Counter-Strike just nerfed two of its most popular guns

I was once a regular Counter-Strike player, but that was almost twenty years ago. What’s remarkable about Valve’s team shooter is how little its fundamentals have changed over those twenty years. The AWP and M4A1? Still pretty much how they were when I was first mishandling them in the Half-Life mod.

Which makes yesterday’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive update pretty remarkable. The AWP’s magazine size has been cut in half and the M4A1-S now does less damage at long range.

Valve announced the changes with a tiny blog post, as if even the smallest tweak to Counter-Strike’s arsenal wasn’t guaranteed to cause community conniptions.

And this wasn’t the smallest change. The AWP is Counter-Strike’s (almost always) one-shot-kill sniper rifle. It previously had 10 bullets per clip, and now it has 5. While that kind of change wouldn’t impact someone like me, who is likely to fire three cautious bullets and then be murdered, it has a big impact on better players. They’ll have to actually reload now.

The M4A1-S is one of Counter-Strike’s most beloved assault rifles. It’s exclusive to the counter-terrorists, and it’s a direct descendent of the M4A1 Carbine from the original Counter-Strike. I remember getting cross when the M4A1 was variously tweaked back in the mod days – to make it less accurate in certain situations, or to change how its silencer worked. I expect some players feel similarly about CS:GO making the M4A1-S weaker over distances. Not because it’s bizarre that bullets should become less lethal the further they travel, but because all change is stupid and wrong and I hate it. (Sorry, I updated to Windows 11 today.)

Finally, the update also changes the Active Duty map pool to add Anubis and remove Dust2. Dust2 remains playable in casual, deathmatch and competitve modes, but the Active Duty pool defines which maps will be used in official CS:GO esports tournaments. In this case, it means Dust2 is unlikely to feature at the 2023 Paris Major.

I miss Counter-Strike, by which I mean I miss the time in my life when I could spend five hours a day playing multiplayer shooters with Swedish men twice my age. Nowadays I’d need to find some Swedes in their 70s for that to work.

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