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?