I only recently noticed that Valve revamped the backpack system at some point. Perhaps the rest you already knew this, but you can now sort your backpack by date. If you’re ever feeling pensive, I encourage you to do so temporarily, and go check out the oldest things in your backpack. It’s been a long time since you first played TF2. What’s the oldest weapon you still possess?
For me, apparently it’s a self-crafted Vita-Saw, the third oldest item in my backpack. I have no idea why this Vita-Saw has survived this long, except I guess Valve has never given me any other sort of quality to upgrade it. After that are my first two stranges, a Scattergun and a Sandman. They were part of my first purchase ever; once eight crates had dropped, I decided to spend 20 dollars on keys and unbox them to see what happened. I don’t know what the other six stranges I unboxed were.
There were some things that surprised me when I traipsed down my own TF2 history, and I bet things in your own backpack will surprise you too. Apparently the oldest completely unremarkable Unique-quality weapon is a Sandvich that I’ve had since before Scream Fortress 2011, since immediately succeeding it is my Saxton Hale mask. How many times have I crafted sandviches into scrap and somehow miraculously never destroyed it? I don’t think I’ll ever be able to craft sandviches again knowing its in there.
I can’t even do something to it to preserve it safely because of the way item adjustments work in TF2. Every time you alter an item with paint, tags, strangifers, the item number is upgraded and its no longer technically the same item. That’s why my backpack thinks my Bubbling Scotch Bonnet is older than my Flies Pickelhaube; I keep painting and naming and altering my Pickelhaube so it ranks really new. This means the “sort by date” option isn’t perfect and a lot of heavily-altered older items are out of place, but since you altered them you probably have an easier time remembering them anyway.
But it doesn’t stop with your current backpack; you actually can check out a decent amount of lost items too. There are two good places to do this; tf2items.com keeps snapshots of every time somebody used the site to explore your item history. Here’s mine, dated all the way back to August 2011. That Vita-Saw’s already in there, and so is a Prussian Pickelhaube and Larrkin Robin, the first two hats I ever dropped. The latter I gave to my then-girlfriend now-spouse because they mained sniper (and they’ve still got it), the former inspired my immortal love for the Pickelhaube. I’ve sometimes wondered what happened to that oldest one.
Well, plot twist! I can go find out. Check out your item inventory on Steam, then click on “Trade Offers”, then click on “View trade history”, and you can see every trade you’ve ever made. All the way to the beginning.
It was quite interesting to jump to the far back and scroll forward through all my old trades. I watched myself give gifts to old friends, saw myself get sharked or score deals, watched mainstays trickle into my backpack amidst a sea of miscellaneous trades. Turns out the same guy sold me my strange Medi-gun and strange Amputator, years apart from each other. On August 3 2012 I apparently added Medic and traded her an uncraftable Amputator for a craftable one. At the time she was being nice because I’d complained on SPUF about a noob who’d traded me uncraftable weapons, neither of us could have known how much cooperative writing would be born from that act of kindness. For anyone interested, I even checked the noob’s profile and he’s since grown into a high-level trader with more TF2 value than either of us. Crazy world we live in.
You’ve got stories like that. Your backpack is full of history just like mine, go research it. If you want to tell your stories, I’d love to hear of some cool revelations you unearthed in either the comments or the Daily SPUF thread. But even if you keep it all to yourself, you never know what cool personal nostalgia you might dig up. The information’s out there, it’d be a shame if you were never to see it.