On April 13, 2020, Rick May, the voice actor known for his performance as the Team Fortress 2 Soldier, passed away due to complications from COVID-19. News of May’s death spread quickly, and many in the Team Fortress 2 community found their own ways to pay respects to the legendary voice actor. Some players hopped onto servers and saluted with the 21 gun salute. Others made fan-art or Source Filmmaker animations of the Soldier.
Needless to say, the outpouring from the grieving community was immense. As the community continued to mourn, some wondered whether or not Valve, the creators of Team Fortress 2, would do anything to commemorate the voice actor who brought their 100 percent American character to life.
Any concerns that Valve would not honor May were alleviated with a surprise update on May 1. The official Team Fortress 2 website’s notes on the update say that it “Added a tribute to Rick May, voice of the Soldier” which will last throughout the month of May. Upon booting up the game, players are greeted with an image of a saluting Soldier. Players will also hear an entirely new piece of music, titled “Saluting the Fallen.” This piece, in line with the Soldier’s background, is a rendition of “Taps,” a traditional bugle call played at military funerals.
The update also features a new addition to the in-game maps. On every official Team Fortress 2 map, players can find a bronze statue of a saluting Soldier atop a plaque. The plaque reads:
“That was a hell of a campaign, son!”
Players who choose to pay their respects at the statue will also find that the bronze statue will start speaking to them after a while. The bronze statue will randomly say Soldier voice lines, giving Rick May an eternal voice even after his passing.
This update came as a welcome surprise to many players, as Valve is known for running on its own clock. The joke within the community is that Valve runs on “Valve Time,” essentially meaning that however long the company says something will take will, in reality, take far longer to come to fruition. The release of Team Fortress 2 itself is an example of this, as the game was said to be “coming soon” in 1998, but ultimately released in 2007.
Thankfully, Valve was quick to honor Rick May, who leaves behind a gigantic legacy alongside his iconic performances. May is perhaps best known for voicing Peppy and Andross in Star Fox 64, speaking one of gaming’s most famous lines, “Do a barrel roll.” Many in the community are grateful for Valve’s timely and genuine response amidst this tragedy. Rick May was an amazing voice actor, and without him, Team Fortress 2 wouldn’t be the same game it is today.
In a surprise update, Valve pays its respects to the legendary voice actor, Rick May, who voiced the Soldier in Team Fortress 2.