Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) is a free-to-play First-Person Shooter (FPS) game where your decisions, team coordination and acute gunplay matter more than just running-and-gunning. Co-developed by Valve and Hidden Path Entertainment, the game was first released across multiple platforms (Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, etc.) back in August 2012.
Initially launched as a premium game, it was then reverted to a free-to-play model in December 2018 which helped the game to maintain a healthy player base even after more than 5 years from its original release. Receiving plenty of positive reviews and critical acclaim, CS:GO is considered a huge success following its decision to keep most of the original game mechanics (from previous Counter-Strike iterations) while updating certain aspects like graphics and gun balances, to attract new audiences.
In essence, CS:GO is a tactical shooter game which allows you to play as either the Counter-Terrorist side, or the Terrorists instead. A match is divided into a few pre-determined rounds depending on the game mode, which switches your team’s side after reaching a number of rounds equivalent to half of the overall match (example: teams switch sides after completing round 8 of a 16-round match). Competitive matches are typically played in the Bomb Plant/ Defuse format, with each round seeing the Terrorists planting a bomb at one of two bomb sites of a map, while Counter-Terrorists attempt to stop them from doing so. Putting emphasis on players’ shooting skills and teamwork instead of in-game powers/ abilities for games like Valorant or Overwatch, all players gain access to faction-specific weapons and utility items (grenades, armour, etc.), and your ability to use them effectively while coordinating with your party members become core aspects of winning in CS:GO.
CS:GO has a massive Esports following all around the world, and continues to be ranked amongst the most played games in recent times, even until today. If you fancy your chances of becoming a definite pro in a no-nonsense tactical shooter game, CS:GO is undoubtedly worth your shot!
As with most games which are released back in 2012, the PC requirements provided to play CS:GO smoothly are definitely not restrictive, meaning that almost all players can enjoy the game without worrying too much about their computers’ specs.
The official minimum PC requirements set for CS:GO can be referred to below:
|WINDOWS||MAC OS X||STEAM OS + LINUX|
|OS: Windows 7/ Vista/XP
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 or AMD Phenom X3 8750 (or equivalent)
Memory: 2GB RAM
GPU: Almost all video cards with 256 MB VRAM (or better)
DirectX: Version 9
Storage: 15GB of available space
|OS: MacOS X 10.11 or later
Processor: Intel Core Duo (2HGz or better)
Memory: 2GB RAM
GPU: ATI Radeon HD 2400 or NVIDIA 8600M (or equivalent)
Storage: 15GB of available space
|OS: Ubuntu 12.04
Processor: Intel Core Duo or AMD (2.8 GHz, 64-bit)
Memory: 4GB RAM
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce 8600/ 9600GT, or ATI/ AMD Radeon HD 2600/ 3600, Open GL 2.1 (GPU Drivers: NVIDIA 310, AMD 12.11)
Storage: 15GB of available space
Sound Card: OpenAL Compatible
With such lenient system requirements, you can surely enjoy some CS:GO sessions any time of the day!
CS:GO has consistently been faced with numerous hacking issues and cheating software used by irresponsible sections of the game’s massive fan base, throughout the years. As the Counter-Strike franchise is notorious for its aimbot problems and certain wallhack exploits too, it is unquestionable that Valve needed to come up with some alternatives to help solve these in-game headaches pronto. With the introduction of a free-to-play model, CS:GO was then set up to welcome another edition of the game: the ‘Prime Status’ Upgrade.
The ‘Prime’ edition of CS:GO is Valve’s way of trying to limit your chances of encountering cheaters in the game, with Prime players able to play exclusively with other Prime players who have bought the game with real-world money. As the repercussions of using cheats are massive in CS:GO (permanent account bans, etc.), the implementation of a paid model will hopefully deter other Prime players from using illicit methods which could get their respective paid accounts wasted down the drain. There were a few ways for you to unlock ‘Prime’ status for free without needing to fork out a small amount of money, but that is no longer the case in 2021. Currently, you are only able to upgrade your CS:GO edition to ‘Prime’ by purchasing the game for around $15, but will also enjoy some limited rewards only available for Prime players as well. Considering that CS:GO has evolved so much over the years, a $15 surcharge is surely a reasonable price to pay for a game stacked in a market bloated with $60 games nowadays.
