Ro-busters: TF2’s New Co-Op Horde Mode Unveiled

Here we go! After years of speculation, Valve have finally taken the wraps off a recently-hinted new mode and third faction for their game of ratatatatatatatatatatatatatatatatatatatboomdead.

Mann vs Machine‘ brings a co-op horde mode to Team Fortress 2, as five players battle legions of robots shaped in the image of TF2’s familiar classes. They are the Gray Horde, and they’re there for you to kill in incredible numbers. “Band together to survive all of the robot waves in a variety of missions to earn incredible loot and unlock new achievements,” it says here. And you get to do that from August 15th. That being tomorrow. Here’s a trailer for the new mode. It is a good trailer. It has good music. It has a Heavy with a head of steel. It has the suggestion of an enormous foe. It has me thinking “this is probably a very smart way to get people (back) into the game who’ve been put off by the all-knowing frenzy of the devout playerbase.” It also has me thinking “AI officially in TF2? Someone’s going to do fascinating things with that, eh?”

A few more details and things to click on may be found here, and a breakdown of the robo-foes you’ll battle here. Giants! Also, something bigger than giants! Here’s a new map to ogle for you too. Oh yes, and there’s a second part of the utterly batshit Gray comic here. You may notice that the site also claims we’ll see ‘Day 2 – Mercs’ and ‘Day 3- Bounty’ in terms of info-fact-data-knowledge on MvM, so stay tuned I guess.

As of tomorrow, TF2 becomes a game about playing with friends rather than predominantly about killing friends. I guess the question is how fully-fledged this turns out to be – will it be a long-term game in its own right, or a fancy-pants training ground for the multiplayer main event? Most importantly, I guess, what manner of snazzy robotic hats will from yonder window break?


  1. tlarn says:

    There’s also a second comic when you scroll to the bottom of the page.

    EDIT: And the second part’s mentioned in the article proper, silly me! But damn am I excited.

    • JBantha says:

      “as five players battle legions of robots”
      Actually 6 players: ” Mann vs. Machine lets you and five friends fight a lethal horde of robots on new maps” from the video… and from the blog if you read a bit slower.
      Also: I wonder if my robot chicken hat is going to let me camouflage among the horde so I could blow up it’s energy source form inside the mother ship, thus saving Gravoo.

  2. westyfield says:

    a) The music sounds a bit Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds inspired. Anyone else get that?
    b) Two years of build-up? Don’t remember that, the first I heard of this rumour was the Source Film-maker update.

    • tlarn says:

      This update has been hinted at since the Engineer’s update in 2010. Here, this video catalogues it up to just before the news hit today. link to

      Back then, one of the theories was that the robot would be one of the Engineer’s new items, a robot he can build on the field.

      • cowardly says:

        link to From 2009.

        • Kollega says:

          Don’t you think Valve might have… you know… ADDED THIS TO THE UPDATE PAGE JUST YESTERDAY? If that was all the way from 2009, some fan would have found it long ago.

          • Fazer says:

            They already have found it years ago and speculated all along.

          • Xardas Kane says:

            That’s really what astonishes me about this whole thing. That it was going to be a horde mode I think was blatantly obvious the moment the clues started piling up, but the fact that they have been teasing this since 2009? And some say even earlier? I don’t know if I should be impressed by Valve or angry at them for taking 3 years to add a simple horde mode.

          • stupid_mcgee says:

            My guess is that they’ve been testing MvM off and on, but prioritizing their release schedule. Obviously, it would be nice to have Meet The Pyro before they go on and add a whole new game mode. Asides from Valve Time, they like to make sure things are done right before they release them. I have a feeling that’s why HL3 is taking so long. They want to make sure they get everything just right, and perfection usually takes time.

    • Fincher says:

      Reminded me more of the B-Movie flavour of sci-fi. Look at the Mars Attacks! soundtrack and compare.

    • LionsPhil says:

      I love the music. This is an excellent video. (I know! A good TF2 trailer. Who’d have thought?)

