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Now that the dust has settled and I’ve been able to put plenty of time into the new Danger Zone mode for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, I have some more thoughts.

For those not clued up what the fuss is, it's a little like Fortnite, PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS (PUBG) and a few others like that. You (or you and some friends) and everyone else drop into the map from the air, then it's a mad race to be the last person standing. Unlike Fortnite there's no building involved, the game itself is quite streamlined overall so it's closer to PUBG than anything else.

Valve are obviously a little late to the game here, although that’s not really such a big issue for me. I don’t honestly care about that train of thought. If a game or a new game mode is inspired by others, even if it comes out years later as long as it’s good that’s all that actually matters.

Compared to other Battle Royale games and modes, it’s quite small. For me, that’s not a point against it. It’s actually a point in its favour, as it means games aren’t so completely hectic and don’t take a long time to get through. You’re never far away from the action and that’s great, it keeps it quite intimate compared to the much bigger games that require a lot of running across the map. However, it’s not actually as small as you might think. There’s a few underground passages too, so Valve actually make good use of the space available.

Dropping into the zone is the strange part, with each player picking a place to drop on the map and everyone can see the area you’ve chosen. In comparison, other such games have players drop at a random location of their choosing, while they travel through the air aboard some sort of aircraft. Once it begins, each player drops from a single helicopter and as you look around you can see others dropping. It’s weird, but when you notice how close some people are it intensifies your adrenaline flow as you scavenge for supplies as soon as your boots touch the floor.

The map works in a similar way to other BR games, it's basically a standard that they all have maps that shrink somehow. In Danger Zone, this is true as well of course. Instead of some kind of storm like in Fortnite, here missiles come flying down from an offshore installation and once they explode an area of life and colour-sucking stuff (I've no idea what it's supposed to be) expands. I will admit, I'm a big fan of the expanding zone style in Danger Zone as it looks pretty good as you can see below:

The next major difference is the drone system, which is very unique and works surprisingly well. While you can find weapons across the map in various boxes and from airdrops in the later game, the game is built around this drone system. On top of that, it will also act as your menu to order in supplies using money you’ve found littered across the map and from taking down others.

When it comes to money, there’s multiple ways to get it. Not just money scattered across the map, you can also find bags full of it. You can also pick up a contract to kill a special target and rescue a hostage by taking them to a certain location revealed when you pick them up. The contract and hostage features feel a little odd though, they’re an interesting addition but they feel weirdly out of place compared to the rest of it. I’ve tried them both a few times, but since then I just don’t bother with them.

For those who think the drone system serves as nothing more than a different way to do a little shopping, think again. The drones buzz across the map independently, they’re pretty easy to spot and so they really do create some rather interesting situations. I remember one very clearly, as I sat on a roof with my eyes fixed on another player, I waited until they ran off to be clear of hostiles. I then purchased a weapon from my tablet and sat waiting, little did I know another player was coming over the hill behind me, naturally they spotted my drone and let it lead them directly to me and so I was promptly shot in the head. Lesson learned there.

Since the drones are loud and not particularly fast, they make the gameplay constantly interesting. It’s always a toss-up between getting supplies and hoping no one shoots it down or follows it, to following someone else's drone and setting up an ambush. Heck, you could order something yourself and throw your tablet down to set up your own proper ambush, since the drone follows the tablet and not you. Ready for you to pop out at a moment’s notice and BANG—welcome to pain town. A very different and exciting risk and reward feature.

Additionally, if you’re in a team and someone is having a hard time, you could order some supplies or a new weapon for them or allow you to give them your older weapon when you get your shiny new toy.

Not only that, the tablet you have is also your map. The game likes communicates with you, a lot. You always have an idea of the general area other players are in, with upgrades to the tablet you can also narrow that down even further. This really helps to keep the gameplay focused, since you know where to go but so does everyone else. It means someone can’t really hide for an entire game, it forces you to make decisions about where to go and what to do and I really like that about it.

