After over a decade on the shelves, Valve are doing the impossible: retiring Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO). CS:GO has redefined both the FPS genre and Esports industry, becoming a gaming and cultural phenomena since its release as the fourth major entry in the series.
Still regularly smashing its own player count record even as recently as 2023, the announcement that a new title is on the horizon was something of a surprise to the community. Nevertheless, it’s coming and we have already been teased with some pretty significant revamps to the formula when it comes to what we’ve grown used to with CS:GO.
Smoke grenades are arguably the most significant pieces of utility in Counter-Strike. Whether it be for offensive or defensive strategies, smokes are vital in funnelling enemy teams in space or locking them out of areas you and your teammates want to access.
And whilst their skill ceiling was impressive throughout the lifespan of CS:GO, they look to be getting a major overhaul in CS2. Valve have confirmed that smokes will now act more dynamically, filling up areas and reacting to bullets and players that whilstle through them. Additionally, smokes in CS2 also look to be colour-coded depending on the team that threw them. T-sided smokes will be orange and CT-sided smokes will be blue as per the team colours in previous games, but this one change will completely flip how intel is delivered and how CS:GO betting at Unikrn and other providers is viewed by punters.
Utilising their new Source 2 engine, Valve have announced CS2 will feature a revamped lighting system that will impact items, weapons as well as the competitive maps in the pool. And it is the latter of these three things that we are most excited to see when the game finally launches.
We have already seen how Overpass has been rebuilt using the Source 2 engine, giving the map a fresh look. The engine will bring with it a number of terrain changes alongside all the visual tweaks that sit alongside the lighting overhauls.
Nuke has visually benefitted from the Source 2 physically based rendering system, and Dust II has been upgraded with better lighting, textures and character reads. It remains to be seen what Valve are going to do with the other maps in the pool, especially the likes of Ancient and Vertigo that have only just been added to CS:GO, but it will be fascinating to see what else the company have up their sleeves!
Alongside the visual upgrades to the look and feel of the maps, there are a number of other tweaks Valve have been making to the visual effects of CS2:
- Bullet traces can be seen from AWP shots
- Directional blood effects will be added to showcase impact and the location of a player’s shots more accurately.
- Player’s legs, feet and shadows will now be visible.
- Upgraded environmental effects will be added for C4, fire, and explosions.
- Audio cues and banner cards will be added to the bottom of the screen when a player lands a kill.
- Audio cues will show up on the minimap whenever a player walks and fires.
Finally, Valve have showcased one of their biggest overhauls for CS2 will be the addition of sub-tick updates to improve a player’s experience.
In CS:GO, the hosting server interprets the state of the game and its gameplay at regular intervals, known in the industry as ‘ticks’. Split-second reactions are a crucial part of the Counter-Strike experience, which can lead to discrepancies between what a player sees and what the game reports. How many times have you played a game of Counter-Strike and heard one of your teammates screaming down the mic that they ‘totally clipped that guy’? It’s one of the classic gaming rage Bingo calls but looks like it could be on the way out with the release of Counter-Strike 2.
According to the developers, the new architecture in place with CS2 will calculate the actions specifically inbetween the ticks. Not only will this make CS2 feel like a more responsive and adrenaline-pumping experience compared to CS:GO, but also help set a new standard for the world of first-person shooters in general.
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