The rumors were true: Valve has just taken the wraps off of Counter-Strike 2, announcing a limited beta that is available to select members of the game’s community. The studio says the sequel will overhaul every system, piece of content and part of the Counter-Strike experience. As expected, Valve is moving the game to the latest version of its in-house Source 2 engine, leading to a noticeable leap in graphical fidelity.
The game will feature sharper textures, more life-like lighting and additional geometry. Valve says the Counter-Strike 2 team is taking a three-tier approach to level design. “Touchstone” maps like Dust 2 will, for the most part, be left untouched outside of tweaks to their lighting and readability. “Upgrade” maps, meanwhile, will take advantage of Source 2’s enhanced lighting pipeline for more realistic-looking materials and reflections. Lastly, Valve plans to fully overhaul a handful of levels, taking advantage of everything its engine has to offer.
The move to Source 2 will also bring with it gameplay enhancements. Starting, most notably, with how smoke grenades function. As Valve explains in a behind-the-scenes video, smoke grenades will now live as volumetric 3D objects within the game world, making them responsive to other gameplay elements and allowing players to momentarily shape sightlines with bullets and explosions.
Valve is also overhauling the game’s server architecture. It says Counter-Strike 2 will support sub-tick updates, a feature the studio claims will allow the game’s servers to know the instant a player move, fires their weapon or throws a grenade. In theory, that should make the new entry feel like the most responsive Counter-Strike to date.
When the full version of the game arrives this summer, Counter-Strike 2 will be a free upgrade to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Any cosmetics you’ve collected in CS:GO will carry over to the new game (and look better than ever). Valve is inviting players to the limited beta based on a handful of factors, including recent playtime and Steam account standing. The studio promised to share more information about Counter-Strike 2 closer to release.