If you’re a CSGO fan, get ready for some of the biggest changes the game has seen in years.
As part of the Operation Riptide additions, Valve is including a new mode for matchmaking. Games traditionally are decided by the first to 16 rounds method, also known as max rounds 15 (which just means each half has a maximum of 15 rounds).
The new mode halves that to eight rounds, with teams only required to win nine rounds to win the match. “With short matches, you’ll get the competitive 5v5 experience compressed into a best of 16 rounds match, which lasts about 25 minutes,” Valve says.
It’s not the only massive change as part of Riptide, which will remain active until February 23 Australian time next year. Players will now be able to drop grenades to others “in most game modes.” New options have been added for people seeking Deathmatch games, with Team Deathmatch, free-for-all and the standard Counter-Strike mode now broken out.
Along with a string of new community maps, including Basalt (pictured above), County, the Italy-looking Ravine, Extraction and Insertion II, there are some key balance changes. The Desert Eagle, a popular choice for attackers and defenders without the money for a full buy, now does a “bit less” damage on body shots. (It’s still a headshot machine if you’ve got the aim for it.) Fans of the silenced M4A1 will rejoice, as its body damage has been improved. And if you were annoyed by the sound of Dualies on pistol rounds? Bad news, because you’re going to see them more often now as Valve has made them a little more affordable.
For those who just want to play CSGO matches with friends, the new operation also has Private Queues, which lets players use official Valve servers to organize their own games:
With a player-generated Queue Code, a group of friends can match amongst themselves into a Premier match on Valve servers. Pair up, form your teams, or solo queue and let the matchmaker sort it out.
Private queues will generate a specific code for members to use, allowing groups—whether they be dedicated clans on Steam or maybe streamers who just want to play in-house matches with their community—to easily jump into games. It doesn’t have the flexibility of a third-party server, and it’s currently only supporting Premier matches for now, which is Valve’s option for matchmaking games that come with a pick/ban phase.
Among all of this, one of the games most iconic maps—perhaps one of the most iconic in all of video games—has had a pretty substantial change:
- Map Changes – Blocked visibility of mid from T spawn in Dust 2. Really!
The mid corridor on Dust 2 is a famous line responsible for countless frag videos and endless torment, with attackers and defenders often trying to get an early kill on the other team. It’s become a thorn for defenders over the last few years, though, as an ever-experienced player base and the rise of super high-refresh rate monitors has steadily made it easier and easier for people to get early kills, or huge chunks of damage, on defenders trying to cross to the B site. The original sightline from spawn to mid, at least from the attacker’s side, has now been replaced with a solid wall, as can be seen in the tweet below.
Removing the visibility is a huge economical change as well, as defenders no longer have to account for $300 that has to be spent simply to ensure they can safely get to one side of the map. And it’s not just the kit that’s affected: by removing the visibility of mid from the attacking spawn. It’s now much more viable for defenders to quickly push through the double doors to get an early push into tunnels, the area which leads into the B site and connects back into the middle. (Defenders could always do this before, but it was much riskier.)
And if that wasn’t enough: riot shields are back.
It’s an enormous update, perhaps one of the biggest CSGO has had in years with respect to the wider player base, the potential impact on Dust 2 in the professional scene, and what the balance changes will do to individual guns. The deathmatch changes and new maps should also add a bit more fun for the casual scene as well.
Operation Riptide is live for all CSGO users today. It’s about 11.1GB, according to the download package on my Steam client.
This article originally appeared on Kotaku Australia.