If you want to stand out from other gamers in Team Fortress 2 and express your unique style, you can get a few TF2 skins, apply them to your in-game character, and then show them off in TF2 matches. However, all those terms and properties can confuse many players, especially beginners.
If that’s the case with you, you are at the right place. Here is a complete Team Fortress 2 skins guide, where we dissect all those terms and explain everything there is to know about TF2 skins. This article was updated in 2023.
- Team Fortress 2 skins can be categorized into weapons and cosmetic items. While weapons affect gameplay, cosmetic items are for aesthetic purposes and don’t influence mechanics.
- Skins are classified into various qualities such as Normal, Unique, Vintage, Genuine, Strange, Unusual, and more. Each quality carries specific attributes, appearance, and acquisition methods, offering a wide range of choices for players.
- Players can acquire skins through methods like the item drop system, purchasing from the Mann Co. Store, opening crates, crafting, the Steam Community Market, and third-party marketplaces. Each method has its own advantages and considerations.
- Reskins offer a visual twist to weapons without altering their functionality, while Decorated items feature unique appearances tied to specific collections. Understanding grades and wear conditions adds depth to the skins’ rarity and visual appeal.
- While third-party marketplaces provide opportunities for acquiring rare skins, players should be cautious about potential scams. Relying on reputable platforms and being aware of security measures ensures a safe and enjoyable skin trading experience.
Weapons and Cosmetic Items
Team Fortress 2 skins or in-game items can be classified into two categories. The first one is weapons, and the second one is cosmetic items. There are also taunts, but they don’t have an insane list of properties tied to them, and we won’t discuss them here.
In Team Fortress 2, there are nine playable classes, and each class has a unique set of default weapons. Besides the default weapons, players can acquire other weapons with different stats and model designs.
For example, for the Pyro class, players can acquire Manmelter and use it instead of the default secondary, the stock shotgun. Unlike the shotgun, the Manmelter looks like a ray gun from a sci-fi movie. The Manmelter’s mechanics completely differ from the shotgun, including different damage stats.
On the other hand, cosmetic items don’t influence game mechanics in any way. Over 1700 cosmetic items are available in the game, including hats, glasses, codes, shirts, masks, footwear, and more. These items were previously known as hats and miscellaneous items. They can be equipped in any one of the three cosmetic item slots and then used in a TF2 match.
Besides cosmetic items and weapons, Team Fortress 2 skins are also classified based on item quality. The item quality is represented in the game using a color, where the item’s name is displayed in specific colors based on its quality. Certain items can also have two qualities, while others only have one.
First off, we have the Normal quality. The Normal quality is assigned to stock weapons. They don’t have any unique or special changes in their stats, designs, or effects. Plus, Normal quality items don’t occupy a slot in the backpack.
As it might have been clear by now, you don’t have to do anything to acquire Normal quality items. Each player gets the same stock weapons for all playable classes in the game, which is why they aren’t tradable either.
Up next, we have the “Unique” quality. This quality is assigned to items obtained through the item drop system, rewarded through achievements, purchased from the Mann Co. Store, and crafted. Players can also convert their Normal quality items into Unique items by applying a Name Tag or Description Tag to them through the in-game customization feature.
In terms of appearance, in-game mechanics, and functionality, Vintage items are no different than Unique items. So, what are Vintage items exactly? Vintage items are Unique items obtained before the Mann-Conomy Update. If you want to acquire them now, you’ll have to either trade for them with other players or buy them from the Steam Community Market.
Like Vintage items, Genuine items don’t have different functionality, appearance, or in-game mechanics compared to Unique or Normal items. This quality is assigned to items obtained by participating in a cross-game promotion or an in-game event. However, if you want to acquire them now, you can only purchase them from the Steam Community Market and acquire them through trading.
Unlike other item qualities discussed until now, Strange quality items have additional functionality compared to Normal items. Strange items have trackers tied to them, tracking kills or other events. This tracked info gets displayed as an item attribute, which means other players can also view it. However, besides this tracking, strange items aren’t visually or functionality-wise different from Normal items.
Unusual quality items are among the most popular items in the Team Fortress 2 skins scene. The Unusual quality can be assigned to weapons, taunts, and cosmetic items. The distinctive feature of these items is the special particle effects they have.
