within range of it. The RED team wins by preventing the cart from reaching the final checkpoint before time runs out.[22]

Alternative game modes

There are several alternative game modes in Team Fortress 2. These modes consist of a small amount of maps and detach from the core game modes in some way.

  • Arena is a special game mode in which players do not respawn upon death. A team can win either by eliminating all opposing players, or by claiming a single capture point that opens after a certain time has elapsed.[23] This mode is currently unavailable through matchmaking, but is still accessible through community servers.
  • Mannpower is a mode in which players have access to a grappling hook and assorted power-ups laid around the map that grant unique abilities.[24] While not bound to any specific mode, all current official Mannpower maps use a variation of Capture the Flag. In Mannpower's variation of Capture the Flag, both teams have an intelligence flag, and the first team to capture the enemy's intelligence ten times wins. The mode is heavily inspired by the Quake mod, Threewave CTF, a mod created by former Valve employee David Kirsch.[25]
  • Medieval Mode is a mode in which players are restricted to using melee and support weapons, with certain exceptions for medieval-themed projectile weapons.[26] While not bound to any specific mode, the only official Medieval Mode map uses a 3CP variation of Attack/Defend. If Medieval Mode is enabled on a map, select phrases spoken by players in the ingame text chat will be replaced with more thematic variants, such as "hello" being replaced with "well meteth".
  • PASS Time is a unique timed game mode inspired by rugby, developed by Valve, Bad Robot Interactive, and Escalation Studios.[27] Three unique goals (the Run-In, Throw-In, and Bonus Goals) are placed on each team's side of the map. A single ball called the JACK will spawn at the center of the map, and players must pick it up and carry it to the opposing team's side. Players can score a goal by either carrying the JACK to a Run-In Goal or by throwing the JACK through the Throw-In Goal. Three goals can be scored by throwing the JACK through the Bonus Goal, which is much more difficult to score. To win, a team must either score five goals, or have the most goals when the timer runs out.
  • Payload Race, like Payload, has the main objective being to push a cart to a final checkpoint. Unlike Payload, both the RED and BLU teams are fighting to push their cart to the final checkpoint. There is only one checkpoint for each track, and there is no time limit. The team to reach their checkpoint first wins.[28]
  • Player Destruction is a community-made game mode in which a player's death causes a pickup to appear. The first team to collect a set number of pickups and deliver them to a drop-off point wins the game. The players on each team with the most pickups are highlighted for everyone to see, and gain a passive healing effect for themselves and any nearby teammates.
  • Special Delivery is a mode similar to Capture the Flag, but there is only one neutral briefcase that can be picked up both the RED or BLU teams. Upon a team picking up the briefcase, the opposing team will be unable to pick up the briefcase until it has been dropped for 45 seconds and respawns as a neutral briefcase. A team wins by carrying the briefcase onto a loading platform, which will raise gradually, until the platform reaches its peak.[29]
  • Territorial Control consists of several control points spread out across a single map. Like Control Points, each point can be captured by either the RED or BLU teams. Unlike Control Points, only two points are accessible at a single time, upon a team's successful capture of a point, the "stage" ends and the accessible capture points change. When a team only has control of a single control point, they are blocked from capturing the opposing team's control point and the team must wait until the time limit is up and the accessible capture points change. A team wins by capturing all the control points.[19]

Other game modes

These modes are not categorized with the other modes, and instead have their own separate sections in the game.

Halloween Mode is a special mode that is enabled during the Halloween season, and allows the players access to more than 20 maps, Halloween-exclusive cosmetics, and challenges. For example, Halloween 2012 included an extremely difficult Mann vs. Machine mission involving destroying more than 800 enemy forces.[30] Due to popular demand of the Halloween events, Valve later added the Full Moon event, an event that triggers around every full moon phase throughout the year, which allows players to equip Halloween-exclusive cosmetics. In 2013, Valve introduced an item called Eternaween, and upon use, allows players of a specific server to use Halloween-exclusive cosmetics for 2 hours.[31]

Mann vs Machine, also known as MvM, is a cooperative game mode where players must defend their base from waves of robots modeled after all the nine playable classes, and slow-moving tanks carrying bombs. Robots and tanks drop a currency referred to as Credits upon their death, which players can use to buy upgrades for themselves or their weapons. The players win upon successfully defending their base from the bomb until the last wave.[32] A paid version of this game mode called "Mann Up" is also available, where players buy tickets to play "Tours of Duty", a collection of missions with the chance to win unique cosmetics and weapon skins upon completion.[33]

