The Team Fortress 2 community has been quite busy these past few days as Valve has sent fans into a chaotic rush by implementing miniscule clues which may point to the long-rumored Mann vs. Machine content update. Firstly, Valve added a faint splash of blood on the primary logo of the Team Fortress 2 website which when clicked on, sends users to a letter describing what would appear to be a third son of Zepheniah Mann. Yesterday,a second blood splash appeared which sends users to an updated version of Zepheniah Mann’s Last Will and Testament, indicating that Gray attempted to blackmail his father Zepheniah in attempt to control his secret “miracle” gravel cache.
The investigation continues today with the release of the newest Team Fortress 2 webcomic as well as some savvy user-analysis. The webcomic debuts Gray for the first time, and to succinctly summarize the plot, it is revealed that Gray was disfigured at birth. As a result, Zepheniah gave the order to smother him, yet in a twist of fate, he was saved by a swooping eagle amidst the Great Eagle Scourge of 1822, referenced in Zepheniah’s letter. Additionally, it is revealed that Gray is mechanically altered perhaps in order to compensate for his weaknesses, and implied that Gray winds up murdering his brothers Redmond and Blutarch.
Gray’s mechanical alterations is not the only piece of evidence all but confirming the Mann vs. Machine update in which a third robotic faction will be added. A user on NeoGAF notes that the current logo on the Team Fortress 2 website has been changed ever so slightly. If you look closely, you can see the Scout, Heavy, and Spy all angrily looking toward the Engineer. Is it possible that the Engineer is the one responsible for the development of Gray’s robot faction? A fan put together a comprehensive evidence-video yesterday and uploaded it to YouTube, which compiles over two years of clues and Easter Eggs to support the theory that the Mann vs. Machine content update has always been right in front of our eyes, and is nearing a release sometime soon.
Not intriguing enough for you? Another user on NeoGAF has cleverly pointed out that “Gray Mann” of the Team Fortress 2 backstory might be, just might be the enigmatic G-Man of Half-Life. While there certainly isn’t enough evidence to cement this theory just yet, it’s extremely difficult to not jump to conclusions, particularly when you have an inclusive knowledge of Valve as an ingenious developer. Valve’s games historically have a tradition of intertwining with one another. The plot of the Portal series for example, has not only included and directly referenced the infamous Black Mesa company of the Half-Life franchise, but Portal 2 also included an Easter Egg in which players could discover the Borealis, an Aperture Science research vessel which mysteriously vanished, and a plot element that looks to be the center focus of Half-Life 2: Episode Three.
Half-Life‘s mysterious G-Man is among the most inscrutable in all of gaming. We know very little about him, and it is never explicitly implied whether he is a villain or supporter of protagonist Gordon Freeman. What we do know, is that the G-Man has consistently shown throughout the Half-Life series that he possesses seemingly supernatural abilities. He has proven he is capable of stopping time, directly addressing Gordon through dream-like monologues, and even controlling the physical actions of whomever he chooses.
While Valve is not likely to reveal all of the answers in the near future, particularly before the release of Episode Three, we’re left with a single glaring question to consider now that Gray Mann is officially a part of the Team Fortress 2 story: Would Valve truly be willing to create two characters with similar names across two franchises with no ties to one another?