Sniper Update Day 3: Things Get Mysterious

Is there something in the Spy's hand?

Valve seem to be messing with us. As the Sniper update rolls out, suspicious things have been happening. Suspicious, sneaky, back-stabby things. Spy-like things. Yesterday saw the reveal of a new game mode (the one hinted at in the background during the Scout update), the Payload Race. Two carts, one per team, uphill. Today brings us the Sniper’s second unlockable – the Razorback – a “tribal shield” wired up to a battery, designed to protect the Sniper from being backstabbed by Spies. But it gets weirder.

The rivalry between Sniper and Spy is one of TF2’s most passionate, and giving the Sniper an anti-backstab device is going to infuriate Spy players. Sending 10,000 volts through the knife into anyone who should try a backstab, it’ll also make the blade too hot to use for a short while. Which is a good job, since the shield can only withstand one stab before breaking into bits.

But then a funny thing happened. It’s controversial, various Steam forumites absolutely adamant the whole thing is a hoax perpetrated by a photoshopping mischievous few, but a number of people are reporting (and posting screen grabs as proof) that for about ten minutes earlier today, a Spy appeared behind the Sniper on the update page. You can see the full thing here.

4 realz?

The hot hot speculation on the Valve forums is that the Sniper update may well be concealing a potential simultaneous Spy update. Because if the Spy is uncloaking behind the Sniper, then perhaps the dead Spy body on the ground is a feigned death decoy type thing. Well, I dunno. Two Spies makes more sense. But then, why would Valve have performed this peculiar act? If they did. It’s tempting to assume fakery. Or that Valve are deliberately messing with people. They’re like that. (Update: The Spy appeared again, this time the full length of his body, but still as if coming out of cloak. Something’s definitely up.)

Also of note are the new Arena maps announced yesterday. Not fan made, but by Valve themselves. The first is Sawmill, which will be the first TF2 map to feature interfering weather: rain. Another sneaky Spy mention appears here, with the information that the central cap point is above “a hidden undergroung spytech base”. There’s also a couple of spinning saw blades making the cap point all the more dangerous.

Second is Nucleus, which is described as “A diabolical doomsday device is the foundation of this circular arena map, which features long sightlines and a bottomless radioactive pit underneath most of the game area. The cap, located in the center of the arena, is only accessible by catwalks suspended over a chasm, which open after the timer has run down.”

So, is there a secret Spy update in the works too? Is there a reason why the usual main update page menu is absent, so we can’t see how many updates are planned? The Sniper’s new bits and pieces are expected to go live on Tuesday. Everything else is up in the air.


  1. vicx says:

    Aww I was hoping for something cooler. And poor spies; snipers are their favourite food.

  2. Mad Doc MacRae says:



  3. Bret says:

    People assume every update is a spy update, it seems.

    Same rumors circulated about the scout update.

  4. PaulMorel says:

    It makes a lot of sense to do both at once… and Gabe Newell does love to surprise his customers every once in a while (remember when STEAM was first released?).

  5. Griffinheart says:

    Sniper never has been my cup of tea, and these unlocks aren’t going to change that. Again, it’s probably because I just don’t like the class, but neither of the unlocks revealed so far excite me at all.

  6. Scott says:

    Also of note is the postcard that the Sniper writes to his mother on day 2. It’s been pointed out that it’s not very funny, and seems somewhat uncharacteristic of the Sniper, given how he talks to his parents in the Meet The Sniper video. Possibly written by the spy in order to maintain his cover?

  7. Sideath says:

    Please please please Valve let there be a simultaneous spy update. Then I will probably cry.

  8. subedii says:

    @ Mad Doc MacRae: No you’re not.

    You missed out the bit about how the “pure” console version is better. :P

    WRT this update, the shield protects from backstabs, but also apparently slows down the player wearing it. Whether it’s overpowered or not I guess comes down to how it’s tweaked I guess, and more importantly, whether the Spy can see if the victim has it or not in the first place.

    If the Spy can see it, they’ll just avoid that mark and go for someone else, meaning the Sniper’s lugging around a huge protective piece of gear at the expense of their secondary weapon, and having a slower movement speed, all to prevent the possibility of a backstab.

    Good snipers in general have learned to watch out for spies as well, so it’s a question of how useful it would be.

    All things considered, I think it’ll balance out. It definitely breaks the Spy – Sniper “relationship” when it’s in use, but cost to the sniper is that they become more vulnerable to other classes, especially Pyro’s and scouts.

