Team Fortress started as a Quake mod and was designed by Robin Walker, John Cook and Ian Caughley.
Team Fortress was a unique Quake mod upon release on August 24th 1996. Prior to Team Fortress, class-based gameplay was not common in FPS games. In standard multiplayer deathmatch modes players had the same skins and the same weapons to choose from. However, TF allowed players to choose vastly different classes for the first time.
Version 1 of TF was released for Quake with 5 classes: Scout, Sniper, Soldier, Demolitions Man and Medic. After 8 months all 9 classes had been added, according to the changelog. On December 22nd 1996 the mod was released for QuakeWorld, the official multiplayer-optimised version of Quake. This caused an explosion in popularity for the mod, with the TFC press release claiming that 40% of all QuakeWorld servers were dedicated to TF. This popularity lasted for approximately a year, with servers and players decreasing gradually after that. As of 2015, there are 17 QuakeWorld TF servers running.
By 2000 several modded versions of Team Fortress had been developed. MegaTF added sounds, crouching and the ability for each class to drop traps, among other things. CustomTF gave players the ability to purchase variously priced weapons, armour, leg speed, grenades and skills from a budget. This gives players the ability to have both a sniper rifle and a rocket launcher if desired, but not much money would be left over for armour or speed. Such mods has kept small pockets of players engaged for many years after the initial release of TF.
Team Fortress Classic (TFC)
The team behind Quake TF were working on a sequel, to be released for the Quake 2 engine. Valve hired the team and announced Team Fortress Classic: a version of the original Team Fortress mod that ran on Valve's own GoldSrc engine. It was released for free as a mod for Half-Life in April 1999 and later in 2003 as a standalone game available on Steam.
In 1998 Team Fortress 2: Brotherhood of Arms was announced to be released "soon", but it went through many major art, gameplay and design changes until it was finally released without the subtitle in October 2007 as part of The Orange Box available on PC, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.
- Unreal Fortress
- Unreal Fortress Evolution
- Q3F - a TF mod for Quake 3
- Quake 4 Fortress
- Fortress Forever - a TF mod for Half Life 2
The main feature of Team Fortress has always been the clearly defined and balanced classes. For example: the Soldier class has a rocket launcher and average movement speed, but the Scout class can move much faster and has less armour and fire-power. Players can go on the offence with classes like Soldier or Heavy Weapons Guy, or defence with the Sniper or Demolitions Man. Support classes are also available, like Medic or Engineer. Some players choose to play defensive classes offensively, or vice versa, which catches other players off guard and adds another layer of complexity to the gameplay.
After choosing a class, players choose a team. Two opposing sides, usually coloured red and blue, battle over multiple objectives on maps designed for the game. The most popular game mode has historically been capture the flag, but certain maps introduced original concepts like "protect the president" or "cross the border". Points are awarded for completing objectives. Once a time limit is reached, the team with the most points wins.
Quake TF Gameplay
One major feature from the early TF mods is grenades. In addition to a small selection of weapons, each class has one normal grenade and one special grenade, which varies depending on the class chosen. The Heavy Weapons Guy can throw an MIRV grenade, which explodes and disperses into 6 more grenades. The Scout has a concussion grenade which causes major knock-back plus a screen movement effect to anybody hit by the blast. The knock-back of the concussion grenade can also be used by the scout to boost his speed even further, and to reach high places. This sort of exploit, along with bunny hopping, is a hallmark of Quake TF gameplay.
Some other features of Quake TF gameplay include:
- The spy can feign death, hoping other players would ignore him
- Scouts can drop caltrops which hurt & slow players who walk on them
- The Demoman can set a detpack, which is a timed insta-kill explosion with a huge blast radius.
Players of the original mods found that the removal of grenades was the most noticeable change, apart from the new art style. Removing grenades gave each class more clearly defined logistical roles on the battlefield. For example, having removed the offensive capability of grenades, the scout was limited more to be simply the capturing class and the medic's focus was narrowed to healing team-mates rather than hurting enemies. Since then, the game has been updated with many more weapons and abilities, and players can customise classes in various ways.
