Particle effects

From Team Fortress Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Particle effects are used frequently in Team Fortress 2 to serve as decorations or visual cues for both various in-game events and cosmetic purposes. Any particle effect can be attached to any item or model theoretically, however, some effects appear exclusively on items of a particular quality; for example, the Unusual effects only appear on items with the Unusual quality.

Status effects

Status effects are used to indicate a change in player state to other players. A common example would be the overheal particles emitted from an overhealed player or one that recently picked up a health kit.

Overheal effect

Main article: Overheal

When a player is overhealed by the Medic, the player will emit medical crosses. The Overheal effect is also emitted when injured players pick up Health kits. It is also used on the Medi Gun beam itself, as well as the trail of the Crusader's Crossbow.

Critical spark effect

Main articles: Critical hits, ÜberCharge

The Critical spark effect is used to indicate that a player's weapon will deal critical damage. This is accompanied by a team-colored tint on the weapon itself. It is also used on the Medi Gun, Kritzkrieg and Quick-Fix to indicate that a charge is ready to be deployed.

Weapons missing effect

Currently these weapons are missing the critical glow effect. This means the effect is either purely cosmetic, or it hides the visibility of the weapon being boosted, often confusing the weapon holder and enemies. As of now, the following weapons do not glow while crit boosted:

Burning Player effects

The Burning Player effects is used during the burning of players.

Marked For Death effects

The Marked For Death effects are used to indicate that the player is marked for death. A player that is marked for death receives Mini-Crits from all oncoming damage.

Weapon effects

Most non-hitscan weapons have particle effects. These include the Rocket Launcher and Flamethrower.

Gameplay effects

Particles are used to indicate gameplay events.

Intelligence paper trail effect

While the Intelligence is being carried, it emits a stream of papers.

Australium laundry trail effect

While the Australium is being carried, it emits a stream of boxer shorts and socks.

Balloon effect

While birthday mode is activated, players will spurt balloons instead of blood.

Decorative effects

Decorative effects are not used to indicate any gameplay changes and are used purely for aesthetics.

Holy glow effect

The holy glow effect is attached to the Cheater's Lament.

Community sparkle effect

The Community sparkle effect is attached to Community or Self-Made items.

Treasure Hat effect

Main article: Treasure Hat

There is no known localized name for the Treasure Hat effect, but it is attached as a new particle system defined as "coin_spin". The particles from this effect are influenced by the movement of the wearer and will only be emitted when the player is in motion.

Genteel Smoke effect

The Genteel Smoke effect is attached to the Lord Cockswain's Novelty Mutton Chops and Pipe, Soldier's Sparkplug, Soldier's Stogie, Backpack Broiler, Bubble Pipe, Waxy Wayfinder, Aladdin's Private Reserve, Bearded Bombardier, Nine-Pipe Problem, Steam Pipe, Outback Intellectual and the Gentle Munitionne of Leisure. The Spy also has a thinner version of this while undisguised.

Map Stamps effect

Main article: Map Stamps

The map stamps effect is attached to the World Traveler's Hat. These render similarly to the purple and green Unusual confetti effects, but use stamp sprites instead. Like the Treasure Hat, the effect is influenced by the movement of the wearer and will only be emitted when the player is in motion.

Musical notes effect

The musical notes effect is attached to the Earbuds and Noise Maker (see below section).

Noise Maker effect

Main article: Noise Maker

The Noise Maker effect emits musical notes or ghost particles when used. Noise maker particles are colored to distinguish them from Earbuds.

Flying bits effect

Intended to be used for rendering flames on gibs, the flying bits effect is also attached to certain Valve weapons.

Nemesis burst effect

Unusual effects

See also: Unusual

Unusual effects are attached to Unusual quality items. The first fourteen effects ("1st generation") were added to the game with the Mann-Conomy Update in 2010. Eight more unusual effects ("2nd generation") were added with the August 18, 2011 Patch, and seven more ("3rd generation") were later added with the June 19, 2013 Patch. Ten more unusual effects were added with the Robotic Boogaloo update in 2013, these effects can only be obtained through opening a RoboCrate. Four unusual taunt effects were released with the Love & War Update in June 2014, prompting the first series of Taunt effects, available only from the Mann Co. Director's Cut Reel and Mann Co. Audition Reel. Four more unusual effects were later added with the End of the Line Update in 2014, these effects can only be obtained through opening an End of the Line Community Crate.

Four Halloween-only unusual effects were added with the Very Scary Halloween Special in 2011, another five with the Spectral Halloween Special in 2012, another eight as part of the Scream Fortress 2013 (as an undocumented change in the October 29, 2013 Patch) update, and another eight (two of which are Taunt effects) as part of the Scream Fortress 2014 update. Those can only be obtained during Halloween events, but from any crate that can be opened (including RoboCrates during that time window).

The different particle effects are viewable in this animation, as well as in this video.

In chronological order:

1st Generation Effects (2010)

2nd Generation Effects (2011)

Very Scary Halloween Special (2011)

Spectral Halloween Special (2012)

Robotic Boogaloo (2013)

3rd Generation Effects (2013)

Scream Fortress 2013

Love & War (2014)

Scream Fortress 2014

As well as the two Halloween-exclusive taunt effects:

End of the Line (2014)

Unused effects

Unused Unusual effects

In addition to the unusual effects introduced in the Mann-Conomy Update, the following effects were added at the same time, and are unused.

The following unused unusual effects were introduced with the Very Scary Halloween Special, and are unused.

The following unusual effect was introduced with the Spectral Halloween Special, and is unused.

