Rick May, the iconic voice behind Starfox 64‘s Peppy Hare and Andross and Team Fortress 2‘s Soldier, passed away last month from COVID-19 at the age of 80, and now Team Fortress 2 developer Valve has added a touching tribute to May’s life and legacy in-game. Throughout the month, players will be able to pay their respects to one of the man who provided one of the game’s most iconic voice performances.
Normally exchanges between Valve and its fans consist primarily of an endless onslaught of memes at the company’s expensive, generally focused on the its refusal to release third entries in its Half-Life, Left 4 Dead, and Portal series. However, Rick May’s tragic passing as a direct result of the coronavirus has somewhat slowed that perpetual joke machine, with fans taking time to outpour love and support for May and his family. Though its development teams are usually too busy chasing technological breakthroughs in gaming to engage in much public communication, they, too, are taking to Team Fortress 2 to celebrate May’s life.
In a post to the Team Fortress 2 subreddit, Reddit user and Valve news connoisseur wickedplayer494 shared news with fans that in-game tribute statues of the Soldier character were being added in an update to commemorate Rick May. The statues bear May’s name, birth and death years, and the poignant Soldier quote, “That was a hell of a campaign, son!” They can be found on virtually every map through the month of May, and when players idle near them, they play one of May’s unique Soldier voice lines. The post details that while “there have been gameplay concerns expressed about a few placements” of the statues on some maps, players that run community servers “can choose to remove these statues, or alternatively make them transparent and noclip.” The main menu also now solely features the Soldier character, and the main menu music has been updated to a solemn military-themed song.
Valve and its Steam userbase are from perfect, but this is an inarguably touching tribute to a voice performer who enhanced the many game’s in which he featured on by the developer. Valve can normally be characterized unflappable at best and uncaring at worst in regards to its handling of contemporary events and controversies concerning its own properties, so seeing its cold shell open up a bit in order to express grief at the loss of an industry legend is nothing short of stirring.
Rick May’s passing from COVID-19 in his quarantined nursing home is a heartbreakingly tragic reminder of the most vulnerable population that suffer the greatest from the virus. Though many within that affected demographic won’t get the same opportunity in memoriam, May’s voice work will continue to live well after his in-game memorials vanish.
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Source: Reddit, wickedplayer494