Counter-Strike 2: Release Date, Price, Beta Test, New Features, and More

After weeks of the rumor mill speculating its existence, Valve finally announced Counter-Strike 2, an overhaul to the critically acclaimed FPS shooter game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (aka CS:GO). The announcement, done in the most Valve-way possible, the company shared multiple videos showcasing the changes, additions, and everything else that helps modernize the competitive FPS title. So if you are curious to know what all is new in CS2, you have come to the right place. In this article, we have compiled all the information that Counter-Strike fans and newcomers need to know about the successor to the FPS game that started it all.

The existence of Counter-Strike 2, popularly called CS 2, was the gossip of the town when Valve started updating the CS:GO database on Steam. Over the week, the official Counter-Strike Twitter started teasing the title by changing the banner and even sharing cryptic tweets. All of these actions indicated that a sequel to the hit shooter is imminent. And chaos ensued when the announcement finally came. So, we have info-dumped all the major changes coming to Counter-Strike 2 here:

Counter-Strike 2 Release Date

Right off the bat, let us make it clear that we do not have an exact release date for Counter-Strike 2 just yet. Valve has only announced that CS2 will launch sometime in Summer 2023.

Recently, Valve made a post on X (formerly Twitter) via the official CS2 account. The post might have teased the Counter-Strike 2 release date as September 27th, 2023. While Valve did not directly say if this is the Counter-Strike 2 release date or open beta stage, it could be either. While the message itself is cryptic, it definitely points towards Counter-Strike 2 because it is coming from the official CS2 X account.

While the game launch is still a few months away, some lucky players – if selected for the limited test – can already experience CS2 and give feedback on the new feature upgrades. Keep reading to learn how to get access to the Counter-Strike 2 beta test later in this guide.

Counter-Strike 2 Price & Platforms

As per the official FAQ page, Valve has confirmed that Counter Strike 2 will be a free-to-play game. It is an engine overhaul to Valve’s new Source 2 engine, which brings various graphical and gameplay features to an otherwise excellent game. Moreover, for those unaware, CS:GO was previously a paid game (costing $14.99) but adopted a free-to-play model in 2018. Counter-Strike 2 will also adopt the free-to-play model and deliver an update to existing CS:GO players, as it has done in the beta test.

As for the supported platforms, Counter-Strike 2 is only available on PC right now. Valve has not confirmed its plans to port the game to consoles, be it the PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X, just yet. So, bookmark this page and revisit it for regular updates on the situation.

CS2 vs CS:GO: What’s New In Counter-Strike 2

Since Counter-Strike 2 will completely replace CS:GO when it officially releases later this year, it brings many new and welcoming changes to one of the most popular FPS games to date. We have listed some of the prominent new features here, but you can head to our dedicated guide on the best new features in Counter-Strike 2 to learn more. That said, let’s look at this brief rundown of new features in CS2:

Better Lighting and Visuals (Source 2)

The biggest change Counter Strike 2 aims to bring is a change to the lighting and visuals. Valve made the original CSGO in the then Source engine, which powered popular titles like Portal 2, Half-Life 2, and more. With Counter-Strike 2, Valve is using its new Source 2 engine, which has been used to make titles such as the VR hit Half-Life: Alyx, DoTA: Underworlds, and Artifact.

Because of Source 2, CS2 will feature new lighting, including a physically based rendering system. This enables them to produce realistic materials, lighting, and reflection. Old maps are now better lit at places where it was previously dark. There are now proper reflections in many places, making the game look stunning! The official website shows the stark differencse between the old vs new maps in Counter-Strike 2.

Map Rework and Overhauls

Of course, given the lighting and engine changes, one would expect changes to the maps, and Valve did not disappoint. With Counter-Strike 2, Valve is upgrading some of the most popular CS:GO maps using the new Source 2 light engine. However, drastically changing maps for a competitive game might leave a sour after-taste in the mouth of the fanbase, hence, the developers are approaching it differently.

