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Find out Counter-Strike 2’s release date and changes from CSGO

Counter-Strike 2 key art

Counter-Strike is one of the most successful first-person shooter franchises in all of gaming, and Counter-Strike 2 is set to take the series to the next level.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive proved to be a smashing success for Valve, but it’s being decommissioned in favor of a new title. Though its player count was breaking records 10 years after its initial release, the limitations of CSGO’s outdated game engine were becoming more pronounced over time. Fans had long expected the game to be ported into the Source 2 game engine but that never came to pass.

It’s unclear why the company chose to release a sequel rather than go forward with the port. There will most certainly be some pains associated with the sunsetting of the well-known “Global Offensive” branding. Rumors of a Source 2 port had swirled for years, with some evidence found in data mines corroborating this. It’s possible that a decade of jerry-rigging features onto the game made this unfeasible.

Regardless, Counter-Strike 2 is the present and foreseeable future of the series. Counter-Strike 2 boasts the franchise’s signature gameplay while introducing some new mechanics and improving performance on newer hardware.

What’s new in Counter-Strike 2?

Counter-Strike 2 will move Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s gameplay into a new game engine and introduce a few key changes to utility.

The move from Valve’s 2004 Source engine to 2015’s Source 2 will impact the game’s physics in a variety of ways. This changes everything from movement to grenade lineups and will require some adjusting from diehard CSGO players.

Source 2 also brings a sweeping graphical improvement to Counter-Strike, with better textures and lighting in comparison to its predecessor. Many familiar maps are being overhauled and updated to take advantage of this, with some also getting more significant changes.

Counter-Strike 2 will also introduce a few key gameplay changes as well. Smoke grenades will behave differently, with the smoke dispersing if a frag grenade detonates nearby. Counter-Strike 2 will also have new netcode that should better bridge the gap between players’ monitors and the on-server results.

What is CS2’s release date?

Counter-Strike 2 is set to officially come out in 2023. Valve has not given an exact release date and the initial release window was Summer 2023, though it did eventually tease the CS2 release date as being in September 2023. As time rolled on, more and more players were given access to the closed beta which made it debatable whether Valve made good on that projection.

Prominent community figures such as Michael “shroud” Grzesiek and Jordan “n0thing” Gilbert were among the first to take part in a closed beta with gameplay footage making its way online. As time went on, invitations went from being available to a handful of personalities to anyone that had a rank and Prime status in CSGO. Valve also slowly trickled out maps, giving players more content to try out in the new game.

Is CS2 an update to CSGO?

Counter-Strike 2 is a sequel to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, not just an update. That said, the gameplay and graphical changes aren’t as extreme as those seen in other major video game franchises.

The move from CSGO to CS2 is more akin to the move from Fortnite to Fortnite: Chapter 2 than it is to the jump from Armored Core 5 to Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon or other traditional video game releases. The “sequels” largely keep the same gameplay and recycle many assets, but have a handful of key differences that set them apart.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Counter-Strike’s appeal is at least partly related to the fact that the game has remained mostly the same for over 20 years. The tactical shooter found a winning formula that very few other titles have been able to emulate. Making small but impactful gameplay changes has gone a long way for the Counter-Strike series, and that approach will likely be utilized moving forward. 

csgo key art

Will there be a CSGO 2?

There will not be a CSGO 2. Instead, the game is being replaced with Counter-Strike 2. 

Despite the name, CS2 is the fifth installment in the series, not counting its Asia-only spin-offs. The game is set to buck series tradition by actually replacing one of its predecessors, rather than being a completely new game.

With the release of Counter-Strike 2, the “Global Offensive” name and title will be sunsetted. While it’s hypothetically possible that a “CSGO 2” could exist at some point, the first CSGO launched in 2012 and stayed alive for more than a decade. If a CSGO 2 does happen, it may not be until far in the future.

Is Counter-Strike 2 free-to-play?

Counter-Strike 2 is a free-to-play game.

Though previous installments in the Counter-Strike franchise came with a price tag, that changed when Counter-Strike: Global Offensive became free-to-play in 2019. After several years on Steam with a price tag attached to it, Valve introduced its own battle royale game mode and pivoted to a free-to-play model.

