On Monday Valve announced that it was overhauling Dust2, Counter-Strike's most iconic map, and now it has detailed all the changes, released images and opened the arena up for beta testing in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
Most of the changes are visual—Valve has quadrupled the texture resolution and changed the art style, opting for a lighter colour palate and a more obvious North African feel, with signs for a Kasbah (basically a fortress), a bazaar and a hotel. Overall the map manages to feel a lot brighter but more decrepit, with weathered walls and crumbling pillars. I'm a big fan.
There's no major changes to the structure of the map, which I supposed is to be expected, but there are some important tweaks. The most noticeable one is at the B bomb site, where the raised area to the back corner has been lowered so it's level with the rest of the area, as you can see in the image below (old on the left, new on the right). The slider won't work here, but you can use it on Valve's blog post unveiling the changes to compare the two versions.
The broken down car on the site has been moved to make it easier to get behind, the famous 'window' looking down on the middle of the map has been widened, while the section of tunnels that approaches the bomb site has had parts of the roof smashed away so that more light floods in.
Bomb site A has changed less: Valve has removed some of the dark doorways and generally de-cluttered the area so there's less objects to get stuck on. Take a look:
At Mid, Valve has added a new shallow staircase, removed some alcoves and improved the lighting. The last change is to the T-side character models, which Valve hopes make them look like "hardened veterans" of CS.
You can test the map out in the game's beta branch—here's some instructions on how to opt in. Do you like what you see?