The update, which Valve conducted beta testing for earlier this year, will add a ranked competitive mode to the game in addition to quickplay matchmaking with opportunities to rank up from titles like "Fresh Meat" all the way to "Death Merchant."
In Competitive Mode, as Valve notes, "every win (and every loss) counts." You'll be matched up with opponents of a similar skill level and your progressive match performance will determine how you rank up or down. It's a serious affair, at least more so than usual, and competitive mode won't simply be open to every single player who downloads the game until you tie your account with a phone number and purchase a special item to earn premium status. Alternatively, you can purchase a Competitive Access Pass for $9.99.
But as this is still Team Fortress 2, one of the silliest multiplayer diversions out there, even the fact that you're playing for keeps sometimes is still a little chilled out. As it should be, since changing up the dynamic like this in a game that's always been about jumping online and wreaking some havoc with friends could be jarring if mishandled. It seems as though Valve is going about it the best way it can, however, and it's going to be exciting to see how Team Fortress 2 enters the competitive space.