Ex-CSGO dev explains how Source 2 will really change the game

Steven Rondina • August 2, 2022 2:24 pm

A Source 2 port of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has been on fans’ minds for years now. Over time, expectations and theories about what this would mean have merged and morphed such that diehards don’t even know what it would mean at this stage to finally have CSGO in Source 2.

Former Valve employee Richard Geldreich is an OSINT analyst, open source software developer, and video game programmer who has worked on a number of AAA titles. Many of his most notable works came at Valve, and he has credits on Counter: Strike: Global Offensive, Portal 2, and Left 4 Dead 2, per Moby Games. WIN.gg spoke with Geldreich to discuss what a Source 2 port of CSGO would actually do to the game.

What is Source 2?

Source 2 is a game engine developed by Valve that has been in use since 2015. It is the successor to Source, the engine that runs the Portal, Left 4 Dead, and Half-Life 2 games, as well as CSGO.

Games can be ported from one engine to the other. This was previously done with Dota 2, which was originally released on the Source engine but was moved to Source 2 in 2015 with the Dota 2 Reborn update. CSGO fans have been expecting a similar move for the tactical shooter since then, but it still hasn’t happened.

Elements of Source 2 have been incorporated into the game’s UI but most improvements have come within the original Source engine. Gabe Newell discussed Valve’s approach to Source 2 in the game in 2017 on Reddit.

“For CSGO, we evaluate these new systems on their individual merits…When we used to be approached about Source 2 at Majors we would ask ‘what is it that you’re hoping Source 2 will do for CSGO’ and for a while the response was ‘I expect hitboxes will be better.’ Moving everything to Source 2 would not actually solve that problem. We just went ahead and spent time working on better hitboxes,” Newell said at the time.

Source 2 could theoretically result in better graphics and better performance for CSGO, but could also hugely impact the core gameplay. According to Geldreich, those improvements in graphics and performance aren’t guaranteed.

Graphically, fans shouldn’t necessarily expect a world of difference immediately. 

“[Valve] have lost a lot of their graphics talent. I suspect they’ll just take the Source 1 stuff, copy and paste it, and throw some gloss on top,” Geldreich said.

If that proves true, fans have likely gotten a taste of what Source 2 CSGO will look like already. Numerous individuals have put CSGO assets into Source 2 games, including some taken from the relatively recent Half-Life: Alyx. As seen in the above video, this does make a difference, but it’s not game-changing. Unless Valve is sitting on some significant overhauls to character models or maps, this likely means that the game will look more polished, but not dramatically different.

One of the biggest issues with CSGO is performance. Despite being an older game, it doesn’t always run as smoothly on modern PCs as games released in the last few years. A big part of that is anachronisms within Source 1, but will Source 2 actually fix this?

“That’s up in the air,” Geldreich said. “The Source 2 codebase was a beast and [Valve has] lost so much talent I doubt they can optimize it much. The Source 1 codebases were optimized by some really solid engineers over the years. But switching to more modern graphics APIs versus the now-ancient DirectX 9 may help.”

While performance and graphics may or may not be seriously impacted by a Source 2 port, gameplay would likely be heavily impacted regardless. Whether that’s a good thing would be up for debate.

“If they actually do [change to Source 2] I would be skeptical it still feels like true CSGO,” Geldreich said.

Changing from Source 1 to Source 2 could represent a number of subtle or potentially profound changes to the basic functions of the game. The slightest tweak could see many staple grenade lineups no longer function. It could even make the movement and shooting work differently.

The move of CSGO to Source 2 could be presented as an entirely new game in its own right. Either way, there’s a strong chance that CSGO as fans know it now would just go away with a Source 2 port.

Is CSGO coming to Source 2?

Valve is almost certainly testing the waters on moving CSGO to Source 2. Whether it happens any time soon is another matter entirely, but when it does it’s undoubtedly going to make things very different.

In December 2021, references to CSGO were discovered in the files for Source 2. In the months since there have been several more similar unreleased updates ranging from an improved crouch mechanic to workable vehicles.

Discussion of a CSGO port of Source 2 has cropped up many times over the last seven years to the point where many fans have just checked out. There’s no question that CSGO in its current form isn’t going to last forever. Whether the next step is a Source 2 port or a proper sequel, something is going to come after. Either way, fans will need to accept the fact that something new is on the horizon and it’s likely going to force them out of their comfort zone.

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