Mechanical Facsimile

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A Spy walked through the spawn door on a rainy night.

The mercenaries ran up to him as soon as as they heard the spawn door open. They heard of Spy being chosen for receiving The Upgrade, and they wanted to see how the Spy is now different.

The Spy is changed. That night, they heard not his mocking wit and snorting laugh. They smelled not the odour of cigarettes and alcohol that sometimes gave him away even when he’s completely invisible and silent. They saw not the slight swagger in his gait, or the rather unnecessary flourish he has when doing anything, from drawing his knife to pouring himself some champagne. In fact, he walked past the mercs, the small bar and bottles of liquor, and his armchair where he normally read and smoked and just stood still in a corner, like a machine awaiting deployment.

The mercenaries realized with horror that The Upgrade wasn’t an enhancement to the Spy. The Upgrade was a replacement. And when there is a better version available, the older, obsolete versions will be swapped out, replaced and probably disposed of, as they no longer have any value.

The old versions will be replaced.



The Spy is a character that makes a living off being an imitation of others, as part of him being a master of espionage and assassination. Thus, it’s rather fitting to use the Spy to explore the concept of replacing humans. After all, what is the Scarecrow if not a mystical voodoo doll replacement of a Frenchman? Or at least, his head. In a sense, The Upgrade is a cybernetic equivalent of the Scarecrow. Instead of magic, technology has replaced our beloved Frenchman with a crude imitation of the man it is based on.

The Spy, much like the Pyro, is fully covered from neck to toe, leaving room for doubt as to whether he is human or not. While Pyro has a head cosmetic bodygroup that allows his head to be swapped out for delicious fruits and light bulbs, the Spy has no such freedom, which is a shame. After all, having the imitation be an imitation of a human being is rather apt, and is a cosmetic theme that I wish we can explore more on the Spy. I mean, how many more fedoras and top hats can we give him?

Showcase image. Huh. First time it took me so long to get to this.

The Upgrade was added into the Rainy Day Pack after it’s debut in the Workshop … in 2013. I’m not exactly complaining, since I do quite like this cosmetic, but why add it after almost five years when it is obviously fit for release? It’s not as if it released in a horrible state and just got updated somewhere in 2017, nor is the Workshop lacking in new entries of superb quality recently. I really have no idea how the TF2 team works sometimes.

Aside from that, the cosmetic itself is Mercenary Grade, the UGC Iron of cosmetics. No complains there either since it means I get to buy it at a low price, and I have a feeling that without item grades it’ll still be a 1.33 ref cosmetic anyway, but I don’t get item grades as a concept. I know that it’s from CS:GO and allows Valve to further control the rarity of cosmetics for some economical reasons, but I’m not too sure how they decide what cosmetics get what grade. The Flash of Inspiration is rather uninspired and isn’t flashy unless you paint it lime green. It’s just a shock of white hair that is Elite grade for some reason. Personally, I feel that the Handyman’s Howie Coat by the same creator in the very set the Flash of Inspiration is submitted in should be added into the game and is more deserving of that Elite grade. Engineer is still short and slightly hunched wearing it, and the coat’s colour scheme is similar to the Trencher’s Tunic and the Holstered Heaters, so it doesn’t affect his silhouette in any significant manner from afar. At this point, I am pretty sure that the TF2 team decides item grades by randomly throwing darts onto a printed list of upcoming cosmetics and see where the dart lands. In fact, I’m pretty sure that is how they decide what Workshop entries to add in the first place.

As to what I wear with The Upgrade, I prefer to make it the front and centre of my cosmetic loadout, unlike what I did with the Scarecrow in which I add it into a two-cosmetic loadout to change the loadout’s theme. You could still do that, and I do recommend that approach, especially since it has the same equip region as the Scarecrow which does not conflict with most hats. For The Upgrade, I just wear something simple and subtle, which for my case is the Rogue’s Col Roule and the Made Man, but the SSS works OK for that purpose as well. Of course, I could just wear The Upgrade and nothing else, but personally I hate not filling up my cosmetic slots as much as I hate not having matching cosmetics.

What is better – to be born a machine, or to overcome your organic nature through great pain?

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