As a bit of added randomness to Danger Zone, there's also a few automated turrets spread across the map. Destroying them can help you gain some ammo, but they can also catch you completely off guard and kill you dead. They can also be helpful to spot other players, if you hear one firing you know someone has recently been right in front of it.

There’s been some truly hilarious moments I’ve had while playing it. I didn’t realise just how large an area C4 explodes into, which caused an unfortunate death. If you’re fortunate enough to find a safe with explosives attached, you can arm them and hide while it ticks down. After learning about this (and dying hilariously to it), I was hopping along a rooftop when I came across another player who had armed it. They were hiding (poorly) and weren't exactly far away from it, so I happily got out the popcorn and sat back while they got sent flying—hah!

Another time, I ran towards an open door hoping to peek inside to find a new weapon and as I did so, I heard another player throw down an explosive device. I’m not entirely sure what kind of trap they were hoping for, perhaps they thought I was a lot closer when they hit the button. Like me, they obviously didn’t realise there's a slight delay on the explosion and the wide damage radius to it, as soon after their body came flying out the door into my arms. Thanks for the free money pal.

I could honestly go on for a while about all the amusing things that have happened, like the time I ran past someone getting shot from afar and their money fell down onto me while I was running below them, which allowed me to dart around a corner for cover and order a drone for a much better weapon—handy! Not sure the player who shot them will have been too impressed to run over and find no money, sucker!

I do have some requests for it though, as much as I love it I want to see more of it. I don’t honestly think Valve will sit on their hands with such a good base to expand from now.

Firstly, for a Battle Royale it’s quite small overall. I touched on that earlier, even though it’s a good point I think they could easily extend this gameplay to a slightly larger map with double the players without much of a fuss. I don’t think more than say 32 players would be needed, as that’s still quite a sweet spot. It does looks like at least one more map may be coming, if this Reddit post is an indication of Valve’s plans.

Let’s talk about ammo and the lack of it shall we? For a game that’s mostly about having a decent shoot-out, the amount of ammo you get is annoyingly scarce. I understand what Valve were going for, getting you to order in ammo with your drone, but even then there’s just not enough of it considering the cost of an ammo delivery. To make it worse, you can only pick up ammo if you have a weapon, so you can't store any for later. It doesn’t need a drastic increase, but something more than it has right now. The amount of times a firefight has turned into fisticuffs I've officially lost count on, given the melee is quite clumsy I would prefer not to.

On top of that, Valve have the ability to get a good modding community behind it. Think about it, what if you could run your own Danger Zone server? A lot of possibilities it could open up beyond what Valve have done officially. The game already supports dedicated servers, they have the Steam Workshop too, so it will be interesting to see if Valve allow it.

Finally, I think the game needs a bit more character to it. I want to see a lot more player customisation options, this is why games like Fortnite are so ridiculously popular. I'm not talking about adding a bunch of completely outlandish skins, but a little more personality wouldn't hurt as it's playing it a little too safe. I won't go into a tirade about the loot crate system which I'm not fond of in any game, but I do hope they do away with it eventually in favour of something nicer.

Overall, Danger Zone is a very good addition to Counter-Strike that I hope more players warm up to, it's certainly made me interested in the game as a whole once again. It has a lot to offer and hopefully it’s just the start of more to come. I understand it's not going to be for everyone but that won't stop me enjoying it and I shall continue to do so.

Find Counter-Strike: Global Offensive on Steam, completely free to play.

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x_wing 12 December 2018 at 8:45 pm UTC
I agree with most of the impressions, Liam. But I completely disagree with ammo shortage. In my opinion, if they allow more ammunition the current Danger Zone can become a shooting range, with people just moving to the highest point of the map and start snipping everything that moves.

I really like the idea of having low ammunition and have think twice before starting an attack. This is probably one of the reasons why CSGO pro players doesn't shine on this mode.
Liam Dawe 12 December 2018 at 8:59 pm UTC
x_wingI agree with most of the impressions, Liam. But I completely disagree with ammo shortage. In my opinion, if they allow more ammunition the current Danger Zone can become a shooting range, with people just moving to the highest point of the map and start snipping everything that moves.

