PC Gamer
CSGO


Valve have released a new CS:GO 'Operation' pack, bringing unlimited official server access to a selection of community made maps. For Operation Phoenix, the maps were chosen by popular vote - and as such, round up some of the best battlegrounds featured in previous operations. Although, if you're anything like me, the quality is less important than the variety. When you're inevitably killed in the first few seconds of the round, it's important to have some nice level design to enjoy through the death camera.

The returning eight maps are Cache, Motel, Seaside, Downtown, Thunder, Ali, Favela and Agency. All will be available to play in Casual, Competitive and Deathmatch modes, ensuring a busy few months of battle in the constant war between terrorism and not terrorism.

Purchase of the $3 access pack also provides buyers with a Coin, which can be upgraded through playtime and wins. The Phoenix Coin is also a scorecard - giving players a complete run down of their stats across the included maps. Throughout the event, chests containing a selection of new weapon finishes will also drop.

Head over to the CS:GO blog for a statistical rundown of each map. Operation Phoenix will run until June 4th.
PC Gamer
PCG254.feat_dota.g10


If you know your eSports, you may have heard of Gfinity, who run tournaments for pro players and amateurs alike. Up until now they've been mainly concerned with Call of Duty, but they've recently announced their roster for 2014, which includes tourneys for DOTA 2, Counter-Strike GO and StarCraft 2 across February and March. There are cash prizes on offer for teams that wish to enter, and you don't have to pay anything for the privilege - but signups do close Monday at 17:00 GMT, so if you're interested in participating you'll need to get a wriggle on. The rest of us will be able to watch the events on their Twitch channel. Details below.

As noted below, you'll need to form at least a five-person team to be able to enter any of these, or at the very least be able to split yourself into a minimum of five clones, a little like the dude out of Misfits. There are a number of competitions, starting the 24th of Feb and running through to the end of March.

DOTA 2
Pro League
$7500 prize pot between x6 teams
Open tournaments (newcomers)
X5 weekly cups have been arranged starting from 24th February
Each tournament consists of a $500 prize pot

CS: GO
Pro League
Features x6 of the top EU teams from the Alienware Pro League who will compete for a $7,500 prize pot
Open Tournaments (newcomers)
Registered teams will be ranked into divisions (ensuring teams of equal ability are competing together) and will play on a fixed night each week for x5 weeks for the chance to win a share in a $2,500 prize pot

StarCraft II
Elite Division
Top x6 players will complete for a share of the $3000 prize pot
Open 1:1 Leagues (newcomers)
Registered players will compete for the chance to win a share of the $2,500 prize pot

Once again, the deadline for entry closes tomorrow at 5PM. If you're interested, the Gfinity site is the place to sign up for the various events.
PC Gamer
DevilhackPLayBravely


If gaming can sometimes seem like a solitary experience, Spela Modigt // Play Bravely shows what happens when a group of players finds the chemistry and will to succeed as a unit. The new documentary follows professional Counter-Strike: GO player Jonatan "Devilwalk" Lundberg and his Fnatic team as it attempts to win the Dreamhack Winter 2013 tournament.

A support player in the Fnatic Counter-Strike squad, Lundberg likens himself to a psychologist or "shrink," as he puts it, in that a big part of achieving any goal is keeping people together and focused on a single objective.

"We are a team that doesn't really change," Lundberg says in the film. "We've had the same core players since the start of the year and that's really, really unique. People quit, people change lineups because they get in fights, can't resolve their issues. So they just start over, which is the wrong way to go I think."

As well as offering polished insight into some of the personalities behind a top eSports team, director Zacharias Dyrborg's film features some great play-by-play action of competitive Counter-Strike and works to explain the mindset of the Fnatic team before and after each match. For me, it showed that while skill will almost always show itself in highly stressful situations, success can also depend just as much on understanding how to take advantage of the emotional side of competition.
PC Gamer
CS GO


There's been a new update for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, which, according to Steam's not at all ridiculous new tagging system, is a Competitive Tactical Multiplayer Shooter. And a CoD-Like. Whatever Steam users think about the game, the community now has access to a new weapon type. Alongisde highly important features like "added diagnostic info to debug video config reset", the most recent patch has introduced the CZ75-Auto, a fully automatic pistol.

