It’s finally here. After years of speculation, Valve is officially releasing Counter Strike 2. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has been the premier first-person shooter title since it’s release in 2012. The last few years, in particular, have seen the game and the esports scene grow massively. However, an upgrade is way overdue. It’s still a great game, but it basically needs to be transported to the “modern era”.
That’s exactly what Counter-Strike 2 will do for the series. Rather than shake things up in a massive way, CS-2’s goal is to simply “retouch” some of the core features of CS:GO. That doesn’t mean it’s simply a port to a new engine: there are some interesting changes to certain mechanics that will surprise some veterans of the game.
With the limited beta now having been released for a week, it’s time to evaluate some of the features of CS2 and if they’re good, bad, or god-awful.
The 128-tick solution… kind of
Counter-Strike veterans have long called for CS:GO to move to a 128-tick rate system. The native CS servers are played at 64-tick, which means that information about the game is updated 64 times per second. What’s bizarre is that the game has functionality to function at 128-tick, as evidenced by third-party matchmakers like ESEA and FACEit being played at 128-tick.
Counter-Strike 2 introduces a solution that can potentially be a game-changer, even though it’s not quite the 128-tick system everyone is calling for. Valve introduced the “sub-tick” system, which theoretically would improve hit registration and overall feel of the game. It’s not quite perfect yet (FaZe Clan star ropz said that it still feels like 64-tick), but if it does get fixed… it’s going to be amazing.
Verdict: Incomplete… but limitless potential
Perhaps the biggest change we’ve seen so far, the smoke grenade is CS2 has some crazy interesting mechanics. Traditionally, smokes in CS:GO are used to deny vision and block off angles. In a way, they function as “walls” that you can cross, but with insane risk. CS2, though, adds new layers to the SG we know and love.
For one, bullets now leave holes in the smoke (similar to how they’d likely function in real life. That allows you to clear a little bit of vision, albeit at your own risk. If you want a more “explosive” way to go through your smoke, though, well, you can try tossing an HE grenade into the smoke. Doing so will clear out a big portion of the smoke, “opening” the point which was blocked off by the smoke.
Smokes also “fill up” their space instead of being completely closed to one area. What that means is that as long as there’s space to be blocked off, the smoke will cover up the gap. This will eliminate most of the one-way smokes popular in CS:GO, but that doesn’t guarantee that one-ways are gone in CS2. Knowing how creative this community is, they’ll find a way to bring that back. These changes are certainly interesting, and pushes the game forward in a good way. It’s not a ground-breaking change (not by any means), but it does help add a new level of complexity to a game defined by it’s deceptive complexity.
Verdict: 8/10, pretty good!
Helping the new hires
With VALORANT steadily creeping up to CS:GO (and eventually CS:2), the game needs some way to keep attracting new players. However, that’s a bit tough for a game like CS:GO. The pride of many CS players is that “their” game is significantly harder than the competition. VALORANT isn’t easy, but it’s mechanics are much easier than CS. Counter-strafing is not as important in VAL as it is in CS. Running accuracy is slightly higher, AND every rifle has an ADS mode.
That being said, if CS2 wants to convert the VALORANT players to this new game, they need to make it as familiar to them as possible. Enter the introduction of sound mini-map markers and consistent jump-throws. The range of audible footsteps is one of the small features Counter-Strike 2 took from VALORANT, and for good reason. It helps newer players learn the ropes easier and makes learning other parts of the game easier. As for the consistent jump-throws, it helps learning smoke and flashbang lineups easier for newer players, as they don’t need to get used to the concept of keybinds.
There’s an argument to be made that Counter-Strike 2 shouldn’t make the game easier. After all, the small nuances and complexities of CS is what makes it so special. However, I’d argue that these changes are overall better for the game’s growth. This essentially raises the skill “floor” for newer players, while not drastically affecting the ceiling of the top 1% of players.
Verdict: 9/10, gatekeeping is cringe
One small gripe I’ve had about CS:GO (especially after playing a ton of VALORANT) is its UI. It’s not a “bad” design, per se: you get most of the important stuff that you need to know about the game quickly. However, there’s some missing elements that would make it easier to coordinate with your team. In particular, information about your teammate’s weapons and utility is helpful in making quick shot-calling decisions in clutch moments.
CS2’s updated UI makes everything feel just a tad bit smoother for players to know what’s going on with their teammates. The new top bar has the ability to show which players are still alive, as well as their current gun, money they have, and available utility. It would be better if this was seen even while you’re still alive, but hey, it works! The UI has also been revamped to make things more accessible to your eyes (ammo and health closer to the middle).
‘Nuff said. Our favorite Ts and CTs having legs opens up so many meme opportunities for CS2. Already, we’re seeing players kick-flipping guns on the ground before the kill. We welcome this change with open arms (legs?).
Verdict: 12/10, more leg content pls
Get the VAC out of here!
Cheating is one of the things that completely turned me off from playing CS:GO seriously. Valve’s anti-cheat system VAC is effective… but it’s not super quick to ban cheaters. Oftentimes, cheaters are banned in waves, which leaves some time in between for stragglers to make new cheats. There’s also the Overwatch system (where good-standing players judge fringe cheating cases), but it’s clear that it’s lacking. It’s hard to play a game when you’re not sure your opponents or teammates are playing legitimately.
Now, it seems like Valve is confident in their new anti-cheat working perfectly. They are reportedly going to start implementing mid-game bans (a rare occurence in CS:GO) for Counter-Strike 2. What that means is that if VAC detects a cheater playing a game, the game he’s in is automatically stopped and he’s banned. That’s a great change for the game, and hopefully curbs the number of cheaters.
Verdict: 10/10 get cheaters out of here