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Graphics Configs & Game Setup

   yogrrt   - 2/25/2021
When you launch Team Fortress 2 for the first time, the settings chosen might not be the best for your particular setup. This guide is going to get you set up right whether you’re launching TF2 for the first time, or just starting on a fresh install.

Initial Game Setup

Launching TF2 for the first time off a fresh install often means starting in the wrong resolution, weird graphics settings, and some strange keybinds that might not make sense to you personally. These settings were set so that someone booting up fresh in 2007 could quickly play without having to change much, but a lot has changed in computer hardware in 13 years, so let’s get started.

Why does my game look so bad?

Cold booting the game after a fresh install often sets your resolution to the lowest possible value, making your game window stretched out and switching between windows very inconvenient. To fix this, simply navigate to Options and select the Video tab. Here, you’ll find all the settings we’ll change before anything else. First, change your resolution to the native option of your monitor; this resolution should be tagged with (native) at the end. You may have to change the Aspect Ratio setting to find your native resolution in the list.

Those dropdown boxes also where you can force the game to run in a different aspect ratio to your monitor if you prefer the stretched look. After this is complete, restart the game to make sure the settings you applied were saved. If the game reverts back to the previous settings, make sure your launch options are empty and try again.

Next, let’s get some settings dialed in for a better competitive experience. First, click on the Advanced... button in the video options and increase the Field of view slider all the way up to 90. Next, go back to the main menu, click on Advanced Options], and enable the following options:

  • Automatically reload weapons when you're not firing
  • Fast weapon switch
  • Play a hit sound everytime you injure an enemy
  • Display damage done as text over your target
  • Automatically respawn after loadout changes in respawn zones

If you have a decently powerful computer, your game should be ready to go! However, to get the most out of your competitive experience, we recommend changing some settings in the Advanced… tab to increase your frame rate. These settings allow you to customize certain detail values for aspects of the game, allowing you to get the best performance with a little tweaking here and there.

If you’re struggling to get more than 100 FPS with just the settings in the Advanced… tab, it might be time to work on setting up a dedicated graphics config, either through a 3rd party or by creating one yourself.

Configs

Configuration files (config, .cfg) are text files using the .cfg file extension that often contain a series of commands. When used in conjunction with the exec console command, TF2 can automatically execute all the commands within the config as if they were entered directly into the console. TF2 saves all your settings from keybinds to graphics options into a config named config.cfg, and competitive players use custom configs as a way to change a variety of settings on the fly without needing to go type them all into the console during a game.

By default, all configs are stored in the \tf\cfg\ folder of your TF2 directory.

Autoexec

autoexec.cfg is a special config that is executed every time the game is launched. Players often use this to force the game to re-execute common commands and settings that they want to be sure the game uses every time it is launched. TF2 doesn't create an autoexec in \cfg\ by default, so you'll have to create it yourself.

Third Party Configs

If you want to skip the tinkering and tweaking that comes with changing the settings in the options menus, you’re in luck. Members of the TF2 community have put together configs with adjustable settings, making it simple and easy to adjust graphics settings and get your game running smoothly in a short amount of time. We’ll go over the most popular options here, but there are many more out there that may work better depending on your computer’s power.

CFG.tf

CFG.tf is a website that allows you to create your own config and autoexec without having to fight through the mess of remembering console commands. Here, you’ll be able to adjust your graphics settings, set any custom binds, as well as change the defaults, toggle advanced options automatically, set launch options, run common scripts for things like C-Taps, removing bullet dust, removing explosions, and disabling hats, and even adjusting network settings. The site gives you full control of what gets placed in your config files, and gives you a zipped folder of all the class configs as well.

CFG.tf also offers a server config maker, which you can learn more about in our server management guide found here.

Mastercomfig

Mastercomfig is a deeply customizable config by mastercoms. The site allows you to pick from presets for graphics, as well as customize individual parameters, like level of detail, networking, sound settings, and HUD settings. Also provided is a list of common and helpful addons, which can further customize and improve performance at the click of a button. Mastercomfig utilizes a different approach to config files, placing them in “Valve Pack Files” or VPKs. VPKs work similar to ZIP files or RAR files, but without compressing the data inside. This means once you download your config VPKs, you just drop them into your custom folder, launch the game, and that’s it!

The customizability doesn’t stop there, though. Mastercomfig includes documentation on how to modify individual VPKs, change settings on the fly, and even includes examples from contributors who’ve done the tedious work themselves. If you want to customize but don’t know where to start, there’s even a discord server with people ready to help!

Custom HUDs

Heads up displays, or HUDs, are the games graphical display that shows your health, ammo, capture points, and more. The TF2 community has put together hundreds of HUDs for you to choose from, meaning you can experiment and find which HUD works best for you. With so many HUDs available, it might seem difficult to find the right one for you, but luckily there’s resources available to find, install, and create HUDs. HUDS.tf is a website dedicated to HUDs and customization. You’ll find most of the HUDs other players use, as well as resources for customizing and creating your own HUD from scratch!

Scripting

Scripting in TF2 done through using console commands allows you to set more than one action to any programmable key, as well as automate certain actions.

NOTE: Before you automate anything, make sure you’re still in compliance with RGL’s rules, as some automations for movement are prohibited.

Binding keys to do more than one action, such as sending a line of text as well as playing a voice line, is common in the competitive environment to enhance communication, as well as streamline gameplay. Common scripts for competitive players include C-Tap, medic radar, fake, and mask scripts, as well as viewmodel and crosshair changes per weapon. These scripts take advantage of the alias command, which allows you to rename a console command for ease of use.
For example, to fake an ubercharge call while not confusing your team, you can write the following:

alias med_call “voicemenu 1 7”
alias call_text “say_team I don’t actually have Uber yet.”

alias med_fake “med_call; call_text”

bind h “med_fake”

...into your medic.cfg file, and it will trigger the voiceline for calling you have Ubercharge, and say in team chat that you don’t have Ubercharge all with the press of one key. The more time you spend with scripting, the more able you are to make the game flow smoother for you!

All of the above information is just scratching the surface of what’s available, and with some digging you can find just about any combination of configs, HUDs, and scripts that work best for you. Most players are willing to tell you what customizations they have, and content creators often keep a list of what customizations they use if you like what you see. Our forums often have posts dedicated to discussing various HUDs, configs, crosshairs, and more, so getting your setup perfect for you is simple.

Guide written by - Yogrrt