Even if you’re not a fan yourself, it’s hard not to be at least familiar with Counter-Strike. It’s one of those games that entered the popular consciousness on a subliminal level (most likely due to its popularity as a background for YouTube commentary videos). If asked, most people could close their eyes and create at least a semi-accurate picture of its most iconic map, Dust 2; those pictures will need updating soon however, with the game’s developers announcing today that the classic map has entered the beta stages of a notable update.
The full breakdown can be read here, and on a topic as often subjective as map changes it’s often better to form your own opinion on whether or not you’re a fan of the proposals. There are some aspects of the update we can discuss with certainty, however.
One aspect that immediately stands out playing around with the before/after sliders are the graphical changes for the updated map; some areas are ‘cleaner’ than they appeared in the original Dust 2, and some (like the tunnels) are noticeably more run-down. A lot of it can be summed up as ‘brighter’ however; even the skybox seems a deeper, clearer shade of blue than the yellowish-tinged colour of before. Counter-Strike’s developers mention light and how it interacts with gameplay several times throughout the blog entry, so it seems obvious that this was a deliberate choice. Even if it does manage to address the issue of campers however, we can only presume the truly committed will find new vantage points to set up their irritating shop.
Moving past updates to the art style, (although updates to antagonists, the Leet Krew, come as a pleasant surprise) the Counter-Strike team have also dabbled with a series of subtle but potentially impactful gameplay design choices. Moving obstacles such as burned-out cars might not sound like much, but the potential to create new choke points or avenues of attack should help inspire strategic discussion to fill the near future. The apparent removal of physics-based items may prove more controversial still. While the team describes them as sometimes ‘annoying’, they were nevertheless an inclusion that could lead to some great moments with props. To remove them entirely seems at least somewhat heavy-handed, if perhaps better for competitive Counter-Strike.
Created by level designer David Johnston, Dust 2 (as the name suggests) serves as the ‘sequel’ map to the original Dust that has thus far featured in every major Counter-Strike game. References to reworking of the maps propped were spotted in the game’s code March of this year, and it would seem now that those teases have come to fruition.
The revised Dust 2 is available for beta-testing now.
At age seven, Jordan wanted to be a paleontologist. That went well. He now fills the void by writing on all manner of mildly-interesting topics - when he finds time in between complaining how everything was better in the 'good old days', that is.