As mentioned previously, there are currently two (2) sides opposing each other during gunfights in CS:GO. The Terrorists (T) are undoubtedly the offensive team in almost all game modes in the game, with the primary objective of the team is to detonate a bomb on a designated bomb site (maps typically have two bomb sites to choose from, designated A and B). Counter-Terrorists (CT) are the opposite side of the coin; their main objective is to stop the Terrorists from detonating the bomb at any of the bomb sites, no matter the costs (except dying though)!
Each ‘faction’ possesses different arrays of weaponry and utility in their arsenal, but each are generally counterparts of the other albeit slight stat differences (CT’s SCAR-20 sniper rifle is the direct substitute to T’s G3SG1 sniper rifle). No matter which side you play on, each team will need to employ various strategies, formations, gun options and even team rotations depending on the circumstances which play out during rounds. Understanding these can help sway the tide of battle into your favour, and subsequently lead to more success in Competitive mode as well.
Better watch those corners, rookie!
Different Game Modes
To date, CS:GO has eight (8) different game modes for you to test your in-game skills at. The different types of modes offer varying degrees of challenges which provide plenty of incentives for you to continue playing the game outside of normal Ranked matches too.
Playing on either the default Bomb Plant/ Defuse or Hostage Rescue maps, Casual games are the non-ranked equivalent of Competitive mode, with players from all skill levels able to join in on the fun depending on the server’s matchmaking settings. To keep the experience much more enjoyable and stress-free, Casual mode allows up to twenty (20) maximum players in a match, with players able to switch sides on the fly if they wish (only if the other team is short on players). There are also other distinct differences that can be seen in Casual mode, with some of them listed below (against Competitive mode). Try it out for yourself, and have fun!
|Starting money (pistol round)||$1,000||$800|
|Round time||2 minutes, 15 seconds||1 minute, 55 seconds|
|Maximum rounds in a match||15 rounds||30 rounds|
|Number of rounds to win match||8 rounds||16 rounds|
|Bomb timer||45 seconds||40 seconds|
Now onto the more serious stuff, Competitive mode is the crème de la crème of CS:GO’s competitive scenes. In Competitive mode, your wins will accumulate points which determine your overall skill level within the game’s general player base. There are currently eighteen (18) different ranks that you can find yourself be placed into, each being:
- Silver (I to IV)
- Silver Elite
- Silver Elite Master
- Gold Nova (I to III)
- Gold Nova Master
- Master Guardian (I to II)
- Master Guardian Elite
- Distinguished Master Guardian
- Legendary Eagle
- Legendary Eagle Master
- Supreme Master First Class
- The Global Elite
Competitive mode is also further categorized into two (2) different types:
- Ranked: Ranked Competitive mode is the normal type of match where your wins and losses will contribute towards your overall Rank in CS:GO. You are usually matched with others of similar skill level and ranks, which typically affects the overall success of your team.
- Unranked: New to Counter-Strike, Unranked Competitive mode is the same Ranked experience but without any progressions saved (rank progress, level experience, achievements, etc.). The skill gap and rank differences may be more substantial than Ranked, which may lead to unsatisfactory team matchups.
Bomb Plant/ Defuse and Hostage Rescue map types are used in Competitive mode, with the differences between Casual and Competitive modes explained earlier.
A free-flowing mode for you to enjoy mindless shooting and infinite respawns, Deathmatch is the equivalent of Battlefield and Call of Duty mixed with Counter-Strike elements into it. In this mode, there are no primary objectives for you to complete, but your aim is to score the most points at the end of the match by racking up kills or assisting teammates in doing so. Guns are purchasable for ‘free’, but you will only get a brief window of selecting your preferred guns after respawning from death. Different guns provide different points which contribute towards your score, supplementing your kills too at the end of the day. Have a go at Deathmatch if you want to improve yourself during intense high-stakes scenarios, or increasing your odds during ‘clutch’ moments against enemy teams.
