Not only is Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) now free to play, but it’s been bolstered with a battle royale mode known as “Danger Zone”.
As existing owners of the game we fired it up once again to have a poke around and were greeted by two rewards for putting down our money earlier.
The first of which is a Loyalty Badge that we can display. Anyone who purchased the game before the Danger Zone update will also receive this.
Next is an upgrade to a Prime Account that comes with a number of benefits, including Prime-only matchmaking.
While those are nice to have, as players who only boot up the game to play against bots every now and again, it’s not too important to us.
What is more important is wait times. With Danger Zone less than 12 hours old and a flood of new free players, you expect matchmaking to go by an an instant, but we waited around six minutes to find a game.
While we initially believed this was because we are based in South Africa, switching to a UK server didn’t help things. We can only assume that the influx of players is putting strain on the servers, and this is causing the high wait times.
Once we’re in a game we’re greeted by the standard warm up map where players can run around shooting each other without consequence as more players fill the lobby.
Instead of the masses of contestants in other battle royale titles, only 16 people drop into any given Danger Zone game with solo, duo and trio squad options available.
The next change is in how players enter the map. They still parachute in, as is tradition, but you cannot control where you land.
Instead the map has set landing zones which are picked before the match loads. No two players can pick the same spot and, once the match starts, you begin just a few meters above the ground in a parachute before landing.
There is money in this mode and you start with $500 which is not enough to buy a weapon. More cash can be picked up on the ground, in crates (which need to be damaged to be opened), off of dead players or by completing missions.
You can rescue hostages for extra cash, take on kill contracts, or find and blow up safes.
Once you have enough cash to make a purchase, hit B on your keyboard and a buy menu will pop up on a tablet you’re carrying. Once you buy something it will be delivered by a drone. This delivery tracks the player and does not simply get dropped onto a static spot.
This system reminds us a bit of The Culling, but buying your weapons has always been a main mechanic of Counter-Strike and we’re glad it made it into this mode.
Once you’re armed and you come across another player, the basic controls of CS:GO are all here. If you love how gun play works in the other modes of this game, you’ll be right at home here.
If you manage to survive the encounter you can heal up and continue playing. Instead of a deadly storm or some such gimmick to fence in the map, rockets will periodically hit parts of the map – the titular Danger Zone.
And that’s it really. Keep going until you win or are killed along the way. There’s nothing that shakes up the battle royale formula too much.
We’re not sure how Valve intends to coax people to play their Battle Royale over the competition. Sure, it’s free to play now, but so is the juggernaut that is Fortnite.
The existing player base is probably who will be playing Danger Zone the most, and we’re sure they’ll appreciate all the new players, both as easy targets and as potential new comers to other parts of the game.