Offline Practice Mode is just like any other multiplayer match, but only consists of the player and bots. The number of bots, their difficulty, and the map can all be adjusted to a player's preference, though only a select amount of maps are available to play.[34][35][36]

Training Mode exists to help new players get acquainted with basic controls, and teaches them the basics of four of the nine classes. It uses wooden dummies and bots to teach players the basic mechanics of classes and the game.[34]

Classes and characters

 
From left to right: Pyro, Engineer, Spy, Heavy, Sniper, Scout, Soldier, Demoman, and Medic

Team Fortress 2 features nine playable classes, evenly split and categorized into "Offense", "Defense", and "Support".[12] Each class has strengths and weaknesses and must work with other classes to be efficient, encouraging strategy and teamwork.[37] Each class has at least three default weapons: a primary weapon, secondary weapon, and melee weapon. Some classes have additional slots for PDAs.

Offense

  • The Scout (Nathan Vetterlein) is a cocky, fast-talking American baseball fan and street runner from Boston, Massachusetts who practiced running to "beat his mad dog siblings to the fray."[38] He is a fast, agile character, who is armed by default with a scattergun, a pistol, and an aluminum baseball bat. The Scout can double jump and counts as two people when capturing control points and pushing the Payload cart.

  • The Soldier (Rick May) is a jingoistic American military man hailing from the Midwest (despite the fact that he was never actually in the Army[39]). The Soldier is armed by default with a rocket launcher, shotgun, and a folding shovel. He is both the second-slowest class in the game and the class with the second-highest health (after the Heavy Weapons Guy). The Soldier can use his rocket launcher to rocket jump to higher positions at the cost of some health.

  • The Pyro (Dennis Bateman) is a person of unknown gender or origin, clad in a fire-retardant suit and a voice-muffling gas mask. By default, the Pyro is armed with a homemade flamethrower that can set players on fire, a shotgun, and a fire axe. The Pyro's flamethrower can also produce a blast of compressed air that knocks away nearby enemies and projectiles, and extinguishes burning teammates.[40][41]

Defense

  • The Heavy Weapons Guy, or simply the Heavy, (Schwartz) is a large Russian from the Dzhugdzhur Mountains of the USSR, heavy in stature and accent, and obsessed with firepower. Though he is the slowest class, he can sustain and deal immense amounts of damage. His default weapons consist of an enormous minigun that he affectionately refers to as "Sasha", a shotgun, and his fists.[43]

  • The Engineer (Grant Goodeve) is an American, relaxed, and intellectual "good ol' boy" from Bee Cave, Texas.[44] The Engineer can build structures to support his team: a sentry gun for defending key points, a health and ammunition dispenser, and a pair of teleporter modules (one entrance and one exit).[40] The Engineer's default weapons are a standard shotgun, a pistol, and a wrench that he can use either as a melee weapon or to speed up the construction on buildings created by him or other Engineers. He has separate PDAs that can be used to construct and destroy his buildings.

Support

  • The Medic (Robin Atkin Downes) is a German doctor from Stuttgart with little regard for the Hippocratic Oath.[45] He has no hitscan-based weapons, but is equipped with a "Medigun" that can restore health to injured teammates and gradually build "ÜberCharge" power with repeated use. At full capacity, an ÜberCharge grants boosts that can include temporary invulnerability to the Medic and his patient or a 100% chance of critical hits for the patient's weapons. The Medic is also equipped with an air-powered syringe gun and bonesaw for situations in which he must fight without his teammates' protection.[46][40] He keeps doves as pets, one of which is named Archimedes.

  • The Spy (Bateman) is a French covert operative whose equipment is designed for stealth and infiltration, including a cloaking device disguised as a watch, an electronic sapper used to sabotage and destroy enemy Engineers' buildings, and a device hidden in his cigarette case that enables him to disguise himself as enemy players. He does not carry any long-range weapons, but is armed with a revolver and a butterfly knife, able to use the latter to instantly kill enemies by stabbing them in the back.[40] He is the only character who does not wear any clothing in his team's bright color or a patch denoting his specialty, instead preferring a balaclava, business suit, necktie, and gloves in muted team-color hues.

