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Counter-Strike 2 adds fan-favourite mode, its first weapon skins, custom sticker placement, and something a little shocking

 The CS2 key art.
The CS2 key art.

Counter-Strike 2 released last year and, judging by the fact 1.1 million players are fragging each other as I write this, has more-or-less seamlessly replaced Counter-Strike:Global Offensive. That was always the goal, yet Valve made the decision to focus on getting the core competitive experience right and so CS2 launched without some of the features and modes of its predecessor that the developer plans to add over time.

It's made a start with by far the most-requested addition to CS2: Arms Race, also known as the gun game. A favourite for warm-ups before getting into ranked, the mode sees all players cycle through the game's weapons, upgrading their gun after each kill, and race to be the first to get through them all. Arms Race arrives with two new maps suited to the mode, Baggage and Shoots.

CS2 also gets its very first weapon skins with the Kilowatt case, which includes 17 community-designed finishes alongside a chance at the Kukri Knife in new skins. Nice enough though what will excite hardened gun-fanciers the most is that players can now place stickers anywhere they like on weapons, and rotate them once placed (previously you were limited to a number of set spots on a weapon). You can have up to five stickers on a given weapon.

Alongside this comes a small but important change to one weapon, the Zeus close-up taser. This is a cheap one-shot one-kill weapon, very useful if you're going to be hiding somewhere waiting for a better-equipped enemy, but Valve's now given it much more utility: whereas previously the weapon had one charge, it now recharges 30 seconds after use and can be used again. The prospect of a Zeus ace is upon us (albeit you'd probably need to swap to someone else's fully-charged Zeus a couple times to do it within the round time limit).

A perhaps more significant tweak is to what the community calls "peeker's advantage", with clips in circulation showing some pros in certain positions absolutely mowing down the opposition. This is a little fraught of course because there should be something of a peeker's advantage, but clearly Valve agrees it's currently too high and has reduced it "in many cases", with the advantage "in the steady state [stationary] reduced by 16ms." It says it's also addressed some particular situations that enhanced the advantage even further, and has given players a new console command ("cl_ticktiming") to check latency sources.

Finally there are some minor tweaks, including the long-awaited appearance of a 'Refund All' option on the buy screen. There's a new "XP Overload" feature for players who spend a lot of time in the game, new defeat animations, and some incredibly granular map changes detailed here.