    • Sire says:

      Only me who thought of Ghosts ‘n Goblins when I heard the music in the end?
      Oh wait. That was 27 years ago.

  3. Radiant says:

    Shout out to cacofonix

  4. Clavus says:

    If I was ever dumped in a universe where they told me that this is the only game anyone ever plays, I’d still never get tired of it. Valve got me excited again.

  5. WoundedBum says:

    This is perfect for me, I never got into TF2 simply because I am bad at online FPS’ and I think I came to this too late. Something co-op to help me train up and play with friends sounds great.

    • tlarn says:

      There’s always the VS Saxton Hale Mod servers, those are always great fun when you don’t feel like being competitive.

      • WoundedBum says:

        Had no idea, I’m not very up to date with the TF2 scene :(

  6. Victuz says:

    Well I guess I know what I’ll be doing tomorrow.

  7. Skabooga says:

    “You got Left 4 Dead in my Team Fortress 2!” “You got TF2 in my L4D!”

    I joke, I’m pretty darn excited about this.

    • tlarn says:

      I’m sure people would be singing a completely different tune if it was zombies instead of robots.

    • Tom Walker says:

      “survive all of the robot waves”
      That sounds to me not so much like L4D as the multiplayer mode in Mass Effect 3. Which is brilliant, by the way, regardless of what anyone thinks about the story mode.

      I think it’s at least going to be somewhere in between, anyway. Surely they wouldn’t just make another L4D for the sake of having the TF2 characters in it…

      • Outright Villainy says:

        Sounds more like Killing floor than anything else really. It has 6 players, it has classes, you play in waves, there’s stronger larger enemy variants and a final boss, and you collect DOSH from kills to upgrade your kit. So yeah, it’s Killing floor with tf2 gameplay. I am very much okay with this.

        • ArthurBarnhouse says:

          This sounds like dozens of games really. Hoard mode is an established game type

  8. Solar says:

    The set up sounds similar to Left 4 dead survival mode, but now with five players, tf2 classes and weapons plus bombs and robots. The breakdown of machines (link to reads like an army of ‘special infected’.

    This is just fantastic however it turns out. Could modifying the AI from L4D and the bots they have already generated for training mode in tf2 be the source of this wonder co-op mode?

    Cant wait!

    • Magnusm1 says:

      So.. it’s not like L4D’s survival-mode.
      Reminds me quite a bit of Killing Floor though.

      • stupid_mcgee says:

        Seems more “tower defense” influenced than KF. Seems that you’re going to need to protect an area (the “bombhole”) from robots trying to bomb it. So, a Horde Defense kind of thing, I guess?

        I wonder if classes will be restricted. For example, only one of each class, and if we’ll be able to use Sniper, Pyro, or Spy. Seems like the enemies are preset with different types of Heavy, Scout, and Medic to contend with. As well as a walking naval-mine that takes out sentries.

  9. Vinraith says:

    I suppose it would be madness to hope that it scaled to player numbers smaller than 5. Why does Valve hate groups of 2 or 3 (Portal 2 excepted)?

    • Nevard says:

      Well it’s a 6 player mode (You + Five Friends) so maybe even 5 would be pushing it

    • Oak says:

      We all know why Valve hates groups of 3.

      • Vinraith says:

        There was a “whooshing” noise just now, as through something had flown right over my head.

        • woodsey says:

          Team Fortress 2
          Half-Life 2
          Half-Life 2: Episode Two
          Counter-Strike: Source
          Counter-Strike: GO
          Portal 2

          I suspect whatever it was that flew over your head may come back to smack you in it in a moment.

          • Timthos says:

            Don’t forget Left 4 Dead 2. And now they even have Dota 2.

          • Vinraith says:

            D’oh. I do believe I’ve been suitably smacked in the head, now.

          • woodsey says:

            To be fair, it’s not so much groups of 3 as it is the number 3. I half suspect the next HL will actually be Half-Life 4.

          • HothMonster says:

            Half-Life 1 the re-sequeling.