Arms Race (War Games)
The ‘Gun Game’ of CS:GO, Arms Race is a mode where your kills rotate your current weapon loadout until you reach the last weapon tier which is the Golden Knife. Every two kills award you with a new gun immediately, and you can monitor your present kill counter (slight pentagon shape) beside your weapon’s ammo count. In terms of overall weapon progress to reach the Golden Knife, there will be a bar depicting the next weapon categories that you will be rotating into, upon reaching certain number of total kills. However, unlike other Gun Games where you win individually upon reaching the maximum score first/ after the time limit is over, Arms Race will group you into the usual team compositions (Terrorists or Counter-Terrorists) and you win by killing one (1) enemy with the aforementioned Golden Knife, awarding your team the victory simultaneously. Respawn times are also very short (1-2 seconds), so Arms Race is definitely another option for you to go ham with your weapons, besides Deathmatch mode.
Demolition (War Games)
Demolition mode is basically Arms Race and Bomb Plant/ Defuse merged together. You will not be able to buy any weapons, but your gun loadouts change each time you kill an enemy (signified by the pentagon shape similarly like Arms Race). Both teams have the usual objectives of either planting the bomb or defending bomb sites (team wipes win rounds for both sides). The next tier of weapon change will be showcased on the screen every time you spawn in a round, making it possible for you to identify which guns you will be using after killing enemies. Multiple kills in a round awards you with valuable equipment such as High-Explosive (HE) Grenades, which stay with you for multiple rounds until you die. Match rounds are short-lived, running only for 1 minute and 30 seconds. You will not respawn after dying in a round; only doing so once the next round starts again (staying alive is much more crucial like in Competitive mode). Due to the fast-paced nature of Demolition, players usually opt for this mode to relish the adrenaline rush while completing critical mission objectives with the team.
Flying Scoutsman (War Games)
A weird yet incredibly fun experience to play in, the Flying Scoutsman mode is where you play as either the Terrorists or Counter-Terrorists in a gravity-reduced environment (you jump higher and levitate longer in the air). Depending on the map, sometimes you need to complete bomb objectives as either one of the teams, or simply kill all enemies on the map. Besides the main attraction of this game being the ability to make aerial manoeuvres and jumps, you will also be restricted to only using the SSG 08 sniper rifle (bolt-action, also commonly known as the Scout rifle), practicing your headshots and aim while being on the move or in the air. Match rounds are significantly longer in this mode, with each round set at 3 minutes each. The first team to win eight (8) rounds wins the match, with the maximum number of players on a team dictated by the map type given.
Imagine Competitive mode, but each team only has two (2) players in it, and you get Wingman mode in CS:GO. Maps are made smaller to accommodate this mode, with only one bombsite to destroy or protect, depending on your team. All other aspects of this mode is the same as Competitive mode, with only a few slight difference such as:
|Maximum rounds in a match||16||30|
|Number of rounds to win match||9||16|
|Round time||1 minute, 30 seconds||1 minute, 55 seconds|
One more note to add about Wingman is that this mode employs its own Skill Group system, meaning that it has its own Match-Making Rating (MMR) which groups players of similar skillsets together into a team/ match.
The first ever Battle Royale mode in Counter-Strike, Danger Zone pits eighteen (18) players against each other in a fight for survival until the last man standing. Taking inspiration from other Battle Royale games like Fortnite and Call of Duty: Warzone, you choose a starting location on a map (rappelled down via helicopter) and scavenge for weapons and equipment to use against other players in the game. Unique to CS:GO, zones are designated into hexagonal tiles which will indicate the next safe zones available once the map starts to shrink (via bombs/ artillery strikes raining down on the map). The concept of the game mode is fairly simple: scavenge, kill, survive. You will be able to break boxes and crates to collect items, while some are only able to be open via guns and melee weapons. You will also have a tablet with you, with which you can buy specific equipment and weapons for use as you accumulate in-game money through collecting cash found around the map while also killing enemies who drop them too. There are currently two (2) ways to play Danger Zone, which are:
- Duo (you are able to be revived by a teammate if you are killed in combat)
Danger Zone also has its own Ranked and Unranked categories too, which allow you to be ranked for competitive play, or just playing the game for funsies.