"When you load CS:GO today, you ll get a new stock weapon in your inventory," write Valve. "The fully-automatic CZ75-Auto is available for both teams, and can be equipped as a loadout alternative to the P250.

"An inexpensive option against armored opponents, the CZ s stats are identical to the P250 with two important exceptions: the pistol is fully-automatic, and comes with far less ammo. Accurate and deadly, the CZ75-Auto demands precise timing and trigger discipline."

That pistol can also be skinned in a variety of ways through the finishes contained in the new CSGO Weapons Case 3. That case is now dropping in-game because, as the tags themselves say, "Marketable Items".
PC Gamer
CS GO


Valve's official Operations for CS:GO have proven to be remarkably popular among CT's and T's alike. Naturally, Valve are readying for the game's third major Operation, and have been holding a vote to determine which community maps would get the official server treatment. While, according to Valve, those votes are still being counted (what, are they doing it by hand?), some maps have proved popular enough to have already secured a place. In a post on the CS:GO blog, Cache is announced as the operation's first confirmed battleground.

Cache is a bomb defusal map, set in Chernobyl of all places. Unlike other video game representations of the city, this one isn't inhabited by mutants, but instead by terrorists who are attempting to destroy a weapons cache. It's already available through the Steam Workshop, albeit not on the pristine pings of an official Valve server.

If there was any doubt about the popularity of the map, an infographic accompanying the post reveals that 11,753 hours are played in Cache every day. That and other incidental facts can be found over at the CS:GO blog.
PC Gamer



Evan surprises the group with a game of tabletop Counter-Strike can the crack team of podcasting terrorists successfully plant the bomb, or will they all roll 1s and throw their guns at the other team? The shocking conclusion to Table Offensive is followed up with some critical talk about two giant MMOs, starting with The Elder Scrolls Online, which Cory and Evan spent the weekend with, followed by EverQuest Next Landmark, which is Tyler's first MMO obsession since the original EverQuest, despite being nothing like it. Later, Wes gives us his take on The Wolf Among Us Episode Two and the group discusses episodic storytelling games, and everyone wants to play Jazzpunk.

Roll a 20 for initiative and click the link to listen to PC Gamer Podcast #371 - Roll for Headshot.

Have a question, comment, complaint, or observation? Send an MP3 to pcgamerpodcast@gmail.com or call us toll-free at 877-404-1337 x724.

Subscribe to the podcast RSS feed.

Follow us on Twitter:

@ELahti (Evan Lahti)
@wesleyfenlon (Wes Fenlon)
@tyler_wilde (Tyler Wilde)
@demiurge (Cory Banks)

PC Gamer
CSStickers


Released yesterday, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive's latest update adds Sticker Capsules to the game. Each capsule contains one sticker out of a series of sticker designs. The Sticker Capsules are dropped at the end of matches, and are opened with a Sticker Capsule key. The stickers can be applied to any gun in the game. You can also apply multiple stickers to a single weapon. They're a little like Team Fortress 2 hats, only for your guns. Gun hats!

In addition to the new stickers and some under-the-hood performance improvements, CS:GO's devs have tweaked the UI and weapon balancing. The UI highlights:

Added player teammate colors in Competitive Mode that displays a unique color per teammate in the radar, playercount panel, scoreboard and the arrow over their head (can be toggled offline with cl_cmm_showteamplayercolors).
Enemies icons on radar are now a different shape than teammates.
Added sort method 'Equipped' to the Inventory.

The biggest addition is the ability to use alternate fire to throw grenades underhand a short distance. Throw strength can be finely controlled by combining secondary and alternate fire.

