Valve is notoriously stingy with sequels, but hit multiplayer shooter Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is finally getting one. Counter-Strike 2 is set to come out sometime this summer as a free update to the existing game, with a limited player test that starts Wednesday. The Steam maker is calling it the “largest technical leap forward in Counter-Strike’s history.”
What kinds of radical new enhancements and game-changing upgrades will the sequel have? Valve isn’t saying, at least not yet. “All of the game’s new features will be revealed when it officially launches this summer, but the road to Counter-Strike 2 begins today as a Limited Test for select CS:GO players,” the company wrote on the game’s website. “During this testing period, we’ll be evaluating a subset of features to shake out any issues before the worldwide release.”
Still, Valve has revealed a number of more granular improvements that are coming in Counter-Strike 2. They might not wow newcomers, but they will surely be a big deal to hardcore fans who have dumped thousands of hours into the game over the last decade. Some of those upgrades include:
- Volumetric smoke grenades
- Tick rate no longer matters
- Fully overhauled maps
- New Source 2 tools for modders
- Higher-resolution models for guns
- Improved blood splatter
- “Completely reauthored explosions”
- More accurate audio
Smoke grenades are the heart and soul of tactical gameplay in CS:GO, so it’s not entirely surprising that Valve spends a lot of the sequel’s reveal talking about how smoke effects will now affect lighting and interact with other elements like bullets. Longtime players will also be happy to know that all existing CS:GO skins will transfer to Counter-Strike 2, complete with more detailed visuals.
But the biggest technical change, at least for competitive players, might be what Valve is calling the game’s “sub-tick update architecture.” Counter-Strike has traditionally measured players’ actions at regular intervals called tics and processes them in that order, which involves some imprecision. Under the new system, “servers know the exact instant that motion starts, a shot is fired, or a ‘nade is thrown,” Valve writes. “As a result, regardless of tick rate, your moving and shooting will be equally responsive and your grenades will always land the same way.”
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The original Counter-Strike arrived in 2000 and was born of a Half-Life mod. Despite a few other spin-offs in the series, it was 2012’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive that became the defacto CS game moving forward. It’s routinely the most-played game on Steam, with nearly 1 million concurrents, despite no major regular seasonal updates like other live-service blockbusters. We’ll see if Counter-Strike 2 doubles down on what existing fans love or is able to pull new players.