Over time, CSGO changed to offer casual game modes for free while locking competitive game modes behind a paywall. Counter-Strike 2 will likely use the same format, as it has proven to be highly successful in CSGO. 

Will Counter-Strike: Global Offensive still be playable after CS2?

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive will be shut down by Valve after the release of Counter-Strike 2.

In the past, Counter-Strike titles have been left running after the release of a sequel, with Counter-Strike and Counter-Strike: Source enduring for years after the release of CSGO. Valve is set to buck that tradition by having Counter-Strike 2 fully replace CSGO.

cs2 grenade flip

While this is a break from precedent for Valve, CSGO’s success likely has the company reluctant to split up the player base. On top of that, the massive industry of CSGO skin trading has proven to be a cash cow for Valve. In fact, CS2 is likely set to expand the prevalence of cosmetic items with skins for helmets, body armor, and grenades.

Though the transition from CSGO to CS2 will likely be a big change, Valve is clearly hoping to maintain the game’s momentum. That goes for both the player count and the money it makes from the skin trading industry.

Can I use CSGO skins in CS2?

All CSGO skins will be usable in CS2. This includes guns, knives, agent skins, and gloves.

Much like Team Fortress 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive became as known for its cosmetic items as it was for its gameplay. A portion of the CSGO player base is primarily focused on collecting, trading, and selling skins. Lucky for these players, all their best unboxings will be usable in CS2.

Players can also expect CS2 to introduce plenty more skins over time with new crates. While Valve will ideally keep skins from impacting gameplay, CSGO’s cosmetic items are far too popular and pricy to leave behind for any of the game’s stakeholders.

Which maps are in Counter-Strike 2?

Counter-Strike 2 includes a long list of maps from both CSGO and other games in the franchise. Fan favorites including Mirage, Inferno, and Dust 2 are all present and accounted for. Here’s the list of maps that popped up during the beta period:

  • Dust 2
  • Mirage
  • Nuke
  • Train
  • Overpass
  • Vertigo
  • Ancient
  • Inferno
  • Office
  • Italy
  • Lake
  • Baggage
  • Shortdust
  • Canals
  • Shoots

Many of the maps in Counter-Strike 2 got big changes that set them apart from their original iterations. Some of these maps received just a slight touch, with changes in lighting and textures that show off what the Source 2 engine is capable of in CSGO. Other maps received much more extensive overhauls.

Fans might notice the lack of several classic maps including Cache, Tuscan, and other community-made maps. Valve has only brought its own maps forward into CS2. Prominent creators including FMPONE have stated they’re working on porting their maps into Source 2 but these maps won’t all be available on day one. The good news is that some of these figures have already started teasing new maps made for CS2.

Will CS2 be on consoles?

Counter-Strike 2 is not scheduled to launch on consoles and it is unlikely that this will change. Even if it does, fans ought to be wary about buying in.

Valve has dabbled with gaming consoles on many occasions and has made hardware such as the Valve Index and Steam Deck portable PC. This most recently came with Portal Companion Collection, a Nintendo Switch eShop title that packaged together Portal 1 and 2. In the past, other games including Half-Life, Half-Life 2, and Left 4 Dead all received console releases. Even Counter-Strike: Global Offensive received a console release on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

The trouble is that when it comes to multiplayer-focused games, Valve is historically quick to abandon its releases. Team Fortress 2 was overwhelmed by hackers shortly after its PS3 and Xbox 360 launch and never received significant updates. The console versions of CSGO were treated in the same way, with the games effectively being left in a beta form permanently. Even if CS2 winds up on consoles, fans may want to hold off and see if Valve actually supports it for an extended period of time before committing to it.

twitch streamer shroud

Who are the biggest Counter-Strike streamers?

The biggest Counter-Strike streamer in the world is Alexandre “gAuLeS” Borba but there are many big-name streamers who got their starts in Counter-Strike

Many of the biggest stars on Twitch actually got their starts in professional Counter-Strike. Michael “shroud” Grzesiek was one of the star players on Cloud9 in 2016, playing alongside the likes of Jacky “Stewie2K” Yip and Timothy “autimatic” Ta. shroud’s not alone on that front, as names like Tarik “tarik” Celik and Jason “jasonR” Ruchelski have bona fides in professional CSGO.

