Counter-Strike 2 is out now on Steam and is free to play for everyone
Valve today unveiled Counter-Strike 2 (CS2), the long-awaited successor to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO). Rumours had been swirling for years, punctuated by hushed conversations in Reddit threads and speculative YouTube videos. Valve finally broke the suspense in March, providing a sneak peek into CS2 and its capabilities.
With today’s official release, CS2 replaces the more than 10-year-old CS:GO on Steam. Steam also says that all items that players have collected in the older game will be available in CS2. Even the stock weapons you’ve grown accustomed to wielding have received aesthetic upgrades courtesy of the Source 2 engine.
That brings us to perhaps the most notable upgrade: CS2 is built on Valve’s Source 2 engine. This engine swap provides a much-needed facelift, treating players to revamped visuals, reworked audio, and user interface enhancements. The underlying architecture also serves up improved network features – a salient point for a title where low latency can spell the difference between victory and defeat. Source 2 takes things up a notch, giving developers superior Community Workshop tools, potentially leading to a richer array of custom mods and skins.
Another intriguing innovation is the “tick-rate-independent gameplay”. In layman’s terms, tick rate is the frequency with which the game server updates the game state, a crucial factor in fast-paced, competitive games like Counter-Strike. Traditional tick rate systems can sometimes be the culprit behind “laggy” gameplay experiences. Valve’s introduction of tick-rate-independent gameplay means the server now possesses the computational know-how to recognise the exact moment a motion begins, a bullet is fired, or a grenade is thrown. This could very well redefine real-time responsiveness in online gaming, making actions feel fluid and fair.
The gameplay mechanics are, as ever, centred around tactical team-based missions but come with refinements. For instance, smoke grenades, a staple in CS:GO, have been fine-tuned. While details are still sparse, the optimised mechanics are said to allow for even more strategic gameplay. The maps, too, have been redesigned. Though purists might initially balk at changes to their favourite haunts, these alterations are not merely cosmetic. They promise to offer new pathways and tactical options that could shift competitive meta strategies.
CS2 is available to download for free on Steam and requires a hefty 27GB of storage space.