Team Fortress 2 Patch Fixes Bug That Had Game Thinking Players Were Gordon Freeman

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Team Fortress 2 is 17 years old, and one day we are all going to die. The in-built cruelty of entropy ensures our universe is finite, and all things must eventually fade into heat-death. Staving off a small element of this inevitability was Valve’s online shooter getting a big patch last week, which in turn caused the game to think some of its players were Half-Life’s Gordon Freeman, and crash.

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TF2 players are, let’s say “passionate” when it comes to the longevity of the game. While companies like Sony just switch things off without a care, and game preservation is rejected by the organization that’s supposed to represent the industry, Valve’s vague and ambiguous ongoing support for the multiplayer shooter seems to—if anything—make its player-base more rabid for visible support. Promises of a big update in 2023 were almost immediately retracted, but then delivered upon by the summer. Since then, it’s been crickets. But in the middle of April, the game received an update out of the blue, which saw the 2007 game receive 64-bit support for the first time.

Hoorah! cried its players, because this upgrade meant the game suddenly became capable of boosting framerates by up to 25 percent. That is—as spotted by GamesRadar—except for players who were using a custom HUD that made the interface look more like Valve’s even more ancient game, Half-Life 2. Because, perhaps not unreasonably, this was now causing the game to think the person was playing as the game’s protagonist, Gordon Freeman.

It’s not at all clear why a HUD should cause Team Fortress 2 to think its player is another game’s character attempting to infiltrate the TF universe, but it’s worth celebrating that rather than telling players to just switch back to the default HUD for the nearly two-decade-old game, Valve rolled out a fix for this specific issue instead.

“Fixed a crash under 64-bit caused by some custom HUDs using Half-Life 2 HUD elements which assume the player is Gordon Freeman,” say the latest patch notes, released overnight on April 22. This was accompanied by a bunch of other fixes, including one addressing time travellers still using Windows 7.

It’s a lot of fun, and very cathartic, to harangue Valve for their incessantly opaque and bizarre decisions, because it’s a weirdo company. But it’s also important to offer kudos when deserved. Fixing such niche bugs in a properly ancient game (we are all but dust) is a splendid thing to do. Although it’s arguable there was a better option in this case. Playable Freeman in TF2, anyone?

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