Beyond the steadier learning curve that caters towards different play styles, there are plenty of subtle changes to create greater balance. The only map shown off was a revamped version of Dust (and thanks to the vastly improved graphics, you can now actually see the dust). It may be considered sacrilege to many to alter such a beloved map, but Magal recognizes that it fell out of favor over time due to a slight imbalance. The left underground passage gave an advantage to the counter-terrorists who could camp on a ledge overlooking the underpass and massacre any potential terrorists by seeing their feet before they'd even have a chance to retaliate.
This is no longer the case. There's now a side passage with a staircase linking the underpass to higher ground, granting relatively safe passage for overzealous terrorists. The terrorist's spawn point has also been moved closer to the map's center (equidistant from the two routes), so they can get to this newly constructed path before the counter-terrorists can set up camp. Finally, there's additional cover under the bridge, so whichever way players chose to approach, it's a more viable route.
In addition to these refinements are new weapons and grenades. Perhaps the most significant is the Molotov cocktail; being able to lay a barrier of fire could prove invaluable for terrorists holding off an assault while waiting for a bomb to detonate. Decoy grenades are like firecrackers, spewing the sounds of fake gunfire to set bait for players who think they can swoop in mid battle for the vulture kill, only to wind up staring down the barrel of a shotgun.
This was probably my favorite weapon from my brief hands-on (by virtue of being the weapon I had the most kills with). Its large spread and high damage make up for its extremely close range and slow firing speed. It's rubbish for dueling across long chasms, but my strategy involved staying behind my comrades until a fight ensued, at which point I'd charge in, guns blazing.
Another new addition is the PP Bison, a mid-range submachine gun with minimal damage but a whopping 64 bullet clip. This may sound excessive, but after a Rambo-esque barrage ended with my opponent dead and a single bullet left in my clip, it proved its purpose.
Less practical but no less entertaining is the Zeus, an expensive one shot electrocution weapon with short range. It's wildly impractical and made exclusively for humiliation. Sure it's a novelty, but it adds a little optional levity amid all the gritty realism.
In addition to these upgrades and renovations, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive will contain eight all new maps, as well as seven classic ones. There will also be some new game modes, though Valve is remaining hush-hush on these for now.
This may not be the full on sequel to Counter-Strike some might expect, but as Magal points out, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." The original's sensibly mortal soldiers stand in stark contrast to the space marine bullet sponges of today, but it lacks the matchmaking, graphical fidelity and hardware accessibility to capture the attention of those transfixed by more modern titles. With these additions making it a more inviting prospect for neophytes, and new content ensuring veterans will have to rearrange their tried and true tactics, this could be the excuse we need to party like it's 1999.