Unless you’ve been living under a rock, on the moon, with a towel wrapped around your head for the last twenty years, you’ve probably heard of Counter-Strike. The grandaddy of competitive FPS (which is now on its third iteration in the form of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive) has been a staple of the scene since its release at the turn of the millennium. As is often the case with hugely popular games like WoW, Halo and Counter-Strike, change can be a contentious issue. So I was somewhat surprised to learn that Valve are completely overhauling Dust 2.
For those out of the loop, Dust 2 is a bomb defusal map that was released in the first major patch for the original Counter-Strike title on March 13th, 2001. Since then, it has become the unofficial default map of the franchise. It’s by far the most recognizable of the various CS:GO maps and has been analyzed to oblivion, by pros and amateurs alike, for the better part of two decades. It is to Counter-Strike what Blood Gulch is to Halo, if Blood Gulch had been consistently played in a near-identical form in every single Halo game ever released. I simply cannot overstate how synonymous this map is with the very essence of Counter-Strike. Its tight corners, strategically placed cover and multiple entrances and exits amplify the tension of a typical round of Counter-Strike combat.
So what are these big changes? Well you can take a look at them on the official Dust 2 page (yes, it has its own page). Here’s the highlight reel:
- Window at Bombsite B is much wider and the scaffolding will no longer block line of sight.
- Tunnels is now much lighter, making it easier to spot hiding enemies in corners.
- More drainpipe removal at Bombsite A, making peeking a little easier.
- The multiple broken-down cars at Bombsite A have now been condensed into just one vehicle.
- Mid is now much brighter, discouraging corner-camping and the large telegraph pole is no longer attached to the barrels.
The uninitiated may take a look at this and wonder how the removal of a few pipes from a wall and the movement of a wooden pole by a few feet is worthy of all this hullabaloo. But CS:GO is a game of established strategies. Places to take cover, areas to coat in smoke or fire, knowing when to storm bombsites and when to back off and save your weapons for the next round are all pertinent to being a successful player. The tiniest of changes can and will wrought huge shifts in how people approach a match.
It’s safe to assume that Valve know what they’re doing with the third-most-played game on Steam. But it will be fascinating to see how this change brings new tactics out of the woodwork. I’d be particularly interested to hear the opinions of more seasoned players as I admittedly just about know which end of the gun to point away from my chest.