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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)
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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 (opens in new tab), 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 (opens in new tab).

Lauren started writing for PC Gamer as a freelancer in 2017 while chasing the Dark Souls fashion police and accepted her role as Associate Editor and Chief Minecraft Liker in 2021. She originally started her career in game development and is still fascinated by how games tick in the modding and speedrunning scenes. She likes long books, longer RPGs, multiplayer cryptids, and can't stop playing co-op crafting games.