Valve recently announced its brand new shooter Counter-Strike 2, a successor to the critically acclaimed CS:GO game. Putting an end to the anticipation, CS2 is finally here and gamers can experience a new Counter-Strike experience. The game has undergone a complete overhaul and now includes updated maps, improved lighting, new gameplay elements, and the backing of a new game engine. Numerous players are already beta-testing the game, discovering new features and changes that set Counter-Strike apart from its predecessor. If you are a veteran player or a newbie who’s curious about all the new features and improvements in CS2, you have come to the right place. In this guide, let’s look at the various new features that make Counter-Strike 2 refreshing and entertaining.
All New Features in Counter-Strike 2 (Regularly Updated)
Many players have been actively playing the Counter-Strike 2 limited test since the last week. Hence, the enthusiastic CS community has been putting out tweets related to new features discovered in Counter-Strike 2, and in this list, you will find all the new features in CS2. It also includes a few unimplemented leaks, which could definitely show up in the next few updates.
1. 24 Maximum Rounds in Comp
Counter-Strike 2 is shaping things up when it comes to the number of maximum rounds. The game now follows an MR12 format, which means you can win the game by emerging victorious in 13 rounds. The maximum number of rounds has been changed to 24 now, so competitive games in CS2 will be shorter, and every round will be more meaningful. They have also introduced overtime to Counter-Strike 2.
2. New ‘CS Rating’ Player Metric
Apart from your in-game competitive rank, Valve will now give you a “CS Rating” number based on your performance in CS. With this change, the players will be placed accordingly in the global & regional leaderboards. Players can now get their CS Rating by playing premier mode in Counter-Strike 2.
3. New Inspect Grenades Feature
In a recent update by Valve to Counter-Strike 2, they added new maps to the playtest and also added a nifty little update to the “Inspect” feature. You can now inspect your smoke, flash, HE, or decoy grenades in Counter-Strike 2. Since the engine is also being updated (we’ll talk more about that soon), the graphical fidelity & object physics while inspecting grenades are very impressive.
If you inspect the Molotov grenade, you can see the liquid inside acting in accordance with gravity. All this reminds me of Half Life: Alyx (check out more VR games here)and its impressive Source 2 physics. Here’s how it looks in action:
4. New Loadout System for Choosing Guns
There’s an updated loadout system for Counter-Strike 2. Players can now choose the guns they bring into battle, and this has been divided into three categories – pistols, mid-range weapons, and rifles. For example, now as a Counter-Terrorist, you can choose to take both the M4A1-S (silenced) as well as M4A4.
The possibilities are rather vast now, as you can even take both the R8 Revolver & Deagle into your game. With the addition of this new feature, players can now customize their loadout to their preferences, for both the Terrorist & Counter-Terrorist sides.
5. Updated Buy Menu UI & Ability To Sell Guns
In Counter-Strike 2, there’s a brand-new menu for buying guns and other utilities. It’s now in a grid-style UI instead of the previous wheel menu, which CS:GO had popularized. This buy menu seems highly inspired by the Danger Zone update that came out back in 2018, where players could open a tablet to buy their guns. In addition to this new buy menu, players can also sell their guns just like in Valorant.
So, if you made a mistake and accidentally brought the wrong gun or utility grenade, you can simply sell it by pressing a revert button next to the item. By the way, there are also new indicators to show you what your teammates are carrying, which helps in economy management. Check out the new buy menu UI & the refund button as well below.
6. Source 2 Game Engine
Counter-Strike 2 has been completely revamped with a new game engine. The older Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has been based on the Source engine since its release in 2012. Valve’s other lovechild, Dota 2, got the Source 2 update a long time ago. Naturally, players had been waiting for the same engine upgrade to their favorite FPS for several years, and finally, the overlords listened.
Counter-Strike 2 is based on Source 2, and with it, comes an arsenal of new features. This means the game feels quite different, and it’s not just a visual change. Did you know that one of the best VR games, Half-Life: Alyx, is also based on Source 2?
