Counter Strike: Global Offensive is broadly considered to be the most popular tactical shooter, both statistically and by the community as a whole. The main reason for its popularity is not due to the realism of its guns or the astounding graphics presented in-game, but rather for the ingenious competitive design of both the game’s core mechanics and its map design. I would sooner compare CSGO to a game of chess than to Call of Duty, no matter how ridiculous that statement sounds.
So, why am I writing this article? Well, CSGO came out all the way back in 2012, and its predecessor CS: Source came out even further back in 2004. As well designed as these games are with arguably the best replayability in their respected genre, they simply get old after a while. Eventually, players (including myself) want to experience the rush of a new game but struggle to find ones that are better than their main game. This causes them to get stuck playing a certain game that they once loved simply because there are no better alternatives.
The solution? Simply find another game that is just as good! Sure, that is easier said than done (especially if you are factoring in nostalgia), but it is definitely not impossible. Developers have been hard at work creating some of the best games out there as technology continues to expand and games are pushed farther than ever before. This list of CSGO like games is exactly that, a list of games I would consider to be similar enough to CSGO that ex-Counter Strike players may enjoy. I can’t guarantee that you’ll love it as much as Counter Strike, but they are still worth a try! Without further ado, let’s get into the top five CSGO like games which includes:
Rainbow Six Siege is the most notable game available on Steam I could compare to CSGO. The game type is nearly exactly the same, a 5v5 situation in which the attacking team must plant and defend a bomb while the other team tries to defend/defuse. The competitive atmosphere is also quite similar to CSGO. The competitive league may not be on the same level as CSGO, but there are very few games out there that have that same esports presence so it is hard to fault them for that.
The main difference between the two games is that the gunplay falls much more heavily on the ability to aim down the sights. This is super common for any FPS game and it is hard to find any game out there that is like CSGO in this regard (in CSGO, players can only ADS with a handful of weapons).
The other main difference comes from the use of different operators for each player. These operators have a variety of abilities, strengths, and weaknesses that add another dynamic element to the game. It adds a bit more chaos to the game that will make it confusing for new players, but you really do get used to it after gaining some in-game experience. Overall, Siege is a great alternative for CSGO players looking to branch out to similar games and still get that competitive experience they have come to love through their experiences in Counter Strike games.
Cubic Circles on Steam retells a frustrating experience many Counter Strike players can relate to saying:
“If you like looking at a doorway for 3 minutes, then looking away only for a person to come through that doorway just as you look away. This is the game for you.”
Insurgency is a great alternative for CSGO players who are looking to branch out towards a more realistic shooter rather than the ‘arcade’ style of the Counter Strike series. There are a ton of different game modes to play that add a breath of variety from Counter Strike’s sole game mode. Most notably, there is a ‘competitive firefight’ mode which is a 5v5 with two bomb sites just like Counter Strike. However, both teams are simultaneously attacking and defending which adds a completely new aspect to the game mode CSGO players will have to adapt to.
Insurgency was released back in 2014, but there is a newer version released in 2018 titled Insurgency: sandstorm. Although I have not played the newer release, from what I hear it is basically the same as the original but with slightly newer graphics and updated maps. The main reasons I included the original on this list are because it is much cheaper than the newer one and that the original graphics are much more comparable to CSGO than the newer game. However, the newer game may be more suited to what you desire depending on how much you wish to spend and what ‘era’ of gaming you are looking to expand your horizons into.
The Gh0st on Steam accurately describes Insurgency:
“NO SPOTTING, NO HIP-FIRE CROSSHAIR NO MINIMAP, NO KILLCAM, NO HEALTH METER, NO HIT /KILL NOTIFICATION, NOT EVEN AN AMMO COUNTER. It really forces you to trust your instincts and your teammates due to the lack of information. It feels so rewarding to confirm a kill or win a game.”
