Source 2 should logically be a graphics improvement for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, but previous Valve transfers have shown that this may not be the case.
With Source 2 rumors swirling around once again, CSGO fans are getting excited over next-gen graphics after 10 years. While the new lighting engine and texture qualities will definitely look amazing in-game, CSGO also has a lot to lose in the transition. Based on Dota 2 Reborn, CSGO could actually look worse for a while once it finally switches to Valve’s newest engine.
Source 2 graphics look better on paper than Source 1 in almost every way. 64-bit design and a total overhaul to mapping tools create realistic shadows and lighting effects that react to the environment. Maps look even cleaner, models have new polish, and existing gun skins will no doubt look fantastic in the new engine. But even with everything to look forward to, the graphics from Dota 2’s Source 2 transfer indicate that CSGO will also have some troubles.
Valve’s first-ever Source 2 project was a Dota 2 port that, while entirely functional, greatly reduced graphical fidelity, made the game harder to run, and removed several visual features for months — if not years.
In Source 1, important structures visually crumbled away as players dealt damage to it. Ambient insects and creatures ran smoothly along the ground, and water physics of the river ran with style. When Dota 2 Reborn became the official game, all of those features were lost for a long period of time. There were also several graphical glitches like cosmetics disappearing from heroes.
CSGO could lose polished graphics in switch to Source 2
Valve has had almost seven years to improve its work on Source 2, but CSGO will probably have some graphical troubles after the transition.
Clipping is a part of every modern video game, but expect particularly rough collisions when Source 2 is first introduced. The lighting engine will have some kinks to it, especially on shadowy maps like Mirage and Vertigo where they could affect gameplay.
Some texture maps became janky in Dota 2, so the problem could be replicated in CSGO. Overall, players should be prepared for generally better graphics but a distinct lack of polish.
Physics objects will be especially impacted. Everything from the kickable soccer balls, breakable glass, reactive barrels, doors, and even player ragdolls should work very differently. Half-Life: Alyx has a fair bit of jank related to these features, though the game looks incredible otherwise. Existing graphics filters like FXAA and sampling could also take a hit.
CSGO will probably become more difficult to run. So even if Valve delivers a graphically perfect port, many players will still need to turn down their settings. Fans should still look forward to Source 2 CSGO, but the graphics may not entirely live up to the hype.