Big CS:GO update adds shorter matches, riot shield, and fixes Dust 2's biggest problem

All hail the developers of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive for, yea, they have listened to our pleas. Lo it was written that CTs moving to B-site on Dust 2 must always cross the double doors, which the Ts fire through while praying to RNGesus, and oft ye will take a hit and occasionally even a headshot, and it doth suck the big one. But from the mountaintop in Seattle come the new holy words: "Blocked visibility of mid from T spawn in Dust 2. Really!"

Really! Yes Valve, I always loved you: even when nasty players said you weren't listening I kept the faith. In all seriousness this is a massive change to Counter-Strike: GO's most popular map, and a long-overdue one. It never made sense to me that one of the game's best maps had this roulette-like touch at the start which can significantly hobble the CTs, and now it doesn't.

You can see a short video of how the new Dust 2 T-side spawn looks below.

See more

That may be what got me excited but Operation Riptide, true to recent form, delivers more than players were probably expecting (there's no doubt that the emergence of serious competition has been good for CS:GO).

There's an overhaul to the missions, challenges that are unlocked on a weekly basis which reward stars upon completion: as with Operation Phoenix, these stars can then be spent on items of the player's choice, including new avatars and weapon skins. The new skins include CT Frog Men from the SEALs, and the French Gendarmerie. They also come with some excellent videos: Valve's sense of humour remains as strong as ever.

Operation Riptide adds a new way to play competitive: short matches are 5v5 but now a best of sixteen rounds match (i.e. first to nine wins), which Valve says on average should last about 25 minutes (I usually expect a 'normal' competitive match to last twice as long). Players can now also set up private Premiere mode matches with a code, entering as teams or letting the matchmaker sort it out.

Significant gameplay changes include the ability to drop grenades for teammates to pick up, and a buff to the CT go-to rifle the M4A1-S, which now does more damage to the body, and a nerf to the Deagle, which now does a bit less body damage (yes!). The dual berettas are now also a bit cheaper, but still rubbish.

There are also four new weapon collections, among which is perhaps the most hideous golden AK-47 I've ever seen, which will no doubt soon be trading hands for more than my annual salary.

Last but not least, there's a riot shield, the return of a little-remembered piece of equipment from older Counter-Strikes. Don't worry, competitive players: this impossible-to-balance item is currently only available in casual hostage mode maps.

Operation Riptide will run until February 20, 2022, and the operation pass costs $15 (though all players will receive the balance changes). The release notes are here and here's Valve's FAQ on the operation pass. Finally, if you enjoyed the chicken's starring role in one of the launch videos, have a look at the surprisingly complicated history of chickens in Counter-Strike.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."