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Counter-Strike 2 officially launches on Steam

The sequel is available as a free upgrade for all CS:GO players.
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Counter-Strike 2, sequel to the ever-popular CS:GO, has officially launched on Steam – and it’s free for everyone. This game is essentially on upgrade on its predecessor, with developer Valve introducing an array of new modern features, a visual overhaul, and improved mechanics that should ensure greater accuracy for players.

CS:GO has long maintained a stranglehold in the world of multiplayer games, with hundreds of thousands of players still competing on an active daily basis, despite the game recently crossing its tenth anniversary. It’s achieved a rare longevity, and frequently features as the #1 game on the Steam Charts.

As of writing, it’s once again at the #1 spot, per data from SteamDB, with a whopping 1,001,600 concurrent players worldwide. That’s five times higher than the next most popular games, Dota 2 and Baldur’s Gate 3.

For anyone looking to jump in, the game update is now live and free, and the transition should be fairly seamless. According to Valve, player progress and inventory carries across both versions of the game, so players should be able to update their copy, and swiftly head off to battle.

Read: Valve’s Steam Deck 2 won’t arrive before 2025

Valve has described Counter-Strike 2 as the “largest technical leap forward in Counter-Strike’s history,” with an array of meaningful changes across the board. For one thing, the game’s graphics have been tweaked significantly, with all maps receiving “upgrades and overhauls which leverage all of the new Source 2 tools and rendering features.”

Perhaps the biggest change is to the game’s tick rate, which determines accuracy in shooting, moving, or throwing. The interval between measurements has been shortened to a new ‘sub-tick’ rate, which is reportedly much more accurate.

“Sub-tick updates are the heart of Counter-Strike 2,” Valve said. “Previously, the server only evaluated the world in discrete time intervals (called ticks). Thanks to Counter-Strike 2’s sub-tick update architecture, servers know the exact instant that motion starts, a shot is fired, or a grenade is thrown. As a result, regardless of tick rate, your moving and shooting will be equally responsive and your grenades will always land the same way.”

In addition, the game includes improvements to grenade accuracy, as well as soundscapes – which should now better reflect player movement, and provide an extra layer of dynamism to skirmishes.

Counter-Strike 2 is now available for everyone, via Steam.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.