Valve has officially announced Counter-Strike 2 (CS2), launching a limited test today for the game described as an “overhaul to every system, every piece of content, and every part of the C-S experience.” The game, powered by Valve’s Source 2 engine, promises significant technical advancements, years of updates, and a variety of new features, with a full release expected in summer 2023. CS2 will be free to play.
CS2 introduces updates to core game mechanics, such as improved smoke grenades and “sub-tick updates,” providing servers with precise information on player movements and actions. In addition, the game will feature revamped maps, enhanced visuals, UI improvements, reworked audio, and more.
In a video titled “Leveling Up The World,” Valve details the three “tiers” of maps in CS2. “Touchstone” levels, like Dust II, receive minor visual updates but remain mostly unchanged, allowing players to acclimate to new gameplay in a familiar setting. Upgraded or overhauled maps, on the other hand, either incorporate Source 2 features or are entirely rebuilt.
A limited test begins today, with participants chosen based on factors such as playtime, trust factor, and Steam account standing. Those selected will receive a notification in the CS:GO main menu to enroll. Participants are permitted to stream their experience and post videos, providing a sneak peek at CS2’s enhanced smoke and lighting effects. The initial limited test will feature the Dust II map in Deathmatch and “unranked competitive matchmaking” modes, with other modes and maps arriving in future test releases. The test is currently only available on Windows.
Valve confirms that all items collected in CS:GO will be available in CS2, benefiting from Source 2 lighting and materials. Additionally, all stock weapons have been upgraded with high-resolution models. However, players banned from CS:GO will not be able to play CS2 on Valve servers.
Valve spokesperson Kaci Aitchison Boyle states, “The game’s full range of new features will be announced at launch, but during the limited testing period we’ll be evaluating a subset of those features to get it ready for the worldwide release.” With “much more to come” and the promise of a full reveal in a few months, anticipation for Counter-Strike 2 is building rapidly.
The announcement follows weeks of speculation about an overhauled CS:GO. CS2’s development was hinted at by esports journalist Richard Lewis, and references to the game were found in Nvidia driver updates and a recent CS2 trademark filing by Valve. As the successor to CS:GO, launched over a decade ago, and the original Counter-Strike, released over 20 years ago, CS2 ushers in a new era for the iconic game franchise.