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Team Fortress 2 Returns with a Summer Update

“Good news! We’re not dying! We are going to live forever!” -The Solider.

Red and Blue grills cookng rockets and grenades. Text reads "Team Fortress 2, Summer 2023 update now available
Credit: Valve

The classic shooter, Team Fortress 2 returns to relevancy with a highly anticipated new content update!

The Stagnant Shooter

Team Fortress 2 is a game that launched all the way back in 2007 in Valve’s Orange Box. The First Person shooter received constant updates for the majority of it’s life, adding in new maps, game modes, weapons, and of course, cosmetics. However all that stopped in 2017 with the release of the Jungle Inferno update. Jungle Inferno added new weapons to TF2 for the last time. While the game would regularly receive new maps and cosmetics around Halloween, Summer, and Winter, those are not “major” updates. Jungle Inferno was the last Major update the game would receive.

The 5-Year Drought

That is how Team Fortress 2 would remain for five years. The annual seasonal updates, the sparse balance patch, and nothing else. The game remained stagnant until the annual update seasons. Despite the lack of new content, the game remained popular, with a dedicated and passionate player base. In the five year content gap, fans produced animations, custom maps and weapons, and countless memes. The fans made their best efforts to keep the game alive when Valve did not. For a time, this worked, that is, until the robots invaded.

Mann Vs Machine

Since its inception Team Fortress 2 has had issues with cheaters, as do most Online multiplayer games. However, around 2020, once the pandemic hit, and millions were forced to stay inside, many online games saw a spike in popularity. This made many trolls and all-around spoilers of fun very upset. In 2020, hacker bots flooded the official TF2 servers. The bots would play as the sniper class and instantly headshot any player who stepped into their sightline. These bots would often spam offensive songs in the voice chat and flood the text chat with slurs. Valve did very little to combat this invasion of bots save for muting free-to-play accounts. However, the bot accounts would simply spend the minimum amount of money in the store to circumvent this restriction. With the lack of updates and a flood of bots, many thought this was the end of Team Fortress 2.

Several Snipers wearing the same hat pointing their rifles at the sky
A Team of Sniper Bots. Image Credit: Valve

A Light in the Darkness.

In February of 2023, the Team Fortress 2 website was updated for the first time in three years. A new blog post blessed the website announcing a new update in the summer season. This post was also a call to action for community creators to get to work on submissions for the coming update. This is the first time Valve gave creators an announcement of new cosmetics, maps, and weapon skins. Valve’s initial announcement said that they would ship an “update-sized-update,” but they quickly changed it to a “holiday-sized update” This dashed the hopes of many fans for a return to form with major content updates. Regardless, players waited with bated breath for the update to drop.

The Summer Surprise

On July 12, 2023, valve released the TF2 summer update, giving no warning they planned to update the game. Fans rejoiced, and players logged on to enjoy all the new content. The Steam analytics showed that at the time of the update’s release, Team Fortress 2 had its highest concurrent player count to date. 253,225 players were online at once, beating June 2021’s player peak of 150,037. This seemingly random, holiday-sized update had brought in numbers, unlike anything the game had ever seen. Even the last major update, Jungle Inferno, only had a peak of 97,248. Player numbers are one thing, but what content got players so excited?

Summer Content

The seasonal update included the usual cosmetic and war paint crate. In recent years, players have been disappointed with the war paint crates. Many thought the designs were too flashy and gaudy, or even clashed with Team Fortress 2’s established art style. These new war paints have been praised by the community. Many of them are much more subtle than the war paints of old and mesh with the game’s style much better. The players were pleased with the cosmetics from this update as well. Some standouts are the “Brothers in Blues”, an all-class hat that references The Blues Brothers, and the “Flame Warrior” for Pyro which references Avatar: The Last Airbender. Though, this update added some things previously unheard of in a seasonal update.

The New Maps

The Summer update added fourteen new maps. Two new King of the Hill maps, three Attack/Defend maps, and three Payload Maps. This update also added a new Player Destruction map, a heavily underrepresented game mode, often being exclusive to holiday maps. This new Player Destruction map also includes a very popular new element, an adorable seal! The goal of this map is to eliminate enemies and feed the fish they drop to the seal.

A curious player observing the Seal. Image Credit: Valve.

The final four maps are something special, as they aren’t for any existing game mode. These maps are for a brand-new game mode introduced in this update.

The Summer Saxton

Introduced in this new update is the new game mode Versus Saxton Hale. For avid players, this may sound familiar. Versus Saxton Hale was an exceedingly popular community game mode. This mode sees a team of up to thirty players facing off against the character Saxton Hale, controlled by another player. It is essentially a multiplayer boss fight. This mode was very popular on community servers, but has not been implemented into the official game mode selection with its own selection of maps. However, this mode was riddled with bugs at launch and was disabled for a time but is currently fully functional.

Hope for the Future

Many players hope that Valve, seeing the increase in player numbers and sales from the new crates, will give TF2 the attention it has been lacking for so long. Some speculate that Valve will port TF2 to the new Source 2 engine like they did with Counter-Strike Go. TF2, being a game from 2007, is running on the original source engine from 2004. While not a bad game engine by any means, it is beginning to show its age. Hopefully, this update will signify a drastic change in the game going forward.

JD In a Dig Dug Shirt with a Mothman Pin doing a thumbs Up
Written By

I am a graduate of University of North Carolina Greensboro. I am quite proud of my fiction and poetry, and I have been published several times.

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