Counter-Strike is dead, long live Counter-Strike!
A person getting into a gun fight in Counter-Strike 2.

Without a press release in sight, Valve has launched Counter-Strike 2 to the world. This free-to-play release is available right now and will replace your current installs of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. True to Valve tradition, today's release is actually a little bit later than initially expected. During its initial announcement in March, Valve said Counter-Strike 2 would be out in summer. It is now fall, but they only missed summer by a few days, which is actually pretty darn good as far as Valve and release dates are concerned!

Those who have or had Global Offensive installed will see a new update available for the game. This update will turn Global Offensive into Counter-Strike 2. Despite being named Counter-Strike 2, this is actually roughly the 10th multiplayer Counter-Strike game to be released if you include ports and spinoffs. Such is the Valve way.

From what I've seen during the pre-release beta period (I did not get a chance to play myself), Counter-Strike 2 is essentially Counter-Strike: Global Offensive but looking a little snazzier thanks to its use of Source 2. This is the same engine Valve uses for Half-Life: Alyx and Dota 2.

Today's release came after a bit of teasing from the Counter-Strike Twitter account. Today, a video was posted announcing the release. Again, there's no press release here. It's Counter-Strike. You know it. You maybe love it. You'll play it regardless of some big announcement or not. Also, the screenshots are all from the Steam page for Counter-Strike 2 and were pretty badly compressed. Unless Valve sends out a press mailing with better quality screenshots, these are the best we've got.

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For over two decades, Counter-Strike has offered an elite competitive experience, one shaped by millions of players from across the globe. And now the next chapter in the CS story is about to begin. This is Counter-Strike 2.

A free upgrade to CS:GO, Counter-Strike 2 marks the largest technical leap in Counter-Strike’s history. Built on the Source 2 engine, Counter-Strike 2 is modernized with realistic physically-based rendering, state of the art networking, and upgraded Community Workshop tools.

In addition to the classic objective-focused gameplay that Counter-Strike pioneered in 1999, Counter-Strike 2 features:
  • All-new CS Ratings with the updated Premier mode
  • Global and Regional leaderboards
  • Upgraded and overhauled maps
  • Game-changing dynamic smoke grenades
  • Tick-rate-independent gameplay
  • Redesigned visual effects and audio
  • All items from CS:GO moving forward to CS2​