Unusual items are quite rare in Team Fortress 2. One of the most common methods to obtain these items is opening Mann Co. Supply Crates. However, you’ll have a less than 1% chance of obtaining any unusual item that way.
Because of their rarity and visual appeal, Unusual items are quite popular in the TF2 trading scene. There is even a separate trading category called Unusual trading. If you want to learn more about that, you can check out our Unusual trading guide.
Haunted is another quality of items where the functionality and appearance do not change compared to Normal items. However, what makes Haunted items different is that the ones with Strange quality will have two strange parts attached. These strange parts include Carnival Games Won and Carnival Underworld Kills.
Unfortunately, you can’t obtain these items through supply crates. You’ll have to buy them from the Steam Community Market or get them through trading.
Items with the Collector’s quality were obtained by completing special chemistry sets. The sets were introduced in the November 12, 2013 patch. You can trade or purchase them from the Steam Community Market to get them now.
Decorated items have the most unique and intricate appearance of all quality types. Items which special grade factors, exterior wear conditions, Strange counters, and Unusual effects get assigned the Decorated quality.
The layer of paint applied to Decorated items is the main feature of decorated weapons that makes them so different from other quality types. This paint depends on the collection that item is a part of. These collections include:
- The Teufort Collection
- The Craftsmann Collection
- The Concealed Killer Collection
- The Powerhouse Collection
- The Harvest Collection
- The Gentlemanne’s Collection
- The Pyroland Collection
- The Warbird Collection
Instead of a predetermined design, certain Decorated items, specifically the ones released after the Jungle Inferno Update, use War Paints. Multiple war paints have been released for the game as collections. These collections include:
- Jungle Jackpot Collection
- Infernal Reward Collection
- Decorated War Hero Collection
- Contract Campaigner Collection
- Saxton Select Collection
- Mann Co. Events Collection
- Winter 2017 Collection
- Scream Fortress X Collection
- Winter 2019 Collection
- Scream Fortress XII Collection
- Winter 2020 Collection
- Scream Fortress XIII Collection
- Scream Fortress XIV Collection
- Summer 2023 Collection
As mentioned, Decorated weapons are also classified in terms of grades. There are six grades in total. These grades represent the rarity of the particular item. The six grades include:
- Civilian (Light Blue)
- Freelance (Blue)
- Mercenary (Dark Blue)
- Commando (Purple)
- Assassin (Pink)
- Elite (Red)
decorated weapons also have exterior wear conditions assigned to them. These wear levels include Factory New, Minimal Wear, Field-Tested, Well-Worn, and Battle Scarred. Factory new ones are in pristine condition and appear brand new. Minimal Wear ones have some scratches but look almost as good as new ones.
Field-Tested weapons have a lot more scratches and even blood splatters. Well-Worn ones have tons of scratches and some paint chipped off, with a blood splatter here and there. Finally, Battle Scarred ones are extremely battered, with most paint chipping off.
Community is a quality assigned to those items given to players by Valve for their contributions to Team Fortress 2. For example, players who helped fix bugs, glitches and organize competitive events.
This quality is also assigned to items given to players by Valve. Unlike the previous, Self-Made items are given to the creators of Team Fortress 2 content submitted through the Steam Workshop.
Items with the Valve quality type are owned only by the organization’s employees. They are essentially developer items with insane stats, like over 100,000% damage bonus.
As mentioned, players can acquire weapons with unique model designs instead of stock ones. Well, it doesn’t end here. Almost all weapons in the game have a Reskin, which is a weapon that has the same functionality as their regular counterparts but has a very different visual appearance. For example, there is the regular Force-A-Nature and the Australium Force-A-Nature. The main classifications for Reskins include:
That said, you can find multiple options within a single Reskin classification for a single weapon type. For example, Reskins for the Scattergun includes Silver Botkiller Scattergun Mk.I, Rust Botkiller Scattergun Mk.I, Carbonado Botkiller Scattergun Mk.I, and three more within the Botkiller classification.
Acquiring Team Fortress 2 Skins
So, you have dialed down the precise Team Fortress 2 skin you want and are ready to get it and then show it off in front of your friends. But how to get it? Fortunately, there are multiple ways you can acquire Team Fortress 2 skins, including:
Item Drop System
Team Fortress 2 has a random item drop system where players can get in-game items after playing the game for some time. This drop can include weapons, Mann Co. Supply Crates, tools, and certain cosmetic items.