In weapon balance news, the AUG and SG553 have received improved rates of fire and scoped control. Across the board, automatic weapons have seen a 50 percent increase in movement inaccuracy, but movement inaccuracy when walking is now being calculated differently for all guns, improving overall movement accuracy.

In terms of new content, the latest update also rolled out the Overpass and Cobblestone maps to all players.

While stickers are an interesting addition, cosmetic upgrades, a marketplace and Team Fortress 2-style random drops are not new to CS:GO. Last year, Valve introduced weapon skins to the game in the Arms Deal update, which function similarly to stickers.

Check out the full patch notes for minor fixes and tweaks to several of CS:GO's maps.
PC Gamer
CSGO-teaser


Article by Jonny "Waffles" Fuller

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive s surge in popularity over the past few months makes now a great time to join one of the most competitive multiplayer shooters on PC. This visual guide will teach you how to set up your game for the maximum competitive advantage. There s no singular best practice, as a lot of configuration is personal preference, but there are tweaks you can make to graphics and network settings, keybindings, and more to help outplay the competition.
Understand your graphics settings


There s no consensus among the competitive community about which screen resolution is the best. Lots of players look towards the pros using ancient 4:3 resolutions such as 800x600 for guidance. However, there is no singular advantage provided by using 4:3 resolutions. Some hardcore players use these resolutions because they were optimal in the 1.6 era and allowed legacy CRTs to hit higher refresh rates, and pros are generally change-averse.

But when you re using a 4:3 resolution, your horizontal field of view is just 74 degrees. Some players prefer this narrow view as it allows them to focus centrally on their target, and positions the radar closer to center. At 16:9 the player has a 90-degree field of view, which allows more vision towards the edges of the screen. I value this peripheral vision over narrow focus, and thus use 1920x1080 (16:9). Ideally, you want to use the native resolution of your monitor while maximizing your framerate.

The single best way to increase your FPS is to drop your resolution, so let's dig into CS:GO's graphics settings.
Improve FPS with launch options


Make all your graphical adjustments with the knowledge that CS:GO is a CPU-limited game in general. There s no holy grail console or config command that can dramatically improve your FPS, but there are some slight tweaks we can make.

Drop all your in game graphics settings to low, disable anti-aliasing, enable multi-core rendering
Add these launch options to your launch parameters in Steam (see screenshot above):

-novid -console -high -threads 4

These commands disable the intro, enable the console, set the process affinity to high, and grant your cores to CS:GO, even though technically Source can only use 3 threads. Some players add the -processheap parameter thinking it will grant better fps, but because this substitutes Windows memory management for Valve s own code it is highly recommend to remove it.

The next step involves modifying CS:GO's config file. It's a bit more complicated, but allows us to make some really useful tweaks.
Adjust graphics settings in the config file


Find your config.cfg in the cfg folder within the game directory (default C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\SteamApps\common\Counter-Strike Global Offensive\csgo\cfg). If you don't already have file extensions enabled in Windows, you should enable them now to make sure that, when you edit the config file, it retains the .cfg extension. To turn on file extensions, click Organize in Windows Explorer, click Folder and search options, tab over to View, and uncheck Hide extensions for known file types. Now let's edit config.cfg. You can open it in Windows Notepad, but it'll be easier to read with a more advanced text editor, like the free Notepad++.

Now, edit these lines in the config file. For most of them, you'll simply be switching out a 0 for a 1, or something similar.

r_drawtracers_firstperson Set to "0" - Disable first-person tracers. Enemy tracers are still drawn.

mat_monitorgamma Set to "2.1" - The brighter the better so you can illuminate enemies.

mat_queue_mode "-1" - Auto-detect multi-core rendering

mat_savechanges Add this line to write video settings to the registry.

cl_forcepreload 1 - Forces the game to load all the sound and art assets on map load. This can help you if you experience stuttering when certain sounds go off, such as throwing a grenade into a bunch of props

cl_disablehtmlmotd 1 - disables those annoying ads when connecting to a server

cl_autowepswitch 0 - Disables automatically switching to a primary gun you pick up off the ground so you don t draw an unloaded weapon

cl_disablefreezecam 1 - Disables the annoying freeze on death so you can make proper calls to your team mates

You can save your changes, but don't close the config file just yet. Next, we're going to tweak the most vital of all CS:GO settings: network settings.


