Between the 742 hats, cosmetics, and visible action slot items in Team Fortress 2, Valve has in general done a very good job of steadfastly keeping them cosmetic-only. While it’s fun to deck your character out in crazy stuff, it’s not possible to actually use these items to gain in-game benefits, right?
1. The Ball-kicking Boots are among my top 5 favorite cosmetics in the game. Sure they aren’t flashy (in fact they’re hardly noticeable) but they spawn a soccer ball you can play with! How cool is that?
Bored waiting for the match to start on BLU? Type “BALL IN BLU SPAWN!!!” and watch your teammates go nuts wailing on the poor ball. Bring it to ♥♥♥♥-around parties and give those sandvich heavies something to do. Lock the train on its tracks in cp_freight. The possibilities are endless!
One last advantage: it changes your footstep sounds to those of cleats. The cleat sounds are actually slightly quieter than stock footstep sounds. This helps you ambush people, especially in higher levels of play where people have shelled out money for ultra-sensitive headsets.
2. This next one is only possible on Halloween servers, but it’s pretty awesome. Wearing the full Frankenheavy set adds a custom taunt where Heavy shouts at the enemy, very scary. This taunt plays over any other taunt…including consumables. And its quicker than the “NomNomNom” taunt.
Scarf down that Dalokohs Bar in 3 seconds and get to work. The Sandvich heals less because it doesn’t fully finish the taunt, but considering you probably weren’t at 1 hp you’ve got a good shot at healing to full anyway. So while it’s not a straight upgrade, I’d take it over the full Sandvich effect in a heartbeat.
3. This one is an arguable upgrade, probably a downgrade. I personally listed it as a downside in my derpy Pyro loadout I made and still enjoy playing uselessly. But the Jingle Belt and Bootie Time, for Pyro and Scout, have a listed attribute: Jingle all the Way. Even Valve listed it in red.
Yeah, you can hear the tinkling of sleigh bells as you run through the map, and so can everyone else. Good thing Pyro and Scout don’t rely heavily on ambush and the element of surprise or anything…
But there is a very straightforward upside: Disguised spies will not jingle. So if they disguise as you, sharp-eared friendlies can identify the traitor right off the bat. A few other cosmetics have “ruining spy disguises” as a feature, such as the Hot Rod (the hood flips down when the Spy’s holding a sapper because the game thinks he’s hauling a building), and Bombinomicon, who doesn’t explode on Dead Ringer death.
Of course, that last one goes both ways…
4. Spies with the Dead Ringer equipped can benefit from wearing the Bombinomicon. A problem with the current Dead Ringer involves the way it simulates death; if you don’t gib, it ignores momentum and so the dead ragdoll will just fall to the ground from reference pose. Experienced players can spot this a mile away, even from a corpse they didn’t see die. Like Sherlock Holmes, they can turn a corner, see a body, and immediately call out “Dead Ringer Spy!”
So clearly, it’d be beneficial to never leave a corpse. And that’s where the Bombinomicon comes in. Thanks for the horrible curse of gibs Monoculus!
5. I saved for last what our previous article on this topic covered first: messing with Snipers trying to score headshots. BiteTheBullet focused on shrinking the head to minimize the target (and to that effect, I have to recommend the Apparition’s Aspect for Pyro. Since you literally don’t have a head anymore). But sometimes enlarging the head can be even worse for their aim.
The Area 451 is an awful cosmetic for the Pyro that turns his head into a bulbous floppity mass. It looks bad, is bad, and if you wear it you should feel bad.
It doesn’t actually enlarge the Pyro’s head hitbox, meaning that now 33% of your cranium is full of hot air (just like real life). Other large head additions can do this as well, such as the Crafty Hair, Cadaver’s Cranium, or any of the asundry top hats, but they don’t work nearly as well as the Area 451 because Snipers can quickly tell they aren’t actually part of your head.
Of course, the real downside is that a lot of these cosmetics don’t seem worth the loss in potential swag you can get from wearing better-looking stuff. But if you can suffer through the jibes and sideways glances from your stylish friends, these very real statistical benefits have their time and place.