CS:GO’s expansive game modes provide plenty of reasons for you to come back and enjoy the game now, if you have left the franchise since Counter-Strike: Source or Condition Zero.
CS:GO would not be the same game without its collection of incredible guns and utility items on tow too. Although some games proudly try to emulate the realistic feel and handling of real-world firearms, CS:GO’s arsenal of weaponry is catered towards a more rigid and structured feel for each of the weapons available, suiting the need for a tactical shooter game. In summary, there are seven (7) weapon categories available in the game, with a total of thirty-four (34) different weapons overall, each being:
When it comes to Melee Weapons, only the Tactical Knife is available for use. However, you are able to change the cosmetics of the Tactical Knife by unlocking (or buying) different skins to change its appearance (and animations depending on the skin, such as the Karambit) without any stat increases to avoid balancing issues.
The handy Pistols are your secondary firearms for emergency situations (primary weapon reload, or out of ammo, etc.), besides being the primary weapon during Pistol Rounds (1st round of a match) or Eco Rounds (a round which the team opts for low-tier weapons to save cash for later rounds/ comebacks). Although other primary weapons surpass them in almost every other aspect, Pistols are still quite formidable in terms of raw headshot damage and recoil handling, while also being very cheap too. There are currently ten (10) Pistols in the game, which are:
- P2000 (CT)
- USP-S (CT)
- Five-Seven (CT)
- Glock-18 (T)
- Tec-9 (T)
- Dual Berettas
- Desert Eagle
- R8 Revolver
Devastating up close, Shotguns are your main tools of trade for those tight spaces on the map. Shotguns are not particularly lethal when it comes to long-range engagements, but their pellet spreads combine to produce massive damage to enemies in close proximity. Their prices are also quite reasonable compared to Assault Rifles, but these bad-boys are only reserved for the most apt gamers who know how to utilize them effectively in Close-Quarters Combat (CQC). Presently, there are four (4) different types of Shotguns, namely:
- MAG-7 (CT)
- Sawed-Off (T)
Submachine Guns (SMGs)
SMGs are also another viable alternative to Shotguns for close-to-medium firefights, SMGs are lighter, fire much faster, and hold a lot of ammo in one magazine alone. Due to their incredible firing rate, bullet spread is something which you need to control when using SMGs, besides their damage decrease when firing at long-range targets. There are seven (7) different SMGs available in the game, which are:
- MP9 (CT)
- MAC-10 (T)
These beasts of mass destruction have impressive firepower up their bellies, possessing incredible bullet penetration and create loads of damage when enemies are hit. However, the drawback of wielding such enormous guns is that your movement speed becomes impeded, while their firing recoil is close to abysmal to compensate for their enormous threat. Only seasoned players should use Machine Guns in Competitive matches, and that is also a rare feat to see sometimes. There are only two (2) Machine Guns in the game, which are:
Assault Rifles (ARs)
The common ground for weapons of all game modes, Assault Rifles are the community’s most trusted guns due to their overall balance of firepower, bullet penetration, firing distance and adequate recoil handling. One drawback of ARs is that they are commonly priced quite exorbitantly, with their ammo prices being very expensive too. Still, if you’ve managed to farm enough cash in a match, ARs are definitely amongst your first–choice weapons for any engagements. As of now, there are seven (7) different ARs for you to choose from in the game:
- FAMAS (CT)
- M4A4 (CT)
- M4A1-S (CT)
- AUG (CT)
- Galil AR (T)
- AK-47 (T)
- SG 553 (T)
The final piece of the weapon jigsaw puzzle: the dreaded Sniper Rifles. No Counter-Strike game is complete without the numbing sounds of Sniper fire covering your retreat, or attacking enemies from your rear. Possessing unbelievable damage and bullet penetration, Snipers are very lethal from long range due to their precision-sight shots and low manoeuvrability. Similarly to Machine Guns, not every player is able to master the Sniper Rifle without enough practice and experience behind the scope. However, if you do manage to reach high-level ranks as a Sniper, you’ll be amongst the first to be invited in most Competitive matches regularly. There are four (4) different types of Sniper Rifles currently in CS:GO:
- SCAR-20 (CT)
- G3SG1 (T)
- SSG 08
In CS:GO, you will come across varying degrees of combat engagements and team scenarios, so understanding each of these weapons can help you make prompt decisions about knowing when to buy them, and how to use them according to the overall game mode and map in question.
