Counter-Strike: Global Offensive might be the most popular game on Steam, but it’s also a pretty old game. A lot of advancements have been made in legibility and design since then, and CS:GO hasn’t always kept up. So in the latest patch, Valve have tried to make the player models a little more accessible with a new option.
It’s called “Boost Player Contrast”, and it does precisely what it says on the tin. “Since CS:GO’s release in 2012, some of the most common feedback we’ve received has been about the challenge of spotting characters in the world,” Valve said in an official blog post.
It makes sense: CS:GO adopted that military-grade colour palette from CS versions of old, but modernised the player models with sharper textures and backgrounds. But the downside was that players blended into the background a lot more than in CS: Source and CS 1.6, and naturally, players weren’t too thrilled. That especially became problematic as newer, more stylised games hit the market, showcasing the impact different visual design could have.
So today, characters in CS:GO are rendered a little differently. By increasing the edge pixels for models at long range, increasing contrast against background textures, adding a “contrasting halo” around characters when their colour blends in with the scenery, and reducing background noise via a small amount of blur, you get this:
The overall effect is that counter-terrorist models, for instance, appear as a much more visible shade of black. The halo effect particularly helps when spotting characters at super long range — think from Monster to Heaven on Overpass, for instance.
“To help characters stand out from the background at longer distances, we’ve decreased the fogging on characters across all maps (and slightly increased the world fog in Dust 2),” Valve added.
To enable the new option, you’ll find it under the Advanced tab of CS:GO‘s video options. When I launched the game after patching, the option was enabled by default, so chances are you won’t have to do anything to get the improvements.
The full patch notes lists the changes made to all the maps, with Overpass, Cache, Mirage and Dust 2 getting the bulk of the treatment. Inferno’s ivy in CT spawn has been minimised a little as well. But for the most part, the changes involve removing junk from certain spots, or improving the brightness/lighting in certain passageways and chokepoints.
Cache and Dust 2 have had some important structural changes: Dust 2’s mid doors have been flipped around, while Cache’s sniper nest — that’s the little window at mid on the CT side of the map — has swapped the ladder out for a box.
But for the most part, CS:GO is a bit easier to see. The effect is most prominent in instances where players are crouching behind objects or obscured in some way — like the cars at Dust 2’s A long, or inside the B site. It’s not the last changes the devs are promising to make, although there’s no word how extensive those changes will be, or when they’re expected to ship. This is Valve, after all.