Yesterday, Valve released the latest Team Fortress 2 update – Spy vs. Sniper, and with this update, they changed how weapons are unlocked. Unlike the old days, where you unlocked weapons by getting achievements, the new system appears to be semi-random. I was only unable to unlock one weapon during my play time since the update – the Axtinguisher. This is quite odd, as I already have more than enough Pyro achievements to have gotten that weapon long ago – afterall, Pyro was my first love.
While playing last night, I got the Axtinguisher upon dying as a Spy. I was playing plr_pipeline, got a few backstabs (although I don’t believe one was against a Pyro, as a Spy, I naturally avoid them), and when I was killed, I got a popup saying I had unlocked the Axtinguisher. Will, from the Jarate Sandvich podcast, unlocked the Flare Gun through a similar situation, but he also told me that he saw someone unlock a weapon while in spectator mode.
Valve has not really given much information on how these new weapons are unlocked, and only said that they want to get away from the grinding system of the achievements. During my play time, it appears as though weapons are dropped when killing an enemy. That is to say, I may have picked up an Axtinguisher on the ground when a Pyro was killed while wielding one. I wouldn’t have to kill the Pyro, and as a Spy, I already home in one dropped weapons to recharge my cloak… but this doesn’t explain the spectator unlocking a weapon.
I will update this as soon as I know more, and hopefully Valve will release that information soon.