Counter-Strike 2 is bringing a lot of hype to an already popular franchise, and rightfully so.

The current iteration, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, came out in 2012, meaning fans of the game have been playing it for over 10 years at this point.

A move to Source 2 brings a wealth of changes both small and large, and we’re going to talk about the biggest ones in this article.

Counter-Strike 2 begins a new era for the popular first-person shooter

Counter-Strike 2 announcement
Screenshot by Steven Cropley/ONE Esports

It’s worth pointing out that Counter-Strike, as a series, has basically always been a small change after a long period of time kind of game. So, if you’re expecting tons of massive changes to the way the game is played, you’ll be disappointed.

With that out of the way, let’s talk about the biggest new features in Counter-Strike 2.

Source 2 game engine

The biggest aspect, and the one that in many ways opens the door for the rest, is the move to Source 2. The new game engine replaces the original Source engine which CS:GO has used since its inception.

Source 2 brings visual changes as well as the adjustment and introduction of new physics, audio, and more. This is what makes Counter-Strike 2 a new game to many, rather than just an update.

A Valve developer working on Counter-Strike 2 from Level Up The World YouTube video
Screenshot by Steven Cropley/ONE Esports

Map updates

With CS2, Valve is breaking maps into three categories — upgrade, overhaul, and touchstone. The maps, both new and old, will be different depending on which camp they fall into.

Touchstone maps are those with a rich history, such as Dust 2. These maps will see very minor changes, keeping them mostly the same in terms of playability, just visually tuned for the new aesthetic the game provides.

The overhaul category is exactly what it sounds like. Valve says these maps are being rebuilt in their entirety. Fans can expect some of these maps to look completely different and play in a way that they’ve never experienced.

And lastly, the upgrade category will fall in the middle of the previous two. These maps will see more than minor alterations, but not be fully rebuilt either. They may not play exactly the same, but they should still be recognizable enough to jump into and not feel too lost.

Sub-tick servers

Moving on to one of the more confusing new features, the sub-tick server system. Everyone who has played Counter-Strike knows that the official matchmaking system being 64 tick has been an issue.

This was one of the big selling points of Riot Games’ Valorant, it had 128 tick servers at launch. The tick rate is how frequently the server is receiving your actions. The more frequent, the more accurate moving and shooting is.

A higher tick rate can quite literally change the way you can move in a game. Bunny hopping, for instance, is wildly more accessible in 128 tick than 64 tick. Certain jumps are simply inaccessible in lower tick rate servers.

For most of us, we assumed the Source 2 update would bring 128 tick to Counter-Strike matchmaking. Instead, we were met with a new idea, sub-tick.

According to Valve, this new feature will allow Counter-Strike 2 to “know the exact moment you fired your shot, jumped you jump, or peeked your peek.”

The jury is still out on how this feels based on the ongoing limited test. Some players claim movement feels more similar to 64 tick than 128, while others believe it’s a step in the right direction. We’ll know more as it goes on.

Responsive smokes

Next up is one of the more game-changing aspects of Counter-Strike 2, responsive smokes. Now, when you throw a smoke grenade, you’ll see something new and unique. According to Valve, “smoke grenades now create volumetric 3D objects that live in the world.”

The smoke bloom has been updated visually, but wait, there’s way more. You can also see your bullets penetrating the smoke, making it easier to spot players spamming their bullets through it. In addition, if you or the enemy shoot through the edges, rather than the center, it will remove the smoke momentarily, giving a line of sight to the other side.

If that’s not enough, you can also throw an HE grenade into the smoke and blow it away briefly. This will open the door for many counter-plays to smoke executes and another reason not to waste your grenades.

Oh, and you know how previously each player saw smoke a little differently? That’s not a thing anymore.

Visual mini-map audio feedback indicator

Something Valorant players will be familiar with, the mini-map in Counter-Strike 2 will now feature an audio ring.

For those who aren’t sure what that means, essentially now you will be able to see just how far the sound you’re making is traveling.

fREQUENCY shows off audible footsteps indicator on radar in Counter-Strike 2
Screenshot by Steven Cropley/ONE Esports

For instance, if you know a player is in the middle of Dust 2, you can see how close you can run before you need to walk, or else your steps will be heard by looking at your radar and keeping an eye on your audio circle.

Counter-Strike enthusiast fREQUENCYCS provided an example on Twitter.

Updated UI

This last one may not be as important to everyone, but it’s a make or break for others. Counter-Strike 2 brings with it an updated user interface that takes a page out of many modern games’ book.

Players will notice a new look for the team selection screen, the end-of-match awards, and even some specific UI responses to getting kills and even an ace. These changes will definitely help players feel more noticed and rewarded for their performances.

This is a feature Michael “shroud” Grzesiek was quite pleased to see when the game was announced.

Set to release in Summer 2023, Counter-Strike 2 is already building insane hype, with many still hoping to receive access.

Even more, Valve has stated that they haven’t even revealed everything the game has to offer as of now. As a CS fan, it’s a good time to be alive.

READ MORE: CS:GO earns Valve insane US$98,750,000 following Counter-Strike 2 reveal off of this one thing