There are definitely some alternative solutions to consider according to Team Fortress 2 designer Robin Walker, even getting rid of the unlock system as a whole. Community Fortress got to talk to the developer about Team Fortress 2 as it stands today, ranging from the competitive scene, the possibility of a Left 4 Dead-like matchmaking system in TF2, to the unlock system.
“I think we’ve learned that the random drop system is only good for some types of things, like the rare cosmetic hats. It’s good for delivering items to newer players over time, so they’re not swamped with choices when they’re starting out, and they’re not required to grind achievements to get them once they reach the point where they want to start making strategic choices. For competitive players, it’s obviously a bad way to deliver items. At the very least, future packs will allow you to use achievements to get the new items, but we might move to a mode where we just give them to you.”
If Valve thought farming for achievements in servers designed especially for that task was weird, they must have thought players idling in servers for servers for hours was even weirder. As for the possibility of updates following the last class pack, “We don’t really know yet, to be honest. We’ve still got lots of ideas for what we could do with TF2, but in the short term we’ll continue to do what we’ve done up until now: not plan too far ahead, so we can remain fluid and reactive to the feedback we get from players. We already have a couple of large updates in the works that aren’t tied to a specific class, so we’ll see what you think of those.” To add to that, Valve still don’t have an ETA yet on when the class updates will be available for the Xbox 360.