In CS:GO, the key to winning isn’t just confined to impeccable shooting skills and pinpoint team coordination. Outside of combat, your cash and inventory planning is also crucial towards achieving the win, with your buying decisions playing important roles in either prepping for an “All-In” attempt or saving up for an incredible comeback later on. After each round, both your individual performances and team efforts award you with much-needed in-game money to buy those precious equipment and guns for future fights. However, CS:GO also employs a certain mechanic where the losing team receives increasing cash bonuses after suffering cumulative losses, although they are still much lower than what the winning side gets. This ensures that the cash disparity between the two teams will not be too big for the winning side to snowball a match, while also giving opportunities for the losing side to make a surprise comeback afterwards. This can be seen regularly in high-level matches, where teams are already planning ahead for the next rounds’ buys based on how they performed in the first or second round.
How can they ‘predict’ what to do next in future rounds? This is where the in-game money cap plays a hand by restricting the winning team’s cash, luring them into a false sense of security after winning the first few rounds to splurge on higher-grade weapons using their abundant cash rewards. Usually around the third or fourth round, the losing side then attempts to take control of the match by winning rounds using conservative amounts of cash. If the losing side starts to rack up the wins afterwards, the earlier winning side will now need to catch up in terms of both winning rounds and also saving up cash to buy their equipment again (all their top weapons and equipment earlier are lost after they die, making it harder to recoup). This is just one example of why the match economy is also a very powerful tool in CS:GO, with a very steep risk-reward system that only the best Esports teams are capable of grasping.
Tips & Tricks
CS:GO has been around the gaming scenes for years now, with so many new pro gamers entering the fold every now and then. It takes unflinching dedication to get good at the game, and not many of us are able to do that when it comes to real-world commitments and responsibilities too. However, there are a few general tips and tricks that you can learn in order to make yourself a better player at the game. Whether you’re playing CS:GO for the nostalgia, or kicking it off with friends for some enjoyable FPS party, you can undoubtedly improve your playing style by practicing some of these advices:
Tune those settings
A general rule of thumb when playing video games is that you should ALWAYS configure your in-game settings based on your comfortable camera movement and keystroke patterns. Different people have different preferences when it comes to the camera speed as well as overall key bindings of the game, so personally changing them to your desired values is definitely the best way to start things off in CS:GO. You’ll be surprised how changing your Crouch button into Toggle Crouch (prompts the character to stay crouched just by clicking on the CTRL button, and not holding it) can make a world of difference in the game! Everyone has their own personal preferences, go crazy with yours!
Take it easy
You may be forgiven for thinking that CS:GO is a frantic FPS game where you need to constantly run-and-gun around the map. This may be true for certain game modes such as Deathmatch and Arms Race, but it is definitely NOT the case when it comes to Competitive play and tournaments. In the competitive scenes, you only have one (1) life per round. Losing that life will spell trouble for your team as a whole, who may need your covering fire or flanking support further down the line. Take a deep breath before playing any matchups, re-tweak your mentality again, and take things one step at a time with your team. You may not be winning all matches in CS:GO, but you can certainly improve your odds by playing it steady and coordinating with teammates throughout a match!
You may be tempted to run around the map, looking to take the fight to the enemies and surprise them. Well, in Competitive mode, this will 9/10 get you shot prematurely in the face, with enemy campers lying in wait behind boxes and crates scattered around the map. Cover is essential for your survivability, and staying behind a well-blocked wall can help you ambush oncoming victims easily too. If you believe that an enemy knows you are there and is zoning you behind your cover, you have different ways to approach this instead of peeking back at him for an easy shot at you. Retreat and try to flank the enemy position, or call out to your teammates about the enemy camper, and you’ll be surprised about how effective these can be instead of going in guns blazing while the enemy just laughs at your predictable demeanour, shooting you in the head.