Non-playable characters

Other characters include the Administrator (voiced by Ellen McLain), an unseen announcer who provides information about time limits and objectives to players, and her assistant Miss Pauling (Ashly Burch). The cast has expanded with Halloween updates, including the characters of the Horseless Headless Horsemann and MONOCULUS (Schwartz). 2012 and 2013 saw the addition of Merasmus, the Bombinomicon, and Redmond, Blutarch, and Zepheniah Mann (all played by Nolan North). Previous unused voicelines recorded by North were later used for a Horseless Headless Horsemann seen in the 2019 map "Laughter" and a jack-o'-lantern resting atop the Payload cart in the 2020 map "Bloodwater". The character Davy Jones (voiced by Calvin Kipperman)[48] made an appearance in the 2018 map "Cursed Cove".

In the video announcement for the "Jungle Inferno" update, Mann Co. CEO Saxton Hale is voiced by JB Blanc.[49]

Competitive play

Team Fortress 2 is played competitively, through multiple leagues. The North American league, ESEA, supports a paid Team Fortress 2 league, with $42,000 in prizes for the top teams in 2017.[50][51][52] Team Fortress 2 is played competitively in many formats, such as Highlander (nine players per team, one of each class), Prolander (7v7) and 6v6.[53][54][55] While formalized competitive gameplay is very different from normal Team Fortress 2, it offers an environment with a much higher level of teamwork than in public servers. Most teams use voice chat to communicate, and use a combination of strategy, communication, and aiming ability to win against other teams. Community-run competitive leagues also tend to feature restrictions such as item bans and class limits. These leagues are often supported by Valve via in-game medals (which are submitted via the Steam Workshop) and announcements on the official blog.[53][54][56]

In April 2015, Valve announced that a dedicated competitive mode would be added to Team Fortress 2, utilizing skill-based matchmaking;[57] closed beta testing began in the following year.[58] The competitive mode was added in the "Meet Your Match" update, released on July 7, 2016.[59] Ranked matches are played six-vs-six, with players ranked in thirteen tiers based on win/losses and an assessment of their skills.[60] Ranked matchmaking will balance players based on their tiers and rating. A similar matchmaking approach has been added for casual games for matches of 12-vs-12 players. In order to join competitive matchmaking, players must have associated their Steam account with the Steam Guard Mobile Authenticator, as well as having a Team Fortress 2 "premium account", which is unlocked by either having bought the game before it went free-to-play or by having made an in-game item purchase since.[61]

Development

Origins and early development

The original Team Fortress was developed by Robin Walker and John Cook as a free mod for the 1996 PC game Quake. In 1998, Walker and Cook were employed by Valve, which had just released its first game, Half-Life. Valve began developing Team Fortress 2 as a standalone retail game using Valve's GoldSrc engine.[62] In 1999, Valve released Team Fortress Classic, a port of the original Team Fortress, as a free Half-Life mod.[63] Team Fortress Classic was developed using the publicly available Half-Life software development kit as an example to the community and industry of its flexibility.[64]

 
Team Fortress 2 originally featured a realistic visual style

In contrast to the original Team Fortress, Valve originally planned Team Fortress 2 to have a modern war aesthetic. It would feature a command hierarchy including a Commander class, parachute drops over enemy territory, networked voice communication, and numerous other innovations.[65] The Commander class played similarly to a real-time strategy game, with the player viewing the game from a bird's-eye perspective and issuing orders to players and AI-controlled soldiers.[65]

Team Fortress 2 was first shown at E3 1999,[66] where Valve showcased new technologies including parametric animation, which blended animations for smoother, more lifelike movement,[67] and Intel's multi-resolution mesh technology, which dynamically reduced the detail of distant on-screen elements to improve performance.[67] The game earned several awards including Best Online Game and Best Action Game.[66]

In mid-2000, Valve announced that Team Fortress 2 had been delayed for a second time.[68] They attributed the delay to development switching to an in-house engine, the Source engine. Following the announcement, Valve stopped releasing information about Team Fortress 2 and the game entered six years of silent development.[69] Walker and Cook worked on various other Valve projects; Walker was project lead on Half-Life 2: Episode One[70] and Cook became a Steam developer.[71] Team Fortress 2 became a prominent example of vaporware, a long-anticipated game that had seen years of development, and was often mentioned alongside another much-delayed game, Duke Nukem Forever.[3] Walker later stated that Valve built "three to four" different versions of Team Fortress 2 before settling on their final design.[72] Shortly before the release of Half-Life 2 in 2004, Valve's marketing director Doug Lombardi confirmed that Team Fortress 2 was still in development. Valve reintroduced Team Fortress 2 at the July 2006 EA Summer Showcase event with a drastically different visual design.[10]

