Particle effects

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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.

Burning player

The burning player effect is used during the burning of players. When viewed in Pyroland, the flames are replaced with multi-colored sparkles.

Critical spark

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 Guns to indicate that a charge is ready to be deployed.

Weapons missing

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:

Marked For Death

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 incoming damage.

Nemesis Burst

The Nemesis effect pulses outwards from the Domination icon above a dominating player. The effect is team-colored to match the team of the dominating player.


Main article: Overheal

When a player is overhealed by a 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.

Weapon effects

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

Gameplay effects

Gameplay effects are used to indicate gameplay events.

Australium laundry trail

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


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

Dollar sign

When playing Mann vs. Machine, dropped credits will a emit green dollar sign particle if the robot was killed normally. Dropped credits will emit a red particle if the robot was killed by a Headshot or by bleed damage through the Explosive Headshot upgrade or by the Tribalman's Shiv.

Intelligence paper trail

While either the Intelligence or Ticket briefcases are being carried, they emit a stream of papers.

Decorative effects

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

Flying Bits

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

Genteel Smoke

The Genteel Smoke effect is attached to a variety of items. A smaller version of the effect is also attached to certain items, as well as an undisguised Spy.

Holy glow effect

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

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

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

Noise Maker

Main article: Noise Maker

The Noise Maker effect emits musical notes and ghost particles when a Halloween-themed Noise Maker used. The musical note particles are twice as large as the ones produced by the Earbuds.

Snow burst effect

The snow burst effect is produced by using the Winter Holiday Noise Maker and by beginning the Skating Scorcher taunt. Snowflakes burst outwards to form a sphere around the player before slowly drifting downwards and fading away.


Main article: Spy-cicle

Particles eminate from the base of the Spy-cicle, emulating a cool mist.

Treasure Hat

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's model is in motion: even moving on the spot with a taunt will cause coins to fall.

Unusual effects

See also: Unusual

Unused particle effects

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 9, 2015 Patch

  • Fixed the Mega Strike unusual taunt effect showing through walls.

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

March 12, 2015 Patch

  • Fixed a bug that caused some particles to not draw correctly.

July 2, 2015 Patch (Gun Mettle Update)

  • [Undocumented] Added Isotope, Hot, Cool, and Energy Orb unusual effects.

July 8, 2015 Patch #1

  • Fixed cosmetic items with an ambient particle effect (i.e. Soldier's Stogie, Nine-Pipe Problem) erroneously reporting that they had the Genteel Smoke unusual effect.

August 18, 2015 Patch

  • Fixed character loadout menus so they display the particle effects for all equipped Unusual items.

October 6, 2015 Patch (Invasion Update)

  • [Undocumented] Added Abduction, Atomic, Subatomic, Electric Hat Protector, Magnetic Hat Protector, Voltaic Hat Protector, Galactic Codex, Ancient Codex, and Nebula unusual effects.

October 12, 2015 Patch

  • Fixed Unusual versions of the Taunt: Burstchester not displaying their Unusual effects.

October 28, 2015 Patch (Scream Fortress 2015)

  • [Undocumented] Added Death by Disco, It's a mystery to everyone, It's a puzzle to me, Ether Trail, Nether Trail, Ancient Eldritch, and Eldritch Flame unusual effects.

October 29, 2015 Patch

  • Fixed the Invasion Unusual effect "Subatomic" being off-center.

October 21, 2016 Patch (Scream Fortress 2016)

  • Added 8 new community-created Unusual effects.
    • 4 new effects for Unusual hats.
    • 4 new effects for Unusual taunts.

December 1, 2017 Patch

  • Fixed rendering issues with the Infernal Flames, Infernal Smoke, Cloudy Moon, It's A Secret To Everybody, Ancient Eldritch, Eldritch Flame, and Death by Disco unusual effects.

[Unknown Date]

  • Added effect: Rotating Birthday Cake.

March 28, 2018 Patch #1

  • Fixed the Community Sparkle particle effect not drawing on the viewmodel for players with Community and Self-Made weapons.
  • Added a unique particle effect whenever a player performs a "Stomp" attack on another player with the Mantreads or The Thermal Thruster.
  • Updated the Harvest Moon, Dead Presidents, and Circling Peace Sign unusual effects to fix display problems.

October 19, 2018 Patch (Scream Fortress 2018)

  • Added 17 new community-created Unusual effects.
    • 11 new effects for Unusual hats.
    • 6 new effects for Unusual taunts.

October 25, 2018 Patch

  • Updated the Roaring Rockets unusual taunt particle effect.

October 30, 2018 Patch

  • Updated the Roaring Rockets unusual taunt particle effect.

December 19, 2018 Patch (Smissmas 2018)

  • Updated the Starstorm Slumber unusual effect to fix a display problem.

October 10, 2019 Patch (Scream Fortress XI)

  • Added 20 new community-created Unusual effects.
    • 12 new effects for Unusual hats.
    • 8 new effects for Unusual taunts.

December 16, 2019 Patch (Smissmas 2019)

  • Added 17 new community-created Unusual effects.
    • 11 new effects for Unusual hats.
    • 6 new effects for Unusual taunts.

August 21, 2020 Patch (Summer 2020 Pack)

  • Added 4 new community-created Unusual effects.
    • 9 new effects for hats.


  • One end of the particle effect on Kill-a-Watt and Terror-Watt may randomly attach to temporarily random areas of a map, causing the effect to stretch from the point through any walls to the wearer's head.
  • On certain graphics drivers, particles no longer appear to have a distinct bright glow. This applies to 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 of cosmetic items may appear in First Person view.
    • The particle effects of the player and their cosmetic items does also appear while spectating someone.
  • Effects that have been adjusted may not appear.
  • The Genteel Smoke effect does not appear on the Loadout menus.
  • Due to an issue with both the Genteel Smoke effect and Earbuds Musical Notes effect, any item that goes to the bip_head bone (i.e. most items that go to the Hat equip region), paired with an item that has the smoke/notes effect and shares the same bone, will cause the item to get slightly out of sync with the player's movement, occasionally clipping on the character's player model.
  • If a player who is marked for death uses a Teleporter, the particle effect will remain above the entrance for a few seconds.


  • 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