Valve worked on Team Fortress 2 long enough that it had been several distinct games by the time it launched. The new mod Team Fortress 2 Classic calls back to one of those, blending the state of the game soon after launch with bits, aiming to offer "a re-imagining of the 2008-2009 era of the original Team Fortress 2". That means new (old) weapons, for starters, and they've made new maps and modes including VIP escort too.
As well as stripping out lots of the new weapons that have flooded TF2 over the past decade, TF2 Classic recreates elements that had been seen in beta builds. These include weapons like the Spy's Tranquilizer Gun and Scout's Nailgun and ooh I think I see the Heavy's big ol' cartoon muzzleflash.
Some bits are familiar from even further back. The TF2 Classic mod brings back VIP mode, where one player on Blu team plays a VIP armed with only an umbrella and the rest of the team need to escort the VIP through the map. Folks standing near the VIP are tougher and can get bonus damage. That comes with three maps. The green and yellow teams are back for four-team play on two maps.
They even *gasp* jettison all TF2 lore after the 'Meet The Team' shorts and website class bios, and have decided to bin the Pyro's Pyroland hallucinations. You'll find no Saxton Hale, no Mann family rivalry, no robots, no wizards. A re-imagining indeed.
The modmakers plan to add other game modes in future updates. Deathmatch was once part of this TF2 Classic, though that has since been split off into a separate mod.
TF2 Classic released some betas years back then went a bit quiet. On Saturday, it officially launched with the new 'Death & Taxes' update. If you fancy a go, hit the website for more info, read its Death & Taxes subsite for more on the latest additions, and download it here. It runs as a whole separate thing to TF2.
Though TF2 has changed a lot over the years (and lost a lot of itself), we still say it's one of the best FPSs and the best free games. Ah, even if a mod did perfectly recreate launch TF2, it couldn't create that launch experience when it seemed everyone I knew was playing for hours on end.
Back over in the official version, Valve are continuing to crack down on comms to fight a wave of bots spewing racist garbage.