Source 2 comes to CS:GO? Freshest insights


CS.MONEY Blog has collected the most exciting and high-profile news, significant leaks, rumors, assumptions, and hints about a possible upcoming transition of CS:GO to a new engine in one article. It’s hard to say whether to believe them and if we should wait for a major announcement during the game’s anniversary. Only one thing is clear: it’s all rumors and guesses based on facts that may mean something but may not mean anything at all. We’re unsure if Source 2 will happen; we are just providing some information to conclude.

But first…

Do we really need it?

In short, yes. To simplify the engine and clear the code that has existed since ancient times.  It will make the devs’ lives easier and, therefore, players. Source 1 is a nightmare for any programmer and developer, and switching it to simplified parameters will significantly help further development. The engine is outdated, and few of the current developers understand it entirely and at least in detail.

For example, this is what former Valve employee Richard Geldreich wrote. The original tweets have been deleted, but the internet remembers everything: “mountains of ancient code that nobody understood anymore,” and “No human understood the whole thing. It was impossible.” 

Roughly speaking, the transition to a new engine will allow the dev team responsible for CS:GO to understand how the game works fully. It’s hard to believe such words, but it is true.

Also, the new engine will open up new opportunities for skinmakers and map creators. For example, it will introduce PBR textures. Almost every skinmaker dreams of them because they greatly simplify the work. But so far they are not in the game and a lot of things have to be done manually (impose hundreds of textures, tune their parameters for the necessary realism, check things in-game every time after baking, etc.).

Also, Source 1 doesn’t work very well with modern DirectX and even more so with Vulkan (for Linux users), so “It’s hard to believe pt2”, but the update will improve working with these tools, which may improve FPS, stability, and the game’s overall performance.

Transition already started

Even though the Source 2 release date is still an unknown point in the future, it is worth saying that Valve has already begun slowly moving the Source 2 engine to CS. But they are not doing it obviously and trying to be minimalistic. For example, back in 2017, they added normal maps and shocked skinmakers in a good way, turning their work upside down.

In addition, in the very first patches of CS:GO, most graphic and shader settings could be turned off completely, easing the PC hardware load. Then, this feature was disabled, and now even at the ultra-minimal settings, the game will still have shaders, which, by the way, was noted by Hexeth in a recent exclusive interview for our blog. (link)

Also, in the last couple of years, the community noticed tons of grenades bugs: e.g., the legendary smoke bug by ex-Gambit or just Molotov’s frequent placement glitches. Valve is testing here and there. Behind our backs.

You have to sell it, too

One crucial and often overlooked factor is that Counter-Strike as a game for a mass audience is a bit… edgy. And some corners need to be smoothed in order to sell it better and expand opportunities for the community.

First, the transition of CS:GO to Source 2 will allow broadcasts to be sold in 4K (if not 8K). For ordinary players, this is useless: vice versa, lower graphics mean better play. But this is very important for TVs and even giant pubstopm screens since no one wants to look at low-poly textures in ultra-high resolution.

Secondly, to facilitate ad sales and censorship, one of the most important innovations of the transition to Source 2 will be… the complete renaming of terrorists and counter-terrorists to T and CT, and removing all the references to terrorism of any kind. Take a look at the competitors in the market: neither in VALORANT nor in R6: Siege there is no such thing, only Attack and Defense. Moreover, Valve has already done something similar in Dota 2, where there were forces of Good and Evil, and the heroes were divided into good and bad. Now it’s Radiant and Dire. The meaning is the same, but it sounds neutral.

And this is the first serious inside that will concern a possible transit to Source 2 CS:GO.

Point #1: Brand Awareness

This is probably the most logical and expected update for CS:GO, which, if not supposed to, can at least happen. Not really connected to Source 2.0, but it might be included in the update.

