Team Fortress 2: Haberdashery Secrets

I don’t believe we’ve yet posted about the most recent Team Fortress 2 patch. Y’know, the one with the mysterious 50-item backpack and new slot for head items. SECRETS!

The reaction to this strong hint of future collectables seemed to be half “ooh!” and half “uh-oh”, but until now there hasn’t been much word on exactly what these new toys would be for. Hints are trickling in…

Shacknews is first to wheedle info out of Valve, and even though the cards/chest axis remains pretty tight the picture’s a fair bit clearer. In a partial nutshell:

– the new head items will be purely cosmetic, rather than grant an upper hand to people who’ve played the game for far too long. Funny hats! Funny hats! All games are improved by funny hats. HAT-FACT.
– These will be unlockables unassociated with achievements – unlike previous unlocks. So less of this kind of horror, hopefully.
– Items that offer more than aesthetic changes are in the pipeline too.

And a bunch of other fascinating/puzzling info-nuggets about TF2’s future. It’d be ungentlemanly to reduce the entire interview to bullet points here, so go read.

There’s also a thorough investigation into various hidden variables of the new backpack and a few of the hat names over at Ubercharged. Go go facthunters!


  1. Griffinheart says:

    I want a new hat!
    I want a new hat!
    I want them to have new hats!

  2. Mister Yuck says:

    Won’t this make it harder on spies?

  3. Dominic White says:

    Yuck: I’d imagine about the same, if a spy has randomized accessories when disguised.

    And character customization is something that TF2 could really do with. Non-gameplay-affecting cosmetic tweaks to make your character your own, even if it’s just a generic class.

  4. Real Horrorshow says:

    “No unlocks” mode option for servers. Do it, Valve.

  5. Alex says:

    Valve is having so fun with this. Hidden within the TF2 GCF:

    // TF2 MMO
    “TF_MMO_LFG” “Looking For Group”
    “TF_MMO_Quest1” “You must kill %s1 %s2 to complete this quest.”
    “TF_MMO_Monster1” “Boars”
    “TF_MMO_Monster2” “Rats”
    “TF_MMO_Monster3” “Bats”
    “TF_MMO_Monster4” “Wolves”
    “TF_MMO_Monster5” “Spiders”

  6. Lambo says:

    I honestly don’t mind anything they put in. As long as we don’t have to pay for it and that it doesn’t makes one or two classes over/under powered I’d honestly look forward to new things. Afro for the demoman please.

  7. Shadowmancer says:

    Oh god they have ruined the game, luckily I still have it on the 360 has bugs and glitches but is more fun and more skillful than the pc version now with scouts and pyros basically killing everyone and ruining the game with overpowered powers.

  8. DarthInsinuate says:

    “The reason we shipped it in the last update, even though there was no real reason at all to use it, was to get some real world testing. So thanks to the 270 people who went ahead and deleted items!”

    I wuv you Valve.

  9. Erlam says:

    Fedora for the Spy, Fedora for the Spy, Fedora for the Spy…

    I love this idea. As long as Spies gain the hats of the player name they’re ’emulating’ I don’t think it will be a problem for them.

    The only thing I’d like them to do is remove the scout stun. Honestly, that was one of the key tenets of the game — DO NOT TAKE CONTROL OUT OF THE PLAYERS HANDS. I’m not sure what they could replace it with (though I’d be fine with a slow similar to natasha).

    And honestly, how many times have you actually NOT been pyro’d/demo’d/whatever regardless of your outfit? I just use it for the colour – anyone who takes the time to look close will also be shooting me.

  10. TheEvilMrRogers says:

    Weeeee, can I be a Pyro with a cow-boy hat!
    Cow-boy hat!

  11. Chalkster says:

    I can’t wait to see what they do with the pyro’s mask.

  12. Neut says:

    Shadowmancer what are you on about? The scout and pyro unlocks are in no way overpowered. The backburner has been nerfed for ages and now has a good tradeoff against the normal airblast flamethrower, and i dont think the tampon gun or axetinguisher are dominating any servers. As for the scout i personally play with the default loadout as i find it far more effective and lethal. The FaN has its uses but in competitive play its next to useless compared to the default scattergun. The energy drink is fun but again hardly single handedly taking down heavies, and the sandman was a lot of fun and annoyance but ppl seem to prefer to keep their double jump. Bring on more unlocks i say!

