The CS:GO beta started on the 1st of December last year. Originally billed as a mere stress test, it was rather barren regarding game features and functionality, and felt, quite frankly, like a console port. In addition, it felt like Valve had not taken the title very seriously (the first ever CS:GO tournament was not sponsored by Valve or even advertised by it… unlike Dota 2′s first tournament). Nonetheless, the beta was, and still is an enjoyable experience, and most testers held hope that frequent updates would make it into an even greater experience.
Two months later, it seemed like Valve had all but forgotten about CS:GO. It was still pretty much unchanged, and the “early 2012″ date didn’t seem like it was going to hold up. Then, out of nowhere, Valve saves the day, with a gigantic update for the beta, adding new maps, new weapons, all-new features as well as redesigning the website and inviting thousands of new players. The stress test is over – now the CS:GO beta really begins.
Today we are kicking off the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Beta. Players currently in the stress test will notice more maps, more weapons, and most importantly more players. During this Beta, community feedback is really important to us. Counter-Strike has been around for 12 years and has been played by over 25 million players. We want to make sure to capture all of that experience and knowledge as we make Counter-Strike: Global Offensive the best version of Counter-Strike.
The most popular question we see posted, emailed, or tweeted is simple – how do I get access to the CS:GO Beta. For us it is all about the community. Are you active in the community? Are you playing CS now? To reward the most active players, this week we are giving Beta access to the top 7000 active players around the world in CS:S and CS 1.6. We are also giving out additional keys to the top 500 players of CS:GO.
We also want to include the community at large so we are reaching out to prominent community sites and giving them keys to distribute to their communities over the coming weeks. While we aren’t ready to give everyone access right now. We do have plans to get more people in the Beta. To help us select the next batch of players, we will be releasing a short survey in a few weeks that you can fill out and get on the list for a Beta key.
The first round of testing has already given us some great feedback. Today’s release has some changes we made based on that feedback. So keep it coming, CS:GO isn’t done. Over the coming months we will begin to regularly share some of the data we collect from the game. Are maps balanced? Does the balance change based on player’s skill level? What strategies win the most often? What weapons perform the best on what maps? Sharing this data will help you understand our choices and changes. Let us know what data you would like to see.
The major changes? A couple new weapons, and DE_Dust2, in Competitive Mode, is now the default map for Quick Match. Inferno, Train and Nuke can also be played, but you will need to create a local match in order to play them. Still no server browser, unfortunately. However, take a look at this humongous changelog:
Game Design Issues: - Changed QUICKMATCH default to competitive de_dust2. - Added new maps to local match options: de_inferno, de_train, and de_nuke. - Added new weapons: Nova shotgun, Bizon and MP7 SMGs. - Created a CT-specific version of the Molotov: the incendiary grenade. - Reworked starting cash and bonuses in Casual mode. - Made kill cash awards weapon-specific: AWP pays out $50/kill ($25 in Casual Mode). CQB weapons pay out $900 ($450). The rest pay out the usual $300 ($150). - Limited total number of grenades that can be carried at one time to three, each of a different type. - Adjusted stamina penalties for jumping. It should be easier now to jump up to multiple objects in a row without getting exhausted. - Changed weapon recoil cycle to be controlled by a recoil index which is incremented on each shot. - Reduced movement penalty greatly when players are hit by friendly fire in casual mode. - Implemented skill-based matchmaking system. Map Issues: - Reduced dust particle effects on de_dust and de_dust2. Initial dust fades out after about 20 seconds. - Updated the nav mesh on de_Dust to improve bot pathing. - Corrected the problem with the bomb being plantable below the ledge on bombsite B in de_dust. - Fixed multiple issues with players being able to get to positions that should be inaccessable or non-visible in de_dust and de_dust2. - Fixed problem with black lines appearing around helicopter in de_dust when helicopter is shot. - Fixed several aesthetic issues and reported exploits on de_dust2. Stat/Achievement Issues: - Fixed a problem with the fun facts that could cause a claim of more than 100% accuracy for players. - Fixed a bug that allowed players to earn the ‘Lost and F0wned’ medal while controlling a bot. - Added FCVAR_CHEAT flag to the bot_kill command so it can’t be used to earn medals - Updated some medal icons and descriptions to reflect criteria for getting them better. - Made players who controlled bots during a round ineligible for fun facts. UI Issues: - Fixed classic crosshair not showing up in first-person spectator mode. - Fixed a bug that could cause chat spam when a player changes his/her name. - Redesigned and repositioned the win panel to allow