Valve just dropped a big new patch on Counter-Strike without any real warning or a public testing period. It includes a new revolver that can drop anybody, regardless of body armour. That's, uh, pretty intense.
The R8 Revolver costs $850 in Counter-Strike's mid-match currency, which isn't a whole lot in the grand scheme of things. It's designed for point-blank stopping power -- which is to say, one shot to the body or head and you'll have foes washing down their lead feast with a healthy helping of dust. There are rifles that cost thousands that can't match it for power, and its range isn't terrible either. In the right hands, it can be downright frightening. Observe, courtesy of joejoe347:
The trigger pull is lengthy and a bit awkward, but DAMN. The results speak for themselves. At best, it's a roll-of-the-dice weapon that can turn a match around with a series of lucky shots. At worst, it's game-breaking. Regardless, it removes a component of skill from the game rather than, say, lowering the barrier to entry in an effort to help new players become more skilled. It's worrisome, to say the least.
The Counter-Strike community is almost never in unanimous agreement about anything, but a whole lot of them think this thing needs a stern, merciless nerfing, stat.
Even Minecraft creator Notch weighed in:
I'm so happy! I was looking forward to Valve either releasing Half-Life 3 or an unbalanced revolver, and I got my wish!
— Markus Persson (@notch) December 9, 2015
Other big changes in the patch are being met with a similar (though quieter) rain of bottles and rotten veggies. While players seem to mostly dig the nerf to pistols' burst fire accuracy (in effect, rendering them less accurate when players are running and gunning), they feel like nerfs to the AK47, M4A4, and M4A1-S rifles went overboard. Valve's goal -- "to reduce the range at which spraying is preferable to tapping/bursting," or basically, to encourage more skillful play -- was admirable, but in reality they seem to have just made the guns worse across the board. Odds are, Valve is trying to push people toward using a wider variety of guns, but many plans aren't pleased that they have chosen to shake up the status quo in this fashion.
The jury's still out, meanwhile, on increases to the bomb and round timers in competitive matchmaking, which put them at 40 seconds and 1:55, respectively. Some players think this will encourage counter-terrorist teams to go for defuses more often -- since they will have more time -- which could make for more exciting matches. Others think the change was unnecessary, as they feel the game was too CT-sided already.
We'll find out who's right in time, but not as soon as you might think. The ESL ESEA Pro League season two finals begin on Thursday, but the ESL has decided to stick with Counter-Strike's previous patch (for now) instead of updating to the new one. They explained:
"After consulting with players, we've decided to play the ESL Proleague Season 2 Finals on the previous patch before 188.8.131.52. With the number of game play changes and weapon changes, we all felt that this is really important to maintain the competitive spirit of the event given the amount of money and prestige on the line. With having the patch land very close to the event(and players already being onsite), we don't think it would be reasonable to expect players to have enough preparation, so we are rolling back."
As a result, this whole patch kerfuffle has kicked off discussions about why Valve really needs public testing periods to accompany their Counter-Strike patch launches -- not to mention, perhaps, more consulting from dedicated pros or ex-pros.
The bottom line? This patch seems well-intentioned, but not well-timed or well-received. I'm sure Valve is listening, because they pretty much always are. Let's just hope they reach out -- actually communicate -- before reacting this time around.
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