  13. unique_identifier says:

    i deleted all my unlocks with the irreversible button of deletening. in valve i trust.

  14. the affront says:

    I play scout with Bonk, and that’s it about the new things. And that only when there’s a shitload of engies around and getting past sentries is even viable (think ctf).
    No self-respecting scout uses the stun bat any more whatsoever. Same thing about the FaN, the only time it’s worth using is if you have great aim and are guaranteed to 2shot most scouts in most situations (as you’re just plain dead after reload against any half decent scatter scout), and there are enough of those on the other team in the first place. For everything else, maybe except stupid W+mouse1 pyros, scattergun is far superior.

    On topic.. I don’t really care. Customization is fine, but I get sick when hearing “unlockables”. How is having to unlock something while not being tied to the arbitrary definition of it being an achievement somehow NOT an achievement? There’s still the process of unlocking it… which makes it an achievement in my book – unless they go for an experience/skillpoint system or some such madhattery, or open a cash shop (lol). All of those shouldn’t be there in a game like this, imho.

    Anyway, “All games are improved by funny hats. HAT-FACT.” is undeniably true. I loves me some Planetside hats.

  15. Demon Beaver says:

    Heavy vill haf hat made of sandvich!

  16. jon_hill987 says:

    Customisation is stupid in TF2, the whole idea of the art style was so that you could tell the class of an enemy player at a glance, if all they all look bloody different thanks to the new “cosmetics” it breaks the game, it will effect gameplay what ever they say. Valve should stop copying battlefield heroes and leave TF2 alone for ten minutes. Or perhaps they could work on the rest of the class updates instead of useless content like this?

  17. Rich_P says:

    I agree with Real: give servers a vanilla option. They’ll die out soon enough if only a few people share my sentiment about the class unlocks.

    the whole idea of the art style was so that you could tell the class of an enemy player at a glance

    Well at one time Valve said they didn’t want to revoke control from the player, which is why they added the Sandman. Still waiting for grenades, which of course will be purely cosmetic :D

  18. Sam says:

    I’m going to go with the curmudgeonly response here. It’s not like I’ve been playing TF2 a lot recently anyway (partly because of the increasing number of unlocks pushing TF2 away from the game I liked), but this is just getting silly.

    (Still, if there was a vanilla option for servers…)

    (Ooo, also, I’m interested that Robin thinks the majority of interest in vanilla options comes from competitive players. I’m horribly non-competitive – I’m just *reactionary*, which is an entirely different thing. In any case, his argument that he wouldn’t want to deprive these competitive curmudgeons from his sparkly new content misses the point – a vanilla option is *another option for gameplay*, and thus increases the variability of TF2, not decreases it. Maybe he just doesn’t want to believe that some people preferred TF2 before people started messing with it?)

  19. Alex says:

    Can anyone actually find an interview where a Valve developer said that they didn’t want to take away players’ control?

    It seems like common knowledge that Valve said it, but I can’t find any interview backing it up.

  20. Fenchurch says:

    Aww man, I really really want a panzergrenadier helmet for my Medic. :-3

    Kombat Mediks, CHARRRGE!

  21. Dominic White says:

    Alex: If those ‘LFG’ hidden messages are for real, then Valve are officially awesome now (as if they weren’t before). Messing around with the angry internet men should be a new national sport.

  22. Nero says:

    Now I don’t know how the stats etc will work, but if they are random stats on weapons then I hope there will be some way to find “non stats” weapon servers, because while I enjoy unlocking new stuff and so on, the thing I love about TF2 is that you know instantly what stats the other character has. It’s the simplicity and awesomness that I love. But we’ll see, I’m still interested what they have planned.

  23. Nick says:

    Since they don’t seem to be able or willing to fix the massive FPS drops a bunch of people (myself included) suddenly got with an update about half a year ago, I uninstalled it. Sadly the third patch for L4D also suddenly added the lovely FPS drop effect to my previously flawless running of the game, but I can’t give that up yet.