  10. somnolentsurfer says:

    Hang on, did they just announce Left 4 Dead mode for TF2?

    L4D3, so soon after L4D2? And it’s free to play??? Boycott!!

    • FriendlyFire says:

      Never call it Left 4 Dead “number after 2”, or they will come for you.

    • Namey says:

      L4D2 is already almost 3 years old. I think they could announce L4D*not three* at this point with minimal boycotting.

      Then again, this update seems to fill a very similar niche anyways. I suppose TF2 is a large enough of a cash cow that it’s profitable to fold the L4D-“genre” in to it.

    • ANeM says:

      You forget that Valve has two co-op series already. This could just as easily be “Alien Swarm” mode for TF2.

      Alternatively, and much more likely, it a new co-op mode befitting of the TF2 universe.

  11. Tei says:

    I am really happy that coop is finally well represented. Its the second best thing after killing your friends.

  12. Fatikis says:

    Mann vs. Machine is six player not five.
    ” Team Fortress 2 that lets you and five friends ”
    You+Five = Six.

    Also note the obvious six players in the introduction movie.

  13. Stochastic says:

    TF2 has had bots for a while now, but yes, it’ll be interesting to see how they make use of AI in the game.

    • The Random One says:

      Now with actual bots.

    • RaveTurned says:

      The thing about robot enemies in the actual lore is that they can get away with worse AI, because they’re not meant to be human.

  14. motherpuncher says:

    Reinstalling right now.

  15. Greggh says:

    This is probably going to be my gateway into the TF world… all that wonkyness is just tailored for a crazy bloke like meself.

    • Drayk says:

      Same here. I am not an amazing player in VS but I really like co-op. Will finally install TF2 I guess.

  16. JoeGuy says:

    They make the best freaking ads don’t they.
    Will definitely get me trying it, I was never much of “kill the other team” type of player. I like co-op though.

  17. Jerakal says:

    I guess I’ll be the first one to mention it.

    Did anyone notice that the robots seemed to be emerging from some sort of large watercraft?

    And that the map seems to be set in a very cold location?


    • Dominic White says:

      It’s actually a large tank. It’s been lurking in the backgrounds of some TF2 maps for a while now.

    • stupid_mcgee says:

      Next gamemode will be a hardcore submarine sim set in the arctic. You heard it here first!

  18. internisus says:

    Perhaps I shall finally learn to enjoy this game after all.

  19. Narbotic says:

    yup – after countless hours of ME3 multiplayer, this could finally get me to try TF2.

    I love a thing that forces/encourages all players involved to work together.

  20. Chubzdoomer says:

    When you see experiences like this, DayZ, and PlanetSide 2 on PC, then take a look at what consoles have, it’s hard not to laugh. DAMN, it’s a great time to be a PC gamer!

  21. Thermal Ions says:

    And to think I was just about to cancel the renewal on my TF2 server as I hardly use it these days, due to mainly play co-op games with a group of up to 5 friends. Damn you Valve, another hit to my pocket.

  22. Synesthesia says:

    i freaked out everyone at the office today, laughing at the comic, and now my neighbor probably thinks im crazy too. These guys make me happy. Like, objectively happy. Thank god this game exists!

  23. JackShandy says:

    I love how the lore still refuses to acknowledge the fact that the two teams of mercenaries are composed of identical doppelgängers.

    • Spengbab says:

      Arent the TF2 characters more like archetypes, just to be seen as a model? Soldier = stereotypical aggresive American, Spy = suave French, etc.

      Then again, it’d totally fit the TF2 world if they actually ARE identical characters and personalities.

      • stupid_mcgee says:

        I remember reading somewhere where the Demo mentions a school filled with one-eyed Scots, hinting that “Demoman school” was basically just full of clones of the same guy. The Heavy says something similar about a training camp in Russia full of other Heavys in Poker Night At The Inventory.

  24. CrookedLittleVein says:

    Well no one else has said it so I guess I will.


  25. Kevin says:

    Thought there’d be some kind of narratives where Red and Blue were fighting the robot hordes that were there to “take aer jobs.”