Adjust network settings in the config file


These network settings are the most important commands you will type into your config file. Find the following commands in your config and change their values as noted:

cl_interp "0"
cl_cmdrate "128"
cl_updaterate "128"

Also, add rate to your config file with the following value:

rate "128000"

Think of it like this: there are two versions of Counter-Strike being played, yours and the server s. The client version is (default) 100 milliseconds in the past of the "real" (server) version of the game world. The more updates you have, the less interpolation (prediction) is required by your PC to accurately figure out what the server world looks like. If the server and your client compare data, and the server overrides your hit, then what you think is a hit will be a miss. There may be times when you ll shoot someone and see blood, for example, but then the client reports 0 damage. This occurs because blood decals are client-side. Your client believes you scored a hit, draws the blood, and sends the packets to the server to be checked. If the server rules a miss, then the player takes 0 damage. This is why you want your client s perception of the world to be as close to the server s perception as possible.

Decreasing interpolation runs the moderate risk of experiencing laggy players models jittering. It is beneficial to lose smoothness to gain accuracy. The goal for competitive play is to always have the lowest possible amount of client side interpolation and gain the most accurate representation of the game world. So we set our cl_interp value to 0.

By setting it to 0 the game will automatically set the interp to the lowest possible value allowed by the server.

Next we want as many updates per second as the server will possibly give us. A 66 tic Valve matchmaking server defaults rates to 66. In case you ever play on a higher tic rate server we want to set our cl_updaterate to 128 and our cl_cmdrate to 128. You can use higher values, but it won t matter. With these settings, any time you connect to a higher value server, it will default you to the highest values allowed. The same goes with rate, which is the size of the packets. You want as much information as possible so we set this to 128000. Again, this will default to the highest amount a server will allow. You can never have too much of a good thing!

"Now," you might ask, "my monitor's refresh rate is 60hz and thus those extra frames are not drawn, do I still benefit?" The answer is yes.

There are other variables to consider, such as input lag, mouse polling, and a general overall smoothness. If you have a high framerate, your input lag will be infinitely lower, and your mouse will feel smoother, even if your monitor is not actually drawing those frames. The physics, the tics, all the send/receive commands are still triggering themselves at a more rapid pace, and thus your representation of the game world is better, even if the frames are not technically being projected into your eyeballs.
Set up hotkeys for buys and grenades


Using a simple syntax in the config.cfg file, you can set up hotkeys to buy specific loadouts. The brackets below are to demonstrate where you'd place a word or letter, so don't actually type the brackets into the config file.

bind buy

So, if you wanted to bind the up arrow to buy an AK or M4 (depending on team), the command would be:

bind KP_UPARROW buy ak47;buy m4a1

Or if you wanted the home key to buy armor or head armor (based on cash) the command would be:

bind KP_HOME buy vest;buy vesthelm

It is extremely useful to bind separate keys for different grenade types. This way, you can throw a counter-flash while completely blind, instead of fumbling through the grenade menu. It works the same way, but the command is use" instead of "buy."

For example, let s say I want to bind f to put a flashbang in my hand. The command is: bind f use weapon_flashbang

Or maybe I want to use v to pull out a smoke grenade. bind v use weapon_smokegrenade

Here's a list of weapon codes in CS:GO.