Remember, controlled shots
If there is one thing which is certain in tactical shooters like CS:GO, it is that every single bullet is LETHAL. One stray bullet can easily take you out, although this also depends on the weapon used and if you are wearing a helmet (which SLIGHTLY reduces the headshot damage). Instead of spraying and praying (shooting your gun uncontrollably with bad recoil handling), your chances of killing the enemy becomes SIGNIFICANTLY higher when you learn to take short bursts of fire during medium-long combat engagements. This may not always work for close encounters, as holding down the trigger fire may help kill your enemy much quicker due to the maximum amount of bullets hitting him in close proximity. However, taking out an enemy from a distance requires substantial control and recoil management of your guns, meaning that controlling your shots may actually hit your target’s head much more consistently now.
Strafe firing is legit
Now, hiding behind cover is definitely a life saver in CS:GO. Still, what do you do when you are caught 1v1 with an opponent, and are wide open on the map? You can stay stationary and quickly have a reflex battle with the enemy to see who manages to shoot the other first, but consider strafe firing as a habit too. By just constantly moving right and left while trying to fire at the enemy, you make it harder for him to predict your movement, making him whiff his shots more often than yours. This takes some experience and skill to execute, especially when you need to get used to shooting at the enemy while moving, but this can definitely help you breeze through the lower ranks most of the time.
Did you hear that?
Sound is a major component which plays into your odds of surviving rounds and winning matches too. Your footsteps create audible cues which can be heard by both teammates and enemies alike, and this also works in your favour as well. Believe it or not, you can bait your enemies to attack a particular spot (and into an ambush) by simply walking around the area for them to catch the sound (quickly ‘walk’ back to your earlier position by holding SHIFT to move without making any sound, afterwards). Bear in mind, they may also do that to you too, but knowing that running creates loud footsteps for everyone to hear makes you much more aware of your surroundings to anticipate enemy counters as well.
Throw ‘em grenades!
Grenades are utility items which provide options for different scenarios during rounds. In CS:GO, there are various grenades that you can use during specific circumstances in the game, to help you claw your way out of boxed-in attacks. Don’t hold on to them! If you believe an opportunity is there for you to frag a spot, do it! Not sure if there’s someone coming from the alleyway behind you? Throw a Molotov or Incendiary Grenade for a few seconds of safety. These small actions can have HUGE impacts while playing, as they might make the enemy to reconsider their plans and change their routes accordingly, potentially saving both you and your teammates as well. Remember, winning rounds is what matters most, so don’t waste time hoarding all the stuff!
Learning the map by heart
Each map that you play in has various hot spot locations where the action usually takes place. Knowing this will provide early coordination advantages for your team as you use this knowledge to setup traps and wait for unsuspecting enemies. Besides that, understanding the different locations on the map can also help you time your way around the landscape too, meaning that you can purposely delay your attacks on an area to eventually throw a grenade at the location after knowing that a few enemies might actually camp there by then. Create a few sessions with Bots and teammates to scout out new maps and potential exploit locations, which could come in handy later on in Competitive mode.
- 9.7Total Score
First released back in 2012 as a premium game, it became free-to-play in 2018. Receiving plenty of positive reviews and critical acclaim, CS:GO is considered a huge success following its decision to keep most of the original game mechanics from previous Counter-Strike iterations while updating certain aspects like graphics and gun balances to attract new audiences. CS:GO has a massive Esports following all around the world, and continues to be ranked amongst the most played games in recent times.
- Technical Quality9.5
- Engaging Experience9.6
- Addictive & Fun9.6
- THE GOOD
- Retaines the best features of other CS iterations, yet it is more polished
- Quality game design
- Glowing reviews from critics
- Great Esports following
- THE BAD
- Console version may not be ad adequate as PC version
- New content added to the game may not have been enough to please some