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Everything we know about Counter-Strike 2

Here's everything we know about CS2, including the latest release date info

Artwork of two soldiers in Counter-Strike 2 with Assault Rifles and tactical gear, transposed over a blurred screenshot of a CS2 map.
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Valve

What's the latest news about Counter-Strike 2? FPS fans rejoice: Counter-Strike 2 is official, and it's releasing in the next couple of months. CS2 is the long-awaited sequel to legendary squad shooter Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, complete with map overhauls, a reworked approach to tick rate, fancy new smoke grenade tech, and lots more to look forward to.

CS:GO is one of the most beloved shooters of all time, and has never been more popular, hitting a record concurrent player count of 1.8 million in May this year. But there's no denying that CS:GO has been showing its age for a long time now. Counter-Strike 2 will shift onto the Source 2 engine, allowing Valve to make use of the newer engine's lighting and particle systems to give a much-needed facelift to one of the most iconic FPS games on PC.

Read on for everything we know about Counter-Strike 2, including the upcoming release date window, the limited-test beta, gameplay details about the new smoke grenade tech, info on the tick rate changes, map revamps, and much more.

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Is there a CS2 release date yet?

Counter-Strike 2 will release in Summer 2023. Valve's confirmation of this release window means that we can expect CS2 to arrive somewhere between now and 30th September 2023.

Judging from the state of the current limited-test builds for CS2, it seems as though the game is very much complete and ready for release, so we're cautiously optimistic that we might see Counter-Strike 2 release sometime in August.

Counter-Strike 2 will be a free upgrade to CS:GO, which itself is already free-to-play on Steam. For now, it's only slated for PC, and there's no news on whether it'll come to consoles later down the line.

Access to the Counter-Strike 2 limited-test beta is based on the following criteria:

  • Steam account standing
  • Trust factor
  • Recent playtime on Valve official servers in CS:GO

More invites will roll out in the coming months, but beware. Valve have said that the final requirement only takes into account playtime before the announcement of Counter-Strike 2, so no amount of playing CS:GO now will help you gain access to CS2.

Fortunately, those with access are able to stream and make videos showing CS2, so you'll be able to see plenty of gameplay across the web.

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Counter-Strike 2 tick rate changes

One of the major changes in Counter-Strike 2 is that it'll introduce "sub-tick updates". Valve say that sub-tick updates mean that "tick rate no longer matters for moving, shooting, or throwing". That's a rather bold statement, there.

Tick rate, which refers to how often the server updates to reflect in-game actions such as moving and shooting, is highly important in FPS games. A higher tick rate is better, as it means more updates. More updates means those actions are reflected in-game faster, which can help combat peeker's advantage. A peeker's advantage refers to the advantage that someone may have on a low tick rate server when they round a corner, as they'll see the enemy on the other side first.

With sub-tick updates, CS2's servers will instantly reflect when you shoot, move, or throw something in-game. This removes the waiting time for those actions between ticks that was present in CS:GO (in which official servers were 64hz), and therefore should make it all feel much fairer when competing online.

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Counter-Strike 2 responsive smokes

Smoke grenades are very, very important in Counter Strike. They're used to block lines of sight and help teams push around the map, and knowing how to throw a smoke into the perfect location could be the difference between winning and losing a game.

In CS2, smoke grenades are changing in a big way. The smoke created will interact with the environment, bending around objects and filling tighter spaces. If used in a tight corridor, for example, the smoke will grow to cover the entire space.

The smoke is also far more dynamic than the more static version present in CS:GO. In Counter-Strike 2, smoke can be split using bullets, revealing lines of sight through the cloud that you can use to spot enemies.

You can also blast chunks of smoke away using grenades, removing what would've been a key safety net for your opponents as they moved through the map.

A section of the classic map dust2 in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
A section of the classic map dust2 in Counter-Strike 2.
The lighting and texture differences in Dust II between CSGO (left) and CS2 (right). | Image credit: Valve

Counter-Strike 2 map changes

Many maps will receive changes in Counter-Strike 2, and Valve have defined these changes using the following three categories: Overhaul, Upgrade, and Touchstone.

Overhauled maps, such as Overpass, are built from scratch using Source 2, with the old, flat textures of CS:GO replaced by gorgeous, vibrant scenery. The maps themselves are mostly the same, perhaps with a few extra objects scattered around, but the textures should seem far better thanks to the improved Source 2 rendering.

Upgraded maps also make use of the improved rendering and lighting of the Source 2 engine, but they have not been built from scratch. You should see less gameplay changes here, but the visual improvements will be notable, with "realistic materials, lighting, and reflections".

Touchstone maps are the least affected by the move to Source 2, with the maps themselves staying almost identical to the original. Even the textures are seemingly staying the same, with the only change being the new Source 2 lighting. This is the approach for classic maps, such as Dust2.

An Assault Rifle in Counter-Strike 2 with a colourful anime-inspired weapon skin applied.
Image credit: Valve

Do items carry over from CS:GO to CS2?

Yes, items carry over from CS:GO to Counter-Strike 2. According to the official Counter-Strike 2 website, you can "bring your entire CS:GO inventory with you to Counter-Strike 2".

That means all of those knives, gun skins, and anything else that you've collected over the past decade on CS:GO will be available from launch in CS2. They'll also look nice and fancy thanks to the Source 2 lighting improvements, so you'll literally see them in a whole new light.

That wraps up everything that we know about Counter-Strike 2. There are still a few weeks before we reach that Summer release window, but make sure to check back nearer launch for more news on CS2.

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