For CS2, the map reworks have been divided into three categories – Touchstone, Upgrades, and Overhauls.

  • Touchstones are the legacy foundation maps everyone has come to love and adore. These maps are tournament standard and come with gameplay changes, graphics, and lighting updates. Apart from that, these maps are untouched and intact. Dust 2 and Mirage are two examples.
  • Upgrades category includes the maps that have gotten the Source 2 facelift. These maps have Source 2’s physically-based rendering system, resulting in improved lighting, textures, and reflections. Nuke and Ancient are shown utilizing this.
  • Overhaul refers to the maps that have been completely remade for CS2p. These are the oldest maps in the game that have stood the test of time. Overpass is one of the maps shown to get a complete overhaul.

Additionally, Valve states people who enjoy creating maps will receive the map-making tools, allowing them to experiment to their heart’s content.

Smoke Has Been Reworked

In CS:GO, smokes were one-way and static. What it means is that terrorists and counter-terrorists saw different things through the smoke from their perspectives. Moreover, the smoke only occupied a fixed point on the map. In Counter-Strike 2, the developers have reworked how the smoke interacts with objects and behaves on the map. Thanks to the Source 2 engine, the smokes are now volumetric.

What it means is that the smoke will naturally fill up the space, and each player will see the same amount of smoke regardless of position. Additionally, the smokes now react to lighting, and bullets passing through can carve and change its shape. Not only bullets, but grenades too will completely dissipate the smoke clouds for a few seconds, giving you a chance to launch a surprise attack at the enemy.

The smoke rework completely changes how the game works, giving players more options to fight against each other, even when a wall of smoke blocks their vision.

New Sub-Tick System in CS2

If you have been a CS:GO player for a long time, you would know that Counter Strike employs 64-tick servers. The tick system ensures the game identifies your movement and shooting in discreet time intervals. While Valve claims that the time intervals were non-existent, giving players a responsive experience, they also claim that sometimes a millisecond delay did occur at times.

With Counter-Strike 2, Valve has revamped the server tick concept and built upon it. The upcoming game will use a sub-tick system, where the server will understand when the player is moving and shooting, giving increased precision to their gameplay. Whatever the player does something in-game, the server will precisely calculate the tick and act appropriately.

This change removes the player’s reliance on third-party clients like FaceIt and SoStronk for higher tick-rate servers for gameplay, such as 128 tick-rate servers.

How to Access Counter-Strike 2 Limited Beta Test

As for now, the developers are hosting a limited beta test for CS2, where past and present players are getting access to the game. Valve is picking players based on their Steam profile standing, playtime, and player experience. As such, anyone can get access to the CS2 beta, if the system deems them worthy of trying the upcoming title. To learn more about how to access the Counter-Strike 2 limited beta test, go through our dedicated guide linked here.

Will My In-Game Items and Gun Skins Transfer to CS2?

One thing the developers have committed in their announcement is that players will be able to carry forward existing CS: GO items — gun skins — to the upcoming Counter-Strike 2 title. CS:GO possibly has one of the biggest in-game marketplaces, where you can purchase and sell off skins regularly. This system even led to the rise of third-party skin stores, where you can sell their CS: GO skins for real-life money.

Fortunately, Counter-Strike 2 players can easily access their existing skins and gloves in-game at their convenience. As the upcoming game is primarily an engine upgrade, Valve also mentioned that the skins themselves have received the Source 2 treatment. All the weapon skins and items have got a facelift and are already live in the beta test. So, once you get access to the beta test, you can check out what your older skins look like in Source 2 lighting.

CS2 Launch is Ready to Shake Things Up

It has been years since we have received any substantial upgrade or a sequel to an FPS shooter. While popular shooters like Valorant and battle royale games like Apex Legends took over the scene, the introduction of Counter-Strike 2 definitely shakes things up. Not only are these changes a welcome addition, but they will also create some memorable moments in CS history. Are you excited to try out the game? Let us know in the comments below.

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