Earlier this week reports from several publications indicated that Valve was preparing to launch a possible sequel to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO). One that would bring Counter-Strike and its throng of passionate players into the realm of Valve’s Source 2 engine.
On Wednesday, with very little pomp and circumstance, Valve announced that the game was called Counter-Strike 2 and that it was a top-to-bottom overhaul of CS:GO, coming with a litany of improvements and upgrades.
Importantly, players would be able to bring all their progress and items from CS:GO to Counter-Strike 2 as both games launch directly from the same platform. Valve also announced that the game would be completely free-to-play and that it would be launched in the Winter of 2023 (Summer in the northern hemisphere).
The developers have also opened a limited beta test for select players to try out Counter-Strike 2, and they have published a series of videos, as well as other materials breaking down all the improvements coming to Counter-Strike 2 over CS:GO.
We have compiled a list of the five most prominent upgrades from the 2012 version of Counter-Strike:
The first and most obvious improvement comes to the visual fidelity of the game. Counter-Strike 2 takes advantage of the Source 2 engine and its modern-day graphics. The upcoming title’s maps are brighter, and look much cleaner than those in CS:GO.
Valve is using Source 2’s latest physically based rendering system to produce realistic materials, lighting and reflections. Source 2 also brings high-definition visual effects, like all-new physics for water, explosions, fire, smoke, muzzle flashes and bullet tracers, and more.
The UI has also been enhanced.
This improvement bleeds into the next, which is better maps.
It isn’t just an overhaul in terms of lighting and textures, either as maps have been rebuilt from the ground up. Counter-Strike 2 takes three different approaches to how it rebuilt the game’s maps. Valve was very cognisant that the maps from its 2012 classic would be very important for its players, so it has taken steps to change only what needs to be changed.
The first approach will see the most popular and classic maps only improved with updated models, textures, lighting and character reads, but will otherwise remain unchanged. This will allow veteran players to test out the gameplay differences between CS:GO and its sequel, Valve says.
Apart from these maps there will be those that receive entire overhauls (the very oldest CS:GO maps which will be rebuilt from the ground up in the new engine) and those that will only receive the latest lighting technology from Source 2.
The third improvement is Counter-Strike 2’s incredible smoke bomb technology, which Valve is very proud of on account that it is making sure everyone knows about it. Source 2 is capable is producing smoke clouds that are more “dynamic” than those in CS:GO.
“Smoke grenades now create volumetric 3D objects that live in the world,” the company says. It shows off how Source 2’s cloud move and shift as players shoot through them, something that, to our knowledge, has never been done before in a game.
The smoke also interacts with other assets in its nearby environment and fills spaces as if it was real smoke. Check out the new tech in the video below. It needs to be seen to be believed.
Earlier this week we noted that if Counter-Strike 2 was indeed being worked on, it would come with sub-tick updates. These are upgrades to its server that allow more responsive and faster multiplayer gameplay.
Valve explains that Counter-Strike 2 no longer has a tick rate, which usually measures at what exact time you made an input after which the server will match what you see to what you do. With new sub-tick updates, the tick rate no longer matters.
Now the server calculates your precise actions between ticks, and displays them instantly. Valve doesn’t go into too much detail about how exactly it manages this, but for a game that is so popular in esports circles, less latency means the difference between millions of dollars in prize money, or going home empty handed.
Finally, Valve has said that it will release Source 2’s map creation tools to players of the game for free. Community members will be able to build new maps, or make additions and experiment with existing maps.
Source is famous for its malleability, and in the past community members have made entire games using the Source map tools, especially for Half-Life 2, so it will be interesting to see what emerges from Counter-Strike 2.
Other smaller improvements include enhanced sound. Valve says that “Counter-Strike 2 sounds have been reworked to better reflect the physical environment, be more distinct, and express more game state. They have also been rebalanced for a more comfortable listening experience.”
The Steam owner says that there is much more to come in terms of information about upgrades, as the Limited Test beta currently ongoing only “only evaluates a subset of Counter-Strike 2’s features.”
“In just a few months we’ll reveal all of the details of Counter-Strike 2, and we can’t wait to share it with you,” the company concludes.
[Image – Valve]