The other day, TMNWG mentioned an idea for an article, about how hats and strange weapons can intimidate people. Of course, a strange weapon like a Hale’s Own Sniper Rifle is pretty impressive and slightly intimidating if the person using it is genuinely skilled (rather than some idiot farming it in achievement_idle_noglass) but hats… I don’t know, I really don’t think they’re as intimidating as they should be.
Hats used to be advertised as the be all and end all of TF2. You were a loser, poor and Irish, if you didn’t have something on your bonce. Hats have always been a sign of power and awe, a weapon of intimidation. There’s also a few little things you can do with them. We don’t get have a way to actually kill people with hats (Valve why?) so intimidation is the next best thing.
Thing is, are hats still any good at actually intimidating people?
We have a lot of hats now. Not just hats, but other cosmetics too, ones that go on your body. Chances are, a premium player has a few hats at least, whether they crafted them or found them. A newbie might have the odd hat as well. Hats aren’t exactly hard to get. Unusuals, yes, but unusuals are just sparkly versions of normal hats. There’s so many hats out there that far fewer of them are genuinely intimidating, even more so when some hats look very alike. And with everyone wearing a hat, you tend to find that some are more intimidating than others, but they’re all much of a muchness. A better way to intimidate someone is to dominate everyone on the enemy team, or be at the top of the scoreboard. Or just threaten to kill people in their sleep. That’s always intimidating.
It’s not all about intimidation. It used to be about fooling others. These tricks with hats have failed as well, as everyone’s now on to them. The Gibus Pyrovision Mercenary Badge Sniper is just as likely to be a pub star or even a proper competitive lad, pretending to be an idiot to get more kills. The Gibus itself has died out because no one falls for its noobish status any more, which leads to the fact that newbies can no longer obtain it.
Of course, the biggest part of this is that there’s a much higher number of genuinely stupid hats. Oh no, he has cats on his shoulders, he has a banana on his head, he has an inflatable balloon animal following him. So scary! Many cosmetic items do look very silly, and it’s hard to take anyone seriously when they look silly. Even when they have a gun pointed at you.
Unusuals still have a hint of intimidation though. They’re rare enough that just owning one puts you in the 1%, while often also looking pretty cool. Plus most unusual effects tend to glow, adding a bit of a spooky factor to them. Normal hats though are simply too common and too popular to intimidate anyone but the newest of players.