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Counter-Strike: Source Receives Significant Game Balance Update; And More News About CS: Global Offensive, Including A Second Portal 2 DLC Pack, To Be Revealed In Early October

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Oh, Counter-Strike. We’ve missed you. We hadn’t seen anything new from you since 2004, but then Global Offensive came around. But that doesn’t mean they’ll be giving up on CS:S!

Counter-Strike: Source Receives Significant Game Balance Update; And More News About CS: Global Offensive, Including A Second Portal 2 DLC Pack, To Be Revealed In Early October

CS:S has just received a major game update featuring not only a ton of bug fixes, but also a whole bunch of important balancing changes. You might recall that many of these alterations and additions were first added to the CS:S Beta in August. Let’s check them out, shall we?

Cumulative weapon updates

  • All weapons now have a new accuracy model which fixes many bugs and provides more intuitive weapon behavior
  • Weapons now have separate accuracy penalties for jumping, landing, and standing on ladders
  • All weapons are now more accurate while crouching
  • Accuracy penalties for movement no longer have a discrete threshold, but scale between crouch move and run speed
  • All rifles are less accurate while running
  • Fixed bug that caused the glock to fire burst rounds on three consecutive tick frames. It now fires burst rounds with a 0.05 cycle time
  • Fixed a bug that cause the famas to fire burst rounds on uneven intervals (0.1 and 0.05). It now fires burst rounds with a fixed interval of 0.075.
  • Fixed bug for the bolt action sniper rifles that caused their zoom state to incorrectly toggle when holding down fire.
  • Fixed bug that would cause the suppressor state on the USP and M4A1 to not be accounted for correctly when the weapons were dropped with the suppressor attached and then picked up.
  • Fixed fast suppressor switch exploit
  • Decreased range of shotguns, while slightly increasing damage
  • Slightly increased damage of m249
  • Sniper rifles now zoom faster

            [...]

Okay, that’s enough of that. That’s one hell of a game update. And that’s not all – I didn’t even mention the OTHER bug fixes they pushed out. You can find the whole changelog over here.

Still, this isn’t the end of the article – there’s plenty of CS:GO previews and interviews that are just waiting to be covered. First up is Billy Berghammer’s “Six Reasons Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is More Than Just a Port”, at GamePro. The title says it all – six reasons, all straight from Chet Faliszek of Valve, why CS:GO is more than just a re-skin and port.

 The first reason is, of course, the introduction of the new Casual Mode. In it, money is not a problem, as you get more than enough each round, allowing you to experiment with various loadouts and weapons, and still letting you have fun, even in the middle of a gruesome loss streak.

Next up is the brand new matchmaking:

Shooters such as Call of Duty and Battlefield have leveling up systems that rank players together due to what level they have achieved in the game, but matchmaking and player rating in Global Offensive is based on an Elo skill system (Originally used for Chess, an adapted system that calculates a player’s relative skill level), instead of just a KillDeath WinLose ratio.

“So Counter-Strike is: You jump into a game, and your skill decides if you win or lose,” explained Faliszek. “And a lot of other games – and it’s a cool thing, and I understand why they do it – they get longevity and replay by having you earn leveling up by time. So you made a time investment that levels up your skill, even if you don’t get better. We wanted to make sure that your leveling up is always you getting better.”

This will hopefully mean newbs are always paired with newbs, and experienced players get an actual challenge in each match.

Sounds great! Matchmaking should be about skill, not a K/D ratio or a level number. The third reason? The maps:

Global Offensive will ship with seven classic maps, five of which are the terrorist bomb missions, and two hostage rescue missions. These maps have not only been given a graphical overhaul, but in cases where these older maps aren’t being played any longer, Valve has worked to improve these locales.

“The maps look new. We’ve changed some of the maps that weren’t playing well to make them play well. The community is really good about giving us that feedback on what works and doesn’t work. ‘No one plays Dust anymore. Well, why not? Let’s fix that.’”