Splitgate is quite far from Counter Strike in terms of mechanics, gunplay, and time to kill. In fact, I would definitely say it is more similar to Halo in these regards. However, the ranked mode, more specifically ranked takedown 3v3’s, reminds me of Counter Strike in a couple of key ways.
For one, there is a huge emphasis on positioning. Considering that there are only three people on each team, a 2v1 situation can be absolutely devastating for the poorly positioned team. Even more so if it is a 3v1. This requires that every player is constantly calling out their position to ensure the whole team is on the same page, a concept many Counter Strike players will be familiar with.
Another similarity I’ve noticed are the general mind games that happen within a Splitgate match. Counter Strike players will be familiar with bomb fakes, decoys, tricky setups, etc. In Splitgate, there are no bomb sites to fake, but there are portals. Using these portals (or sometimes not using them) in clever ways to outposition your enemy makes it more about using your brain rather than reaction time and aim. I love this aspect of Splitgate and it is exactly what drew me to the game. It is not just about aim, it is so much more!
If you want a more in-depth review on Splitgate, check out the ESG article Splitgate Arena Warfare In-Depth Review: Steam’s Next Biggest Shooter? It even has a quick video review!
Akuvo on Steam writes about Splitgate saying:
“Great game, I've played for an hour or two. Infinite skill gap but still easy for new players. Play it, get your friends playing it, massively recommended.”
By far the most interesting inclusion to the list, Pavlov VR is a virtual reality game that emulates a first person shooter. While this may sound nothing like CSGO, there are some custom maps that are quite literally one to one conversions of maps like Dust II and Inferno. The game itself plays very similar to Counter Strike, except that it is in virtual reality. This completely changes up the aiming dynamics, movement, and overall gameplay to one that feels much more immersive. While it is likely not a direct replacement for Counter Strike players, I believe it is an experience well worth the money if you already own virtual reality gear. I mean, I am sure we have all imagined what it would feel like to actually be in a game of Counter Strike!
There are a ton of other fun maps to check out in Pavlov VR besides the Counter Strike remakes. For example, there is a “The Office” remake that emulates the Dunder Mifflin paper company from the hit show. For Call of Duty players, Rust is back and better than ever for those classic ‘1v1 me Rust quick-scope only’ moments. There are a ton of different game modes available to play as well such as jailbreak, zombies, prop hunt, and even good old deathmatch!
Sir Skele | Comedy King on Steam had me rolling with this classic VR experience:
“Someone got me with 'Ken these nuts fit in your mouth' so I shot myself.”
Zero Hour’s biggest comparisons to CSGO are the teamwork and strategy elements. Its gameplay is grounded in a 5v5 concept in which both teams can eliminate the enemy team to win. On top of this, the attacking team can either rescue a hostage or defuse the bomb while the defending side does the opposite. It almost reminds me of the Insurgency game mode mentioned earlier in the article. This heavy reliance on teamwork is only exacerbated by the close quarters combat emphasized so heavily within this game.
Almost all of the gunfights you will take in Zero Hour are within thirty feet or so. This ensures that players must clear their corners, strategize what angles they are going to peak, and even time their peaks with the other teammates to achieve victory. The CQB aspect also makes the game much more realistic for hostage situations as, most of the time, terrorists will hole up with a hostage in a smaller room to avoid being attacked from multiple angles. I love this aspect of Zero Hour and it is a refreshing change of pace from the long sight lines frequently appearing within CSGO. If you are looking for a more intense, strategic, and teamwork-oriented gunplay experience, Zero Hour just may be the game for you!
Chase on Steam writes about Zero Hour saying:
“Feels like what Rainbow Six Siege should have been. Very fun to play, with or without friends. Will definitely be logging more hours.”
Counter Strike: Global Offensive has cemented itself as a titan in the tactical shooter industry. That being said, there are plenty of games out there ready to take over that role. No matter what your reason is for leaving the Counter Strike community, even if you are only branching out to try something new, there are plenty of games out there that provide similar experiences with only a few distinct differences from our beloved Counter Strike!