Introducing new players to Counter-Strike has always been one of the more challenging propositions in the FPS world, and one that’s taken on an even greater importance after the game turned free-to-play. So how good a job does the in-game tutorial do, especially with almost seven years since the title’s original release? Does it make a promising impression of the game and its decades-long appeal? We went back to the slaughterhouse to find out…
The training course finishes loading and a cheerful fella from the radio thanks you for coming out to the G.O. test center. The first weapon you’re introduced to is, oddly enough, the MP7. You’re prompted to unload the entire clip on the wall and observe the spray pattern.
“Way to hit the giant wood target! You’ve just saved democracy!” – the ethereal tutorial person jokes.
Little aiming challenges and a short demonstration on material penetration follows. Oddly enough, you’re always prompted to put down your weapon and pick it up again between the assignments, but the former essentially happens on its own by walking next to the table, something which doesn’t otherwise happen in the game. Another shooting section, this time with the M4 and the Five-Seven follows, which tries to highlight the importance of going for headshots.
You’re then led to a grenade course, situated, oddly enough, next to what I can only assume is a graveyard. You only get the opportunity to try out the HE grenade – “the one that goes kaboom” per Mr. Tutorial Officer – and the other utility types don’t even warrant a mention or showcase. At least not on this portion of the course, that is – a “reflex test” with a Glock follows where the second challenge is promptly interrupted by an unannounced flashbang thrown into your face. It’s a quite effective demonstration.
Next up, a somewhat convoluted reason to get your hands on the bomb. “Unless you’re a traitor”, you wouldn’t be doing this in the field, but supposedly you need to know what you’re up against. Meaning some guys punching a set of buttons on a keypad. Having to plant it inside a blast shield is nice attention to detail, and the time pressure of bomb defusal is immediately highlighted by an unexpected prompt to go over to the other “site” and defuse the bomb they’ve planted there for you. Once you begin defusing, the cheery tutorial person lets you know that it’s a live one.
Of course, I just had to know what happens if you let it tick all the way down…
“You know who wins when you don’t defuse the bomb? That’s right, the terrorists win!”
The Portal-esque fireworks display – an animation I don't think is used elsewhere in the game – is, of course, followed by a failure prompt, a fade to black and getting reset to the point where you just planted your own device.
Only at this point is a defuse kit is mentioned. Kevlar never ends up being discussed in the tutorial.
Next up, the actual training course, the ultimate challenge. Perhaps understandably, the weapon display showcasing the tools available “in the field” is out of date, with none of the three silenced CT weapons or the CZ-75 making an appearance. (Consequently, silencers and their potential tradeoffs aren’t brought up either.) To cap it all off, you’re expected to run through and clear three different areas from the dastardly cardboard terrorists who’ve infested the place, with a surprise flashbang thrown in at some point for good measure. The course record is 35.2 seconds, something which I’ve only been able to beat with the sort of run-and-gun strategy that would be extremely ill-advised in a competitive setting. At the very end, the all-important maxim of running with your knife out is also mentioned. Then it’s time to go. Putting it all together, the course can be completed in around ten minutes.
All in all, the experience is a bit of a mixed bag. It does hammer home the importance of CS:GO’s unique gunplay and that you can’t just run and gun at your leisure, giving you the most rudimentary outline of the main game mode, but not much else. To be fair, this isn’t necessarily an issue: for a newcomer, there’s so much more to CS:GO than competitive matchmaking. This is especially true nowadays with Danger Zone. I don’t think Valve would ever step in to curate learning resources in the way Ubisoft did with the R6 Academy – and it’s not exactly necessary either –, but perhaps linking to a blog post or something once you’re finished which shows where you could find additional information could be useful. Almost seven years after the game’s release, that little fresh coat of paint would definitely be welcome.