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- Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
As a 13 year veteran of Counter-Strike, today is a day I won't soon forget. Valve has just released its latest update for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and it's nothing short of amazing. It goes well beyond introducing simple improvements by making the game play, look, and feel a lot better.
A quick look at the official update post on the CS Blog isn't enough to do this September 2015 patch justice. Below I'll go over why it's so good that you should expect to see a surge of popularity.
Rounded Hitboxes: An FPS Luxury
Believe it or not, virtually every shooter you've ever played has used square hitboxes to register whether or not shots fired from your weapon connect with the opposing player. It might not seem like much, but these hitboxes that extend beyond the player model can mean the difference between killing or being killed. In the case of highly competitive games such as CS: GO, it's a source of frustration in certain circumstances.
After more than a decade of CS employed square hitboxes, Valve has implemented hitboxes that use rounded vertices to fit the dimensions of the player models without protruding angles. It's something that veteran players have wanted to for a long time, and it's finally here.
It wasn't easy to implement, either. Transitioning from square to capsule-based shapes has introduced far more complex mechanical geometry to a game renowned for its dependable netcode. Looking at the image above, you can see that near the pelvis of the player model there are now four register regions that overlap, while previously the square edges would provide simple boundary differentiation. This complexity means more to process server-side as well. Valve must have put thousands of hours into this improvement to the sub-surface layer of the game, meaning one thing: it knew how important the change was.
Culling: Keeping You Safe From Penetration
If you've ever been shot and killed through cover in CS, chances are it's because your weapon or player model protruded through the object giving your position away to opponents. Take for example de_cache's squeaky door at Long A where veteran players have learned to turn slightly to the side or aim vertically before opening the door to make entry less apparent.
This unrealistic model penetration of objects has been resolved using a complex function that hides any model the protrudes through cover. Players can now orient their crosshair toward where they want to check when peeking out of cover without worry that their ridiculously long AWP barrel alarms the enemy to their presence. This single change makes certain spots, such as de_nuke's vents and de_dust2's doors, more relevant as defensive positions.
New Animations: Looking Good Behind The Gun
Animations are a huge part of any shooter experience, and anyone who has made the transition from an older version of CS to CS:GO can attest to that. Since its debut in 2012 CS: GO has presented a layer of difficulty unfamiliar to its predecessors thanks to nuanced animations. The way that the arms and shoulders move as players adjust positioning and traverse in various angles has been difficult for many players to become accustomed to. Some mechanical results of this are the well-known peeker's advantage and jumping hitbox issue.
All of this has been given a careful look by Valve, and new animations have been introduced. It's all very sophisticated, and you can tell just by reading some of the patch notes:
- Re-built animation statemachine to support blending locomotion over any weapon aim or action poses.
- Re-rigged all player model geometry and player scaffold animation
- Enabled support for dynamic player animation layer re-ordering.
The most immediately recognizable improvement from today's update is how the jumping hitbox is calculated on server and client side, and reflected with the jump animation. They're now synced making it much more reasonable to hit jumping scout players and those peeking over ledges. This might not seem like much, but it's already having a profound effect on the game in and of itself.
Bomb Telegraphs: Keeping It Real
Animation redesign has extended beyond being only for player movement. For the first time ever, there are animations for player models when going up ladders, and even for bomb deployment and defusal.
In the case of bomb defusal animations, players are divided on whether or not it's a good thing for the game, particularly for the competitive side where fake defusals have been affected in a direct way. Nonetheless, it makes the game much more visually appealing as the character models actually telegraph their actions with a multimeter and cables appearing during the defusal process.
Miscellaneous: All The Small Things
There are a ton of small adjustments that have been made in the patch for balance and quality of life reasons. Take for example the reduction of the Zeus x27's price to $100, making it potentially more than just a joke weapon. The Dual Berettas have been buffed with increased armor penetration and range. You might just see them for your first time in a few years.
The adjustment of the M4A1-S is perhaps the biggest topic of discussion for the update. It's now $100 less expensive and has tighter groupings, but has a firing rate more similar to the AK-47 making it less effective for close quarter encounters. Players will now to think long and hard about whether to bring the M4A1-S or M4A4 to a match, something that few even considered prior to today.
Counter-Strike Is On A Roll
Back in May 2015 a similarly outstanding update was introduced to CS: GO. The update pushed a new Profile Ranks system to the game, new community maps, Operation Bloodhound, in addition to a few other meaningful changes. The effects were almost immediate, as CS: GO quickly grew beyond its already gargantuan size. It was a result similar to when weapon skins were introduced. Sine then the game has broken viewership records for its genre with over 1.5 million concurrent viewers watching the ESL One Cologne Finals, and a regular count of over 600,000 players online at any given time. The game is in a great spot, and today it's only gotten better.