CS 2 Maps: Touchstones, Upgrades, Overhauls
The turn from CS:GO to the new version was an awaited event, especially after Valve showed what Counter-Strike 2 maps should look like. Some have received only slight changes, while others look fully rebuilt, bringing some confusion into the community discussions. Moreover, only a dozen are available in the game, while others are still hidden from the players and weren’t added even for tests.
Overall, all maps in Counter-Strike 2 got diverse levels of changes by Valve and so were divided into three different categories:
- Touchstones (Dust2, Mirage, Vertigo). Those maps got only slight changes, all about lighting and color brightness. The main idea is to liquidate dark places and allow players to transition to the new game without texture changes.
- Upgrades (Nuke, Ancient, Anubis, Office). Here, we can see the first signs of the new Source 2 game engine, which means much wider visual processing options. Still, those maps received only a new light processing, making them brighter, alongside renewed water effects and how the graphic effects are rendered.
- Overhauls (Overpass, Inferno, Italy). The full capacity of the new engine came with CS 2 maps called Overhauls, allowing developers to change the appearance of battle zones entirely. Of course, the ideas and structures remained the same (timings, shooting angles, etc.), but textures were changed significantly, and overall graphics processing became different.
So, let’s dive into the particular changes and innovations available in maps Counter-Strike 2 brought to all of us. Of course, we won’t touch maps like Tuscan, Baggage, or Train that aren’t in the game yet.
What Maps Are There in CS 2 Exactly?
As of early October 2023, players have gotten only 10 confirmed battlefields, and all Counter-Strike 2 maps list looks like this:
- Dust 2
However, that is for the Practice mode, while the classic matchmaking is slightly cut and lacks Italy:
Touchstone Maps in CS 2
Being the transitional battlefields, maps coming to CS 2 under the Touchstones labeling didn’t get profound changes. Of course, like all maps in CS 2, they became brighter and opened skyboxes, which is essential for Dust 2 and Train. The latter, however, is absent in the active duty map pool but should appear later with the same slight changes approach.
Probably the most beloved map throughout Counter-Strike gaming history, Dust 2 isn’t in the Tournaments’ map pool, but it is still often played in the matchmaking. In this regard, developers decided to make it a transitional location, adding only overall brightness, while skyboxes automatically open for all maps in Counter-Strike 2.
The overall lighting on Dust2 has become brighter and looks more natural as for the desert-style map under the scorching sun. However, textures became brighter even in the locations with a roof, with the piece of Lower Tunnels, which can be seen in the screenshot above.
Another common area without direct sunlight, CT Spawn, got extra artificial lighting, and now detecting enemies even with the blood on the walls should become easier.
Although this feature wasn’t developed for Dust 2 specifically, opened Skyboxes will surely turn the meta on this map. Currently, Smokes will fly here and there and isolate narrow areas (Doors, Tunnel Exits) for both direct purposes like covering and also for misleading fake moves.
Being the map in the same color style as Dust 2, Mirage in CS 2 also got only slight changes compared to CS:GO. However, Mirage will be among the maps from CS:GO in CS 2 that require minimal tactical adjustments since Skyboxes were already opened on it; Pros should appreciate it.
With the lack of sunlight in the B Apartments and Palace, those areas got more lamplight and now don’t look so dark.
The overall impression remains the same, and Professional teams should actively play this map as minimal changes would be needed. On the amateur level, Mirage will remain one of the most bellowed maps, although rarely played during beta testing in the Premier mode. Probably, players just wanted to touch maps that got more changes.
While Vertigo looked pretty bright because of enough sunlight (especially on the upper map layout), it also became more luminous. However, a new feature was also added to it — different sound cues on the lower and upper map levels.
Traditionally for the Touchstone maps, the dark sides on Vertigo gained extra lamps for better light, and now the areas, like near the Bridge, are much brighter.
In the open-space locations, everything has also become brighter.
A much more interesting feature that CS 2 updated maps received is the new sound approach for two-leveled ones. Now, the audio cues on the lower floor sound like your head being submerged in the water, which makes shooting, running, or jumping easily detected, not only horizontally. It sounds a bit strange and unfamiliar compared to the traditional upper-floor audio, but it helps to detect enemies way more easily.
Upgraded Maps in CS 2
While the Touchstone approach became transitional for CS 2 and CS:GO map comparison, Upgrades are meant to be the transition from Touchstone to Overhauls. According to Valve, Upgraded maps received not only more light and better brightness but also used Source 2 render and processing capabilities. Overall, textures on the battlefields remained the same, but light and water were renewed completely.
One more popular map, which originated in CS 1.6, now looks brighter and has gained a new sounding approach, depending on the floor.
While the B Site brightness was upgraded thanks to better lamp light, the new engine effects can be seen on the upper bombsite. The light from windows brings much more natural brightness and related shadows. The outside background landscape was slightly changed, while the main textures became clearer.
