It's the most exciting thing for the Counter-Strike scene in a decade, and it's on the way
Valve has been teasing a new version of CSGO for years, with many data miners and leakers claiming that a new version of the seminal first-person shooter would be released on the Source 2 engine. These rumors have been going for so long that they have become fodder for memes, jokes and referential humor online. At last, it seems that the wait may finally be over.
Counter Strike 2 coming soon?
The speculation intensified in late February when Valve's official CS:GO Twitter account changed its banner. This wasn't anything strange. Something similar happened in the fall of 2022 as well, but on March 1st, people began to notice that NVIDIA drivers had introduced support for two new executables, “csgos2.exe” and “cs2.exe”. This lent credence to the rumors and sparked excitement among fans.
Despite official channels returning to their usual silence, anonymous sources have informed popular gaming journalist Richard Lewis that the new version of Counter-Strike is indeed real and is almost ready for release. The Beta is expected to drop sometime in March, or the first few days of April at the latest. The new version will likely be called Counter-Strike 2.
According to the aforementioned anonymous sources, the creation of Counter Strike 2 has been at the forefront of responsibilities for Valve's development team, which includes those who have supervised the production of earlier installments in the Counter-Strike series. It is also believed that this is the reason some issues with CS:GO have gone largely unaddressed for some time now.
The new version will be on the Source 2 engine, which is expected to improve the game's optimization and graphical fidelity. However, folks with low-end computers who just about manage to run the current build of CSGO smoothly may not be able to enjoy its successor at its full potential. That being said, Valve has historically sought to enable a wider player base to play their games with relatively older gaming rigs being able to play their games on release, so the jump in system requirements will probably not be astronomical.
One of the biggest questions surrounding the release of Counter-Strike 2 has been whether or not official servers will be 128 tick, as was introduced by Riot’s Valorant. The anonymous sources have verified that this will indeed be the case, and that this function will likely be available with the Beta release.
There will also be a significantly revamped match-making engine in the game, with the intention being to eliminate the need for third-party matchmaking services such as FaceIT, ESEA or 5E Arena altogether. This has been a longstanding issue in the community, with rough matchmaking and long waits between rank-ups in a near-broken system. In order to have an experience that offers a tangible ELO system, most people are forced to join external pugging services.
However, improvements to these elements will be progressive, and they will be comparable to those seen in the current version of CS:GO in the Beta's first release.
According to reports, the game is “almost set to go” and has been played by many top-level gamers from the scene who were brought to Valve's Seattle headquarters undercover — presumably under NDAs.
However, it is unclear what the future of CS:GO and its esports sector will be. It remains to be seen whether tournament operators will adopt the newer version and if so, when that will happen. Given past versions of the game, it is likely that there will be a period of balance and feature overhauls before Counter-Strike 2 is ready for competitive play. It may also resemble the changeover from Dota 2 to Source 2, in which a better version of the game, known as Dota 2 Reborn, coexisted with the original game until a “union” made the superior version the primary.
A lingering question in the minds of many esports enthusiasts is how long the current season can persist before tournament organizers switch to the newer version. Additionally, it remains to be seen whether these organizers will have any say in when this transition happens.
Past experience also indicates that a significant amount of time will be spent on rebalancing and adding new features before the game is ready for competitive play. Valve has not yet addressed these concerns, leaving many in the esports community uncertain about the future of CS:GO esports.
Despite the uncertainties, the release of a new version of Counter-Strike is sure to be a boon for fans of the game. With improved technology and a reduced barrier to entry, the future of the franchise looks bright.