Cutting corners: It’s hard to say what Valve is better known for — creating the Half-Life franchise or never completing it. As you may recall, Half-Life 2: Episode Two ended on a major cliffhanger that would have been resolved in Episode Three had Valve not inexplicably abandoned it.
Valve’s live service game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, commonly known as CS:GO is in a similar boat. The multiplayer FPS does not require an end. After all, it doesn’t really have a story. However, it is a popular competitive shooter that still maintains a substantial number of users. Now it appears that maybe the game is getting a sequel, or at the least, a massive upgrade.
The rumors started simmering when the official CS:GO Twitter account changed its banner image about a week ago. It led to mild speculation on Reddit that Valve was preparing to rebrand the game or port it to the Source 2 engine or both. Then again, Twitter account changes are a weak indication that anything is indeed happening, so the bluster subsided quickly.
Then on March 1, data miners looking at the newest Nvidia drivers noticed the mention of two new files — csgos2.exe and cs2.exe (most likely placeholders). They were listed as part of a new game profile labeled “Counter-strike 2.” The discovery whipped up the rumor mill again, with possibilities of a sequel game or, more likely, a port of the original game to Source 2, as indicated by the csgos2.exe file name.
Something weird just happened. Latest NVIDIA drivers introduced support for unknown app executables called “csgos2.exe” and “cs2.exe”. Why project is called Counter-Strike 2 and what are you cooking @csgo? pic.twitter.com/PU8Op9uGLq
— Gabe Follower 2 (@gabefollower) March 1, 2023
Of course, Valve and developer Hidden Path Entertainment had nothing to say on the matter. However, the host of The Esports Gospel podcast, Richard Lewis, claims insiders with knowledge of the development told him that a new Counter-Strike game is in the works and is “almost ready” for a beta release between now and the first part of April. Allegedly, Valve already had a “secret group” of pro players flown to Seattle to test an early version recently.
The game has been on the development table for quite a while, which is why we have not seen much action with CS:GO expansion. According to the leakers, Valve put GO on the back burner while focusing on getting the newer title done.
“The big priority is getting this out and then polishing it, fixing any bugs, and bringing it up to the level people expect from CS,” the insiders said. Don’t you just love Valve’s business plan of get it out first then fix it?
The leakers confirmed that the upcoming title has an improved matchmaking system and runs on faster 128-tick servers. However, they did not say whether it would be a standalone sequel or a straight port to Source 2. Either way, the game should have improved optimization and graphics compared to CS:GO, despite the 2014 game engine only being slightly newer.
One pressing question regarding releasing a new Counter-Strike is what will happen to the older version? With the still strong numbers playing CS:GO and the competitive esport element to consider, shifting to a radically newer version could be tricky. Lewis points out that historically, Valve has taken two paths in this regard.
One is to operate both versions side-by-side for a time as it did with the original Counter-Strike and CS:GO, essentially letting the games duke it out for players. The second option would be to take the approach of Dota 2 when devs ported it to Source 2, letting them run concurrently before finally merging players into the newer version.
Now for the obligatory, “don’t forget to take your salt.” Valve and Hidden Path are radio silent. Neither has announced anything officially, and you can never know how reliable interviews with anonymous sources are unless you are the one doing the interviewing. However, we must wait and find out since the beta is allegedly launching in as little as a few weeks.