Does CSGO take place in the Half-Life universe?

By Kenneth Williams


Jan 29, 2022

Reading time: 2 min

The lore for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is a mixed bag, and players are wondering if it could be tied with Valve’s landmark Half-Life series.

CSGO and Half-Life are undeniably connected. They both use the same engines, share several map assets, and involve shooting a whole bunch of bad dudes. But the connections might not stop there. Valve famously uses the Half-Life universe as the basis for the Portal series, but CSGO could also take place in the same reality.

Here are all the connections between CSGO and Half-Life, both in-game and out.

CSGO and Half-Life collide

The two series’ ties begin with the original Half-Life. Valve’s first big release was built on the GoldSrc engine, a heavily modified version of the Quake framework. Valve’s changes made the system extremely mod-friendly, which resulted in a ton of games being built on top of it. The most famous of these titles is the original Counter-Strike. Not 1.6, not Source, and not Global Offensive — just Counter-Strike.

Because they shared the same engine, Counter-Strike borrowed a ton of assets and textures from Half-Life 1. This included the models for Black Mesa scientists and Hazardous Environment Combat Unit soldiers. Some of the original maps even took place in Black Mesa or the surrounding areas. The maps that didn’t still used containers or textures from the base game.

Further revisions of the game pushed the similarities even further. The physical copy of Counter-Strike 1.6 was officially named Half-Life: Counter-Strike. Valve even chose to market the game as the “Half-Life Multiplayer Experience.”

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The similarities didn’t end when Valve switched Counter-Strike over to the Source engine. Every physical copy of Half-Life 2 came bundled with Counter-Strike: Source. This is part of why Garry’s Mod requires so many textures from that game. Gmod assumes that anyone who has Half-Life 2 also has CS: Source.

CSGO’s lore separates it from Half-Life

While the original Counter-Strike series is undoubtedly connected to Half-Life, Global Offensive appears to break from that tradition. Valve has attempted to create original lore for CSGO that’s completely separate from the Half-Life timeline.

Most of this comes in the flavor text for gun skins or operation missions. Riptide agent skins reveal a little bit more about the world of CSGO, but it’s still not enough to create a full story.

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While there have been attempts to build up CSGO’s own lore, none of it excludes the series from Half-Life. Several other Valve games, including the Portal series, take place in an alternate version of the Half-Life world.

Maybe CSGO takes place in a world where HECU forces successfully prevented the events of Half-Life. Alternatively, it could take place between Half-Life and its first sequel. Concept art from 2016 and Operation Shatter Web even take inspiration from Half-Life 2’s Combine.

While they might not be directly connected anymore, the two series still share the same DNA.


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