Counter-Strike 2: Coming to PC Summer 2023
After weeks of countless rumors, Valve has finally made a public announcement introducing Counter-Strike 2 (CS2), a free upgrade to the popular Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. The game is expected to come with revamped maps, enhanced lighting, modifications to smoke grenades, a new sub-tick server system, and more, and will be available in Summer 2023. Let’s dive in with all the details.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO)
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is a 5v5 tactical first-person shooter in which two teams compete in multiple rounds of objective-based game modes with the goal of winning enough rounds to win the match. The game has an attackers versus defenders setup and no respawns, meaning if a player is eliminated they will not respawn until the next round.
The main objective of the game depends on which team you are currently playing as: the objective of the terrorist team is to plant and successfully detonate a bomb at a specific bomb site, and the objectives of the counter-terrorist team are to defuse planted bombs and rescue or guard hostages. A team can also win on a complete elimination of the opposing team. Each game consists of several rounds where both teams take turns with each faction. At the start of each round, players customize their arsenal by spending money earned in previous rounds.
CS:GO was developed by Valve Corporation and Hidden Path Entertainment and launched to the public in 2012. The game demands quick reaction times, pixel perfect aim, and map awareness, and to excel, players must possess strategic thinking skills and be able to work seamlessly as a team.
History of Counter-Strike
The first official Counter-Strike title was released in 2000, and its journey to get to release is an interesting one. The game was initially conceived in the form of a mod of Half-Life, a game that was developed in 1998 by Valve and Sierra Studios. The Half-Life mod was created unofficially by developers and fans of the game Minh Le and Jess Cliffe and quickly gained popularity and traction. In 2000, the fifth beta version of the Half-Life mod was released, finally catching the eye of developer Valve, who saw the potential in the mod and moved to support Le and Cliffe and help them continue their work. After hiring the duo and working with them to further develop the title, Valve released the first non-beta version of Counter-Strike in September 2000.
The original Counter-Strike was followed in 2004 by Counter-Strike: Condition Zero, developed by Turtle Rock Studios. Eight months later, Valve released Counter-Strike: Source, a remake of the original Counter-Strike and the first in the series to run on Valve’s newly created Source engine. CS:GO, the fourth game in the series, was released in 2012 and expands upon the team-based FPS gameplay pioneered by Counter-Strike: Source.
Now, after a development gap of 11 years, players get to see their favorite maps get an upgrade with enhanced graphics in Counter-Strike 2. Unofficial sources have also been referring to the new game as Counter Strike GO Source 2, in reference to the gaming engine it uses.
Counter-Strike and the competitive world of Esports
The classic gameplay and mechanics of the Counter-Strike franchise have defined the FPS genre. Modern games today include a lot of the mechanics that Counter-Strike was the first to implement or popularize. For example, realistic recoil patterns for guns, in-game currencies, and multiple objectives are all features that Counter-Strike helped to popularize.
Sure, multiplayer gaming existed before Counter-Strike, but the franchise’s games greatly improved upon the format. At a time when getting set up to play online with others was relatively complicated, with Counter-Strike, it was easy to quickly join a match with friends or complete strangers. You could play for just a couple of hours or for days at a time. This made the game accessible to both hard-core and casual gamers. The community designed and created a majority of the maps; if a map was particularly well-made, more people would play it.
Over time, the Counter-Strike franchise became one of the biggest series within gaming culture, and CS:GO happens to fit well within the competitive world of esports. The game is well-suited to being played in professional tournaments and also to being watched by avid and loyal fans via live streams of online broadcasts. Eventually, increasingly larger gaming tournaments emerged that were highly organized, and they started to include huge prize pools.
In 2006, the Intel Extreme Masters stood out amongst the organizations that were arranging gaming competitions, and they made CS:GO a truly international competitive esport. Intel Extreme Masters is, to this day, still one of the premier Counter-Strike competitions worldwide.
Counter-Strike 2: a revamped and enhanced experience
Counter-Strike 2 will completely replace CS:GO when it officially releases later this year. The game is set to bring many new and welcoming changes to the game thanks to the new gaming engine Source 2 that it uses.
- Better Lighting and Visuals: The biggest change in Counter Strike 2 compared to the previous game is the lighting and visuals. The original CS:GO uses the Source gaming engine, which powered popular titles like Portal 2, Half-Life 2, and more. Counter-Strike 2 uses Valve’s new Source 2 engine, which has been used to make titles such as the VR hit Half-Life: Alyx, Dota Underlords, and Artifact. Source 2 enables new lighting effects, including a physically based rendering system. This allows for realistic materials, lighting, and reflections. Old maps are now better lit in places that were previously too dark.
- Map Rework and Overhauls: Valve is upgrading some of the most popular CS:GO maps using the new Source 2 engine. Maps have been divided into three update categories:
- Touchstones are the legacy foundation maps that are the most popular. These maps are tournament standard and come with gameplay changes, graphics, and lighting updates. Apart from that, these maps are untouched and intact. Dust 2 and Mirage are two examples.
- Upgrades are maps receiving a Source 2 facelift. These maps will feature improved lighting, textures, and reflections. Nuke and Ancient are shown utilizing this.
- Overhauls are maps that have been completely remade for Counter-Strike 2. Overpass is one of the maps shown to get a complete overhaul.
- Smoke Has Been Reworked: Smoke grenades have been redesigned to become dynamic volumetric objects that interact with the environment. Now that Counter-Strike 2 smokes can be altered by players, players can use weapons and items like grenades to move entire smoke grenades out of the way. Shooting through smoke now produces a line of sight through it, allowing both teams to peer through the cloud.
- New Sub-Tick System in CS2: One of the biggest complaints from players in competitive arenas is server tick rates. In Counter-Strike 2, servers are tickless, and player actions will happen at the exact moment that the button is pressed rather than during a set tick.
Counter-Strike 2 limited test
A limited test version of Counter-Strike 2 is playable right now for those specially selected by Valve. Selection is based on a number of factors, including recent playtime on Valve official servers, trust factor, and Steam account standing. Selected players should receive a prompt when they next boot up CS:GO. Any esports-level player that has attended a major competition or has been involved in Valve’s competitions in some capacity will already have been granted access to the limited test; however, most players will have to wait until the full release to access the new features.
Counter-Strike 2 will be available on Steam in Summer 2023, which means sometime between May and June. It has only been confirmed for PC, but an Xbox version will likely soon follow. While you are waiting for its release, be sure to check out the Xbox Game Pass, and see why Acer is an official sponsor.
Ashley is a technology writer who is interested in computers and software development. He is also a fintech researcher and is fascinated with emerging trends in DeFi, blockchain, and bitcoin. He has been writing, editing, and creating content for the ESL industry in Asia for eight years, with a special focus on interactive, digital learning.