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A modder recreated the classic Dust 2 map textures for CS:GO using artificial-intelligence

Dust 2 side-by-side CS:GO upscale
(Image credit: Uploaded by 3kliksphilip)

The Dust 2 map may be about as iconic as Counter-Strike itself, inspiring recreations in other games, specifically a lot of iterations in Minecraft, apparently. I know this to be true because I've never touched a Counter-Strike game, CS:GO or otherwise, but even I know this desert compound when I see it. 

Dust 2 is so closely tied with Counter-Strike itself that Valve added the classic "retro" version of the map to CS:GO earlier this summer for the 20th anniversary of the original Counter-Strike. But one modder wanted a version of Dust 2 even more faithful to the original map than Valve's retro recreation. They used AI to upscale the original Dust 2 textures and replace them in a custom version of the map that you can find in Steam's CS:GO workshop.

Modder "3kliksphilip" also put together a YouTube video that you can watch below explaining their process in upscaling the old textures. 

Some textures certainly come out looking better than others. While a computer may be more technically accurate when recreating textures this way than a human might be, it still presents a few odd dependencies that 3kliksphilip points out in the video. 

The wood and stone textures come out looking a bit like they were simply run through Photoshop's "sharpen" filter even though the process is a bit more advanced than that. The AI is prone to accentuating high contrast areas from the low-resolution version which end up creating harsh lines in the new version. 

CS:GO mod - Dust 2 AI Upscale

(Image credit: Uploaded by 3kliksphilip)

Where the upscaling process shines, as 3kliksphilip goes on to explain, is the background environments called skyboxes. Upscaling with AI changes the far-off mountains and clouds behind Dust 2 from a blurry mess into something that looks intentionally artistic. They're a much better example of what the original textures for Counter-Strike likely looked like before being compressed to fit on hardware from the year 1999.

If you're keen to play the version of Dust 2 that's most faithful to the "source" material, for better and for worse, check out the mod on the Steam workshop.

Lauren loves long books and even longer RPGs. She got a game design degree and then, stupidly, refused to leave the midwest. She plays indie games you haven't heard of and will never pass on a story about players breaking games or playing them wrong.