Counter-Strike 2 Launch: Everything We Know So Far
If a cryptic tweet from the Counter-Strike team is anything to go by, Counter-Strike 2 is launching tomorrow as a free upgrade to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and with it comes several changes to the nearly 23-year-old franchise. Let’s look at some of what Valve has in store for players diving into the first-person shooter and experiencing the “largest technical leap forward in Counter-Strike’s history.”
Updated Lighting And Maps
The first and most noticeable change players will see is map upgrades and overhauls, of which there is a difference. Classic maps like Dust II are considered to be “touchstone maps,” which received updates to lighting and textures but did not receive changes that would affect gameplay. Then there are “upgrade maps,” like Nuke, which have been upgraded to use Source 2 lighting, “including a physically based rendering system that produces realistic materials, lighting, and reflections.”
Finally, there are “full overhaul maps” like Overpass, which were fully rebuilt in Source 2 to take advantage of all the features therein. Ultimately, whether maps got a full overhaul or not, the game still looks better than ever, and all this nicely plays into the next category of updates, VFX, and smokes.
Upgraded VFX And Smokes
With upgrades to maps, the Counter-Strike team had to update all visual effects from UI to gameplay and everything in between. Specifically, in gameplay, bullet impacts have been redesigned for visibility, and hit players will have a directional blood impact to give the shooter more information. Further, environmental effects have been tweaked using the Source 2 engine, which reimagines how “explosions, fire, C4 lighting and more” appear in matches. The aging CS: GO UI also got some love, enhancing visual effects throughout the HUD to beautifully and effectively communicate game information
Smokes were also updated here, and this update is what Valve considers to be a “game-changer.” This is because smoke grenades are now “now dynamic volumetric objects that interact with the environment, and react to lighting, gunfire, and explosions.” This will fundamentally change how people use smokes, as players on either side can now push smokes with bullets and grenades to clear sightlines. Perhaps this change will require a little more teamwork, coordination, and utility between players to effectively clear or hold an area in general.
Audio And Network Rework
Another gameplay changer is going to be the changes to networking and audio. With respect to sound, Valve claims that CS2 audio has been “Reworked, Rebalanced, Reverbed” to make sounds “better reflect the physical environment, be more distinct, and express more game state.” The CS2 update list also mentions that sounds are also rebalanced to make listening to the game more comfortable.
As far as networking infrastructure goes, Counter-Strike previously operated in time intervals, called ticks, to assess moving, shooting, or throwing utility. Counter-Strike 2, however, has moved to a sub-tick update architecture, meaning that movement, shooting, and throwing will all be consistent and instantly responsive.
CS Rating And Rank Changes
Finally, one of the big changes that CS veterans will notice is the change to how ranking is done concerning competitive Counter-Strike. First, Valve has introduced a CS Rating leaderboard, which can show where you stand skill-wise at a regional and global level. This rank will change as you play in Active Duty Pick-Ban competitive matchmaking called Premier mode. Further, these leaderboards will feature seasons that still need to be explained, but we can expect to coincide with Operations as they come up.
While still in play, the old Silver to Global Elite system has also changed. These ranks are now calculated on a per-map basis, meaning you can have differing ranks based on how well you play on a given map. This gives some reasoning for completionists to play every map, as the goal would be to get a Global Elite for everything.
Overall, these changes are going to change how Counter-Strike is played, and likely for the better overall. Hopefully, we will find out more of what Valve has in store for Counter-Strike 2 tomorrow, as we are rather excited about it after seeing all this. In the meantime, let us know what you think of all of Valve’s changes and what might be coming in the comments below.