RED base on 2Fort
BLU base on 2Fort

Final design

Departing from the realistic visual design of Valve games such as Half-Life 2, Counter-Strike: Source and Day of Defeat: Source, Team Fortress 2 features a cartoon-like visual style influenced by 20th-century commercial illustrations[11][73] and the artwork of J. C. Leyendecker, Dean Cornwell, and Norman Rockwell,[4] achieved through Gooch shading.[74] The game debuted with the Source engine's new dynamic lighting, shadowing and soft particle technologies alongside Half-Life 2: Episode Two. It was the first game to implement the Source engine's new Facial Animation 3 features.[75]

Valve abandoned the realistic style when it became impossible to reconcile it with the unrealistic gameplay, with opposing armies having constructed elaborate bases directly next to each other.[76] The Commander class was abandoned as players would simply refuse to follow the player's orders.[76]

Valve designed each character, team, and equipped weapon to be visually distinct, even at range; for example, the coloring draws attention to the chest area, bringing focus on the equipped weapon.[77] The voices for each of the classes were based on imagining what people from the 1960s would expect the classes to have sounded like, according to writer Chet Faliszek.[78]

The map design has an "evil genius" theme with archetypical spy fortresses, concealed within inconspicuous buildings such as industrial warehouses and farms to give plausibility to their close proximities; these bases are usually separated by a neutrally themed space. The bases hide exaggerated super weapons such as laser cannons, nuclear warheads, and missile launch facilities, taking the role of objectives. The maps have little visual clutter and stylized, almost impressionistic modeling, to allow enemies to be spotted more easily. The impressionistic design approach also affects textures, which are based on photos that are filtered and improved by hand, giving them a tactile quality and giving Team Fortress 2 its distinct look. The bases are designed to let players immediately know where they are. RED bases use warm colors, natural materials, and angular shapes, while BLU bases use cool colors, industrial materials, and orthogonal shapes.[77]

Release

During the July 2006 Electronic Arts press conference, Valve revealed that Team Fortress 2 would ship as the multiplayer component of The Orange Box. A conference trailer showcasing all nine of the classes demonstrated for the first time the game's whimsical new visual style. Managing director of Valve Gabe Newell said that the company's goal was to create "the best looking and best-playing class-based multiplayer game".[10] A beta release of the entire game was made on Steam on September 17, 2007, for customers who had pre-purchased The Orange Box, who had activated their Black Box coupon, which was included with the ATI HD 2900XT Graphics cards, and for members of Valve's Cyber Café Program.[79][80] The beta continued until the game's final release.

The game was released on October 10, 2007, both as a standalone product via Steam and at retail stores as part of The Orange Box compilation pack, priced at each gaming platform's recommended retail price. The Orange Box also contains Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Episode One, Half-Life 2: Episode Two, and Portal. Valve offered The Orange Box at a ten percent discount for those who pre-purchased it via Steam before the October 10 release, as well as the opportunity to participate in the beta test.[81]

Post-release

Since the release of Team Fortress 2, Valve has continually released free updates and patches through Steam for Windows, OS X, and Linux users; though most patches are used for improving the reliability of the software or to tweak gameplay changes, several patches have been used to introduce new features and gameplay modes, and are often associated with marketing materials such as comics or videos offered on the Team Fortress 2 website; this blog is also used to keep players up to date with the ongoing developments in Team Fortress 2.[82] As of July 2012, each class has been given a dedicated patch that provides new weapons, items, and other gameplay changes; these class patches typically included the release of the class's "Meet the Team" video.[41][83][84] Other major patches have included new gameplay modes including the Payload,[46] Payload Race,[85] Training,[86] Highlander,[87] Medieval,[88] and Mann vs. Machine modes.[89] Themed patches have also been released, such as a yearly Halloween-themed event called "Scream Fortress", where players may obtain unique items available only during a set period around the holiday.[90] Other new features have given players the ability to craft items within the game from other items,[91] trade items with other players,[92] purchase in-game items through funds in Steam,[93] and save and edit replay videos that can be posted to YouTube.[94]