  24. Cooper says:

    On the TF2 MMO threads; the steam forum users have an immense ability to take a parody and run with it, which is to be commended…

    On other notes, I am very glad that the additions are to be purely cosmetic – the current unlocks tend to anoy me as I don’t play enough to have unlocked them by grinidng and don’t care enough to join an achievement server…

    Silly hats are objectively A Good Thing.

  25. RabidZombie says:

    Cooper, the future update should be to your liking. They’re making the game changing weapons weapons easier to get with the new system (this is the whole backpack thing).

    Also, hats may or may not have stat changing settings in the future.

  26. Rei Onryou says:

    They’re clearly stealing Jim’s suggestions from the February PC Gamer podcast, where they were talking about what the Scout unlockables would be (~50mins in). Hat’s confirmed. Awaiting news of ability to adjust hat angle.

    Jaunty and conformist angles FTW!

  27. Nurdbot says:

    If the Heavy doesn’t get a Ushanka (The furry Russian winter hat) I will be gravely upset.

    Likewise if the Pyro get some sort of crazy bastard flaming crown.

  28. Radiant says:

    Didn’t Valve give a whole dissertation on the importance of clarity in pvp games?
    Doesn’t the unlocks and now the hats [changing the player silhouettes] go against all of that?

    Ahh Valve… you eternal tinkerers you.

  29. Andy`` says:

    During a ShackNews interview with Ken Levine, Mr. Shack said: “Shack: One of Valve’s big impacts on design is the principle of never ever taking away player control, and they still stick to that more stringently than pretty much anyone else in the genre.”

    This was of course an interview about BioShock, so chances are that it was comparing it to the similar game in its field, then non-multiplayer, non-cooperative Half-Life. It’s highly probable that this philosophy has been accidently attached to Valve as a whole, when in actuality it only really applied to the Half-Life team, and was only to do with player control during cutscene situations – the only direct quote on the matter I know of is from the Episode 1 commentary. There’s even a thread on the Steam forums where the only quote they could find was the EP1 one, so clearly this is everybody mixing up info in their heads.

    Nothing seems to have been mentioned from either the TF2 or L4D teams regarding player control, which makes sense given MP is a slightly different animal, with the only TF2 related thing I recall being a possible discussion that occured around Natascha only slowing you down and not stopping you completely – nothing to do with the devs however, just fans of the game theorising.

    #2: Post isn’t tagged with ye olde tf2 tag?
    #3: I for one welcome my new funny hat overlords.
    #4: RPS once said they never wanted to talk about PC games ever again. They lied! InitiateMobRule!

  30. Flappybat says:

    I’m concerned Valve is working harder at turning TF2 into some kind of uber meme than actually improving the game.

    I just want to play.

  31. Chis says:

    @Likewise if the Pyro get some sort of crazy bastard flaming crown.

    FIRE! I’ll take you to BURN!

  32. A-scale says:

    I am now 100% certain that this is part of a massive joke. We will love Valve all the more for it in the end.

  33. syrion says:

    Valve has a history of really screwing up Team Fortress. For most of the first half of TFC’s lifespan, they kept making the hwguy stronger despite everyone who played the game regularly thinking he was already overpowered. They nerfed concussion grenades for no apparent reason, and added teleporters, which just made the maps that much easier to defend (TFC was already a defensive game). By the time they finish “improving” TF2, it’s going to be unplayable.

  34. Apricot says:

    I am very in favour of silly hats. Also for different ways of getting the items. I quite enjoy having to do something to get them so I have a goal to work towards and a sense of achievement but the achievements are often dull, gindy and uninspired. I particularly look at the scout update where you had to jump 1,000 times or some such tom foolery.

  35. Down Rodeo says:

    I dunno, hats *are* awesome… and to be fair, outline-wise, they don’t exactly make a heavy look like a scout. Or even a demoman. Not even like a soldier. In the developer commentaries they talk about class first, team second, weapon third (I think). And Apricot, the idea behind that was to get players to jump more. It’s obvious that jumping as a Scout is the best tactic, but what better way to drill it into players’ heads than have them do it 1,000 times? I now jump more as a Scout. I wouldn’t put it down to uninspired development. Similar arguments can be made for a lot of the achievements (apart from, perhaps, the Pyro’s axe-murdering ones. They’re a bit iffy. Though fun.). As far as the Sandman goes, I don’t see why they didn’t have some kind of distracting screen effect when you were hit. They did the same kind of thing with being hit by boomer bile in L4D… Why not make the player’s vision go funny and screw around with the controls a little? This allows skilled or experienced players to mitigate the effects somewhat while still giving a combat bonus to the Scout. Anyone think that’s a little more palatable an idea?

