The Crosslinker’s Coil is a promotional item for the game Gunpoint, modeled after the hat of the main character, Richard Conway. Since the game is 8-bit, I really can’t tell if this hat is a faithful reproduction of Conway’s hat or not.
The Crosslinker’s Coil is named after the main gadget of the game, the Crosslink. It is a brown, leather wide-brimmed fedora. There is a coil of yellow wires at where a ribbon usually is, secured in place by black electrical tape. On the left side of the hat is a battery and switch compartment with two team-coloured batteries.
There are always cries of Valve abandoning the original TF2 artstyle. People said that the original 1960’s spy/sci-fi aesthetics are gone due to the inclusion of cosmetics that just doesn’t fit within the setting of the game. You can read more about TF2’s art style in this article, where it talks about how the art style of TF2 came about. But anyways, TF2 always have a theme of absurdity to it, so personally I am fine with the Flanderization of TF2’s aesthetics, but I can see why people are upset.
Promotional cosmetics are usually the ones people talk about when they say TF2’s original artstyle is being murdered by cosmetics. Since they are, well, promotional items for whatever game/animation/magazine/thingy they are from, they generally brought over the aesthetics and art themes of the source material into TF2. I mean, just look at what has been added into the game:
However, the Crosslinker’s Coil is in a rather special position since it is based off a spy with a fashion sense from the sixties. Thus, the Crosslinker’s Coil actually fits with TF2’s artstyle rather well. It even echoes the spy theme by having the hat look like some gadget with the wire coils, switch and battery, and reinforces the goofiness of the game by having the fancy gadgetry exposed in plain sight rather than being more discretely hidden, much like the Camera Beard. Granted, we can make sure that only games with similar themes to TF2 get promotional cosmetics in the game, but that’ll just be terribly restrictive, isn’t it?
Speaking of promotional items, has the amount of promotional cosmetics from non-Valve companies been getting a lot lesser lately? In 2015, we have the Batman: Arkham Knight items. In 2016, we have the Disgaea items and the Boiling Point taunt. In 2017, we have absolutely nothing at the point of writing.
Why have the supply of promotional items in TF2 dried up? A better question, why were they here in the first place?
TF2 has always been one of Valve’s biggest games. Not to mention, it has a unique advantage of having a reputation of wacky, casual fun and many wildly varying cosmetics jumping around the place. Dota 2‘s cosmetics all have a strong fantasy theme to it in general, except maybe Io’s Benevolent Companion skin. This means the games or other assorted media that can have promotional cosmetics in Dota 2 are rather limited especially since Valve seems unwilling to open up the floodgates. CS: GO is largely bounded by its more realistic setting, even if the ludicrous gun skins seem to suggest otherwise. TF2’s artstyle is cartoony and hence a lot more flexible. Thus, you can have cosmetics with extremely different themes jumping around the place without it looking too weird. Unless it’s the Nabler.
As for other non-Valve games, Overwatch and League of Legends have a similar issue: instead of having assorted cosmetics or weapon skins, their cosmetic options are skins for the champion itself, meaning that creating a promotional cosmetic for these two games will require someone to design a while new character skin, while for TF2 the person will just need to model a hat. PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS is still in early access, H1Z1 is also bound by its realistic setting and early access status, and GTA V … need I say more.
Besides, since TF2 is under Valve, it has a rather unique business advantage. Since a lot of games from different publishers are released on Steam, Valve is in a prime position to promote these games. Thus, it will be easier for Valve to negotiate a deal than, say, EA (Origin) or Blizzard (Battle.net). Besides, it is a rather big multiplayer game, which will maximize its promotional potential.
So then, why is there a drop in promotional items in TF2?
Cosmetics first entered TF2 in 2009 during the Sniper VS Spy update. The first promotional cosmetic from a non-Valve affiliated company is for Sam & Max: The Devil’s Playhouse in April 2010. There was a huge increase in promotional cosmetics during 2011, the year TF2 went free to play. While there are more promotional item packs released after the update (17 to 12), there is a trend of games being more likely to be released at the second half of the year, and the update was in June 23, almost exactly in the middle of the year. Unfortunately, Steamcharts only has data up to July 2012, but the average player count since then has always been rather consistent, so the playerbase definitely isn’t shrinking as badly as most would’ve thought.
While the amount of promotional cosmetics had been dropping since 2011, there was a somewhat sharp drop between 2014 and 2015. In 2014 we have items from Octodad, Rock Paper Shotgun, Alien: Isolation, Bioshock Infinite’s season pass, The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris, Thief (the reboot), and Wolfenstein: The New Order. So what happened between then? Overwatch was announced in late 2014, but I doubt that was the issue, since the comparisons between the games would actually boost TF2’s name recognition. Could it be that the End of the Line update was that disappointing?
Although the fact remains that TF2’s name is definitely not as big as it used to be. There are bigger names in video games now, with larger playerbases, flashier graphics, more money and press behind them, and
much less hats being much more in the public spotlight. There is a lot less worth in having promotional items in TF2 than before, so most likely even if Valve approached developers about it they might think twice about the prospect.
You know, it could be for entirely different reasons. As I said, the amount of promotional item packs have been dropping since 2011. It could be a decision on Valve’s part to reduce the amount of promotional cosmetics, and not a result of outside factors.
Besides, it’s not as if we need promotional items to get ridiculous cosmetics anymore.
Oh man, how did I digress that badly.
Back on topic, the Crosslinker’s Coil is actually one of the all-class cosmetics that isn’t too out of place, as mentioned way above in paragraph 5. And the fact that it’s a promotional cosmetic just makes the fact even more remarkable. Personally, I always find it a bit weird on Spy, since most of his fedoras don’t have that wide a brim except for the Bloodhound and A Hat to Kill For. Spy is rather slim, so large hats tend to make him look a bit top-heavy and awkward. Considering the Spy is the man with the closest job description to Richard Conway, that’s a bit unfortunate.
Aside from that, it’s one of those “simple but nice” cosmetics. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the hat, and you can wear it with most cosmetics without a problem. A wide-brimmed fedora is rather similar to what Indiana Jones wears, and since it is practical headwear for exploring the tropics, you could use it for a explorer/adventurer themed loadout. In fact, if you use the Fortune Hunter, you can quite easily make such a cosmetic loadout for all classes.
Other than that, you can emphasize on the wiring and components, and build a tech-themed loadout. You can also go for the spy theme that Gunpoint has and have a covert agent cosmetic loadout. For that, the Doublecross-Comm will be quite good, as is the Head Mounted Double Observatory. Or you can get the Chicago Overcoat and cosplay as Conway himself in TF2.
Really, this is a damn good hat.