Rifles
ak47 : AK-47
aug : Aug
famas : Famas
galilar : Galil
m4a1 : M4
sg556 : Sig aka Krieg

Sniper Rifles
awp : AWP
g3sg1 : Terrorist Autosniper
scar20 : CT Autosniper
ssg08 : Scout

Shotguns
mag7 : Mag7 CT Pump shotgun
nova : Nova Pump Shotgun
xm1014 : Auto Shotty
sawedoff : T Pump Shotgun

Pistols
p250 : P250
elite : Dual Berettas
fiveseven : Five-SeveN
deagle : Desert Eagle
tec9 : Tec9

SMGs
bizon : PP-19 Bizon
mac10 : Mac 10
mp7 : MP7
mp9 : CT MP9 (TMP replacement)
p90 : P90
ump45 : UMP

Machine Guns
m249 : Machinegun
negev : Negev Machine Gun

Utility
decoy : Decoy Grenade
flashbang : Flash Grenade
hegrenade : HE Grenade
incgrenade : CT Incendiary Grenade
molotov : T Incendiary Grenade
smokegrenade : Smoke Grenade
Customize the HUD


There s a few tweaks to your HUD you can experiment with in the config file.

hud_scaling (0.5-0.95) - Allows you to change the size of the HUD
cl_radar_always_centered 0 - A lot of players prefer the default 1 but as in-game lead I like being able to see the entire map on the radar
cl_radar_scale ".4" - changes the radar zoom size so you can see more
Customize your crosshair


There is no best crosshair, but I prefer small classic static. A static crosshair does not expand during movement. As the crosshair s expansion does not accurately reflect current accuracy values I recommend using a static crosshair.

Update: After talking to Matt Wood from Valve, who wrote "the same data that's used to determine the accuracy of your bullets is used to draw the spread of the crosshair (on the same frame)," Matt is definitely right and what I wrote about the dynamic crosshair wasn't correct. A dynamic crosshair in CS:Go does correctly show the accuracy values in real time, unlike in previous iterations of the game. I think most competitive players just do not use it because they are used to their legacy crosshairs, and the constant movement can be distracting. New players may benefit from the dynamic crosshair's visual feedback displaying how controlled movement improves their accuracy.

Again in the config file, change these values to customize your crosshair.

cl_crosshairdot "0" - This command disables the center dot
cl_crosshair_drawoutline "1" - I recommend everyone turn this outline on so the crosshair is more visible
cl_crosshair_outlinethickness "2" - Set to 1, 2, or 3 to adjust thickness. I prefer 2.

Crosshair style and color can easily be adjusted in CS:GO's Game Settings menu.


Choose the right mouse sensitivity


Want greater control and accuracy in combat? To find the right mouse sensitivity, lower your sensitivity to a level that feels uncomfortable to play at, and then raise it one notch. The lower your sensitivity the more control you as a player have over your accuracy. While you need to find a sensitivity that works for you, I generally suggest a complete mouse swipe should be around 120 degrees of in-game movement. Remember, in CS, if someone is behind you, you re probably already dead anyway.

You want to completely eliminate mouse acceleration. Mouse acceleration increases the distance traveled based on speed of the movement. This is not ideal for consistency. You want a 1:1 ratio between mouse movement and in-game view rotation.

In the Windows Control Panel, make sure your mouse sensitivity is set to the sixth notch. Disable enhanced pointer precision to remove windows modifiers and disable acceleration.

Disable all mouse acceleration in your mouse drivers, if you use special software from Razer, Steelseries, etc. If you use a gaming mouse and software which allows custom DPI settings, use the native DPI of your mouse so there is no interpolation. If your software allows, use a 500 Hz or 1000 Hz refresh rate on the mouse. 125 Hz = 8 ms; 500 Hz = 2 ms; 1000 Hz = 1 ms.
Selecting a mouse


There are six variables to consider when purchasing a competitive mouse: DPI, hardware acceleration, prediction, max perfect control speed, malfunction speed, and lift off distance. DPI stands for dots per inch. The higher the DPI, the faster the mouse will move per inch. A lot of gaming mice are sold at stupidly high DPIs. Be aware these products are not always ideal.