Valve has released tools to allow users to create maps, weapons, and cosmetic items through a contribution site; the most popular are added as official content for the game.[95][96] This approach has subsequently created the basis for the Steam Workshop functionality of the software client.[97][98] In one case, more than fifty users from the content-creation community worked with Valve to release an official content update in May 2013, with all of the content generated by these players.[99] Valve reported that as of June 2013, over $10 million has been paid back to over 400 community members that have helped to contribute content to the game, including a total of $250,000 for the participants in the May 2013 patch.[100] To help promote community-made features, Valve has released limited-time events, such as the "Gun Mettle" or "Invasion" events in the second half of 2015, also including the "Tough Break" update in December 2015, in which players can spend a small amount of money which is paid back to the community developers for the ability to gain unique items offered while playing on community-made maps during the event.[101][102][103][104]

Development of the new content had been confirmed (but later quietly cancelled) for the Xbox 360, while development for the PlayStation 3 was deemed "uncertain" by Valve.[105] However, the PlayStation 3 version of Team Fortress 2 received an update that repaired some of the issues found within the game, ranging from graphical issues to online connectivity problems; this update was included in a patch that also repaired issues found in the other games within The Orange Box.[106] The updates released on PC and planned for later release on Xbox 360 include new official maps and game modes, as well as tweaks to classes and new weapons that can be unlocked through the game's achievement system.[107] The developers attempted to negotiate with Xbox 360 developer Microsoft to keep the Xbox 360 releases of these updates free,[108] but Microsoft refused and Valve announced that they would release bundles of several updates together to justify the price.[109] Because of the cost of patching during the seventh generation of video game consoles, Valve has been unable to provide additional patches to the Xbox 360 version since 2009, effectively cancelling development of the console versions.[110]

On June 10, 2010, Team Fortress 2 was released for OS X, shortly after the release of Steam for OS X.[86] The release was teased by way of an image similar to early iPod advertising, showing a dark silhouette of the Heavy on a bright green background, his Sandvich highlighted in his hand.[111] Virtual earbuds, which can be worn when playing on either OS X or Windows once acquired, were given to players playing the game on OS X before June 14,[112] though the giveaway period was later extended to August 16.[113]

On November 6, 2012, Valve announced the release of Team Fortress 2 for Linux as part of a restricted beta launch of Steam on the platform.[114] This initial release of Steam and Team Fortress 2 was targeted at Ubuntu with support for other distributions planned for the future. Later, on December 20, 2012, Valve opened up access to the beta, including Team Fortress 2, to all Steam users without the need to wait for an invitation.[115] On February 14, 2013, Valve announced the full release of Team Fortress 2 for Linux.[116] From then to March 1, anyone who played the game on Linux would receive a free Tux penguin, which can be equipped in-game.

Team Fortress 2 was announced in March 2013 to be the first game to officially support the Oculus Rift, a consumer-grade virtual reality headset. A patch will be made to the client to include a "VR Mode" that can be used with the headset on any public server.[117]

In April 2020, source code for 2018 versions Team Fortress 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive leaked online. This created fears that malicious users would use the code to make remote code execution software and attack servers or players' computers. Several fan projects halted development until the impact of the leak could be determined.[118] Valve confirmed the legitimacy of the code leaks, but stated they do not believe it affects servers and clients running the latest official builds of either game.[119]

On May 1, 2020, a few weeks after the death of the voice actor of the Soldier, Rick May, Valve released an update to Team Fortress 2, adding a tribute to his voicework as the Soldier in the form of a new main menu theme (a rendition of Taps), as well as statues of the Soldier saluting, added to most of the official in-game maps. These statues all feature a commemorative plaque dedicated to May and lasted through the end of the month.[120]

Trading

In Team Fortress 2 players can trade with other users for items such as weapons, cosmetics, taunts, weapon skins, and utilities. Weapons and utilities can change and affect gameplay in different ways, the main being that some weapons have different stats than others and thus allow a different play style. Cosmetic items, on the other hand, do not change gameplay at all and simply change an in-game character's appearance.

