Team Fortress 2 is now free, so everyone with a Steam account owns it. If you haven't played before, it can be an intimidating, hat-riddled game. Previously we gave you a handle on the basics , items and classes , now we're going in depth on each class .
Silent. Deadly. Mocking. If there's a class whose role in TF2 is slightly fuzzy, it's the Spy. He's physically one of the weaker classes, but has a one-hit kill, can disguise as the enemy team and can turn invisible. He's technically a support class, alongside the Medic and Sniper, but in the wibbly world of TF2 classes, I've no idea if what you do could be classed as support.
As a Spy, you need to be where your team isn't and where the enemy is. The Spy's Knife is one hit-kill, but only from the back. The Invisibility Watch and the Disguise Kit are how to get into the correct position to take advantage.
An unseen Spy is still pretty vulnerable. His invisibility cloak is constantly ticking down, he can't shoot, when he bumps into an enemy or he gets hurt he's briefly visible and when he cloaks and uncloaks there's a noise and a period where you can be seen but not attack. So why do it? Because there are places to hide: invisibility is about placement, using it to get behind enemy lines is necessary. And it's fun.
You can boost the cloak's duration by collecting ammo, so a good player will know where those dumps are before making any kind of move. Stay off to the side and check doorways before stepping through. Most people run a path of least resistance to where they want to be, so skulking in the shadows will mean you're unlikely to be nudged.
The disguise kit is for when you want to get out of the shadows. It allows you to approach enemies and engineer nests without being instantly recognised, although it has its vulnerabilities. A Pyro will be able to light you up, and when you do attack it drops the disguise. Timing is critical when in the disguise: attack when you're part of a large push towards your own team, so people will be focussed on your team. Aim for Medics about to drop Ubercharges, then Heavies, Soldiers and Demos.
The third element of the vanilla Spy is the Sapper. This device is used to disable and ultimately destroy the enemy Engineer's buildings. Unlike the other weapons, dropping a Sapper while disguised won't drop the disguise. An Engineer can knock off the Sapper, but you can spam it by holding down the fire button. Running around the building as you do leaves the Engi in two minds: if he tries for the Sapper, you could stab him. If he goes for you, you might lose your life but he might lose his build. It's no good doing this in isolation, though. Ensuring you're backed up by Demos, Heavies and Soldiers pretty much guarantees destruction.
Don't forget the Revolver: it's a valuable tool for sniping sapped buildings, and helping you escape when your disguise drops. It's a slow firing gun, but as long as you're accurate you'll be able to make most people think twice about pursuing you.
The most valuable alternate weapons for the Spy
The Spy's greatest tool is his situational awareness. I'd aim for the Cloak and Dagger to be your first unlock: it's a replacement for the watch that drains the cloak on movement, and replenishes it while standing still. It drains more quickly than the standard cloak, and you can't use ammo to replenish it.
But if you're still you're invisible, so it lets you watch how fights play out. I use it to take stock of the enemy movement, watching out for their building placements, looking for any particularly insistent Spy checkers. Just watching where people tend to be, gives you a good idea of where you shouldn't be.
Is the Spy Bundle worth buying?
If you want a hat, the Fancy Fedora is worth owning at 49p but both The Ambassador and Dead Ringer are probably best left until you're more comfortable in the Spy's skin.
How To Help a Spy
Don't stand anywhere near him. He's a vulnerable target, and I've had a huge number of deaths occur thanks to people drawing fire into my cloaked body. Also, follow through on his sapping. Quite often if he's sapped an enemy Engi's equipment, he'll have died in the process from a wrench to the skull. Don't let his death be in vain.
How to fight a Spy
Spychecking is a skill the Pyros are best suited to. Flame corners and protect ubercharging Medics – they're often the target.