Team Fortress 2: Despite its age—be it 15 years—Team Fortress 2 continues to have an impact on the shooter genre. At its age, it’s particularly noteworthy that its actors can still be recognised by a younger segment of gamers. Isn’t it amazing how familiar we are with a game’s characters and plot even when we haven’t played it? Not through gameplay or a referral from a friend, but rather through shorts featuring the characters of Team Fortress 2.
The introduction of the hero shooter genre was greatly influenced by the Meet the Team shorts. Players couldn’t exactly cut to a cutscene in the middle of de dust before TF2’s introduction of lore and storytelling to the multiplayer shooter genre.
They have a huge impact on the development of modern first-person shooter (FPS) games. If they hadn’t existed, we probably wouldn’t have seen the rise of hero shooters and their impact on character development in games as a whole.
I’ve only ever played a single round of Team Fortress 2 in my life. In 2018, it had been there for over a decade by the time I finally got around to playing it. As a rookie, it was difficult to keep up. On Tumblr and Reddit, I had seen a few gifs of the game’s roster. Curious about the source of the game’s animations, I turned to Google and discovered the Meet the Team shorts, which I binge-watched in a single sitting.
For many “younger” gamers, I believe, that’s a relatable situation. Those shorts were gorgeous, and I didn’t even know the game existed yet. In the beginning, Spy’s surprise appearance is genuine, and the transition from his bloody rant to Scout’s mother-loving smile is amusing. I love how the Engineer’s quiet yet frightening rant is contrasted with his sip of beer and guitar music. In The Medic’s wild science and The Scout’s assurance, I was awestruck. Animation and voice acting in these works quickly revealed the identities of the people featured. For those who prefer to simply admire the art, there is no need to participate in the game at all.
The original shorts were from a long time ago before I knew anything about Steam or PC gaming. There were three Meet the Heavys that came out when I was just nine years old: Meet the Heavy (the first), Meet the Soldier (the second), and Meet the Engineer (the third). A hero shooter would not have been possible without their popularity and ability to provide context for these wonderful, and honestly important(opens in new tab) people
In what way did cinematics become a vital part of everyday life?
A hero shooter’s inclusion of cinematic elements has become all but mandatory. Yes, the game should be fun, the servers should be reliable, and the anti-cheat system should be functional. Valve even went so far as to publish a series of comic books in order for gamers to learn more about the characters they’re playing, as well as their merch, and cosplay, and buy into the game’s culture. There’s even a confession on the website(which opens in a new tab) “The beginning of TF2 didn’t have a lot of plot. There was no room for another.” As a substitute, the crew has created ludicrous stories about the characters’ worlds, such as the one in which a blood transfusion may be as simple as emptying a bucket of blood into the chest. If you haven’t already, you should check them out.
My favourite first-person shooter is still Overwatch. By showing them the amazing animations that fleshed out Mei, Pharah, or Reaper, I’ve been able to convince people that it’s a wonderful game. It’s hard to forget the rivalry between Widowmaker and Tracer as they fought in the slums of London. or Hanzo’s stern visage as he deals with his family’s history and own sorrows. Winston’s call to reform Overwatch or Bastion’s bond with a tiny little bird?
In these shorts, players were introduced to the game’s characters, settings, and maps, as well as new characters. Although you may be facing a carbon image of yourself in the games, it didn’t matter because all these shorts helped to shape a world you were invested in. Diablo 4’s (opens in new tab) and World of Warcraft’s (opens in new tab) expansions are shown in similar high-quality movies because Blizzard has a dedicated cinematics department. They’re a valuable asset to Blizzard because, if nothing else, they enhance the visual appeal of their games.
Cassidy’s (previously known as McCree) brief Reunion unveiled the hero Echo without her skills or aesthetics being fully established by developers because they are so vital to the mythology of the game Prior to the introduction of the robot, the crew had no idea how she would perform. That is the significance of the animations. They were in charge of the game’s creation.
Overwatch isn’t the only game that’s getting attention.
This hasn’t just been done by Overwatch. Rainbow Six Siege’s character introductions (opens in a new tab) are likewise a dark and beautiful sight to behold. Contextual cinematics are used to explain why these characters are the way they are, despite the game’s distinct tone from Overwatch and TF2. There are still character shorts appearing as Siege continues to be developed; these shorts weave together a strange fiction in which the world’s most talented tactical gurus battle to breach and clear a football stadium (opens in new tab).
Music videos with a Riot Games flavour have been produced by Valiant, a more recent example, as well as cinematics (opens a new tab) (opens in new tab). Unlike Overwatch or TF2, Valorant’s gameplay restricts how expressive characters can be. To ensure a level playing field, all Valorant characters must have the same size and move in the same way. As a result, the only things that give them life are their voice lines and these shorts.
Hero shooters can be successful without wearing shorts, but it’s interesting to note that some of the unsuccessful hero shooters I can recall did not wear shorts or did not make good use of them. Amazon Games’ effort at a MOBA-shooter hybrid, Crucible, was a favourite of mine, but the only information on its characters was buried in written logs for its brief existence.
Some of the characters in Battleborn were introduced in a unique way with a stylized fight scene at the start of the game. This, on the other hand, was more of a showcase of their powers than anything else. Every scene is packed with violence and mayhem. It’s possible that adding additional animation to the lineup might have drawn in more players.
There are four character shorts for the Bleeding Edge roster that Ninja Theory has released, but they’ve mysteriously veiled in shadows. When compared to the game’s other marketing, the introductions of Buttercup, Daemon, Nhöggr, and Kulev are out of place. Most of the clips are found-footage videos, but Buttercup is a little brighter. Daemon’s demonic visage is barely visible in the shadows of his shorts before he effortlessly kills a group of guards. It’s a strange juxtaposition when you see the character model, who is dressed in every colour of the rainbow. There are just 9-13 thousand views on each of Bleeding Edge’s shorts.
Do shorts, however, represent real success?
It’s possible that hero shorts aren’t the sole reason for a game’s popularity but rather a sign of how well it’s being made. Additional funds, extra animators, and time are all necessary for developers to create a companion product to the main product. The presence of character shorts may indicate that the studio is committed to the product’s popularity and long-term viability and has the resources to back it up. You need people to be interested in your cast, buy their merchandise, sit in D.Va seats on stream, and dress up as your heroes, among other things.
Team Fortress 2 is at the heart of it all. A hero shooter as we know it was born out of the shorts, Meet the Team. We all care about a class even when gameplay can’t create that emotional connection because of the genre’s popularity in this regard. That’s all thanks to Valve, who made Meet the Team so enjoyable and entertaining. There’s no harm in seeing them all over again now, is there? Let’s just call it a study.