The fact is that the brands associated with CS:GO have been registered for a very long time in the United States Patent and Trademark Office. They just need to be renewed after a single registration and approval, nothing more. But in August 2021, Valve updated the logo, although the current trademark has been extended to 2027. It is important that the USPTO website notes that this logo is not used, but has the intent to use. Such registration is not needed when it comes to everything in-game or near-game. Only if a new TM is launched is it necessary.

Of course, from the point of view of marketing and hype, just rolling out an update and not timing something like that is pointless. So this won’t happen:

Will there be changes in the title and lore of the game? First, this trademark situation is step by step repeating the history of Half-Life: Alyx. And in general, the chances are very high, because such a rework will increase profits. And profit is something that Valve loves very much.

Point #2: Dataminers

Dataminers have accumulated tons of different information, which may or may not have weight. Therefore, it makes no sense to list all the leaks / logs / rumors, just see a few essential things.

First, in February, Aperture Desk Job was released, a game created specifically for Steam Deck and entirely using the Source 2 engine. According to Gabe Follower, it also brought an update to the Source 2 editor. Then, a little later, Dota 2 saw the Spring Cleaning event, where developers fixed a bunch of bugs and released an update containing the CSGO_STICKER_POSITION code line. In case you didn’t know, Dota 2 has been using S2 since 2017. So, this is the first ever mention of CS:GO within the framework of the Source 2 code. Also, Aperture Desk Job Workshop received a line for a script to transfer maps from S1 to S2. And as you can see, a recent leak showed that the developers already have six CS:GO maps made on Source 2.

In general, GabeFollower posts a lot about datamining and talks about updates, so you can follow his Twitter to stay tuned. For example, in a recent video, he and his partner made a Telegram bot after they parsed the entire Steam user base (!), and tracked how developers use fake accounts to enter the closed CS:GO build. So, for example, a couple of days before the release, they predicted Tuscan and Prime: the developers launched a couple of lobbies and spent a lot of time on these maps.

Here and there, miners are digging up references to map transfers, weapon and grenade physics, design updates, code lines with “s2” prefixes, and much more, indirectly hinting that Valve is now hard at work on a new engine.

Point #3: Devil’s in the details

The main factors, of course, are the scraps of information obtained by dataminers, although, in general, they may not mean anything. However, there is still a list of other hints/situations/insides/coincidences that can be attributed to the topic.

  • Textures and map assets from Source 2 are scattered throughout Valve’s games. So, in Aperture Desk Job, there are Nuke assets, and recently, as mentioned above, dataminers found six completely ready-made maps for the new engine.
  • Leading CS:GO map designer Lydia Zanotti (ex-VALORANT dev) has often interacted with posts about Source 2 on social networks since she joined Valve.
  • Recently, developers are more frequently entering the closed version of CS:GO and launching maps on Source 2. Including one of the leading people at Valve after Gabe: Robin Walker.
  • Ray tracing and better lights have been added to the Source 2 engine. But, as you can understand, Dota 2 doesn’t need it that much.
  • Major content creators and insiders gathered in Seattle in early August with no reason given.
  • The CS:GO website posted ten news stories in one go, and before that, we saw a post with the title “Test” and the text “This is just a test. Nothing more.” Most likely, Valve is working on updating the site too.
  • And lots more.

What will happen?

Most likely, according to Tyler McVicker and GabeFollower, two best CS:GO and Valve insiders and dataminers, we are in for a situation similar to Dota 2 and Dota 2 Reborn: two versions of CS:GO will be presented, new and old, both working, and after some time the old one will begin to fade and will be shut down eventually. There will be no abrupt transition: Valve has done that before (and successfully), so they don’t need to reinvent anything.

If the update of CS:GO to Source 2 does take place, this will be the game’s most prominent news since CS: GO’s release. Essentially, by doing this, Valve will establish that they will continue to offer support for the game for many years to come.

However, it often happens with Valve’s work and games that all such “leaks” do not carry anything behind them and dissolve in a stream of other leaks for years or remain unrealized.

The CS:GO anniversary will take place on August 21, 2022. Are we ready for the announcement?


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