I really like the idea of having low ammunition and have think twice before starting an attack. This is probably one of the reasons why CSGO pro players doesn't shine on this mode.
I agree to an extent, which is why I mentioned nothing drastic. A slight increase will make it just a bit more interesting, while still preventing bullet spam.
MayeulC 12 December 2018 at 9:21 pm UTC
That's a nice writeup, it pretty much sums up my impressions as well. However, I have to disagree on the ammo part as well. I really am against any increase, and it could even be reduced further, in my opinion (ammo types would be a nice addition, but might add too much complexity).

What I especially like about ammo shortage is that it gives you a chance to use your melee weapon, instead of it just being a decorative perk. This can sort of balance gameplay, as even if you don't have any gun, you can rely on ammo shortage to balance a fight. I won one against someone who was much better equipped than I was (automatic weapon and protective gear vs my piston).

We only had a handful bullets each, and I tried to avoid a direct confrontation. Then I realized we were both out of ammo, and killed him at melee combat. There's a lot of strategies you can use to push people to use their ammo before attacking them, and it makes encounters much more random.

I also sometimes have to choose between a better gun without ammo, or a worse one with, which brings many strategic options to the table...

I also like the way gathering ammo makes you vulnerable, so you really have to take the risk to do so. I sometimes leave a bit in, in case I find another gun, or to trap someone else...

I've been killed multiple times by the C4 explosion radius as well, I don't understand this beast. It looks like walls, rocks, etc. don't protect you from the blast, and the radius is ridiculous. I don't bother opening those safes anymore, I don't think it's worth the risk.

Regarding customization, I agree, as I would have liked to make my character a little bit unique. Can you get skins for free? I also like the little "X's hammer/knife/etc" when you pick up a used weapon, it's a nice touch!
Bard 13 December 2018 at 12:03 am UTC
The BR mode really takes CS to a new level and I like it. In my opinion they could make the maps a little bit larger too, but this size is also quite ok. I like that it is outside.

I can only speak for myself, but I seldom die because of ammo shortage. Instead I get killed either because I only have found a melee weapon and come up against someone with a gun or because I didn't see my opponent and die before I even get to aim, much less empty my mag, and that is the usual way. But there are exceptions; One time I only had a hammer and suddenly came face to face with someone with a gun. I rushed in desperation and started to beat him and for some reason I was able to win, even though he fired several rounds at me. That was fun

If I could wish for something it would be more maps for variation, more things like the gun turrents too, maybe some forms of traps, machines, etc, more weapons (I'd like to see things like bow and arrow, throwing knifs, crossbows, throwing axe, etc) and finally maybe also somewhat longer games. As it is now, I think I spend more time waiting for a game match than I actually play, and that isn't that fun. I completely agree with the way they narrow down the map, but it could be done a little bit slower imo.

Most annoying thing by far is the match making process. It seems very inefficient as it is right now, when I have to click on "accept" over and over again. If I am waiting for a match, then why do I need to accept it at all? Why not let me wait until a game starts.

Last edited by Bard on 13 December 2018 at 12:09 am UTC
Segata Sanshiro 13 December 2018 at 12:04 am UTC
devnullAside from that I don't get the fake rage by some online. It is a fun mode.

Controversy = views, then everyone else jumps on the bandwagon as they don't want to miss out either. I wasn't even aware this was going on for this game, but I can already imagine it, it's always the same.

Sometimes I think it's a little more nuanced than that though, some of it might be a reaction to decades of media like Gamespot and IGN giving everything 9/10 to keep their press privileges and these independent channels finally provide a countervoice to that hegemony.

There never seems to be much of a meaningful middleground though, either reviewers shower praise on developers so they keep getting their pre-release keys or they just create controversy for the ad revenue. I think GOL is one of few voices out there that give criticism where it's due and call out dubious business practices, but also give neutral opinions irrespective of the background noise.
GeoGalvanic 13 December 2018 at 12:45 am UTC
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Agreed on the point of slightly larger map. Mostly because of the queue time : play time ratio. Queue's take 2-5 mins to find players and then gives everyone 5mins to load in (while playing glock only deathmatch). that's upwards of 10 minutes of waiting for a match that will take anywhere from 2-10min max to finish.

