Across the world, Team Fortress 2 fans are bracing for the game’s next big content update: Meet The Pyro. It’s been hotly anticipated (pun intended) for quite some time now – the last “Meet The…” update came out exactly a year ago, and up until now Valve has done a pretty great job of teasing the Pyro’s identity. It wasn’t until June 11th, however, that a potential ARG was dropped on the unwitting fanbase, and a game of cat and mouse began.
Long story short: Something has been heavily hinted to be happening today, and knowing Valve, we’re about to get a fully-fledged class update dropped on us.
Hit the break for my reasoning, and get ready to get hyped. Hard.
Six months ago was the release of the Australian Christmas 2011 update – players got their new hats and weapons on that day, and they were happy. Something else was added to the game, however: the map cp_foundry. Hidden across the map were references to mechanical beings – in a room behind RED spawn, blurry photos of robot versions of the characters hang on a wall, and in a hidden room near BLU’s second point, a hidden room features an advertisement for “Doctor Wilson’s Auto-Borax Self Scrubbing Mechanical Soap”, with the letters TO-BOR highlighted by planks lying against the wall. Pay attention, folks – TOBOR is a big part of this conspiracy theory.
Along with the pictures of robots in Foundry were some numbers on a wall – 13 22 13. Those numbers correspond to the letters “MVM” – letters which have appeared in sound manifests (sound files which are referenced, but don’t actually exist on your hard drive). Fans believe that MvM stands for Mann vs. Machine (a reference to the Mann Co. which controls the TF2 universe), a horde mode where, presumably, human players will face off against computer-controlled robots or “TOBORs”. The sound manifests reference sound files such as “sound\mvm\giant_demoman\giant_demoman_step_03.wav”, so it’s safe to say that we’ll be seeing giant versions of the classes as boss characters.
Up until June 11th, faithful players hadn’t had much in the way of leaks or new information – Robin Walker had recently gone on record replying to a fan email that the next update was coming “very soon”, but fans took that with a grain of salt, as always, citing Valve Time as a reason for their skepticism.
However, on the 11th of June, a new item quality (similar to the pre-existing Unusual, Unique, Strange, Haunted, Self-Made, etc. qualities) was added to the item schema, labeled simply as “tobor_a”. In the same patch, an equip region by the moniker of “crsk” was added – people quickly started claiming it stood for “character skin”, but let’s face it: it could be anything (also, it was split into “crsk_left” and “crsk_right” in a secret update a couple of days ago).
People, to put it lightly, freaked. There hadn’t been a development this big since the creator of the Surgeon’s Side Satchel (a miscellaneous item for the Medic) had trolled the fanbase about Valve modifying his item’s textures for the Meet The Pyro update.
Then on June 19, Valve rolled out a small, secret update, without alerting anyone beforehand. It added seven new crafting ingredients, all of which were seemingly useless: the Goldfish, Pocket Lint, Cheese Wheel, Banana Peel, Barn Door Plank, Secret Diary, and Damaged Capacitor. At first, many thought that it was simply Valve screwing with their fanbase (due to the fact that they’d hired an economist to play with their virtual economies a week before), but the rabbit hole wasn’t as shallow as everyone first thought: the Damaged Capacitor has the text “6.22V1500” imprinted on it, with the first part suggesting a date and the second a time – leading many to think that the big update will be released at 3 PM (Pacific time, presumably) on the 22nd of June, 2012.
At this point, players thought to themselves “This must be the end, the update must be dropping tomorrow,” but a seemingly frivolous addition to the game (added on April 7, 2012) served as the gateway to an even deeper layer of meaning. The “Eliminating The Impossible” item set, which bestows on the wearer a reduction in “mystery solving time by up to 88%”, causes the descriptions of the aforementioned “useless” items to change to fragments of a passage from the Sherlock Holmes novel “The Adventure of the Copper Beeches” – specifically, this:
Think of the deeds of hellish cruelty, the hidden wickedness which may go on, year in, year out, in such places, and none the wiser.
It’s not certain what this refers to, but I’m sure that it’ll become clear once the update drops.
On the 21st, yet another update dropped, modifying the item schemas once again. This had the effect of making the Banana item craftable (if two or more were used), but with a distinct oddity – instead of consuming the bananas, the crafting recipe spat out an error in Finnish, supplying the user with a string of data values. Attentive users quickly realized that they were parts of a PNG file, and started collecting all the data values they could to find the full file (it turned out there were eight different files – QR codes, which linked to more files which were stitched together to create this transcript, which weighs heavily into the lore of TF2).
All players can do now is wait. Something is due to drop in less than six hours, and we’ll be sure to keep you posted as to what happens at 3 PM Pacific. Watch for an update!