From TF2 Wiki
The term respawn may be used to refer to either the act or event of respawning, the place in which it occurs, or the reappearance of map pickups after they have been used, such as Ammo and Health packs. The game respawns players in waves in order for them to appear together with other players who died at a similar time, thus forcing them to work together.
The initial entry in which you first join a map simply goes by the term spawn.
The time it takes for the respawn wave to occur after being killed, or respawn time, is variable, and a countdown is shown at the top of your HUD when your character has died. Respawn waves occur on regular intervals and are based on the map settings. Most official maps use a 10-second respawn wave time. Those 10 seconds are then modified by the map state, generally reduced for the team that controls the most capture points. Each team's respawn wave time is then scaled down when the team has less than 8 players in it. The minimum respawn wave time is 5 seconds, occuring when the team has 3 or less players in it. When you die, you are assigned to the respawn wave after the next one. Therefore, if the respawn wave time is currently 10 seconds for your team, you will respawn somewhere between 10 and 20 seconds after your death. Your individual performance does not affect the respawn wave time in any way.
Respawn wave time on a server can be altered by changing the
Instant respawn times
Some servers feature instant respawn times where the waiting period for players to respawn is drastically reduced or even eliminated for all players. Servers can use either third-party custom plugins to enable this feature or the in-built command
mp_disable_respawn_times. The amount of time between death and actual respawn can vary if the server forces the Deathcam to be displayed.
The respawn area refers to where newly-joined and resurrected players are placed. On some maps, this may be a separate room from the resupply area. Frequently, the two areas overlap and there is no visible distinction between the two. The use of the respawn area as a separate room is frequently found on Capture the Flag maps. In this case, there are sometimes automatic double doors leading to the resupply area. These doors frequently may only be opened from the inside, and when present provide one of the few safe places during Humiliation.
You may change your class within the respawn area without committing suicide. On most maps, it is also safe to change class within the resupply area, even if they are separate rooms. The point where you respawn is randomly chosen, but on Control Point maps, it is often determined by which control points your team has control over. Note that changing classes may at times instantly place you in a different respawn area if more than one is present.
In the VPK files of Team Fortress 2, and in unused sound effects, there is a turret that may have been intended to guard the respawn area rather than the eventual invisible wall, similar to Team Fortress Classic.
The resupply area is a room which is generally safe from opponents and provides you with Resupply lockers to replenish your health and ammunition. Depending on the map, this area may be adjacent, separate, or even overlapping to the respawn area. Most resupply areas contain one or more Resupply lockers which instantly provide full health, metal, and ammunition (including refilling all of your weapons' magazines) upon opening. They also are able to remove the effects of Jarate and Mad Milk, stop bleeding, and extinguish afterburn. Using a Resupply locker also allows players to switch between hats and/or weapons if they have already respawned, therefore eliminating the need to switch between classes in order to update your weapon loadout (unless you have the option 'Automatically respawning when you change your loadout' checked). Using a Resupply locker as a Spy using Your Eternal Reward or the Wanga Prick will also remove your disguise. As an honorbound Demoman or Soldier with the Half-Zatoichi out, touching a Resupply locker will allow you to switch weapons without having to kill an enemy player. Finally, using a Resupply locker will recharge the explosive in the Ullapool Caber. To open a Resupply locker, the player must simply walk near it. Note that Resupply lockers cannot be opened during Sudden Death or by the losing team during Humiliation.
Other purely decorative objects within the resupply area may include lockers in which the various classes keep their personal belongings, free weights, and targets for practice.
- Resupply locker open.png
An open Resupply locker.
- Medieval resupply locker closed.png
The Medieval Mode Resupply locker used on Degroot Keep.
- Medieval resupply locker open.png
An open Medieval Mode Resupply locker.
- Rarely, the player will be stuck in the respawn wave after dying. The time will reset whenever it reaches "Prepare to respawn". This can sometimes be fixed by re-selecting one's class.
- When reloading a Clip-based weapon, and touching a resupply locker before the animation completes, it will cause the reserve ammunition to decrease depending on how much ammo the weapon intended to refill.
- When joining a game, if the player selected a team, the player can be kicked out of the class selection. When going back to the class selection and choosing class, the player will not respawn. Leaving the game and rejoin the server can fix this issue.
- TF2 Official Website, October 8, 2008 blog post – Explains the reasoning behind the respawn "waves" system.