“And Now He’s Here To Fuck Up!” – Pre-Update Spying In TF2

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I’ve never been good at the subtle stuff in Team Fortress 2. While I could sometimes excel at being a Pyro, Medic, Demoman, Heavy or Engineer, the more cautious approach of the Spy and Sniper was baffling to me, and the high-speed nature of the scout was just insane. However, with the Spy/Sniper update arriving soon I thought I’d better get back into my sneaking shoes. What follows is an afternoon as a Spy in TF2.

I honestly don’t know how other people do it. I’ve watched countless spies come and go through TF2 levels without leaving a trace (other than the bloody corpses) of them having been there. Whenever I chose the ill-fated class to play as, I would be shot down before even making it behind enemy lines – long before I could have done anything harmful to the other team. This time, I decided to take it slow and set myself what at the time seemed like an acheivable goal – to take down a sentry and its engineer and escape before anyone notices.

This is a classic spy trick which if done correctly can cripple a team’s defences and swiftly end a round in your team’s favour. For those of you that are unfamiliar with TF2, the spy can disguise himself as any of the other team, and therefore move around freely behind enemy lines (in theory). The spy is also equipped with a device that disables a sentry gun and eventually destroys it if left to its devices. Unfortunately, engineers are generally found right by their sentry guns, and so need dealing with before they can stop your ‘sapping’ device. An agressive move towards them before the gun is disabled will remove your disguise and therefore mean that the sentry will shoot you to bits before you can get close enough to disable it. As a result, you have to time your actions so that you can disable the gun then quickly kill the engineer while it is down.

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In theory, this is a simple and elementary Spy move. In practise, it’s generally one second away from fucking up and leaving you a cold dead corpse. Or in my case, 0 seconds away. On a good day as a spy, I could maybe backstab someone and just about make it back home through the hailstorm of bullets that followed me. This was not a good day. My first attempt had be desperately trying to sap my own team’s sentry while wondering why the hell it wasn’t working. My second attempt ended in death. As did every attempt from then until I had to switch to Soldier for a little while to calm myself down.

Returning to Spy for another go, I decided I’d tackle a somewhat easier task: backstabbing a sniper. Snipers are the beginner Spy’s main enemy. They’re perfect for practising the backstab on because they’re almost always in a quiet area, standing still. Unfortunately, the difficulty in taking down snipers is getting to them. They’re almost always at the very back of a map, behind layers of defence. While sentry guns won’t get suspicious of a quickly retreating teammate, those pesky human-controlled players will. As a result, you have to take your time, slowly moving backwards while desperately hoping there’s not a pyro about who will set you alight out of curiousity.

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Needless to say, my first few attempts were not successful. Possibly because the first time I forgot to disguise myself, and the second time I accidentally took a couple of pot shots at a scout. The third time, however, I managed to break through their defences, and make it up to the battlements and get a sniper in my aim. Disguised as another sniper, so as to not arouse suspicion of hanging around back at the base, I slowly edged closer to my target, who was blissfully unaware of my presence, much less that I was a spy. I carefully selected my knife and I sidestepped towards him, and in a quick movement jabbed into thin air about a metre away from him. Shit.

Luck was on my side, it seemed. I didn’t know how he had not noticed the knife flailing around near his face, but I wasn’t wasting time trying to work it out. I plunged my knife into his back and legged it out of there. Feeling overly victorious, I failed to remember that I was in enemy territory without a disguise. I got killed round the next corner. After that I switched back to my usual rotation of classes. I would return to be a Spy, but not now. Now, I wanted things to burn.

The TF2 Spy/Sniper update is possibly being released tomorrow. You can find all the details about the new weapons and features on the Team Fortress 2 blog.

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