greater visibility of the game. - Hid voice status and weapon panel when HUD is hidden. - Added option in game settings that, when active, closes the buy menu upon purchase of an item. - Redesigned the buy menu. - Moved player team ID from crosshair to player. - Expanded the chat window, making it easier to keep track of chat history. - Changed the UI font for greater legibility. - Made the chat lines behave like a Windows edit control. - Added a scoreboard icon that indicates when a player is in the process of switching teams. - Made music respond to volume slider. - Made chat box disappear after ENTER is pressed. - Fixed the ‘pop’ visible when the main menu appears when playing in 4:3 or 16:10 aspect ratios. - Added COUCH and DESKTOP play distance options that control hud_scaling and viewmodel_fov convars. - Fixed problem with not being able to switch from windowed to full screen mode. - Removed crosshair spreading behavior when wielding the knife, grenades, or bomb. - Made scoreboard title display correctly above scoreboard in standard def. - Redesigned front-end screens, layouts, and scoreboard to reflect new look for CS:GO. - Improved the messaging for when money is awarded or subtracted. HUD now shows additions and subtractions more clearly, and money events are also reported in chat. - Fixed menus to render correctly in resolutions greater than 1920×1200. - Fixed a bug in which the scoreboard could occasionally disappear. - Added player avatars to the choose team screen. - Fixed problem with UI tint resetting after the choose team screen was opened via the pause menu during a game. - Fixed EDIT and CLEAR buttons on the settings screen sometimes not appearing correctly. - Fixed bug in settings with the acceleration amount slider not resetting correctly when defaults are restored. - Fixed incorrect audio feedback when mousing over empty rows in the settings screens. - Fixed bug that could occur when binding keys in the settings screens, making it impossible to navigate away from the currently active field. - Made the EDIT MIC option in the settings snap to the correct area of the controls screen. - Fixed a case in which throwing a grenade or dropping a weapon and picking up another failed to display the new weapon on the inventory section of the HUD. - Disabled left and right toggles on spectator UI when there’s no one left to spectate. - Added a separate icon for the CT-specific knife in the weapon select and death notification text. - Fixed a bug in which remote players controlling a bot were showing up alive again on the mini-scoreboard instead of showing the bot as alive. - Restricted team chat to team members only. - Fixed some problems with the REBUY command that could result in purchasing items other than what you had purchased in the previous round. Other issues: - Fixed problem with two different pieces of music playing at the same time over the choose team screen after completion of a match. - Added three new mixgroups to handle different weapon sound types. - Restricted the round end warning music cue to playing only when a bomb has not yet been planted. If it’s currently playing, it will stop once the bomb has been planted. - Added new music cues for domination and revenge. - Fixed series of bugs in which the wrong weapon was seen during a reload or weapon switch, resulting in odd-looking weapon poses. - Fixed problem with camera stopping inside of players’ heads during freeze cam. - Fixed a bug that could cause the spectator camera to be placed halfway through the floor occasionally. - Fixed excessive console spew. - Fixed a crash that could happen when selecting a team without Steam running. - Fixed hang on black screen when players attempt to connect to servers that forbid connection. - Fixed crash that could happen while changing the video settings. - Fixed blurry shadows on players who are walking or running. - Fixed blood so it doesn’t show brightly through the fog. - Fixed the visors showing through smoke. - Reduced issues with smoke grenade and fire volumes being visible through thin floors. - Fixed some of the problems with weapons penetrating character geometry in third person. - Addressed an issue which caused bots to shoot over players’ heads often. The bots will likely feel more difficult now. - Fixed aliasing artifacts caused by not using centroid sampling when MSAA is enabled. Some players may need to update their video card drivers in order to see the change. - Fixed a bug that caused a player to show as alive briefly after being killed while controlling a bot.
Now that’s what you call an update! And let me tell you this – it is a vastly improved experience. Valve, you’ve done well. Keep it up! However, the buy menu still needs some work, the HUD is still a tad too small, and Competitive Mode needs some changes to make it stand out from Casual Mode (removing free ammo and making all ammo buyable like 1.6; and perhaps allowing players to select their own models, which would give it a competitive and old-school edge).
Beyond that, there are some other balancing issues (the lack of a USP replacement which provides the Counter-Terrorist with a meager starting pistol; as well as the Decoy grenades, which are a tad nerfed at the moment), but I have faith that CS:GO will be a solid release. It has already overcome CS:S – now the question is if Valve can help it rival 1.6 as well. Let’s hope so!