    The Spy loses access to a potential target though if they’re carrying the shield, so I wonder how that’s going to be balanced out. Seems like this update is a raw deal for the Spy in particular, but then, we have no idea what future updates will bring for him either.

  9. Snuffy (the Evil) says:

    The Scout update was going to be a Spy update too, remember?

  10. Vinraith says:

    I suspect people are just wishfully thinking, but it’d be nice to see a spy update go live along with this. Snipers are, IMO, the most infuriating class in the entire game and having a rash of them to deal with is reason enough to avoid playing for a few months unless there’s something to counter them.

  11. Hybrid says:

    hey on the postcard it says “PPS- Actually just tell him i AM a doctor right now”…… the spy cloaked as Medic maybe?? that supports your theory Scott.

  12. Larington says:

    I miss the days when TFC was the big thing . Good times. I actually enjoyed being an engineer back then.

  13. Shadowmancer says:

    The shield makes the sniper slower and has only one use so it is balanced out, plus spies could just shoot or face stab the sniper instead.

  14. Rich_P says:

    Also of note is the postcard that the Sniper writes to his mother on day 2.

    The Abe Lincoln quotes + America’s Pits postage stamp = genius

  15. Sam C says:

    The update is a spy!

  16. Joe says:

    The Spy on the floor has a bronze pistol too…

  17. Rotter Darned says:

    While a fan of Valve since buying HL when it was released, I admit that where TF TF2’s concerned, I’m not a fan. The HL HL2 series and mods, Portal and L4D – all are pure dynamite. But the TF TF2 games – forgive me if this is blasphemous to any – bore the heck of me. In the bigger picture, I hope the day comes when Valve delivers us some new writing styles – tales of glory, intrigue, R-rated cutting-edge AI and “true novels of 3D gaming greatness.”

    I don’t ask them to copy other houses’ styles of greatness – most recently, 2K’s “Bioshock” or Beth’s “Fallout 3” – but Valve’s own take on this sort of thematic, evolving, addictive novels-in-3D gaming would be dynamite! Just sayin’.

  18. LemmingLord says:

    While I adore Valve for their dedication to this game, with every update, I find myself looking for a way to go back to before the spinning sawblades, ranged melee weapons, and hard class counters. I love some of what they’re doing, but it’s all getting a bit away from the game that shipped with a handful of maps but some of the best balance in the industry.

  19. WK says:


    Holy poop, you just might be right: check out the last two lines of that postcard.

    PS – Tell him I make more money than a doctor.
    PPS – Actually, just tell him I AM a doctor now.

  20. amesace says:

    i think you guys might be reading too much into the doctor line on the postcard

  21. Verdugo says:

    I only think that the doctor thing on the postcard is just Valve’s subtle way of saying “MEET THE MEDIC IS NEXT GUYS.” Eh.

  22. unique_identifier says:

    if this replaces the sniper’s smg & slows him down, the spy will be able to merrily outshoot him at closer ranges, provided he doesn’t completely stuff it up.

    as spy, you can usually outshoot snipers with the revolver from close range anyhow, considering you get the first 1 or 2 shots for free, before they unscope and come after you..

  23. Lollerskater says:

    So… no one interested in the map that is shown in the background of the Razorback announcement?

    Can’t say I’ve seen that particular map before…

  24. alastor says:

    while i doubt that it would happen a dual update would be amazing.

  25. Shadowmancer says:

    @ Lollerskater
    Its the payload race map, there are two tracks in the background.

  26. Digit says:

    The whole X Update is the Spy Update thing started with the scout update, and just needs to die already. The game is promptly circling the drain in my estimation, I stopped playing a few weeks ago and haven’t felt the urge to touch it again and this ridiculousness with the sniper unlocks only serves to seal the deal.

  27. Awcko says:

    Whoa, the Spy just showed up on the page again, this time as if his cloak had been disrupted.

  28. Rich_P says:

    The whole X Update is the Spy Update thing started with the scout update, and just needs to die already.

    It could be that Valve’s playing into that meme. Wouldn’t be the first time. (See the MMO patch note Easter egg.)

  29. Russ says:

    I wish Left4Dead got the same response to updates as TF2.

    I’m talking about ragequitters, of course.

  30. James T says:

    Do people like Arena mode? The game just doesn’t seem built for it, to me; I haven’t played TF2 in a little while, but I was always relieved when the server I was on finally moved back onto a real game mode.

    (Do I really need to point out that “tell him I am a doctor” is there because his dad doesn’t like his line of work? Christ.)