Just like with Vertigo, Nuke received double-floor audio effects, with a muffled sound on the lower level of the map and a traditional one on the upper one. Now, it’s much easier to determine where the opponents are making sound cues.
Being the darkest map in the official tournaments’ map pool, making Ancient brighter was a much-needed change, and it came with the processing upgrades. The water on the T-Spawn was also updated and looks much better now.
Those who played Ancient on the default monitor brightness settings dreamed of this update. CT Mid, Donat, A Main, and Cave — all were pretty dark areas. With the blood on the walls, both Counter-Terrorists and Terrorists could easily blend in with textures and have an advantage. Although lamps turned those areas into museum-like rooms, it was a long-awaited change.
With no impact on the tactics or gameplay, the renewed textures and water effects are the kind of changes in CS 2 maps everyone expected to see. Unlike on Overpass and Anubis, the floating dirt makes Ancient the map to launch it and simply test renewed effects even without shooting.
Without official confirmation from the Valve side on whether Anubis is in the Upgrade category, most reviewers think it belongs to this pool. That is because of brightness and water improvements but without changes in textures.
Like on Nuke A Site, light changes can be best seen on the screen above (also A Site), while the following image shows how it looks inside the Palace.
New water physics came to Anubis, too, which looks awesome both on the Canal position and inside A Site near the Column, with the latter receiving an artificial waterfall.
Many would mention opened Skyboxes as the main aspect that changed maps in CS 2 brought to Anubis, and Professional would surely agree. It will open new tactical possibilities that will slowly settle in the competitive MM as well.
I’m not the biggest Office fan (I prefer remote work and understand why modern hostages are in offices), but this map received a different light balance as the main upgrade.
While all CS 2 changed maps became generally brighter, Office looks a bit different if you compare the above screenshots. However, the color balance became more natural, while the light inside the building became better. And the dark zones inside the Garage and Stairs now aren’t as scary.
Overhauled Maps in CS 2
Finally, we came to the fully updated maps in CS 2, which are labeled as Overhauls. Here, the graphics processing of the new light and water was facilitated by the significantly renewed textures.
Probably because of the general lack of interest and being among the most unpopular maps in CS:GO, Valve has decided to give a new life to Overpass. However, no structural changes were made, and all the main picking angles remained the same. Still, textures look fresh, while water and overall lighting were adapted for the Source 2 engine.
New textures will meet you everywhere on the map, with some of them being remade and others receiving new colors. The background was also redrawn significantly in most points.
Of course, the water became more natural and received plenty of dirt to make the overall look even better.
With plenty of innovations on the confirmed maps in CS 2, the most jaw-hanging-down thing became the Inferno map update. The old street look was applied to every square meter, changing the perception totally. Except for the traditional upgrade in Textures and Lighting, opened Skyboxes and slight changes on both bomb sites should be discussed in more detail.
Yes, we could ignore this element as it was expected, but look how damn good the new textures look on Inferno!
Of course, the Banana will traditionally be the main skirmish place, but with smokes now flying half of the map, players will be able to outsmart their opponents. Nothing to say about the early CT smoke right to the T Ramp, which can change the meta and half of the strategies.
Graveyard Absence at A Bombsite
The A Site taking was a real test for every Terrorist team, and now they receive at least one less place to check during entrance. Nothing critical and game-changing, but it should be kept in mind.
B Site Fountain
Another slight rebuild was made on B Site, where the Fountain pillar is now wider and can protect from bullets but cannot be abused for one-way vision.
Contrary to all my love for spaghetti and pizza, Italy received the minimum of my attention in CS:GO. But in the list of CS 2 maps, it received plenty of attention from developers and was remade on the same level as Inferno. At the same time, its hostage-saving status can make it popular in the Casual or Deathmatch modes only.
Map textures are totally new and made in the Inferno-like style, with a lot of detailing to the buildings and other objects.
While this effect was added to all the maps, on the Italy map, you’ll be looking for some non-player shooting. Bottles with wine, fruits, and decorative plates on the walls — all will be the target at the beginning of every round or after killing all opponents.
The release of Counter-Strike 2 was an awaited event for FPS game lovers, and the appearance of the CS 2 new maps received the most attention from the community. Valve divided changes into three categories, but players will surely wait for all the maps to receive Overhauled status and acquire a totally new look.
Are there new maps in CS 2?
As of October 2023, Valve hasn’t added any new maps to CS 2 because they are far from adding even all CS:GO maps, which should be a priority now.
What maps aren't in CS 2?
Valve didn’t come out with any official statement about the map pool in CS 2, so the community expects all CS:GO maps to find their place in the new game. However, as of October 2023, Tuscan, Baggage, and Train weren’t added to the game with the launch.
Which maps have changed the most in the new CS 2?
Italy, Overpass, and Inferno were presented as Overhauls, which means maps with the most changes in CS 2.