Counter-Strike 2 loadout update takes cues from Valorant, and might indicate more guns are coming over time

cs2 loadout screen
(Image credit: Valve)

As the vague "Summer 2023" release date for Counter-Strike 2 approaches, Valve continues to casually drop massive changes coming to its tactical FPS on Twitter. The latest is a meaningful change to the buy screen. CS2's buy screen will take a cue from Valorant by letting players refund their purchases before the buy phase ends (watch that in action below). You'll also notice Valve has ditched the weapon wheel in favor of Valorant's gun grid.

The bigger news is that Valve is implementing loadouts with CS2, which force players to pick four pistols, five "mid-tier" guns (SMGs/shotguns), and five rifles to create a personal buy menu.

Those 15 total guns (including the starter pistols) are the only guns you'll have access to during the match, meaning you'll have to leave behind 2-3 guns in each category. Loadouts will technically be more limited than CS:GO's existing buy screen, but it'll also let you assign gun combinations that were previously impossible. Instead of having to choose between the silenced M4A1-S or the M4A4, for instance, you can now bring both along.

Deciding which guns to keep in your buy menu could become another piece of economic strategy in CS2. Under the loadouts system, you could build a frugal buy screen that forgoes the AWP entirely in favor of more affordable options. How will competitive teams of five players use loadouts to complement their roles on certain maps?

Valve could have other motives for setting a hard 15-gun limit. My guess is this new system will lay the groundwork for Valve adding more (perhaps many more) guns to Counter-Strike 2 over time. Counter-Strike players are generally opposed to major gameplay changes, and the few weapons that were added to CS:GO over its lifespan, like the R8 Revolver, did not significantly disrupt the meta.

But as it faces the prospect of getting 10 more years of life out of the same maps and guns, new rifles, pistols, and throwables would be an effective way for Valve to disrupt CS' calcified meta. We saw the studio take this approach with Team Fortress 2 over hundreds of patches, over time adding equipment that broke classes out of their comfort zones and made completely new tactics viable. Initially a defensive teammate working behind the scenes, the Engineer could later be played as a roaming harasser. Spies, who began purely as cloaking backstabbers, could instead fight on the frontline with a pistol and play dead.

In the least, it'd be a little surprising if Valve adds no weapons whatsoever—every major Counter-Strike release has come with a handful of hardware surprises. Valve goes into slightly more detail about the new buy menu in this blog post, and you can also check out the full patch notes to read up minor changes to smoke grenade volumes.

Morgan Park
Staff Writer

Morgan has been writing for PC Gamer since 2018, first as a freelancer and currently as a staff writer. He has also appeared on Polygon, Kotaku, Fanbyte, and PCGamesN. Before freelancing, he spent most of high school and all of college writing at small gaming sites that didn't pay him. He's very happy to have a real job now. Morgan is a beat writer following the latest and greatest shooters and the communities that play them. He also writes general news, reviews, features, the occasional guide, and bad jokes in Slack. Twist his arm, and he'll even write about a boring strategy game. Please don't, though.