In late 2011, the gaming site Kotaku reported that the Team Fortress 2's trading economy was worth over $50 million.[121] Additionally, many of the individual items have reached immense levels of real-world value, with one character hat in particular being sold for over AU$24,000 (over US$18,000).[122]

Third-party websites have been set up to help users trade, as well as track the value of the many in-game items within the Team Fortress 2 economy. Crate keys, crafting metal, and Earbuds (an in-game cosmetic item) have all been used as currency for other items such as weapons, cosmetics, and taunts due to their values.[123]

On July 25, 2019, a bug was accidentally left in an update for the game that guaranteed players an unusual hat, one of the rarest types of items in the game that a user would normally have a 1% chance of getting if they unboxed a crate, if they unboxed certain older series of crates. This damaged the in-game economy, causing unusual hats able to be unboxed from these crates to drop tremendously in value. The incident has been nicknamed "The Crate Depression" by fans, as a pun on "crate" and the Great Depression. Valve patched this bug the next day, as well as temporarily blocking users who unboxed any unusual hats using the exploit from trading them. They later announced in an official statement on August 2, 2019 that the first unusual hat unboxed using the exploit by any user will become tradable, while any other unusual hats the user unboxed with the exploit would be permanently untradable and only usable by the user who unboxed them.[124][125][126][127]

Free-to-play

 
The logo for the in-game company, Mann Co.

On June 23, 2011, Valve announced that Team Fortress 2 would become free to play. Unique equipment including weapons and outfits would be available as microtransactions through the in-game store, tied through Steam.[128] Walker stated that Valve would continue to provide new features and items free.[128] Walker stated that Valve had learned that the more players Team Fortress 2 had, the more value it had for each player.[128]

The move came a week after Valve introduced several third-party free-to-play games to Steam and stated they were working on a new free-to-play game.[129] Within nine months of becoming free to play, Valve reported that revenue from Team Fortress 2 had increased by a factor of twelve.[130]

Marketing

 
Valve released promotional videos introducing the in-game characters. Shown here is the Scout's video.

To promote the game, Valve released a ten-video advertisement series, "Meet the Team", starting in May 2007. Constructed using Source Filmmaker and using slightly more detailed character models, the series consists of short videos on individual characters, displaying their personalities and tactics. The videos are usually interspersed with clips of the character in combat in the game. The manners which these are presented have varied drastically: the first installment, "Meet the Heavy", depicted an interview with the gun-obsessed Russian,[43] while "Meet the Soldier" showed the Soldier giving a misinformed lecture on Sun Tzu, a master combatant who supposedly "invented [fighting]" (a story further confused with the story of Noah and his Ark) to a collection of severed heads as if to raw recruits.[39] The videos were generally released through Valve's official YouTube channels, though in one notable exception, the "Meet the Spy" video was leaked onto YouTube, several days before its intended release.[131][132]

Earlier "Meet the Team" videos were based on the audition scripts used for the voice actors for each of the classes; the "Meet the Heavy" script is nearly word-for-word a copy of the Heavy's script. More recent videos, such as "Meet the Sniper", contain more original material.[133] The videos have been used by Valve to help improve the technology for the game, specifically improving the facial animations, as well as a source of new gameplay elements, such as the Heavy's "Sandvich" or the Sniper's "Jarate".[133] The final video in the Meet the Team series, "Meet the Pyro", was released on June 27, 2012.[134][135] Newell has stated that Valve is using the "Meet the Team" shorts as a means of exploring the possibilities of making feature film movies themselves. He believes that only game developers themselves have the ability to bring the interesting parts of a game to a film, and suggested that this would be the only manner through which a Half-Life-based movie would be made.[136] A fifteen-minute short, "Expiration Date", was released on June 17, 2014.[137] The shorts were made using Source Filmmaker, which was officially released and has been in open beta as of July 11, 2012.[138]

In more recent major updates to the game, Valve has presented teaser images and online comic books that expand the fictional history of the Team Fortress 2, as part of the expansion of the "cross-media property", according to Newell.[139] In August 2009, Valve brought aboard American comic writer Michael Avon Oeming to teach Valve "about what it means to have a character and do character development in a comic format, how you do storytelling".[139] "Loose Canon", a comic associated with the Engineer Update, establishes the history of RED versus BLU as a result of the last will and testament of Zepheniah Mann in 1890, forcing his two bickering sons Blutarch and Redmond to vie for control of Zepheniah's lands between them; both have engineered ways of maintaining their mortality to the present, waiting to outlast the other while employing separate forces to try to wrest control of the land.[140] This and other comics also establish other background characters such as Saxton Hale, the CEO of Mann Co., the company that provides the weapons for the two sides and was bequeathed to one of Hale's ancestors by Zepheniah, and the Administrator, the game's announcer, that watches over, encourages the RED/BLU conflict, and keeps each side from winning.[141] The collected comics were published by Dark Horse Comics in Valve Presents: The Sacrifice and Other Steam-Powered Stories, a volume along with other comics created by Valve for Portal 2 and Left 4 Dead, and released in November 2011.[142] Cumulative details in updates both in-game and on Valve's sites from 2010 through 2012 were part of a larger alternate reality game preceding the reveal of the Mann vs. Machine mode, which was revealed as a co-op mode on August 15, 2012.[89][143][144]