7. New Sub-Tick System
Multiplayer video games have always had network problems plaguing players and affecting their gameplay. Obviously, a game cannot fix a player’s network instability. But even when everyone in the match has a good connection, there are inconsistencies caused by the different latencies – after all, people are playing from their homes in different locations. Valve has apparently redefined the netcode of Counter-Strike 2 with a Sub-Tick Engine, and its functioning sounds too good to be true.
I play multiple multiplayer FPS games, so it will be interesting to compare Counter-Strike 2 to Valorant. According to Valve, with this new netcode, CS2 will know precisely when players move and fire their shots, so things like peeking, jumping and shooting at players should be much more responsive than the previous ’64-tick’ netcode design. Tell us in the comments if you would like to read a dedicated explainer on the Counter-Strike 2 Sub-Tick system.
8. Match Ends If Cheater Detected
Valve has been using VAC (Valve Anti-Cheat) since ages on all of its multiplayer games. While it is constantly updated so that developers can catch on to new hacks and provide a streamlined gameplay experience, Counter Strike-2 will reportedly feature an upgraded anti-cheat system called VAC Live (courtesy: CS2 code leak by Twitter/@aquaismissing). Currently, we don’t have information on how it works and what’s changed, but it is the new anti-cheat system for CS2.
One notable feature here is that Valve devs have made it so that if a cheater (such as someone using aimbot or wallhacks) is detected in an ongoing game, they could get banned swiftly. And if that ban happens, the match will end right away. Valorant has had a similar feature in its kernel-level Vanguard anti-cheat system, which notifies players that the match has been terminated because a cheater was detected. It’s important to note that the new VAC Live anti-cheat system is definitely not kernel-level like many other games are.
9. New & Old Maps Updated
In Counter-Strike 2, many old maps have received a complete overhaul with a brand-new look. Popular maps like Dust 2 and Mirage have been ‘enhanced’ with the visual quality upgrades that the Source 2 Engine brings. Also, by noticing the props in the game, they point to the fact that ‘time has passed’ – some of the maps have been updated with new models for various objects, such as the sinks in Overpass being replaced from a basic one to modern ones.
Valve has classified CS2 map overhauls into three categories – Upgrade, Overhaul, Touchstone. So what is the difference? In the touchstone maps, few alterations have been made but some changes can be observed. In upgrade maps, the lighting, materials, and reflections have all been upgraded dramatically. And in the Overhaul category, Valve says maps have been fully rebuilt from the ground-up.
10. New Responsive Smokes
This is one of the biggest new features in Counter-Strike 2 — the new smokes. Previously in Counter-Strike, landing a smoke in a certain area would make that area covered in a grey fog, which is what smokes do. Nothing that the players did could remove the smoke from that area until the time for it had expired. In Counter-Strike 2, the smokes are completely different. They are visually upgraded, volumetric, and looks like actual smoke pouring out of a grenade. It’s not just this, but as the smoke develops, it forms around the area where it was placed, and the physics for this is impressive.
The smoke can expand to a surrounding area as well. And guess what – the smoke is responsive to guns and explosions as well. For example – if someone pops up an explosive HE grenade next to the smoke, it will completely disappear for a few seconds. If your teammate or enemy shoots at the smoke, that specific area gets ‘carved out,’ making the player on the other side visible. There are new competitive possibilities that the overhauled smoke grenade brings in Counter-Strike 2.
Let’s see how this new mechanic plays out, as it could go through changes if the player feedback is overly negative. Do you think these CS2 smokes need a rework?
11. New Environmental & Blood Splatter Effects
Counter-Strike 2 has brand new effects on how the environment interacts with other in-game elements. HE grenades explode differently and look realistic as the effect takes place when they land. The fire from molotovs or incendiary grenades also looks more alive now. In addition to this, a big boom happens when the C4 explodes on a site, as if a mini-nuke exploded in that area. It’s quite theatrical!
