Counter-Strike 2 is already a blast – and lays the groundwork for years to come

March 28, 2023
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I’m excited. I’ve been playing Counter-Strike: Global Offensive for 11 years now, since its release in 2012, and it’s gone from being a LAN party curio to my go-to game I’ve sunk literally thousands of hours in, whether I’m testing hardware or testing my mettle in its online matchmaking. I’m joined online by 1.5 million concurrent players, and even when I take a break from playing, I follow the thrilling competitive scene that awards millions of dollars in prize money to its participants each year – not bad for a slow-paced, strategic shooter series that started life as a Half-Life mod in 1999.

The game has continued to develop and evolve all this time, but for the last few years developer Valve has been quiet – no new operations, Counter-Strike’s take on a battle pass, have been released, once-frequent weapon balance tweaks have ceased, and updates of any kind have slowed to a crawl. That’s because, since Half-Life Alyx was released in 2020, Valve has been secretly working on a new Counter-Strike: Counter-Strike 2. I’ve been taking part in the game’s Limited Test, and despite some technical failings typical of pre-release software, I’m having a blast.

We’ll take a closer look at Counter-Strike 2’s technical changes in a Digital Foundry analysis soon, but the basics are the game ditches the old Source engine, based on DirectX 9 and originally released in 2012, for Source 2 and the modern Vulkan graphics API. Source 2 launched for Dota 2 in 2015 and a souped-up version powered Half Life Alyx in 2020, so it’s hardly brand new, but clearly the development effort to rebuild a game more than a decade old in a new engine was substantial.

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