Ever have a problem distinguishing who’s who from a distance and accidentally tagged a friend with friendly fire? Valve has taken a cue from what the community is doing with “minmodel,” which minimizes the number of different player models on the battlefield to hopefully alleviate confusion. “So depending on the map you play and the location, we have models that fit that. They’re groups of models… to give some variation, but the idea is that the ability to differentiate between your enemies and friends is easier.” Finally, Valve promises new maps and modes will ship with Global Offensive, but is remaining tight lipped on details for now.

I am disappointed in the number of maps, as well as the number of returning maps, but it does seem like Valve is being silent on the new levels. This means we can expect more than just seven maps, and hopefully it shouldn’t be too bad in terms of level variety. Minmodel is also a great idea – glad to see Valve is taking a page out of CS Xbox’s book. If they’re not taking the surprisingly great maps that never found their way back to the PC, they can take “minmodel”!

Fourth reason is the cross-platform play, which makes CS:GO the first significant first-person shooter to have this kind of functionality.

Unfortunately, Xbox 360 players won’t be a part of this equation since there are more restrictions with Xbox Live, but Global Offensive will allow for cross platform play between Mac, PC and PS3. Historically, I used to swear by mouse and keyboard, and primarily that’s what I use for Valve games. However, I’ll admit that the Xbox 360 controller felt tight and snappy. Valve already has experience with cross platform play with Portal 2, so it’s going to be a lot of fun seeing who kicks ass with what. Time to finally end the debate on which control scheme is better, right?

“Let’s end that debate,” Faliszek said, laughing, “We don’t need to. I think the PC players for the most part [will win], but the thing is, is you say that, and you sit here and watch some guy with a 360 controller and you go, ‘Wow’ So a lot of it is going to be situational awareness, and how smart you are with the situation. We’ll see.”

Of course, they’re forgetting the PS3 versions can use the PS Move AND a mouse-keyboard combo. Fifth reason? Modding!

Counter-Strike has been modded to death for years, and while Valve will host some servers that keep everything as a standard, Faliszek assured me that anything you can do in Counter-Strike 1.6 you’ll be able to do with Global Offensive. In the past few days I’ve actually gone back and played a few Source rounds via Steam, and just trying to find a clean mod-free version of a map was tricky. Some mods are fun, but for the newcomers that may have never played the franchise it might be a deterrent.

PC players can easily try many different mods, what about bringing these mods to the console side with a game that historically has a rabid modding community?

“It’s hard. I’ll say this: There are things you will be seeing about Portal 2 soon that will make that question even more interesting. We don’t all [at Valve] just work on one game. We often talk across [teams] for long term goals for the company, and Portal 2 will be doing one of the long term goals for the company in the second DLC, which the beginning of October you’ll start to hear more news about.“

Very interesting! We’d heard Chet say stuff regarding custom maps finding their way on the console version of Portal 2 prior to its release, but we haven’t heard anything since. Very interested to hear about what the second Portal 2 DLC pack will feature, and how this’ll help bring mods to the console version of CS:GO. Still, I’m more interested in news regarding PC modding for GO. Let’s hope Valve will be true to their word – “anything you can do in CS 1.6 you’ll be able to do in CS:GO”.

And last, but not least, the sixth and final reason:

Even though I only was privy to one map, basically Global Offensive looked and played like Counter-Strike with a few subtle nuances, such as a radial weapon selection menu in the Buy menu (much quicker and easier for controllers) and quick weapon swapping at the press of a button. Visually, Valve states they’re using the same Source engine that powered Portal 2, but it looks to me that they still have more polishing to do. The game didn’t pop on the level that Portal 2 does at present, and I hope the other maps included flex more of Valve’s graphical muscle. I expect better from a franchise of this caliber.