  26. noom says:

    SO! MUCH OIL!!

  27. Urthman says:

    I hope Kieron is paying attention, because along with giving away another amazing video game for free, Valve just fixed webcomics.

    The interface and the adding elements to the page is fantastic. I want every comic book to be like this from now on.

    • Outright Villainy says:

      Yes! I thought that was great, and it really allows for some nice pacing with speech bubbles and the like. More webcomic artists need to do this.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      In terms of this comic development, you want to look back to Balak’s one here. It’s the original text for this direction, really.

      Marvel have done a couple of comics in the format so far – if you google INFINITE COMICS you’ll find them. They were given away free with Avengers vs X-men 1 and 6, or can be bought for 99c each.

  28. neolith says:

    Okay, that’s it – I’m reinstalling TF2.

  29. Rinox says:

    This is so awesome. Unleash the machine horde!!

  30. coldvvvave says:

    I’m not hearing obligatory shouts “THEY ARE SPLITTING DA COMMUNITY”. What happened, guys?

    • LionsPhil says:

      TF2 is not a small game struggling to keep servers populated.

    • Asuron says:

      If its free how on earth could they be splitting the community with free content everyone can access? I mean as it is there’s tons of custom maps, servers and game modes with tons of people playing at all times so its not like any mode goes unnoticed.

      It’d be a very silly complaint if someone suggested that was the case honestly.

    • Dominic White says:

      You seem to misunderstand what ‘splitting the community’ means. It’s usually a reference to paid DLC, dividing the playerbase into Haves and Have-Nots, and servers into those running the DLC and those not. If a game is already struggling, this can kill a game off very quickly, as you’re reducing the number of viable servers available to any player at any given time.

      This is a completely free-for-everyone addition to a game with a massive and active community. Not only is it unlikely to split the community, but it’s more likely to bring in a wave of new people – those put off by the competitive-only nature of TF2.

  31. Skeletor68 says:

    Excellent news! I got into this game at the right time. See you all on Rock, Paper, Sandvich ;)

  32. Poppis says:

    Why Valve, why? I’ve already spent like a 1000 hours on this game…

  33. RogB says:

    ‘its a fight for your jobs’

    = each class’s performance will be monitored. at the end of a (undetermined) time, the poorest performing class gets shitcanned and replaced with a robot…

    …you never know.. ;-)

  34. comedy says:

    nice game
    buy wow account

  35. Isometric says:

    Anyone else notice that the sniper is missing in this video? What is he up to eh?

    • Keymonk says:

      Or the pyro missing, or the spy missing. It’s six characters specifically to point out that it’s a six-player game mode. :)

      • Isometric says:

        Ah yeah you are right I didn’t even notice that they were missing too. That makes a lot of sense now being only 5 players.

    • Magnusm1 says:

      “But I must defeat the robots!” said Sniper. “No Sniper, you are the robots.”

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      The spy could just be invisible. Or he could be… ANY. ONE. OF. THEM!!!

  36. Xardas Kane says:

    I suggest RPS starts working swiftly on breeding a horrific army of terror-dactyls to exact revenge upon those who have wronged the mighty platform that is the PC (all hail). First stop – UbiSoft.

    On a side note, was anyone else more excited about the trailer that would come with the announcement than the actual horde mode? I swear to God, a full-blown movie by Valve will be the best thing ever since the invention of Cheetos in 1948.

  37. absolofdoom says:

    If it’s TF2: Killing Floor edition, I can dig it.

  38. Mrs Columbo says:

    I loved Ro-busters when I was a kid. Anybody else here prefer Hammerstein’s original Starlord head?

  39. Enkinan says:

    Hell. Yes.

    The amount of content these guys are producing have pretty much made up for the horrible wait between TFC and TF2.

  40. Berious says:

    Oh hell yeah! Time to reinstall

  41. Aardvarkk says:

    It worked for Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer mode, I can’t get enough of it.

  42. psyk says:

    Sooooo when is this supposed to be getting released?