With its cross-platform, downloadable shooterCounter-Strike: Global Offensive, Valve hopes to capture a new audience for the hit PC-derived franchise, while at the same time appeal to even the most hardcore Counter-Strike pro.
In a recent interview with Gamasutra, Valve writer Chet Faliszek described the upcoming game as "Counter-Strike for the masses," noting that the title will include features like the new Casual Mode, which will help new players experiment with the game without worrying about earning cash between rounds.
And while the game is launching on consoles, Faliszek said that unlike other popular console shooters, CS:GO won't feature any sort of persistent leveling system -- rather, the game hopes to simply test a player's dexterity and skill.
Building That Competitive Spirit
"The thing about CS:GO is that it's a pure, competitive game," he told Gamasutra. "There's not a lot of the meta-game around it, there aren't a lot of things in-game that take away from the skill, it's all about saying, 'You died because the other guy's better.'"
Faliszek also noted that since Counter-Strike is "still the number one competitive game on PC," Valve wanted to ensure the same competitive atmosphere transferred over to consoles. The best way to do that, he said, was to change as little as possible.
"When bringing Counter-Strike to PS3 and Xbox, we wanted to make sure we weren't 'noobing' it, or dumbing it down. The game has an entry point for new players in its Casual Mode, but it's not ticking off the top players," he said.
He even said that during cross-platform play between PC and PS3, console players using a controller won't get any sort of auto-aim to compensate for the precision of a mouse and keyboard.
"We think that if you're really good with the controller, and you can match the fidelity of movement of the mouse and keyboard, then you'll hold your own. If not, well, you'll just be matched with people who play like you," Faliszek said, adding that PS3 players can also use a mouse and keyboard if they choose.
Keeping in line with Valve's goal to create a truly skill-based game, Faliszek said the studio is going out of its way to make the game plays well at high levels, in hopes of reuniting the splintered community of skilled Counter-Strike players, who are currently spread across Counter-Strike: Source and Counter-Strike 1.6.
"These two communities want a new game that brings them together again -- to make them whole," Faliszek said, explaining that CS:GO hopes to address a number of problems that split the Counter-Strike audience in the first place.
Rebuilding The Skill Ceiling
Specifically, Faliszek explained that the changes in Counter-Strike: Source significantly altered the playing field for Counter-Strike's advanced players, leaving little room for high-level techniques to develop.
"With CS:S, the skill ceiling collapsed, so the really good players weren't as different as the pretty-good players. In 1.6, players had an easier time differentiating themselves, as there are a lot of really nuanced things these players can do," Faliszek said.
With CS:GO, Valve is working with a number of competitive Counter-Strike players and professional league organizers to rebuild Counter-Strike's skill ceiling for high level play, while still maintaining accessibility for everyone else.
"We're looking at changes that are about adding depth for skilled players, without adding complexity for the lower levels," Faliszek said.
Most of these changes, he said, would likely go unnoticed by an average player, but they have major implications for truly competitive play.
"For example, in 1.6, a really good player will know that their first bullet will always be true, and then the bullets form a pattern around the aiming reticule, so really good players will aim low because they know the second bullet will always go up -- they do all these things at the drop of a hat without a second thought," Faliszek said, offering some insight into how minute details can allow a wide range of player skill.
Valve plans to test these high-level changes with a beta period for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive this October, and the game's official release date is currently set for early 2012 on PC, Mac, Xbox 360 and PS3.