  36. Rabbitsoup says:

    Silly hats are fine, but valve are ignoring a lot of folks with huge performance issues that they caused with the updates. have a look at the minimum and recommended requirements for some Lols.

    also why the hell are they moving onto this stuff befoer the finish the class updates? they havn’t even got past half way with them! surely they need to finish them and see if they work before jumping to the next step

  37. Cabbs says:


    These hats are merely part of a branch of content.

    Why do people always seem to think that employees working on ‘fun content’ like this would have been working on ‘actual content’ like improvements and bugfixes? There are alot of people at valve, you know, and they move around.

    For all we know, this is all just the ui guys bulding in compatability, and the hats are being made by some 3d content authors with nothing else to do.

  38. Kommissar Nicko says:

    It is a well known fact that in every phase of production, all of the employees do only one thing at any time. If revisions are required, everyone must finish up, then the entire team goes back and does bug-fixes. If they have to skip ahead, everyone must finish their current task, to keep everyone together, and then skip ahead in their dev-hymnal.

    This is the method of games manufacture that has been passed down the Armstrong line for generations.

  39. Monchberter says:

    I just wish the Heavy would get his mullet back. Alas i will be disappointed!

  40. Apricot says:

    Down Rodeo I really like your idea of the effect which, to me, sounds like boomer bile mixed with using source mod to drug someone. Control is not taken away but it makes it damn difficult to do anything useful.

    Also I like achievements that encourage different styles of play but 1,000 times is a bit excessive. They encouraged killing people while double jumping in a separate achievement anyway, and that was one I liked because it was a matter of finding the correct opportunity and using it rather than bouncing about like a rabit with ADHD.

  41. Wedge says:

    Good to see people only read the bullet points and not the interview itself…

    Gonna go play some TF2 now.

  42. Russ says:


    We’re talking about Valve here. They don’t have cubicles. They have pods. That is where they connect with “The Overseer”, Gabe Newell, to come up with new ideas and to work on current ideas.

  43. Rabbitsoup says:


    your trying to tell me that the people making hats have finished what they are going to do for the old class updates? or have no possible input on the updates?

    the UI test is all well and good, as is testing weapons drops but valve do not have a blank check to work on TF2 it would be nice if they did but they don’t. and right now they need to spend money on allowing people to play there game on the minimum and recommended requirements rather than anything else. I am currently fine but i know a lot of people that stopped playing last November and at the scout update and valve just sends them straight to the technical support page because they have fixed the problem already apparently. So you see as far as I’m concerned valve needs to spend its resources on stuff like this first and i see no evidence of this just hats.

  44. Saul says:

    Hunters and Smokers take away the control of the player in L4D, and they’re fundamental to the game. Ergo. Vale do not operate according to a “don’t take away control” rule. Still, I’ve not really played TF2 since the unlockables started coming out.

  45. Down Rodeo says:

    Apricot: that’s a fair point. I really felt it when I got the Sandman though! After having “taught” me to use the double jump all the time having it removed was a bit of a blow… This is why most players don’t use it, I feel.

  46. Chandrose says:

    Honestly, all of these unlocks have turned me off of ever coming back to a game that I really enjoyed when it first came out. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind new content. But I’m not down with new content that puts returning players behind the curve.
    However, hats are cool.

  47. Joshua says:

    Chalk me up with the folks that think Valve has done this game wrong. I was waiting for it for a long time (since the late 1990s) and enjoyed the “pure”, tightly balanced game that was in the pre-release beta even though I wish it had more CTF maps and it was weird how they just took out friendly fire because some people were playing the game some way. And the semi-random crits were just baffling.

    Still was alright. That said now I don’t even know what the game is, some half-balanced dumbed down monstrosity with periodic “class updates” dependent on some awful achievement grinding. Valve can ultimately make the game how they want but they lost a fan here.