The Team Fortress 2 “Meet the Team” video series is, without a doubt, one of the single greatest video game marketing campaigns of all time. Somehow, Valve’s animators and writers managed to top themselves with each new video, culminating in the sublimely insane Meet the Pyro. There’s no denying that Valve is home to a set of incredible comedic talent, but until now they’ve mostly been relegated to promotional material and, of course, writing brilliant games like Portal. Given the opportunity, these guys could write a cartoon to rival the best of them.
In 2012, a collaboration with Cartoon Network made it seem like they would get that chance, but all we’ve seen from it so far are a few cosmetic items in TF2. For the last two years fans have been waiting to see what the “undisclosed future projects” mentioned in that announcement could be, but so far it’s amounted to nothing. If Valve’s new source filmmaker short is any indication, though, that might change.
“Expiration Date” is a full-fledged short film, with a proper narrative arc and everything. The TF2 team have never done anything quite like this before, but they absolutely knocked it out of the park. The personality of the entire team shines through brilliantly, and they bounce off each other with an incredible electric energy that reminds me of the Looney Toons in their prime. I don’t want to spoil anything from the short, but suffice it to say, this might be the funniest thing Valve has ever made. Just imagining what they could do with the budget and timescale of a full TV season puts a smile on my face.