Valve Is Making Counter-Strike Look Better

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After a lengthy update drought, Valve is suddenly lobbing Counter-Strike news like a first-time player haphazardly tossing grenades. First there was the new Nuke (Newke) and Operation, then $1 million CSGO majors, and now new graphical effects.

Valve has introduced a whole host of new lighting and shader effects to CSGO (the nitty gritty elements of which you can read about here) with the goal of making the massively popular team shooter look subtly better. For instance, here’s a shot of a new shader option, which involves—jargon time—phong specular reflections on lightmapped materials:


And here’s a new reflection effect:

And there’s the difference between an area without improved environment lighting and with it:


Basically, the first one looks bright and out-of-place, and the other blends in more naturally with the lighting around it.


There’s a lot more subtle environment improvements like that on Valve’s page for this update. It may not seem like a lot, but the new version of Nuke is an example of how they all come together to form a map that is, in many ways, a visual step up from other eternal terrorist-vs-anti-terrorist dance halls. It’s also easier to parse when you’re in the thick of things, a practical effect of subtle upgrades like these.


It should be noted that these new effects are not (at least, at the moment) being retroactively applied to pre-existing Valve maps. However, they are now available for all mapmakers to use, which should result in some newfound razzle-dazzle, snazzmatazz, and drop shadows on displacement blends. Also, better looking crates. Thank goodness.

This update comes at an interesting time, though, considering that many CSGO players are eagerly hoping that Valve will soon port their beloved game about draxxing up terries to the brand new Source Engine 2. The question, then, is why Valve would continue to make visual improvements to CSGO’s Source 1 version if a sparkly new Source 2 package is on the way. In the grand scheme of things, though, these graphical enhancements seem slight. Also, a lot of them came about as a result of Nuke’s creation. May as well share the wealth, right? So really, this whole thing doesn’t say much about whether or not CSGO’s next in line for a DOTA 2-style makeover. We’ll see.


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