The beta for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive went live yesterday. Know what that means? Yup! People filming themselves playing it then uploading it to the internet so we can all see.
The footage is from the tweaked update to classic map "Dust".
It's...Counter-Strike all right!
It was mission success, as the six men - three from Russia and one each from China, Italy and France - emerged the other day safe and sound. So how'd they get along and not die of boredom?
According to 32 year-old participant Alexander Smoleyevsky, whenever tensions threatened to boil over between the men, they'd all settle in for a few rounds of Counter-Strike.
Which only shows these were unique men, blessed with the patience required for the epic voyage for Mars. I mean, put me up against a camper and a cheat for 17 months and I won't just get upset, I'll kill them with my bare hands.
As advertised, here's over sixty minutes of Europeans and Americans going at it on the latest version of venerable old Counter-Strike, Global Offensive.
Enjoy An Hour Of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Footage [Game Informer]
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive had its first official tournament over the weekend at the New York Comic-Con.
While I showed you a few minutes of play, here's the full one-hour, blow-by-blow brought to you by the guys over at ESL TV. The tourney took place as part of the Intel Extreme Masters Global Challenge New York.
I captured about three minutes of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive while walking around New York Comic-Con on Thursday.
The game isn't open for the public to play, but rather is hosting a slew of pro-gamers who are checking out Valve's latest version of their mod-friendly shooter.
Using official screenshots or trailer screengrabs as a base, players have staked out the exact same spots on existing versions of the maps, to give us all an idea of how much trash, debris and other assorted stuff is being added to breathe a little more life into the stages.
As you can see, some, like Nuke, haven't changed much! Others, like Dust, have changed a lot.
Note: Our gallery isn't playing nice with the portrait orientation of these, so click "expand" to see the images at their full-size.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is Valve's retooling of the classic team-based first-person shooter Counter-Strike. Today, Valve revealed that the game will include "Arsenal Mode", which is based on the popular Counter-Strike: Source mod "Gun Game".
Valve is working with the Gun Game creators to create Arsenal Mode. "We are excited that Valve reached out and is working with us to ensure Arsenal Mode is the best version of Gun Game", Michael Barr project lead of Gun Game said in an official release.
"Arsenal: Arms Race" and "Arsenal: Demolition" will add eight new maps to classic Counter-Strike team play.
In August, Kotaku spent an hour with Counter-Strike: GO. Check out the coverage if you missed it.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive will be out early next year.
The next Counter-Strike, the one coming out early next year called Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, won't be called Counter-Strike 2, because that game would be "something different", two of Valve's top people on the new game recently told Kotaku.
"A lot of Counter-Strike: GO is taking Counter-Strike: Source and Counter-Strike 1.6 and melding it into a product that every side likes and also expanding the base by putting it out on the consoles," Valve's Chet Faliszek said, referring to the two most popular incarnations of the game. "Whereas Counter-Strike 2, at least internally, we think about as something different."
During a recent interview at Valve headquarters in Bellevue, Faliszek and CS: GO project lead Ido Magal let me play Counter-Strike: GO (for an hour) and then helped me narrow in on what the new game is and isn't.
It's clear that the new game, which will be released as a downloadable title for PC, Mac, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 early next year, isn't a full-fledged sequel.
"Counter-Strike: GO has this kind of objective of homing in," Magal said. "We're taking that competitive experience that's very hard to organize in Counter-Strike: Source... We've taken that and let everyone experience the fun of a five-on-five [game] where everyone is equally matched. The product doesn't span all of Counter-Strike. Counter-Strike is zombie mods and all these different things. This is more narrow."
The new GO will feature several classic maps, new weapons and tweaks that range from modified maps to a new casual mode that removes the in-game money restrictions on which weapons and items players can buy. It also will be supported by Valve's in-house match-making, an option that allows Valve to promise a controlled, predictable multiplayer experience for all gamers.
GO is being developed in concert with Hidden Path Entertainment, which is located just a couple of blocks from Valve HQ. That team was initially been assigned to work on a straight Xbox Live Arcade port of 2004's Counter-Strike: Source.
"We wanted to see what that would look like," Magal said. It looked good.
"We realized there was something more there that we could do, something that the community would be interested in," Faliszek said.
"And we got excited," Magal added.
