Two full decades of Counter-Strike as of yesterday, ranging from beta’s to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and it has been an absolutely wild ride from the very beginnings to the current point in time where it maintains one of the steadiest professional scenes available in esports, as long as you’re fast enough to compete against the best in the world.
This game has been played for longer than many modern gamers have even been alive, undergoing rigorous reworks from Valve to ensure that the competition was always fair.
Yet the modern Counter-Strike is almost unrecognizable from where the title started, with closely-knit communities playing in a single server for years, graffiti sprays often depicting erotic scenes with Lara Croft that everyone would have to look at (and some would strangely stop moving in front of them mid-round), and the AWP having a crosshair while un-zoomed are all strong staples that have disappeared over the years.
Granted, there were times that the graffiti would picture something a bit more gory than cartoon lewdness, and Valve doing away with the ability to upload images to then spray across Dust was probably one of the wiser moves they have made in the past two decades.
Valve removed the crosshair from the AWP when un-zoomed, but it always hit the center of the screen, leading people to simply mark the center of their screen and turning it into a ferocious short-to-mid-range weapon. Then Valve opted to randomize the unscoped projectile, and that was the end of that.
Movement was lifted straight from Half-Life, which allowed users to zoom around the map if they could figure out how to bunny-hop; this, combined with pressing the ‘use’ key would stop users in mid-air, making absolutely wild players that could decimate an entire enemy team with an AWP.
The weapons that now disappear after a round would simply stay there, originally; the winning team would try to corral the weapons into their spawn in between rounds. Ammo used to be specific to weapons; you had to manually purchase the correct ammo for your weapons or else you’d be a sitting duck; there wasn’t a knife, in the beginning, to fall back on.
There were even drivable vehicles; they were hilariously broken, but you could drive an APC on the map ‘cs_siege’.
Over the years, Counter-Strike has progressed beyond the more ad-hoc days where strange strategies would win the day and closely-knit communities would meet and form friendships that lasted across multiple summers.
Now, it favors iron-forged trigger discipline and mastermind strategies across a standard bevy of maps, mixed with impeccable aim for an internationally recognized esport that has continued to thrive under even the most arduous conditions.
It’s fun to wonder what we’ll look back on in 20 years as similarly outdated and archaic mechanics, chuckling about what used to be and wondering what could be one day, in the distant future.