That said, Brazilian streamer gAuLeS is one of the biggest personalities on Twitch, and remains firmly rooted in the Counter-Strike scene. gAuLeS is one of the most tenured people in any walk of professional Counter-Strike, competing as a player in 2001 with g3nerationX before moving onto the original mibr organization, where he eventually became a coach.

As time went on, gAuLeS moved into casting, commentating, and streaming. He was revealed to be one of the highest-paid streamers on all of Twitch and the highest-paid non-English language streamer on the platform. 

gaules winning an award

Unlike shroud and tarik, gAuLeS also remained firmly rooted in Counter-Strike. He plays the game, co-streams esports events, and serves as a commentator and personality during official broadcasts. This isn’t always ideal, as gAuLeS has attracted criticism for his blatant favoritism towards Brazilian teams which has mobilized hate mobs online and seen live events effectively hijacked by fans. Still, there’s no question that gAuLeS is the biggest name in Counter-Strike streaming.

What are the biggest Counter-Strike esports events?

Official majors are the biggest tournaments held in Counter-Strike esports. They have some stiff competition, however.

get_right winning csgo major

Dota 2 has an esports scene that has traditionally flowed through Valve’s annual “The International” tournament and the events that determine the teams who compete in it. Valve still has some presence in Counter-Strike esports, but no tournament has that sort of monolithic status. 

Valve’s biggest tournaments are “majors” that typically boast a prize pool of $1 million or more. The competitors and seeding of these tournaments are determined by a series of “regional major rankings” competitions. Despite having a prize pool that is comparable or smaller than other prominent tournaments, these events tend to be the most lucrative for players and teams due to the incorporation of skins and stickers related to the event into the actual Counter-Strike game.

Beyond the majors are multiple notable leagues and circuits in Counter-Strike esports. In recent years,  many of them have had a franchise system akin to traditional sports leagues. That’s set to change in the near future as Valve is introducing a number of strict guidelines for Counter-Strike esports designed to break up partnerships between tournament organizers and esports organizations. For teams like FaZe Clan that have long-running partnerships with these leagues, that’s potentially worrisome.

IEM Katowice trophy

It’s unknown what the future holds for these events, but there are other prominent CSGO events that are held on an annual basis. The most tenured are ESL’s ESL One Cologne and IEM Katowice events, which have been a staple of the competitive calendar. More recently, BLAST started its own similar tournament circuit that concludes with the BLAST World Finals.

Who is the best Counter-Strike player?

Ukrainian star Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyljev is widely regarded as the greatest Counter-Strike player of all time. Though the franchise has a long history when it comes to competitive play, few would deny that s1mple is the best in the game today and at any point in the game thus far.

s1mple has consistently wowed fans, teammates, and opponents alike with both pure skill and craftiness. His aim and movement are good, but he also does small things that put his team in a better position to win, like throwing his pistol in order to trick an opponent into turning around and dropping the bomb into a disadvantageous spot. 

Off the server, he has arguably the most impressive resume in all of Counter-Strike. He has won basically every notable championship there is to win including a CSGO major, IEM Katowice, ESL Cologne, ESL Pro League, BLAST World Finals, and more. That combination of tangibles and intangibles makes s1mple the best Counter-Strike esports star ever, but he does have competition.

Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut has long been looked at as s1mple’s biggest rival and his resume has grown in recent months with top finishes in the 2023 BLAST Paris Major and ESL Pro League Season 16. Peter “dupreeh” Rasmussen is also still active and boasts five major championships and loads of his own accolades.
There are also throwback names like longtime Ninjas in Pyjamas captain Christopher “GeT_RiGhT” Alesund and the recently retired Robin “flusha” Rönnquist. s1mple is still building his resume though, so other players have a tough road ahead if they want to dethrone him.

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Written by Steven Rondina

Steven Rondina has been playing video games since he was a toddler and appreciates every genre out there. He has earned the platinum trophy in every Soulsborne game, is regularly Master Ball-ranked on the competitive Pokemon ladder, and has spent thousands of hours missing shots on Dust 2.

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