The first notable date this week takes us back to 1996, way before TF2 was even remotely on the radar. Version 2.9 was released for Team Fortress Quake, and it turned out to be the last update that game got before Team Fortress Classic usurped it as the Team Fortress of choice.
Fast forward 13 years, and TF2’s Sniper vs. Spy update was getting released on May 21, 2009. This time, Valve tried to fix a problem where every time they released a class update the entire game got flooded with 90% of every server playing the new class. To this effect, Sniper vs. Spy got to share an event to mitigate this affect. In the spirit of competition, payload race received its first map in the form of pl_pipeline. The item drop system was also added, making it possible to find items outside of earning achievements. This was obviously foreshadowing Valve’s plans to add a lot more weapons that weren’t tied to class updates. Pyro also gained the ability to extinguish teammates with airblast. The next day, they fixed a few bugs with the new spy weapons, the best of all being this one:
Thanks for killing yet another legitimate playstyle, Valve.
A year later on May 19 2010, Valve hotfixed the same exploit again, and then just to get back at spies for repeatedly using it, buffed the flamethrower’s base damage and afterburn times, as well as granted the flare gun its now-iconic critting on flaming enemies. The next day the Second Community Contribution Update rolled out a bunch of new cosmetics and two weapons; the Scotsman’s Skullcutter and the Tribalman’s Shiv. The former is notable only for completely sucking until a recent buff (that I totally predicted) made it the best Demoman melee ever, and the latter is notable for introducing bleed mechanics to TF2. It’s kinda like afterburn but a straight upgrade because it dealt more damage per tick, stacked with multiple sources and couldn’t be extinguished.
May 18 2011 saw the addition of the “Advanced Options” menu, which gave a swathe of customizable options regarding hitsounds, reloading, tertiary weapon behaviors, optional class alerts…the list is too long to even fully explain. You’ve almost definitely customized something from this menu, crank it up next time you’re on the Main Menu and say thank you to the Advanced Options menu.
May 20, 2013 added VR Mode for the Oculus Rift, which was making wave for the first time, as was TF2 for being the first compatible game with the new platform. I remember watching some video of some guy kill someone with the Direct Hit while playing with the prototype Oculus Rift, felt like the future had finally arrived.
But this week is to end not with a bang, but a whimper. The May 18, 2015 update rounds off this week with an update consisting of a single line of description: “Fixed crash when getting a malformed
KeyValues buffer (thanks to Nathaniel Theis for the report)“. I’m pretty sure Nathaniel Theis was the only person excited to read those patch notes.