  31. Persus-9 says:

    @ James T: I like arena mode, I find it more relaxing because of the frequent breaks and lack of any real objective apart from ‘kill them all’. However in my opinion it has no place on a normal map rotation because it’s too different from the other game types and you have to be in the mood for one or the other.

    Same with CTF actually, I love a bit of 2Fort of Turbine but I often find myself quiting when a primarily CP and PL server (like the RPS one) moves round to CTF.

  32. Noc says:

    Things to note:

    A) The sniper seems to be wearing something brown and rectangular on his back. (If it’s not part of the environment.) I am not sure if this is usual, but it would amuse me if the Sniper’s replacement melee weapon was a board with a nail in it.

    B) The postcard isn’t actually signed.

    C) I am liking the Abraham Lincoln quotes.

  33. Banderbeak says:

    Wow, even this place has been duped, must be a slow day…

    Sadly, whenever an update is announced, people go into photoshoping mode and go crazy with the spy.

  34. Anonymous says:

    Noc, the thing on his back is his rifle holster which he’s always had.

  35. Noc says:

    Ah, right. Thanks.

  36. ReturnToNull says:

    I’m really not sure how people think it’s a raw deal for the spy. I think it’s a poor deal for the Sniper… they get a pretty useless unlock in exchange for most likely their SMG. While the spy just has to walk up and revolver them instead.

    And yeah. I’m not terribly convinced of the spy nonsense, particularly when it looks like it was pulled from the old oooooold class trailer.

  37. Pattom says:

    Somehow, I get the impression that Meet the Spy will be released with the Sniper Update. I don’t think Valve would surprise people with completely unannounced content: they know people love to speculate over that information, or at least work the rage out of their systems. And it’s been a while since a new Meet the Team video was released, which is bizarre since everybody loves them.

  38. The right to arm bears says:

    (Insert obligatory joke about being backstabbed should there be no spy update here)

    But seriously, think of the glorious chaos that would be a simultaneous sniper and spy update. Also think about how both of those are the loner, don’t-really-play-well-with-others sorts of classes. When was the last time you were on a team made of half snipers and half spies? Oh yeah, last night. =P

  39. TheSombreroKid says:

    the rectangle on his back is hs quill is’t it? it’s got a colourful bit at the bottom.

    Edit: & the pages image is missing just now, like they’re swapping it out or something…

  40. Real Horrorshow says:

    Dude…anti back stab shield? Really?

    Unnnnnh. This is too ridiculous now. I’m done. Fuck this game until there’s a no unlocks server option.

  41. Psychopomp says:

    I think you people are forgetting that the SMG itself is useless, you’re better off just pulling out your kukri.

  42. Captain Haplo says:

    The shield seems to be in good standing with the theme of the Sniper. He’s obviously done a lot of travelling in his time, and he’s fond of Macgyvering things together.

    As a man who plays Spy as a primary choice, I welcome this. It gives the Sniper at least a fighting chance, to drop the scope and pull out his backup weapon.

    I think the real worry spies might have is that attacking the shield will drop our disguise, which is not something you’d like in a crowded enemy base. So depending on where the sniper is, it can be a deadly or at the least, useful item.

  43. J. Prevost says:

    It’s also always possible that this is the melee weapon replacement and not the SMG replacement.

  44. Lesley says:

    People are heavily underestimating the spy revolver, as it can easily pick off enemies in the distance with a couple of well-placed shots. Doing so can be quite frustrating for your enemy, to be revolver’d(?) by a distant spy…

  45. Tei says:

    I just want to say how good are the update information. These Valve guys are beyond good, in godlike territory. Thanks and good work!.

  46. Dave says:

    Has anyone noticed how at the picture presented here of the sniper holding the board the cap point in the background. There’s a train track leading to it and it’s labeled “B”.

    Perhaps a combination of both CP and Payload?

    /Was I first to notice this? :P

  47. Captain Haplo says:


    Yeah. The revolver would be my choice for a shielded sniper. Six quick shots should be able to deal with them quite well.

  48. Namos says:

    I’m just going to ask what happens if you jump into water with that strapped to your back.
    Heck, does the rain douse out the pyro’s flames?
    Too many unknowns…

  49. Rosti says:

    This really doesn’t look like a weapon model to me. There’s something off about the way today’s update is being presented, really.

  50. Sam says:

    Oh come on… people went crazy saying that the scout update was the spy update in disguise. They do love conspiracy theories. I bet Valve were laughing their arses off about that, so they’ve decided to have a little joke just to see what happens.