Counter-Strike 2

This week saw the introduction and limited beta of Counter-Strike 2. The game will be a full update of CSGO, free of charge to existing owners (keep in mind, the game is free on Steam right now).

Through an odd connection, I was given access to the limited release so I've had the opportunity to play a bit. The limited release gives you a strong sense of the changes made, albeit on Dust2 competitive or deathmatch only.

What Valve updated

  • Legs: Characters now have legs and feet. I suspect there'll be customisations for this later.
  • Map optimisations: Old, beloved maps are being optimised and tweaked in the new engine rather than fully overhauled.
  • Map translations: Less beloved maps are being fully translated, updated and "fixed" in the new engine. Think of maps like Train.
  • Smoke: This is a huge overhaul of the smoke system, which allows volumetric smokes that is the same for all users on the map (i.e. everyone sees the same thing) and can be disturbed with nades or bullets.
  • Audio: Beefed up audio across the board.
  • Tick rates: Instead of just having 128 tick servers, the engine and netcode can handle sub-tick updates from client to server, meaning everyone experiences the same thing and little changes in miliseconds are accurate.

What I reckon

I saw a few little issues across my currently limited play. One such thing is the character model can feel like it's able to float across the map. I suspect that's the new engine, tick rates and rendering of your own torso/legs being worked out. Smoke is a little weird, and has some bugs, but overall will be a huge change in competitive play.

Dust2 is an old friend at this point. We're so used to it that small changes are big deals. And they did no changes to the geometry or basic map. Overall it looks great.

Valve is phenomenal at small, impactful patches and optimisations. So this game, despite being a huge change has over-delivered already. Obviously there's a lot more to see, but this is in great shape. Menus are awful, but it'll change no doubt.

Audio feels a bit wonky, but I like how beefy the movement sounds. It makes it more obvious where people are coming from, etc. Though bullet firing can feel directionally off and the guns can sound a little more plastic-ish. But again, as above, it'll improve.

Little details are hugely improved. Like the molotov has moving liquid, properly impacted by movement of the character model. Fire looks like actual fire. Smoke, as above, acts like smoke (but looks a little goofy now, though nowhere near as goofy as Valorant). But the visual overhaul is strikingly good.

I'm excited for where this is going. I've played CS since 1.3 and went very deep during Source. I've enjoyed CSGO but never played consistently enough to truly be good at it. I hope to return to form in CS2 because, frankly, life is slowly allowing for that. And because I want to.

And despite all of this, I am atrocious at it. Great map awareness, no aim.