There are nine player classes in Team Fortress 2, categorized into offense, defense and support roles. Each class has at least three weapons: a unique primary weapon, a secondary weapon such as a shotgun or pistol and a distinct melee weapon in keeping with the character, such as a liquor bottle for the demoman, a kukri for the sniper and a fire axe for the pyro.
The three offensive classes are the scout, the soldier and the pyro. The scout is portrayed as a fast-talking baseball fan from Boston, Massachusetts, and is a fast, agile character armed with a scattergun and capable of performing double jumps; however, the scout cannot sustain much damage. The soldier is more durable, but is consequently slower in his speed. A stereotypical American military man, the soldier is armed with a rocket launcher which can be used to rocket jump to higher positions. The final offensive class is the pyro. Clad in a fire-retardant suit and a gas mask that muffles the pyro’s voice, the pyro carries a flamethrower that can set other players on fire, as well as being able to produce a blast of compressed air that knocks nearby enemies and projectiles away.
The demoman, the heavy and the engineer make up the defensive classes. The demoman is a black, one-eyed Scotsman, who drinks heavily. Armed with a grenade launcher and a sticky bomb launcher, the demoman can use his equipment to provide indirect fire onto enemy positions. The heavy can sustain more damage than any other class, but is slowed down by both his own size and that of his minigun. The heavy is a stereotypical Russian character, with a huge figure and heavy accent, obsessed with his guns to the point of naming them. The engineer is the last defensive class, portrayed as a relaxed and intellectual “good ol’ boy” from Texas. The engineer is capable of building a number of structures to support his team: a sentry gun to defend key points, a health and ammunition dispenser and a teleporter system.
The final category, support, consists of the medic, the sniper and the spy. The medic is a German doctor from Stuttgart with little regard for the Hippocratic Oath, responsible for keeping his teammates alive. The medic is accordingly armed with a “medigun” to heal teammates, and can make teammates temporarily invulnerable or enhance their firepower after the medigun has been used for a brief time. The sniper is a cheerful Australian character who enjoys his line of work, equipped with a laser sighted sniper rifle to attack enemies from afar and a submachine gun for close combat. The last support class is the spy, who in addition to a revolver is equipped with covert tools, such as a temporary cloaking device, an electronic sapper to sabotage engineers’ structures and the ability to disguise as other players. The spy can also use his butterfly knife to backstab and instantly kill enemy players.
Valve has stressed their focus on game balance when considering new improvements to the character classes. Every class has its own strengths and weaknesses which leads to reliance in other classes in order to be efficient. This forces gameplay into more strategic thinking and an increased utilization of teamwork than would be found if one class had inherent superior advantages. Each of the classes in the three categories have shared strengths and weaknesses, while each individual class also has its own advantages.