With that said, you won’t get drops just by staying AFK/idle after launching the game. You have to play the game. Plus, there is a cap to this drop system which resets each week. Once this cap is reached, you won’t get any more drops before the reset.
Mann Co. Store
The problem with random drops is that they are, well, random. That method won’t help you get the precise TF2 skin you want. One place you can check out for that is the Mann Co. Store. The Mann Co. Store is the in-game shop offering items you can purchase directly using funds in your Steam Wallet.
The next method to obtain items in Team Fortress 2 is by opening Mann Co. Supply Crates. These are in-game items shaped like a wooden crate that can be opened using a Mann Co. Supply Crate key. Once opened, the player gets a random skin based on the type of Crate they opened.
All items that you get from a Crate are tradable. Opening Crates is the only way you can obtain Unusual items, Strange weapons, and Strange Parts, besides trading for them with other players, of course.
Crafting is one of the most popular features of Team Fortress 2. Through the crafting system, players can use the items from their inventory that they don’t need to obtain other items, including weapons, cosmetic items, and materials like Scrap Metal or Class Tokens. To craft particular items, players must follow the appropriate blueprint recipe.
Steam Community Market
As mentioned, certain items, like Vintage quality items, can neither be crafted nor bought from the Man Co. Store. Fortunately, you can purchase them directly from the Steam Community Market.
The Steam Community Market is the official online Marketplace for tradable in-game items for Steam games like Dota 2, Rust, and more. At this Marketplace, players have listed their rare and unique TF2 skins for sale, which you can purchase using funds from your Steam Wallet.
Third-Party Team Fortress 2 Skin Marketplaces
If you don’t like the listings or prices on the Steam Community Market, you can also check out third-party marketplaces. That’s right; you can easily find multiple online platforms that operate as marketplaces for Team Fortress 2 skins.
There are several benefits of using third-party marketplaces:
- You can find some amazing deals on these platforms with incredible pricing.
- Certain extremely rare items are only available at these sites.
- You can use deposit and withdrawal methods like PayPal and digital wallets.
However, there is one thing you must be careful of while using a third-party platform: scams. Since these scam sites present themselves as legit with attractive designs, filtering them out becomes a nightmare. Fortunately, we have already done that for you. To stay safe from all scam sites, check out our picks of the best places to buy Team Fortress 2 skins.
Team Fortress 2 has a diverse range of skins and items players can equip and show off in TF2 matches. A particular skin can have multiple properties, including item quality, war paint, grades, exterior condition, add more. Plus, there are Reskins and other weapon types besides the stock ones all players get. Fortunately, now you know what each of those properties represents, and you can focus on acquiring the right skin for you.
What are Team Fortress 2 skins?
Team Fortress 2 skins refer to cosmetic changes applied to in-game items, including weapons and cosmetic items, to alter their appearance.
How do I distinguish between weapon qualities?
Different qualities like Normal, Unique, Vintage, Strange, and Unusual affect appearances and rarity. Understand each for informed choices.
What’s the significance of item wear conditions?
Wear conditions (e.g., Factory New, Battle Scarred) impact the appearance of Decorated items, reflecting their usage history and adding uniqueness.
How can I acquire Team Fortress 2 skins?
You can obtain skins through the item drop system, Mann Co. Store, opening crates, crafting, Steam Community Market, or third-party marketplaces.
What are Reskins and Decorated items?
Reskins offer visual variety, while Decorated items feature unique designs tied to collections. Grades and exterior wear further differentiate their rarity.
How can I stay safe when trading on third-party platforms?
To avoid scams, use reputable third-party sites, verify their legitimacy, and prioritize security measures when buying or trading skins.
Can I trade or sell the skins I acquire?
Yes, most skins are tradable and can be sold on platforms like the Steam Community Market. However, some qualities, like Normal, cannot be traded.
Are skins purely cosmetic or do they affect gameplay?
While cosmetic items only alter appearance, weapon skins may have different stats, making it crucial to understand their effects on gameplay.
What’s the appeal of Unusual items?
Unusual items have unique particle effects, making them highly sought-after. They’re rarer, obtained through Mann Co. Crates, and popular in trading.
Where can I learn more about Unusual trading and marketplaces?
To delve deeper into Unusual trading and marketplaces, consult specific guides and platforms to explore this niche aspect of Team Fortress 2.