The blue and red teams were given official names: BLU (Builders League United) and RED (Reliable Excavation Demolition), fictional construction companies battling it out according to an overblown and complex story. New game modes were created for TF2. Control Point sees teams competing to capturing control points, while Payload involves the BLU team slowly moving a bomb cart to a location in the RED team's base.
Effect of "Class Updates" and Free-to-Play
The three items of melee, secondary, and primary weapons (with notable exceptions) were maintained across both games but Team Fortress 2 in the modern age of DLC vividly defined what the series will surely be known for many years to come: unlockable, items, and the in-game economy. Each class has at this point in time received a "class update" which gives them three items to replace existing ones with emphasis on buffs and debuffs of the class acting less as overall upgrades more enhancements to play styles. In addition Valve has expanded the means with which players may obtain items including random drops determined by play length and a fully stocked store of in game weapons and accessories. The gameplay of "Team Fortress" can now more accurately be defined by customizable and specialized classes that are all balanced to play with and against each other to achieve a collective goal on a battlefield. Oh right, and hats. The new development of achievements, crafting, and item drops creates a dualistic gameplay in which a player pursues goals to benefit his/her teammates as well as their own. This means Team Fortress joins many other modern multiplayer games as a game of player incentives that can be added and modified to balance the classes and play styles being used.
The next initiative that followed the introduction of a trading, crafting, and item acquisition system was naturally an in-game store. The introduction of the Mann Co. store was announced alongside the fact that the game will be Free to Play, fully adopting many aspects of emerging new game economic models.
There are 9 main classes in team fortress. Civilian class can also be chosen in certain maps in certain versions of TF. The details of each class shown here will differ between versions of TF, and players can also choose to play a class differently than expected, so treat this as a broad overview:
The scout moves faster than any other class, but is only supplied with light armour and weak weapons. The scout is generally used to capture the flag or complete other objectives with limited scope for combat.
The sniper rifle is used to kill enemies at long range. The sniper's only other weapons are a knife and a small machine gun. The sniper has weak armour and average movement speed. The sniper is frequently used in defence, especially at choke points.
The soldier has a rocket launcher and strong armour. His movement speed is slower than average. In most iterations of TF the soldier can rocket jump to high places or across long gaps. To achieve this players can look at the ground, jump and fire the rocket launcher. This causes self-inflicted damage along with the required speed boost. The soldier is commonly used as an offensive class.
The demolitions man is equipped with a grenade launcher and a pipebomb launcher. Pipebombs can be laid on the ground and detonated at a time of the demoman's choosing.
In early versions of TF, pipebombs could coull and be bounced off walls like grenades. This gave players the ability to ricochet bombs round corners, or even detonate pipebombs in mid-air. Pipebombs became sticky bombs in TF2, and could not be detonated until a few moments after they were attached to a surface.
The medic has the ability to heal team mates, whether by using the healing axe (quake 1) medikit (TFC) or Medi Gun (TF2).
Before TF2, medics could infect enemy players. The infection would continue draining health until the player found a medic or died. The infection could be spread to team mates; almost every early TF faq advises players (in all-caps) not to visit their own respawn while infected.
Heavy Weapons Guy
The Heavy weapons guy (or HWguy for short) has a chaingun capable of causing massive damage to enemies. He has the strongest armour in the game, but moves slower than any other class.
The pyromaniac has a flame-thrower in every version of TF. Players continue to burn and lose health for a few seconds after being hit by flames, until they find water or a medic. The pyro usually has flame-retardant armour which reduces damage taken from enemy pyros.
The pyro can be used to check for spies, if friendly fire is turned off.
When introduced, the engineer was a major departure from the mechanics used in most first person shooters. The engineer has the ability to set up a free-standing sentry gun, which automatically shoots enemies within a certain distance.
Mods of TF added tesla coils and field generators to the engineer's repertoire - and even teleporters. These were added officially in TF2.
The spy has the ability to change his appearance, including team colour and class. While disguised, he can stab enemies from behind (causing an instant kill). In some versions of TF the spy can cause harm to the engineer's equipment, or feign death. The spy is usually used to infiltrate the enemy base and wreak havoc, especially with snipers.
According to this source, the spy was originally conceived due to a bug in early builds of TF. Players would sometimes show as the wrong colour, leading people to believe they were in a different team. The glitch was removed, but it gave the developers an idea for this new class.