Disagreed on ammo shortage. Ammo conservation/accuracy is one of the staples of the CS franchise. It would be nice if ammo was divided into types and you could pick it up without a weapon though, it kinda sucks being basically limited to a glock if it was your first weapon and it is now the only one you have ammo for.

Shotguns are way overpowered in this game mode too, with no chances of finding a sniper rifle...

On the other hand, after putting multiple thousands of hours into CS:S I never made the decision to buy CS:GO, so it nice to be able to F2P access to some of the other game modes too now. (Although I'm not able to get onto any community dedicated servers, which kind of sucks since it was the best part of CS:S)
Orkultus 13 December 2018 at 1:52 am UTC
I feel the maps need to be much bigger.
orochi_kyo 13 December 2018 at 4:15 am UTC
x_wingI agree with most of the impressions, Liam. But I completely disagree with ammo shortage. In my opinion, if they allow more ammunition the current Danger Zone can become a shooting range, with people just moving to the highest point of the map and start snipping everything that moves.

I really like the idea of having low ammunition and have think twice before starting an attack. This is probably one of the reasons why CSGO pro players doesn't shine on this mode.

Completely agree with the shortage ammo, this makes players to crawl out of their camping corners to look for more ammo. Also you can throw melee your weapons at your opponents too to give the final blow.

Also I like the tablet and the drones can be double edge sword for the players, for example if you are in a zone and other player enter your zone while you didnt check the tablet, you dont know if you are alone or there are more people in the area. Drones can be stolen or other players use them to track you, also you can use them to set traps. Also drones drop the case where ever you are, I was in a house and the drone dropped the gun in the roof, lol, I just cant get to the roof, I lost my weapon, lesson learned, another good way to make player to get out of houses.

So far so gud, with customization I like yellow suites, makes you harder to hide. I would like to buy stickers but to stick on my yellow suite instead of guns.

Last edited by orochi_kyo on 13 December 2018 at 4:20 am UTC
mao_dze_dun 13 December 2018 at 8:16 am UTC
Honestly, I don't see this thing biting much of Fortnite or PUBG's playerbase. The main appeal seems to be - it's free and it's Valve. Not saying it's a bad game, but coming on time to the party, actually matters. If this was a game published by anybody else nobody would really pay any attention to it (well, bar the Linux community perhaps). At least CS is completely free now .
ryad 13 December 2018 at 9:09 am UTC
As a long time player (4k hours, almost all on Linux ), I was really skeptical in regard to this "game changing" update (including the F2P model).

But I have to admit, after some DZ games - solo as well as in teams - the mode is actually surprisingly fun. Sure, it's not CS in the classical sense that we (almost) all love. But it is a CS-like game, with lots of action, excitement and completely new possibilities and potentials. For me, it's a great addition to the normal competitive mode. The frustration factor isn't that high either, because you don't have much to lose at the moment and can quickly dive into the next game.

I guess there will be a lot of improvements in the next few weeks. In particular, I'd like to see a little more ammo, performance improvements, and fix some minor but annoying bugs, especially in looting or sound (I hate it when the drone sound doesn't disappear). Also the increase of the number of players is conceivable in my opinion.

I've never been a fan of Battle Royale modes before (of course, because the typical representatives still don't run despite Proton), but I have to admit that my opinion has changed a bit thanks to DZ.

One more word about the F2P discussion: I have the impression that a large part of the community has already (once again) provoked the downfall of CS:GO through the F2P model. From my point of view this is total nonsense. Valve has done an immense amount of behind the scenes work on the cheater problem over the last two years. Vacnet is constantly improving and I think the Trust Factor concept is actually working. I haven't had an obvious cheater in my games since the update and it has been very, very rare for months that people have been suspicious.

I'm really glad that Valve still shows so much commitment to this game and often (though not always) listens to criticism from the community. The next big thing will hopefully be Source 2, based on Vulkan.
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