Valve had provided other promotions to draw players into the game. Valve has held weekends of free play for Team Fortress 2 before the game was made free-to-play.[145] Through various updates, hats and accessories can be worn by any of the classes, giving players an ability to customize the look of their character, and extremely rare hats named "Unusuals" have particle effects attached to it are and are only obtainable through opening "crates" or trading with other players. New weapons were added in updates to allow the player to choose a loadout and play style that best suits them.

Hats and weapons can be gained as a random drop, through the crafting/trading systems, or via cross-promotion: Limited-edition hats and weapons have been awarded for pre-ordering or gaining Achievements in other content from Steam, both from Valve (such as Left 4 Dead 2[146][147] and Alien Swarm) or other third-party games such as Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse, Worms Reloaded, Killing Floor, or Poker Night at the Inventory (which features the Heavy class as a character). According to Robin Walker, Valve introduced these additional hats as an indirect means for players to show status within the game or their affiliation with another game series simply by visual appearance.[148]

The Red Pyro, Heavy, and Spy all function as a single playable character in the PC release of Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed.[149]

The game's first television ad premiered during the first episode of the fifth season of The Venture Bros. in June 2013, featuring in-game accessories that were created with the help of Adult Swim.[150]

Reception

Reception
Aggregate score
AggregatorScore
Metacritic92/100[151]
Review scores
PublicationScore
1Up.comA[152]
Eurogamer9/10[153]
GameSpot8.5/10[154]
GameSpy     [155]
GamesRadar+     [156]
IGN8.9/10[6]
PC Gamer (US)94%[8]
GameDaily9/10[7]
Awards
PublicationAward
IGNBest Artistic Design (2007)
1UP.com
  • Best Multiplayer Experience (2007)
  • Best Artistic Direction (2007)
GameSpy
  • Best Multiplayer Game of the Year (2007)
  • Most Unique Art Style (2007)

Team Fortress 2 received widespread critical acclaim, with overall scores of 92/100 "universal acclaim" on Metacritic.[151] Many reviewers praised the cartoon-styled graphics, and the resulting light-hearted gameplay,[7] and the use of distinct personalities and appearances for the classes impressed a number of critics, with PC Gamer UK stating that "until now multiplayer games just haven't had it".[8] Similarly, the game modes were received well, GamePro described the settings as focusing "on just simple fun",[157] while several reviewers praised Valve for the map "Hydro" and its attempts to create a game mode with variety in each map.[6][8] Additional praise was bestowed on the game's level design, game balance and teamwork promotion.[5] Team Fortress 2 has received several awards individually for its multiplayer gameplay[158][159] and its graphical style,[160][161][162] as well as having received a number of "game of the year" awards as part of The Orange Box.[163][164]

Although Team Fortress 2 was well received, its removal of class-specific grenades, a feature of previous Team Fortress incarnations, was controversial amongst reviewers. IGN expressed some disappointment over this,[6] while conversely, PC Gamer UK approved, stating "grenades have been removed entirely—thank God".[8] Some further criticism came over a variety of issues, such as the lack of extra content such as bots[6] (although Valve has since added bots in an update[165]), problems of players finding their way around maps due to the lack of a minimap, and some criticism of the Medic class being too passive and repetitive in his nature.[8] The Medic class has since been re-tooled by Valve, giving it new unlockable weapons and abilities.

With the "Gold Rush Update" in April 2008, Valve had started to add fundamentals of character customization through unlockable weapons for each class, which continued in subsequent updates, most notably the "Sniper vs. Spy Update" in April 2009, which introduced unlockable cosmetic items into the game. Further updates expanded the number of weapons and cosmetics available, but also introduced monetization options, eventually allowing it to go free-to-play. To this end, Team Fortress 2 is considered one of the first games to offer games as a service which would become more prevalent in the 2010s.[166]

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