Sniper.. Spy.. What?

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There are a few reasons why I love Team Fortress 2.  One being that Valve is such a cool company.  Okay, sure, they tend to fuck up every now and then whenever they update the game, and end up breaking some other aspect of the game, and having to do an emergency patch to fix things.  But that is forgivable if you really get to know them and follow the community.

TF2 is a work in progress, like many Valve games.  The thing about Valve is that their updates are free, unlike other companies which make you pay for extra content (or pay to actually play the game).  TF2 has nine classes which you can play, with rumors of a tenth class which will be revealed down the way.  Over the last year or so, Valve has been releasing periodic updates which expand the capabilities of specific classes.  This started out with the Pyro update, and then the Medic update, and the Heavy update.  The Scout update was the most recent and in some aspects kind of dissapointing.

Every time a class gets updated, Valve will post information about the new class weapons and such on their blog.  Usually they will tease us by releasing this information over the course of a week, letting one item or piece of information slip each day.  Every time this has happened, there has been a crowd of people on the TF2 forums who would speculate that the update is actually a Spy update, and Valve would reveal that the update character in the teasers was actually a disguised Spy.

Well it seem that these conspiracy therorists were right...  at least 20% of the time.   There is supposed to be an update coming out on the 19th of May which was going to be the sniper update.  The Sniper is getting some new weapons, like the Longbow, and the Razorback Shield.  As well as the speculated Jarate from the April Fools 'joke' - although Valve has not confirmed or denied this at this point.

There seemed to be a theme through all of this however.  Jarate, and the Razorback Shield are both very effective anti Spy weapons.  So started the Spy update crowd.  Well as it turns out, yesterday, May 15th, Valve shocked the world by letting the Spy backstab and sap the Sniper update.  They also unveiled 2 new Spy unlockables; The "Dead Ringer" Spy watch, and "The Cloak and Dagger" Spy watch.  They also pushed the Spy update back to May 21st.

The Dead Ringer is a throw back to the Original Team Fortress game, where spies could drop corpses of themselves to confuse the enemy into thinking they killed the spy.  The Dead Ringer will automatically drop a corpse of the spy if he takes a non lethal hit of damage.  At the same time it will instansly cloak the spy, and also place a false kill message in the top right corner of the screen.  My theory is that since this device is passive, it will likely replace the Spy's Revolver.  Since Spies will, or should still have the ability to cloak whenever they wish, and this device does not allow spies to choose when to cloak.  But it is very possible that there will just be 2 new watches, and the Spy can choose which one to wear, with the Dead Ringer, providing a little more security, but giving up the ability to cloak whenever you want.

The Cloak and Dagger is a Spy watch, which is similar to the original spy watch, but instead of being able to replenish your cloak using metal, it will only replenish if you are standing still.

Valve has confirmed that both updates will happen at the same time.  So the Snipers and Spies are both happy.  Another thing that is kind of driving people crazy is that Valve has all but denied that the Pyro is a female.  In Yesterdays update posting, the original text was "Holy hell. All those conspiracy theorists on the TF forum couldn't have been right all along, could they? When the Pyro hears about this she'll be inconsolable." This goes along with another Quote from Robin Walker, one of the lead designers of the game, which states "The Pyro is the focus on the next pack. We're making some significant changes to the base Pyro class & weaponry, in addition to the three unlockables and thirty-five achievements. We've never been terribly happy with the Pyro, in particular with her shallower skill curve than other combat classes..." .  Valve removed the 'she'll' part of the original post on the teamfortress.com blog about 20 minutes after it was posted - only creating more mystery.

But that is what Valve will do, they will hint at things, and then sit back and watch the community troll their forums and argue about conspiracy theories and all that, while Valve sits back, and laughs.

What will we expect in the next 4 days left until the update?  Well I suspect that the knife replacment will likely be a Garrote or something which will allow the spy to silently kill someone, while they remain disguised.  However I imagine it will freeze the spy in place, and take a good 5 to 10 seconds to actually kill the target.  This will mean that targets will have to be able to call for help quickly and ensure their not far away from team mates.  Other possibilities, would be a knife which would perhaps deal more damage, yet you wont get backstabs anymore?  Or perhaps a DoT type weapon, like a needle, which the spies could use while disguised, which would slowly kill a target unless they get to a health pack, or medic.  In fact the more I think about it, the more this sounds like something that would be realistic.

I honestly believe that the Jarate is part of the Sniper update...  But we shall see.