Valve Software has announced a sequel to one of its most storied games. Counter-Strike 2 will launch this summer after a few months of testing within the online shooter’s community.
Counter-Strike began as a mod for Half-Life back in 1999. It was acquired by Half-Life developer Valve Software and released as a commercial product in 2000. There were three subsequent releases: Counter-Strike: Condition Zero and Counter-Strike Source in 2004, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive in 2012.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (usually shortened to just “CS:GO“) is currently the flagship Counter-Strike game, but that will change this summer.
Counter-Strike 2 by no means offers a fundamental change to the original game’s design. In fact, it will be free, and it’s meant to replace CS:GO. More than anything else, Counter-Strike 2 appears to be a significant technical overhaul of CS:GO.
For example, Valve will introduce improvements to lighting and other effects across the game’s various maps. Each map has received one of three levels of clearly defined updates. “Touchstone” maps like Dust2 will keep the exact same geometry and features as their CS:GO counterparts but with some improvements to lighting or materials. “Upgrade” maps use Valve’s new Source 2 lighting, physically based rendering, and other modern features for notably improved graphics. And “Full Overhaul” maps will be rebuilt from the ground up with new geometry and features.
Additionally, Valve will overhaul how smoke works in the game. Smoke grenades are a key part of the gameplay in all versions of Counter-Strike. Now those grenades will produce physically rendered, malleable volumetric smoke that responds more naturally to lighting, geometry, and objects passing through it. This one change is much more likely to have an impact on actual competitive gameplay than most other changes Valve has announced so far.
The other major gameplay-relevant update is a new system that makes certain actions (moving, shooting, and throwing) more precise by tracking them faster than the tick rate of the game. In online multiplayer games, client and server updates about state changes are made on a specific tick rate—say, 64 or 128. In a game as fast-paced and precise as Counter-Strike, this could occasionally lead to edge cases where there were meaningful discrepancies between clients. Valve hasn’t gone into too much detail yet, but it claims this issue (which is common in online multiplayer games) will be resolved in Counter-Strike 2.
Valve says more changes or new features will be announced later, but those are the biggest ones we know today.
A private, invite-only test of the new version of Counter-Strike 2 begins today. Valve says it will gradually invite more people over time in the lead-up to the summer launch, choosing participants based on factors like playtime. The initial test of Counter-Strike 2 includes only “Deathmatch and Unranked Competitive matchmaking on Dust2,” but more content will be added in the future. Player unlocks and progress will carry over to Counter-Strike 2, including in the preview period.
Valve hasn’t given the public release of Counter-Strike 2 a precise date just yet—just summer 2023.
Listing image by Valve Software