G.R.U. skull effect

The G.R.U. skull effect was emitted when the Gloves of Running Urgently were wielded by the player.

Rotating Birthday Cake

Currently Unused


Update history

July 13, 2010 Patch
  • Improved the performance of the critboost particle effect.

September 30, 2010 Patch (Mann-Conomy Update)

  • Added effects: Green Confetti, Purple Confetti, Haunted Ghosts, Green Energy, Purple Energy, Circling TF Logo, Massed Flies, Burning Flames, Scorching Flames, Searing Plasma, Vivid Plasma, Sunbeams, Circling Peace Sign, and Circling Heart.
  • [Undocumented] Added effect: G.R.U. skull.

December 7, 2010 Patch

  • Added effect: Treasure Hat particle effect.

October 27, 2010 Patch (Scream Fortress Update)

  • [Undocumented] Added effect: Marked For Death.

December 17, 2010 Patch (Australian Christmas)

  • Added effect: Map Stamps particle effect.

August 18, 2011 Patch (Manno-Technology Bundle)

  • [Undocumented] Added effects: Stormy Storm, Blizzardy Storm, Nuts n' Bolts, Orbiting Planets, Orbiting Fire, Bubbling, Smoking, and Steaming.

August 23, 2011 Patch

  • Fixed the Sunbeams effect.

October 27, 2011 Patch (Very Scary Halloween Special)

  • [Undocumented] Added effects: Cloudy Moon, Orbiting Cloudy Full Moon, Eerie Orbiting Fire, Flaming Lantern, Orbiting Shells, and Cauldron Bubbles.

June 11, 2012 Patch

  • Fixed a rare case where the offensive/defensive buff particle effects could get stuck on players.

June 27, 2012 Patch

  • Fixed cases where some clients didn't receive broadcasts about long continuous particle effects being started or stopped.

June 28, 2012 Patch

  • Fixed missing DX8 particle effects.

October 26, 2012 Patch (Spectral Halloween Special)

  • [Undocumented] Added effects: Knifestorm, Misty Skull, Harvest Moon, It's A Secret To Everybody, and Stormy 13th Hour.

February 14, 2013 Patch

  • Increased the particle limit.

May 17, 2013 Patch (Robotic Boogaloo)

  • [Undocumented] Added effects: Anti-Freeze, Electrostatic, Green Black Hole, Memory Leak, Overclocked, Phosphorous, Power Surge, Roboactive, Suplurous, and Time Warp.

June 5, 2013 Patch

  • Attachment point and offset for particle effects on unusual hats can now be adjusted from the character loadout screen.
  • Fixed a bug that would cause unusual effects to float in the air over dead players.
  • Fixed a bug that would cause unusual effects to show incorrectly sometimes when spectating other players.

June 19, 2013 Patch

  • [Undocumented] Added effects: Aces High, Cloud 9, Dead Presidents, Disco Beatdown, Kill-a-Watt, Miami Nights, and Terror-Watt.

July 11, 2013 Patch

  • Fixed Disco Beat Down unusual effect showing through walls.

September 3, 2013 Patch

  • Removed showing the Marked For Death icon over the head of the local player.

October 29, 2013 Patch (Scream Fortress 2013)

  • [Undocumented] Added effects: Arcana, Spellbound, Poisoned Shadows, Chiroptera Venenata, Hellfire, Something Burning This Way Comes, Darkblaze, and Demonflame.

July 30, 2014 Patch

  • Fixed a bug related to orphaned marked for death particles.

June 18, 2014 Patch (Love & War Update)

  • [Undocumented] Added Taunt effects: '72, Fountain of Delight, Holy Grail, Mega Strike, Midnight Whirlwind, Screaming Tiger, Showstopper, Skill Gotten Gains.

October 29, 2014 Patch (Scream Fortress 2014)

  • [Undocumented] Added Amaranthine, Bonzo The All-Gnawing, Ghastly Ghosts, Ghastly Ghosts Jr., Haunted Phantasm, Haunted Phantasm Jr., Stare From Beyond, and The Ooze unusual effects.

December 8, 2014 Patch (End of the Line Update)

  • [Undocumented] Added Death at Dusk, Frostbite, Molten Mallard and Morning Glory unusual effects.

January 30, 2015 Patch

  • Fixed a client crash related to the particle system.

February 11, 2015 Patch #1

  • Added convar r_drawtracers_firstperson to disable the drawing of first person bullet tracer particles.

February 18, 2015 Patch

  • Fixed a client crash related to disappearing particles, props, and players.
  • Fixed some Unusual particle effects not drawing correctly.

[Unknown Date]

  • Added effect: Rotating Birthday Cake.


  • The Nuts n' Bolts particle effect has a visual problem. When circle strafing around a player, the Nuts n' Bolts appear to slow right down or even stop moving. This is much easier to detect if crouched.
  • On certain graphics drivers, particles no longer appear to have a distinct bright glow. This applies on the medibeam, unusual effects and energy based weapons. It has also has been reported by DirectX 11 users.
  • Upon death or disconnect, particle effects often stay in the spot the player was, fully animated.
  • The 'Marked for Death' particle effect sometimes appears when the user is not marked for death.


  • Particle effects that are attached to an item will not be visible to the player wielding it in first-person view, unless the player is using the cl_first_person_uses_world_model console variable.
  • Cosmetic items with particle effects can create multiple effect combinations.
  • Particle effects get hidden by Wheel of Fate big heads effect. However, if being watched as the head expands, the effect will be repositioned and be visually correct.

External links