The other variables are much more important than a high DPI. Hardware acceleration is built in mouse acceleration. You want to avoid this at all costs. A lot of laser mice suffer hardware acceleration, as well as some older mice like the MX518.

Prediction, also known as angle snapping, causes the mouse to try to smooth out your input and create a straight line. Max perfect control speed and malfunction speed are related. The max perfect control speed is the speed at which the mouse begins to lose perfect tracking, and the malfunction speed is when tracking ceases to work. Have you ever flicked your mouse for a shot and your control spasmed? Your mouse s control speeds are too low and it is time to upgrade!

Lift off distance is the lift height required to stop tracking. If you do not want to do all the research I highly recommend a Logitech G400 at 800 DPI.
Selecting a mousepad


There s a million options available to gamers when it comes to mouse surfaces. There are two general types: resistance pads and slick pads. A cloth pad would be an example of a resistance pad. The friction of the cloth against the mouse skates requires more effort for the same movement, thus offering more granular control. Slick pads decrease friction and allow for quick snapshots. I recommend a cloth pad for new players starting out. If you have to use a laser mouse avoid black pads, as they can cause some tracking problems.

I use an 11 year old DKT fat cloth pad. Get_Right, arguably the best player in the world, uses a Zowie speed pad and Zowie EC1 Evo. The Steel Series QCK mouse pads are also incredible. It really comes down to personal preference.
PC Gamer
ServerList


Looking for evening of multiplayer gaming? Come and play with us. We've recently refreshed our UK server list, providing a space for readers to explore, build and... okay, mostly just kill. Whether you enjoy a friendly round of competitive brutality, or a collaborative place to create and share, our Multiplay hosted servers are waiting for you to join.

DayZ Standalone



Visit our version of Chernarus for pleasant strolls around picturesque towns and memorable encounters with local characters. It's a camping trip you'll never forget. Maybe you'll even run into long-term resident Andy Kelly. Pro-tip: Don't run into Andy Kelly.

Rust



If spawning unarmed in a brutal and hostile environment doesn't sound like your thing, Rust let's you start with a rock. Our 50-player server will give you plenty of chances to use that rock along the difficult road to survival.

Starbound



If you've a hankering for creative co-operation and expansive exploration, our Starbound server is for you. You can build, fight, find and live amongst the game's mushrooms, brains and bird people, all with your fellow readers.

Minecraft



Prefer more depth to your builds? Our Minecraft server is a massive and beautiful testament to our readers' creativity. It's a museum of wonder, and one that you can add to. Presuming, that is, you can find some unclaimed land.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive



We're a classy bunch at PCG, but that doesn't mean we can't also kick back once in a while. That's why our CS:GO server is running Classic - Casual, cycling through some of the best official maps. Yes, that includes Dust.

Team Fortress 2



Team Fortress 2 is still brilliant, and for that reason it's the most enduring game on our server list. Thanks to its age there's a great map pool to pick from, and our 24-player server runs through eighteen of the best. No, that does not include Hydro.
PC Gamer
Operation Bravo


When we last reported on Operation Bravo, it was a brand new baby event, unaware of the chaos and mayhem that awaited its short life. Now a grizzled veteran, it was all set for retirement. Unfortunately, the horror of war will stop for no man community event, and it's been called back for one last tour of duty. By which I mean it's been extended to February 5th.

Why extend past the original planned end date of January 20th? Probably because the event has proved exceptionally popular. According to the CS:GO blog, players have already spent 2.8 million hours fighting through Bravo's maps. Expect Valve to release more stats when Bravo does finally end in two weeks' time.

Bravo - like Payback before it - gives players access to official dedicated server support on eight community-made maps in Deathmatch, Casual and Competitive Modes. Buyers also receive a coin, upgradable through playtime and wins on Bravo maps, and a scorecard that tracks more detailed stats across their Bravo career.

For more details on the event, check Valve's Operation Bravo mini-site.
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