TF2's latest update just broke everyone's hats, and players are freaking out [Update]

Team Fortress 2
(Image credit: Valve)

Update 9/26/2022 at 9:46 p.m. ET: Valve has patched the issue in a follow-up update to the game, allowing players to wear their usual cosmetic loadouts again. Our original story follows below.

What you need to know

  • Valve's classic class-based shooter Team Fortress 2 allows players to customize the game's nine classes with a huge variety of hats and other miscellaneous cosmetics.
  • Ever since cosmetics were added in 2009, players have been crafting, trading, buying, and collecting these items.
  • A new update to the game broke the ability to use hats with pieces of eyewear, resulting in a huge number of players being unable to use their usual loadout.
  • It's unlikely that this change was intentional, and it's most likely a bug that Valve will fix soon. Valve hasn't commented on the issue yet, however.

Even if you've never played Valve's beloved 2007 class-based shooter Team Fortress 2, I'm willing to bet money that you've heard about the game's hats. There are hundreds of them that players can craft, earn, trade for, and personalize as they play, giving everyone an opportunity to play virtual dress up with TF2's nine classes. It's not just hats, either; there are countless "Misc." cosmetics available, too, including shirts, pants, boots, face masks, and pieces of eyewear.

Ever since hats and other customization items were added to the game in 2009, TF2's passionate community has spent years trading, buying, and collecting them. An unfathomable amount of hours have been spent creating stylish and unique looks to take into the battlefield, and at this point, many longtime fans have a deep love for their loadouts. Most ultimately keep coming back almost 15 years later for TF2's stellar gameplay, but I'd be lying if I said that I didn't have a ton of fun creating fashion for its characters, too.

The Blighted Beak cosmetic I wear on my Medic is no longer compatible with the hat I use after the new update. (Image credit: Windows Central)

This is important context you need to know in order to understand the panic currently sweeping through the TF2 player base, as the latest update to the game has broken the cosmetic loadouts used by a huge portion of the game's community. Currently, it's impossible to use any of the game's hats while also wearing an eyewear Misc. cosmetic — an extremely common combination used by many, including yours truly.

Right now, it's unclear how the new update caused this issue to occur, but if we had to guess, we'd say it has something to do with this bugfix listed in the update's official patch notes:

  • Fixed being able to equip conflicting cosmetic items using +quickswitch

This indicates that Valve included a fix in this update that allowed players to use conflicting items (for example, two hats) at the same time by performing a glitch with a loadout quickswitching keybind. It's possible that in the process, the developer accidentally and incorrectly marked hats and eyewear cosmetics as incompatible with one another, resulting in the current situation.

Whatever the cause of the restriction is, it's highly, highly unlikely that it's intentional. Valve has always encouraged players to get creative with their items and loadouts, and there's no mention of a wider change to how TF2's cosmetics work in the patch notes, either. With any luck, the developer will put out a statement about the issue and patch the bug soon so that everyone can go back to looking snazzy and stylish.

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.