Taxes are due everybody! Hooray!
If you’re anything like me, taxes are a long and laborious chore, and I’m even more qualified than most because I worked as a tax preparer for over a year. I’m only 24 for god’s sake, I’m supposed to be spack-dab in the middle of the part of your life where you look forward to cashing out your W-2s after work and buying a round of drinks with your refund. But the IRS is not a fan of entrepreneurs or freelancers turns out…
But I digress. In the world of Team Fortress 2, taxes don’t appear to exist or something, probably because everything in the world is owned by the same two companies and they calculate profit margins entirely on gravel and Australium. So that leaves everyone’s favorite mercenaries free to spend untold amounts of ammo murdering the crap out of each other without worrying about having to itemize the bullets.
April 20th, 2009 started with a seemingly innocuous patch note: “Reworked the character loadout screens to support future features.” Little did anyone guess that those features would be HATS. The ability to delete items from your backpack was also added, in response to many people complaining that their backpacks were literally drowning in dozens of useless Bonk! Atomic Punches and Blutsaugers. Crafting wouldn’t be introduced to the game for another eight months. The Bonk! Atomic Punch received a well-deserved nerf that prevented Scouts from continuing to carry the intel if they were doing so when they drank the cola. Considering the distance a Scout can get in eight seconds, this was a necessity.
Did you know that Bonk! and Crit-a-Cola were originally void of cooldown? Their secondary downsides were apparently seen as adequate. Regardless, they both were eventually given Sandman-style cooldowns, and the Crit-a-Cola’s came on April 20, 2011. The Sticky Jumper received its adorable orange skin and rounded stickies at this point as well, albeit at the loss of the ability to place believable decoy stickies around the intel.
Does anyone else have fond memories of the April 17, 2012 update? We’ll never know if they were bugs or features, but a couple of undocumented changes really shook up the TF2 metagame, mostly for Medics and Engineers. Dispensers, payload carts and the Quick-Fix (which at the time had no overheal) no longer maintained overheal in absence of the original heal beam, which was mostly a nerf for turtling Engineers. At the same time, on-hit effects suddenly became applicable to buildings, meaning a Dispenser turned into 75% Ubercharge with the Ubersaw or up to 100 health back for a Black Box Soldier. It was freaking awesome, and I used to think the feature should have remained on the Tank Buster set (since back then, item set bonuses were a thing!) The Texas-Half Pants and Bolt-Action Blitzer saw the light of day, leading to the demise of my first laptop when I installed CrimeCraft Gang Wars hoping to earn the latter and it utterly destroyed my hard drive for some reason.
The next day Valve fixed most of the bugs from the last patch. 🙁 They also fixed a few fire-related bugs; RED Pyros could no longer ignite teammates by puff-n-spectating (similar to a related glitch with the crossbow), the Spy-cicle fixed a few rare instances that would prevent the fire immunity from happening, and the Sharpened Volcano Fragment had its burn time increased from zero seconds. The ‘Mysterious promo 2 bundle’ was added to the schema, an un-purchase-able pack containing only the flare gun. SPUFer Blk-Mge_Ctype loudly and repeatedly speculates that it was a placeholder for a late Portal 2 promo that would contain a Flare Gun reskin of the Combustible Lemon Launcher. He was wrong.
A year later on April 23, the actual Portal 2 promo the Ap-Sap was added to the Mann Co. Store. It also gained the ability to be gift-wrapped and have custom names/descriptions added onto it, meaning you can name it after whatever your favorite core is. If Valve ever adds paint one day you can even make it look right. Speaking of box-shaped robotics, the RoboCrate has its materials added to the game, further confirming everyone’s suspicions that the first community-contributed update would contain a bunch of robo-reskins of your favorite hats. The RoboCrate was the very first time Valve bumped an event crate to “impossibly rare drop” instead of retiring it outright, and if we’d known they were going to repeatedly do that we might have complained more. I certainly wasn’t too jazzed when a Strongbox crate dropped in 2015, reminding me that originally I would have just found something super rare like a taunt.