Valve had expected the 2004 Source version of the game to replace the previous year's 1.6 iteration, itself a successor to a game that had been evolving since the late 90's. But many of 1.6's most ardent fans, including those who played it competitively, as a sport, resisted the Source version. Source "didn't do what we thought it would do, but we weren't disappointed about what it did," Magal said. "We thought Counter-Strike: Source would replaced Counter-Strike 1.6 but instead it generated a community just as large as the 1.6 community on its own."
Faliszek called it "an amoeba-like split."
GO is supposed to bring those crowds together and rope in console players who have only had an original Xbox version to choose from. Valve also assumes it has lost some computer Counter-Strike gamers who have moved away from PC gaming and wants to reach them on the consoles those gamers may have moved to (fittingly, the PS3 version of the game will even include mouse and keyboard support; and all players on PS3/PC/Mac will be match-made against each other.)
The Valve guys describe two of the goals for GO as lowering the skill floor—making it easier for newbies to have fun with game, hence the casual mode—and raising the skill ceiling—making meaningful, subtle changes to maps and mechanics that only pro-level players will notice and appreciate.
Valve is not trying to necessarily turn GO into an e-Sport. "That requirement doesn't exist," Magal said. "If it happens, that's nice." They do want to make sure those highest-level players can enjoy GO, though, so Valve is launching a PC beta for the game in October and having what Magal calls an ongoing "dialogue" with hardcore CS players "to fix the things that everyone agrees is an issue." For example: "The way the smoke grenades used to work in Counter-Strike: Source. We changed the rate at which it blooms and dissipates and everyone preferred it." And another example, also from Magal: "The maps Dust and Aztec aren't played competitively at all because they were so imbalanced in Source. We feel very bullish on changing them, so we did. Dust 2 is a wonderfully balanced map that we didn't need to change. We just gave it a visual upgrade."
And then there are the Halo and Call of Duty gamers out there, the FPS hordes who may wonder why a new Counter-Strike is at all relevant to them. What's the appeal of CS:GO for that crowd who already have plenty of first-person shooting to do in their favorite series? CS may have sold 25 million copies already (according to Faliszek), but Valve might still have trouble pulling those folks from their beloved franchises. What's a CS have to offer those people?
Magal describes the essence and value of CS in one word: skill. "I think where Counter-Strike differentiates itself is what impact skill has on your success."
It's the way skill factors into a CS match that makes it feel different from other shooters, Faliszek added. "It's clean. You died because you made the wrong choice." He explained that beginner CS players tend to use lots of grenades, but that veterans don't since it is "super-easy" to kill a player who is holding one. "There's not a lot of spam in there," he said. "There are a lot of clean kills. Most kills are gun kills. And it's about, 'Oh I didn't check that corner before I entered this room. I made the bad choice of trying to defuse the bomb before clearing the area. We rushed around this corner and we got ambushed.' It's always about making those kinds of decisions and not about, ‘Oh man, why did I die? What the hell? That's bullshit kind of thing."
"A small difference in skill between two players, the impact of that on the game will be accentuated," Magal said. "My experience in other games is that's not the case."
That's what Counter-Strike is: a game of skill. And this is what CS:GO is: an effort to put anyone who has or should play Counter-Strike into the same game. That's a big enough goal but not a grand enough one to merit the name Counter-Strike 2.
As we discussed possible names for this new Counter-Strike, I had to ask if they'd considered one other name, one that would be an inside joke for fans of Valve's Half-Life series whose third episodic sequel has been missing in action for years. Did anyone suggest, during those brainstorm sessions, Counter-Strike: Episode Three?
"No," was Faliszek's quick reply. Then a quick inhale of breath. This new GO may not be a full-fledged Counter-Strike sequel, but it's no joke.
In case you're only just joining us, CS:GO is a new take on the venerable multiplayer shooter promising a few tweaks to the system, new weapons, new maps and even a casual mode for those either new to the game or returning after a long layoff brought about by fear and/or dislike of the game's experienced, hardcore fans.
There'll even be cross-platform multiplayer between PC and PS3, the latter able to use a mouse and keyboard (though the game will also be released on Xbox 360).
The Counter-Strike: Global Offensive booth at the Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle is a madhouse. People are waiting on long lines to play it. But if you can't get in, you can at least watch it played on the big screen, through the largest crosshairs in town.