Even though the game has been in development for 18 months, it still seems early. Plenty of questions still remain, including what each of the new modes and maps will encompass, how different the economy will be versus current Counter-Strike games, as well as how this mysterious new element we’ll be seeing in Portal 2 DLC will affect Global Offensive. PC Counter-Strike players will get their first taste as a limited beta for Global Offensive is slated to go live in October, and color me excited to get back into Counter-Strike once again. Fire in the hole!

Radial buy menu? Ewww. Don’t know if want. And 18 months? March 2010? Hmm. That sounds like an awfully short development time for Valve. I also agree with GamePro – I expected the game to look a lot better, and the first-person animations are very lackluster. Let’s hope Valve is still polishing the game extensively! And in terms of gameplay, it sounds very promising!

Don’t forget to check the actual preview out here. Next up is a more in-depth article from Kotaku, with Chet Faliszek and CS:GO’s project lead, Ido Magal. Let’s take a look.

The next Counter-Strike, the one coming out early next year called Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, won’t be called Counter-Strike 2, because that game would be “something different”, two of Valve’s top people on the new game recently told Kotaku.”A lot of Counter-Strike: GO is taking Counter-Strike: Source and Counter-Strike 1.6 and melding it into a product that every side likes and also expanding the base by putting it out on the consoles,” Valve’s Chet Faliszek said, referring to the two most popular incarnations of the game. “Whereas Counter-Strike 2, at least internally, we think about as something different.”

That’s a very interesting idea. The only issue is that they say it’s taking CS 1.6 and CSS, and turning the two into one product that both playerbases like, but so far, they’ve only invited CS:S competitive players and community members. Not CS 1.6 players. And 1.6 continues to be the most popular and the most “pure” Counter-Strike title yet. So what’s up with that, Valve?

There’s talk about how CS:GO originally came about as a XBLA port of CS:S, but the real interesting stuff is in one of GO’s main purposes:

Valve had expected the 2004 Source version of the game to replace the previous year’s 1.6 iteration, itself a successor to a game that had been evolving since the late 90′s. But many of 1.6′s most ardent fans, including those who played it competitively, as a sport, resisted the Source version. Source “didn’t do what we thought it would do, but we weren’t disappointed about what it did,” Magal said. “We thought Counter-Strike: Source would replaced Counter-Strike 1.6 but instead it generated a community just as large as the 1.6 community on its own.”

Faliszek called it “an amoeba-like split.”

GO is supposed to bring those crowds together and rope in console players who have only had an original Xbox version to choose from. Valve also assumes it has lost some computer Counter-Strike gamers who have moved away from PC gaming and wants to reach them on the consoles those gamers may have moved to (fittingly, the PS3 version of the game will even include mouse and keyboard support; and all players on PS3/PC/Mac will be match-made against each other.)

The Valve guys describe two of the goals for GO as lowering the skill floor—making it easier for newbies to have fun with game, hence the casual mode—and raising the skill ceiling—making meaningful, subtle changes to maps and mechanics that only pro-level players will notice and appreciate.

Then they go in-depth on how this “lowering the skill floor and raising the skill ceiling” really factors into the CS:GO gameplay formula. Then we get some fancy name talk!

And this is what CS:GO is: an effort to put anyone who has or should play Counter-Strike into the same game. That’s a big enough goal but not a grand enough one to merit the name Counter-Strike 2.As we discussed possible names for this new Counter-Strike, I had to ask if they’d considered one other name, one that would be an inside joke for fans of Valve’s Half-Life series whose third episodic sequel has been missing in action for years. Did anyone suggest, during those brainstorm sessions, Counter-Strike: Episode Three?

“No,” was Faliszek’s quick reply. Then a quick inhale of breath. This new GO may not be a full-fledged Counter-Strike sequel, but it’s no joke.

Hah! A Valve game with the number 3 in the title? Fat chance. But yes, a surprisingly interesting article. Check it out here. And that’s about all we could dig up on CS:GO for now. Let’s hope the Eurogamer Expo brings something special for you readers…

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