Back in 2009, Valve initiated their first Halloween event in TF2. They released a new king of the hill map called Harvest, as well as a Halloween-themed counterpart called Harvest Event. The event map is set at nighttime with various visual touches to get you into the Halloween spirit. These include jack-o-lanterns scattered around the map, tombstones, and re-skinned health kits which are now represented by candies and cauldrons.
Also placed around the map are pumpkins with sticks of dynamite strapped to them, which will explode when shot. The highlight of Harvest Event is its resident ghost, which spawns at various locations on the map and slowly wanders around. If you venture too close to it, your character will shriek in fear and will be unable to attack for a few seconds, leaving you vulnerable.
|The ghost freaks out the Demoman.|
After the inaugural 2009 event, the TF2 Halloween specials have become more elaborate with many more new features. Each year Valve will either release a pair of maps (one standard map, along with its Halloween-themed counterpart), or they will give a standard map a complete Halloween makeover. One notable case is Mann Manor, which is an extremely detailed counterpart of Mountain Lab, complete with spooky library sections, dark holes with creepy eyes peering out at you, and hair-raising noises throughout.
Instead of a simple ghost wandering around, all Halloween events after 2009 have introduced boss monsters which will spawn at various intervals. Notable bosses include a gigantic floating eyeball which fires missiles, and the Horseless Headless Horsemann (Valve's humor at its finest), who runs around the map swinging a giant axe.
These monsters contain huge amounts of HP and will attack all the players on the server, therefore the best way to defeat them is for both teams to (temporarily) put aside their differences and work together to take down the boss. Defeating these bosses will give players a special item, such as the Horseless Headless Horsemann's head (makes no sense but that's the whole point), which is a wearable hat.
Speaking of items, there are quite a few Halloween-specific goodies to grab. Through random gift drops you'll be able to pick up Halloween masks (really just paper bags with a TF2 character's face drawn on it), worn-out top hats, and even class-specific Halloween costumes. Costumes must be collected piece by piece, but once you complete a set you're usually rewarded with humorous results. For example, the Engineer has a costume resembling a giant fly, which causes his voice to sound extremely high pitched. The Soldier's robot costume unlocks a whole new set of voice commands, as well as a new robot-dance taunt.
Speaking of dancing, what would Halloween be without Thriller? The developers at Valve were awesome enough to give a special Thriller dance taunt to all classes, which can only be used when the Halloween events are active.
Last but not least, a recent addition to Team Fortress 2's Halloween festivities is Zombie Fortress, which is a set of new game modes that will have players controlling both regular classes and zombies, depending on their team. I guess Valve wasn't satisfied with just Left 4 Dead?
If you're a fan of Halloween and online first-person shooters, you should absolutely check out Team Fortress 2 when this special event occurs. The game is free after all. The nicely themed maps and intense boss battles are something to behold, and we can only hope that Valve continues this tradition for years to come!
Have you guys tried out the TF2 Halloween events? If so, which one was your favorite?