It's no secret that the Team Fortress series has been a massive success. In recent years, Team Fortress 2 has evolved from being a basic multiple-class shooter, to a complex free-to-play game with more accessories than a fashion student. With many pondering as to when or even whether the next game in the series will be released, I take a look at why you shouldn’t expect a sequel for Team Fortress 2 anytime soon.
Few will be aware of the original Team Fortress game due to the huge success of the second game and to be honest, I had to look a few bits up myself. Released back in 1999, Team Fortress Classic was based on a mod from one of Quake's multiplayer modes, Team Fortress. Due to its huge success, the mod's developers (Robin Walker and John Cook) wanted to create a standalone game called Team Fortress 2. Valve cut straight to the chase and hired the original team to make the mod into a port of their game, Half Life, using the Goldsrc engine. In April 1999, Team Fortress Classic was released and became the first game to use that same original Half Life engine.
There are plenty of similarities in both Team Fortress Classic and the later Team Fortress 2. Two teams, red vs. blue and the same character classes were present in TFC and in TF2, with each restricted to specific weapon sets and a mix of each individual class key to team success. Unsurprisingly, you wouldn't recognise the looks of the characters from Classic to present day TF2, weapons included. The Soldier could originally wield nail bombs, Scouts shot nail guns and dropped caltrops to slow enemies down and the Spy could do the same with a tranquiliser gun. There were a limited amount of game modes including your usual Team Deathmatch and Control Point modes but one unusual Hunted mode. One human-controlled player would play as the low-health, poorly equipped VIP Civilian class with the ally team trying to protect the VIP as either Soldier, Heavy or Medic class whilst escorting them to the control point. The enemy team's goal was of course attempting to assassinate the VIP, solely using the Sniper Class.
The general game mechanics have clearly been moved into the global success of Team Fortress 2 apart from the aforementioned Hunted mode but it's no doubt been something people have talked about. Although player mods of the gametype do exist in TF2, the official game mode seems missing - or is it? Payload mode in Team Fortress 2 works essentially the same way, with one team trying to destroy the point and the other trying to defend it and is probably why the potentially problematic selection of a random, maybe underprepared public player with high likelihood of swift destruction, was omitted. Funnily enough however, unused screams that would have been attributed to the Civilian class can be found within TF2's game files, indicating a possible change of mind from the developers at the last minute or even scope for a later update, however unlikely the latter may be.
Over the years since the launch of Team Fortress 2, the amount of fundamental changes that have taken place are almost uncountable. Hats were a huge edition to the game bringing with it a collecting frenzy, as well as introducing Crafting, allowing players to turn their unused items into potentially rarer weapons and equipment. Crafting, a trend normally attributed to RPGs seemed very convoluted, especially to the novice TF2 player and was plainly ignored by many players. The most prominent of all the changes however, was the change from a paid to free-to-play title. The announcement made by Valve in mid-2011 made the game available to everyone with Steam, giving Premium accounts to players who already purchased the game before release or bought something in-game post-transition. Through the vast amount of title updates since the game's release you would hardly recognise it from the original chassis that was TF2 but alas, that's the glorious fate of modern day games.
It's hard to see where Team Fortress can evolve knowing what has come before it. There isn't a sniff of a sequel in the works and why should there be? The characters in Team Fortress 2 are some of the most recognisable in the entire videogame world, even with those unfamiliar to the game. The 'Meet The...' videos for each and every playable character in the game, bring an entirely different perspective of the characters in TF2, which only intensifies the humour and soul that every single character possesses without a single weak link. On top of this, the fandom around the franchise is nothing short of terrific thanks to the help of Garry's Mod, Source Filmmaker and of course YouTube.
Which begs the question: How can Valve top Team Fortress 2? There is no fathomable way that they can outdo what has already been. The characters alone are so iconic that ignoring them in a sequel would be unsatisfactory to the majority fanbase. Yet, bringing them forward into a new game could be considered lazy and uninspired if matched with low gameplay progression. Left 4 Dead had a relatively short lifespan before its sequel came onto the scene but even Louis, Bill, Francis and Zoe enlisted a similar shining to from the game's fans as in TF2. Left 4 Dead 2's characters? No such presence. Other than melee weapons and added special infected, L4D2 didn't bring an awful lot more to the table. This was further assured by bringing all previous maps and characters from the first game forward to Left 4 Dead 2.
A sequel is, however, inevitable; but I feel increasingly sorry to whoever will need to launch the game because it's going to be one hell of a job. One thing many need to understand is not to expect it anytime soon. Team Fortress 2 is still one of the most played games on Steam, with Valve making up to twelve times as much money now than when the game was a paid title and with weekly updates to the game, as minor as they may be, there seems no reason as yet to mutter sequel in near-future terms, especially before the release of Source Engine 2. Team Fortress Classic, remember, was a mod of Half Life. Can we expect to see the same timeline of releases when the Half Life 3-shaped silhouette finally comes forward out the shadows? It's unlikely, but we are talking about Valve here remember.
For a company that has an awful lot going for them at the moment, a sequel to Team Fortress will be low on the list of priorities. There's no reason Valve and the Team Fortress, err, team, need to reinvent an entire game that is still making them a huge amount of money. You could argue that Team Fortress 2 is actually future proof and doesn't need a sequel; it looks good, it plays great, it's on the most versatile platform available and has already dazzled in the face of innovation by becoming one of the first games to support Oculus Rift. You could also argue that eventually FIFA will be future-proof if not already, but that doesn't stop EA making new retail copies of the game every year, and it doesn't stop videogame punters keeping it at the No.1 spot in the charts for weeks, never dropping out of the top 20 until September rolls around again. It's a grim reality that within every industry including videogames, with a few exceptions of course, the heads are fuelled by the lust and desire for dosh. However great the cry for a sequel is, it'll be a matter of time and convenience to them as to when Team Fortress 3 and indeed Half-Life 3 does get released.
Don't get me wrong, Valve aren't a greedy company but fandom and YouTube supercuts don't pay the bills. Valve's generosity has got them to where they are today. Giveaways, AAA free-to-play games and purse-luring sales are a credit to that fact, but just because people want a sequel, doesn't mean Valve will whip up a microwave cupcake of a game to please them. Okay, Half Life 3 is a little overdue and I fear it has the potential to get overhyped as Duke Nukem Forever did but at least things aren't being rushed. No launch date? No problem. I could delve into many other examples but you would be here all week reading this. My point is, no matter how long it takes, patience is a virtue when it comes to where Valve go next with Team Fortress. All we can do is play the BETAs when they are out, give a little feedback where necessary, cross our extremities and quote the infamous RuPaul in saying: "And, don't fuck it up."
As it stands, Team Fortress 2 is a quality game with little room or need for improvement or advancement. I'm sure some may disagree but these issues would be minor and wouldn't represent the greater perspective - no game is perfect. We all love Team Fortress and are very thankful to Robin, John and Valve for bringing such a quality, joyous, celebration of a series to our eyes. Genuinely, I feel many wouldn't be too upset if Team Fortress 3 never saw the light of day but when it does, and I'm sure it will, it should be welcomed with open arms. I mean, surely it couldn't be as great as Team Fortress 2, could it?