We’re all used to Valve tinkering with the guns in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive [official site], but its most recent update was more than just a tweak, it was an attempt to create a whole new play style. The developer beefed up the underused R8 revolver, but the more drastic changes were made to the Negev, the expensive, hefty, wild machine gun that players only previously used as a joke.
The first time you use the new-look Negev, or the ‘Newgev’, as the kids are calling it, it feels broken. You’ll move at a snail’s pace when carrying it, and the first 16 bullets of your magazine come out at random angles, making it impossible to control. Even the first bullet is wayward, so tap firing is completely out – your only hope is to squeeze the trigger and pray.
The gamechanger is what happens after that first burst. Your aim levels out and the gun becomes laser accurate at short or medium range, the spray grouping tightly just above your crossbar with no horizontal movement. As long as you’re standing still you can snap from target to target with pinpoint accuracy.
Example of snapping to target
The mechanic, in Valve's words, is designed to “promote suppressive fire”, something not currently part of the CS: GO meta. And that’s for a good reason: standing in one spot burning through bullets just to lock down a choke point is far less efficient than chucking a smoke grenade or throwing a molotov, and takes you out of the rest of the fight.
I was surprised, therefore, that using the new Negev for its intended purpose actually pays dividends. Pick a busy corner, hold down the mouse, and pump out bullets at head height: you'll be amazed how many enemies are willing to make mincemeat of their brains, especially if you bait them to round a corner by peeking out first. Play it right and you can rack up a decent number of kills without moving an inch. Naturally, this works a lot better if you're a Counter Terrorist, with the impetus on the Terrorists to push through chokes onto bomb sites.
Suppressing Fire 1
It may be effective, but it’s not exactly the most dynamic way to play, and you’ll have much more fun with this gun if you go aggressive. The best tactic is to start firing long before you round any corner so that when you peek out your aim will be true. Recoil resets as soon as you stop moving, so if your reactions are good enough you can push through a choke point, stop, and down a few enemies before they know what’s hit them.
Pushing through choke 1
Pushing through choke 2
You can also crouch and move with no penalty to accuracy. One of my favourite things to do with the gun is to slowly crouch walk around a corner, keeping my cursor fixed on the angle, ready and waiting to melt anyone who gets in the way. Hearing the new, quieter ‘putt-putt’ of the gun and seeing the trail of bullets gradually edge towards the spot where you know an enemy is cowering is a new guilty pleasure of mine. It puts me in mind of the way enemies in TF2 hide when they hear the heavy weapons guy spewing out bullets (and hearing a maniacal Russian voice screaming “I am bulletproof” would be an apt accompaniment).
Crouch walk corner
But the most fun I had with the new Negev is when I’ve been able to get the drop on a group of enemies, fully revved up, and rip into them, transferring the spray from head to head. The accuracy means that your spray will always beat theirs, and so in their panic you can calmly pick them off. There’s a particularly good spot for this on Nuke as a CT, seen in the triple kill in the gif below.
The ultimate aim for Valve is surely for a reworked Negev to offer a viable alternative to the AK, M4, and the AWP, the three dominant weapons. It’s currently only available in the Casual mode, presumably as a testing bed before it’s reintroduced to the competitive scene, but having used it for the past week I can confidently say that it won't make the transition to the pros as it is now. Smarter players won't walk headlong into a line of bullets, they'll wait for you to drain your magazine before peeking. They won't let you simply crouch walk around the corner and trap them, they'll hear you revving up, flash you out and pop your head – in other words, the new Negev will be as good as useless.
For that reason, I can’t see it hanging around for long in its current state. Which means that now is the time to jump into a casual game, save up for one – it’s only $4000, much cheaper than before – and mow down some fools while you still have the chance.