Also, there is upgraded player blood splatters. When you shoot an enemy (or teammate) there used to be a blood splatter around that area in CS:GO. Now, in CS2, the same thing happens but it looks really gore-y, which really gives the game a gritty, mature feel. I’m not sure if people will have the time to appreciate the blood splatters or look at its patterns to determine the enemy position, but it’s a nice touch.
12. Visual Audio Indicator in Mini-Map
The radar (or mini-map) in CS2 has been updated (courtesy: @fREQUENCYCS from Twitter), and it now includes a visual indicator for your footsteps. There will be a circular ring around your character whenever you make a sound, and this indicates the area in which other players can definitely hear you. Check out this feature in action here:
13. CS2 Audio Rework
In addition to the visual indicator for audio in the radar, Valve claims that the sound engine in Counter-Strike 2 has been updated. The new game will have more ‘distinct sounds’ that express what’s going on in a match in a better manner. CS:GO has had HRTF spatial audio since some time, and to be honest it felt quite good. Now, it’s hard to say how much better this new sound rework will be, especially in relation to 3D Audio.
In addition, we have new game sounds – a lot has been changed. If you play the game in the beta, you will notice that every weapon has a slightly different or even significantly changed sound. As seen in clips on social media and YouTube, Counter-Strike 2 guns sound more ‘realistic’ and better defined. The gun sounds also feel more satisfying. In addition to this, players also get new radio announcements and Valve has ‘rebalanced’ the audio so that it’s more comfortable.
14. Can See Your Player’s Legs
Beta testers have observed that the player perspective has been updated in Counter-Strike 2. In this new game, when a player looks down, they can now actually see their legs. This is nothing major, but still a neat feature in CS2. Currently, in CS:GO, you could not see your legs, and it feels like your in-game avatar is flying.
With CS2, there’s a better sense of awareness of your own character. Doing everything from jumping onto boxes and bunny hopping will be a bit different with the added visibility of your legs. It feels somewhat wacky – albeit, extremely funny for veteran players. And it is a video game after all, so some wackiness is fine.
15. New Gun Models & Updated Skins
The gun models in CS2 have also been updated, and in addition to this, the existing skins (confirmed to be ported over from CS:GO to CS2) look drastically different now. All your skins will look super cool, thanks to the new Source 2 engine that brings many visual changes to the lighting system and materials in-game. The C4 Bomb also looks different now.
Valve says that all the stock weapons have been upgraded with better, higher-resolution models, and as a result, many existing skins will look better. Players have been trying to reflect the sun off their various skins to observe them. In my opinion, the knives look the best. To exhibit, let’s take the example of how the ‘Ursus Knife | Marble Fade‘ looks (courtesy: @burgerbang_ on X.com, formerly Twitter) in the tweet below:
16. Two New Types of Knives (Leak)
Courtesy of Twitter user @_ale_cs from Twitter, two new knives have been spotted in the Counter-Strike 2 beta game files. They are called Kukri and Twinblade. So how many types of knives are there in Counter-Strike 2? If we add up the previous ones, the game now has 21 knife styles total (including the default ‘Classic Knife’). There is currently no word on whether these knives will be available in the game or not, but we are hopeful for the summer release.
17. Better Bots with New Interactions
Users who have been playing the game since the beta release state that the bots are better in Counter-Strike 2 and have new interactions. You can call the bot to a location, although in its current state, the feature doesn’t work that well. It’s also not available as a feature in the UI, but accessible through the developer console.
18. Brand New In-Game UI
The user interface in Counter-Strike 2 is brand-new, with many visual changes to the game’s HUD and main menu. This includes a new look for in-game moments such as the team selection screen, match-end phase, and more. Taking inspiration from Valorant, the UI also brings a feature to show your kill count. With every kill your player gets, a visual representation is present at the bottom, and once you get 5 kills, the card deck completes and shines to depict an ace.
