Valve Software revealed the existence of the newest Counter-Strike today, but the company seemed a bit shy on specifics, saying that next year's Counter-Strike: Global Offensive would bring new weapons, gameplay modes and maps to the extremely popular competitive shooter.
Thankfully, some of Counter-Strike's most dedicated players, the professionally competitive type, are going hands-on with CS: GO this week at Valve HQ, giving us an early look at some of the game's big changes.
ESEA News' Craig "Torbull" Levine offered up the game's first in-depth hands-on report from a "pre-beta" build of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, writing that Valve is "keen on hearing the input from top [Counter-Strike Source] players to make CS GO an e-sports title."
Bastian Veiser, product manager for the ESL Pro Series, says he's also in attendance at Valve's CS GO playtest, writing on Twitter that it's not just Counter-Strike Source players offering their feedback to Valve. "There 'are' 1.6 players around," he assures fans of the other active Counter-Strike fanbase.
Levine writes that Valve plans to include both "casual and competitive games modes" in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive with dedicated servers and a built-in matchmaking system. The first CS GO map that the small group of Counter-Strike enthusiasts played was the iconic "de_dust," which game designer Jess Cliffe reportedly said was being "overhauled to become competitively played."
The next Counter-Strike sounds visually overhauled as well, with Levine writing that "maps look beautiful, the player skins and animations are smooth, and the gun models are cool!" Veiser tweeted that the game was apparently "based on the Portal 2 Source engine."
"We got to play dust, dust2, inferno, and nuke," Levine writes, confirming the existence of the series' best known maps. Valve reportedly also confirmed that "de_train" would be included in Global Offensive's map rotation among other unspecified maps.
The next Counter-Strike will also reportedly add some new weapons to its arsenal, including a "new heavy machine gun rifle, new pistols, and a new shotgun." Valve is also experimenting with two new grenade options, a pricey Molotov cocktail—designed to block rushes and do area of effect damage—and a decoy grenade that emits gunfire sounds intended to confuse players who rely on audio cues to determine player positioning. Given the controversy that surrounded the inclusion of Counter-Strike's since-removed riot shield, it's going to be very interesting to see how Valve and Hidden Path integrate all-new weapons and tactics into the series' tried and tested existing components.
Levine also touched on the gameplay nuances of CS GO in his write-up, writing that the new title had a "feel" distinguishable from both Counter-Strike 1.6 and Counter-Strike Source, saying "pro players seemed surprisingly happy with the player player movement and feel of the game."
Valve is also reportedly experimenting with weapons that have "situational value." Instead of players committing solely to the strongest, most reliable options—the AWP, Desert Eagle, AK-47 and M4A1—it appears that the game's developers intend to make sub machine guns, shotguns and pistols viable purchases. Levine writes that CS GO will have "adjustable weapon variables," which sounds like an easier way for Valve to tweak values of each weapon for improved balance.
Finally, according to Veiser, Valve may be planning a closed, invite-only beta test for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive in the coming months. Attendees of this month's PAX Prime and the Eurogamer Expo (late September) will have a chance to go hands on with the game.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is "targeted" for an early 2012 release on the Xbox 360's Xbox Live Arcade, the PlayStation 3's PlayStation Network, Mac and PC in early 2012.