Courtesy Heroic GG / Instagram

The roster of competing teams for the 2024 Esports World Cup’s Counter-Strike 2 (CS2) championship has been finalized. Given this hype, the activity for the game has increased significantly. As of April 2024, Steam has charted an average of 931,913 CS2 players with a 5.23% gain.

Released as a free update to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO) in 2023, the highly-anticipated upgrade garnered much success in a year that saw plenty of competition. Our Gamer Guide for the greatest games of the last year is populated by huge titles like Baldur’s Gate 3, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, and Diablo IV. Despite the demand and acclaim for these games, CS2 still has the highest number of peak players (exceeding a million).

So, what makes it so different from its predecessor? Check out what’s new with Counter-Strike 2.



Brand New Engine

Courtesy ESL Counter-Strike / Instagram

The very engine that Counter-Strike 2 runs on has changed, with the new Source 2 engine introducing graphical improvements that would have been unachievable by previous standards. Forbes’ coverage of the game’s release notes how the overhauled engine increases the required computing power to run the game. Although this may cause issues for older rigs, it’s a necessary shift that enables the new features to work.

The most significant visual changes players may notice are crisper and more defined textures, improved blood splatter, improved environmental lighting to make players more visible, and the introduction of visible player legs from your point of view. Additionally, players will notice a completely redone user interface (UI) from the main menu to in-game selections.


Map Overhaul

CS2 also introduces plenty of changes to its map selection. This is meant to add more variety for old and new players while optimizing the playing field for both offensive and defensive plays. Every map can also have a different rank, balancing skill levels among different player groups.

Touchstone maps like Mirage, Train, and Dust 2 have received graphical improvements but are exempt from major layout changes because of their iconic status within the series’ history. Other maps were upgraded for the rendering capabilities of Source 2, with some getting minor changes and others receiving a complete rebuild from the ground up. The most significant Overhaul maps are Italy, Overpass, and the ever-popular Inferno.


Revamped Tournament Scene

Courtesy CS:GO / Instagram

Because CS: GO has officially been put to rest, the competitive esports scene has also had to adjust. The biggest teams have transitioned to CS2, and the competition is still being led by the likes of NAVI, Fnatic, and FaZe, whose rosters previously dominated the game’s older versions.

As explained by this Counter-Strike 2 Betting Guide, Valve’s move has ushered in a new era in betting culture as CS2 adopts the illustrious reputation of its predecessor. This has already begun with the first major championship in PGL Major Copenhagen, held in March 2024. The live Champions Stage saw a whopping $1,250,000 prize pool, with 24 teams battling for the win.

With all the changes introduced by Source 2, pro players are changing their strategy and play styles in reaction. Betting viewers, fans, and casuals can expect to see a new dynamic that will introduce a rotation of favored maps and tactics. It’s an inevitable shift that will likely present itself more distinctly as more major tournaments occur.


The Sub-Tick System 

Another massive change in CS2 is the introduction of the new sub-tick system. This feature completely changes how player movement and shooting are recorded in-game, affecting how elements in the world respond to player input.

The Dexerto Sub-Tick explainer dives deeper into the new system, which now calculates your action between ticks. The older tick rate system used 64 or 128 ticks per second time intervals. In the revamp, the game updates its information consistently at 64 ticks regardless of server latency. This is an essential change in a competitive shooter that can separate the best players from lucky shots. Many players have reportedly felt that the sub-tick system is still far from optimized, but most casual players will likely be unable to tell the difference.


Smoke Physics

CS2 has completely changed the physics and appearance of smoke. It’s not just about it looking better but impacting gameplay in a meaningful and immersive way. By implementing them as volumetric 3D objects, smoke grenades become tactile elements that interact with the environment instead of just visually changing them.

With the new physics implemented, smoke disperses more closely to how it does in real life. This means it will gradually grow from the point of impact and even fill enclosed spaces over time. It also reacts accordingly to external factors like surrounding light and movement. So, walking through, throwing grenades, and shooting past smoke will also alter their form accordingly.


This is a collaborative post.