19. New Radio Announcements
Counter-Strike 2 could feature new radio announcements as well as additional voice lines for characters. These are currently not used in the game’s limited beta test but are present in the game’s files. We may definitely see these making their way into the next updates of CS2.
20. Crosshair Moves with Gun Recoil
Counter-Strike 2 includes a new feature that players can toggle from the in-game settings, and when enabled, the crosshair will follow the spray pattern of your gun (courtesy: @fREQUENCYCS from Twitter) . It definitely feels weird at first, and people who have already gotten adjusted to spraying and following a pattern in CS:GO will find it harder to aim with this setting on.
However, for new players who are just getting into the game, this feature can help them understand the mechanics of how the guns work. Some players have called out this feature and want it gone, but in my opinion, it should stay, since many of these new CS2 features have been implemented to make it more accessible and easier to understand for newcomers.
Bonus Features/ Changes in Counter-Strike 2
Features or changes that felt somewhat minor have been listed in this section of the article. Let us know if you find any more new features or differences between CS2 and CS:GO!
19. Wallbangs From Counter-Strike 1.6 Days Are Back
This could be a bug or an unconfirmed change that Valve is waiting for feedback on, but it’s real for now in the CS2 Beta. The wall bangs from good-ol CS 1.6 days might be back in Counter-Strike 2. The walls are paper thin, and people have been shooting from CT-Base to kill people on A-Short on the de_dust2 map. That was one example, for another, you can check out this video by Twitter user @JosiahCSGO that shows how ridiculous wall bangs have become. He’s showing you how you can kill enemies at A Long from A Short’s Catwalk. That’s just amazing and equally crazy too.
20. Throw Smoke Across the Map
You can throw smokes across the entire map in CS2. It’s not confirmed whether the skybox is being opened up completely or if the change was intended or not, but if it is, this will change the way smokes are used tactically in this game. We can also see guides on how to line up grenades for certain situations as we do in Valorant. For example – Players can throw smoke from B site in Dust 2 and make it so that it would land inside A Long.
Update: In patch notes detailed by Valve here, they mention that certain rooftops have been sealed to prevent grenades from landing in places they shouldn’t. It’s unclear whether throwing smokes across the map will be possible in the future, or will it be unintentional on the limited test for now.
21. New Source 2 Tools For Community Map Makers
Community map makers can now use new tools that are enhanced by the Source 2 engine for developing maps for Counter-Strike 2. The Source 2 item workshop will also be enabled soon in the best test, as confirmed by Valve.
22. Jump Scout (SSG-08) is Back & Highly Accurate
If you remember, the SSG-08 could previously be used for performing jump shots on people. This was changed at some point in CS:GO and the mechanic was nerfed heavily. Now, it’s back, and it’s easy to perform accurate jump shots with the SSG-08, a lightweight sniper weapon commonly referred to as The Scout. Currently, there is no information on whether this mechanic will be nerfed again or not.
The scout jump accuracy is extremely good.— elias (@fREQUENCYCS) March 23, 2023
The running scope speed is a bit higher than CSGO. pic.twitter.com/r8dzmQOvpE
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, CS:GO 2 is confirmed, and it is called Counter-Strike 2. You can already join the limited test for CS2 and play the game right now. You don’t even need to wait until Summer 2023 for the game’s official release.
No, the new Counter-Strike 2 will replace the existing CS:GO game.
Yeah, CS2 will replace CS:GO, and the older version will be gone from people’s Steam Library, being replaced with the new game based on the Source 2 engine.
You need to launch CS:GO. If you qualify for the limited test, you will get a notification to download Counter-Strike 2 beta. Whether you get it or not is based on metrics such as recent player time, trust factor, and your Steam Account’s standing. Check out this article to learn how to play the Counter-Strike 2 beta and increase your chances.
Yes, Valve has confirmed that existing skins will be moving to the new game. They will also look better, thanks to the upgraded Source 2 Engine.