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 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.
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
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 some weapons are missing critical glow effect. It's either purely cosmetic or hides the visibility of weapon being boosted, confusing the weapon holder and enemies. At this point the following weapons are not glowing while crit boosted:
- Ap-Sap (cosmetic)
- Bazaar Bargain
- Buff Banner (cosmetic)
- Cloak and Dagger (cosmetic)
- Cow Mangler 5000
- Enthusiast's Timepiece (cosmetic)
- Festive Axtinguisher
- Festive weapons attachments.
- Festive Sandvich (cosmetic)
- Freedom Staff (partly)
- Golden Wrench
- Holiday Punch
- Invis Watch (cosmetic)
- Jarate (partly)
- Loose Cannon
- Mad Milk (partly)
- Construction PDA (cosmetic)
- Phlogistinator (partly)
- Red-Tape Recorder
- Rescue Ranger (partly)
- Sandman (partly)
- Scottish Resistance
- Splendid Screen (cosmetic)
- Unarmed Combat
- Vaccinator (cosmetic)
- Wrap Assassin
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.
The Rocket trail effect sprites.
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.
While birthday mode is activated, players will spurt balloons instead of blood.
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
Treasure Hat effect
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, Outback Intellectual, Bubble Pipe, Aladdin's Private Reserve, Nine-Pipe Problem, Waxy Wayfinder, Gentle Munitionne of Leisure, Bearded Bombardier, Soldier's Sparkplug, Steam Pipe, and the Backpack Broiler. The Spy also has a thinner version of this while undisguised.
Map Stamps effect
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
Noise Maker effect
Flying bits effect
Nemesis burst effect
Unusual effects are attached to Unusual quality items. The first 14 effects were added to the game with the Mann-Conomy Update, 8 more unusual effects were added with the August 18, 2011 Patch, and 7 more unusual effects were added with the June 19, 2013 Patch. 4 more Halloween only effects were added with the Very Scary Halloween Special, and another 5 with the Spectral Halloween Special. Those can only be obtained during Halloween events. 10 more effects were added with the Robotic Boogaloo update, which can only be obtained through opening a RoboCrate.
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
- 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
- Miscellaneous 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.