Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Valve's ageing but unceasingly popular online first-person shooter, is now free-to-play. But not only that! It's also just introduced a new Battle Royale mode called Danger Zone.
This isn't Counter-Strike's first dalliance with free-to-play, of course; Valve launched of free edition of the game back in September, although that version only permitted players to go up against bots - the whole enterprise being intended as a means for newcomers to familiarise themselves with Counter-Strike's weapons and maps.
Valve's new free-to-play release, however, is the real deal, and provides free access to the entire Counter-Strike: Global Offensive experience, multiplayer and all.
According to Valve, all players that purchased the game prior to the update will see their accounts upgraded to Prime Status (which usually costs $14.99 USD) for free. Prime Status players are matched with others, and are eligible for the Prime-exclusive Danger Zone Souvenir MP5-SD | Lab Rats - gained by earning XP in Danger Zone mode - and the new Danger Zone Case, which features 17 community-designed weapon finishes, and the rare Horizon knives.
And as for Danger Zone itself, Valve describes it as a "fast-paced battle royale game mode built on CS:GO's tactical gameplay where players use their wits, skill, and resources to fight to the finish." It features one map, Blacksite, and modes for Solos, Duos, and Trios, with 16 players per 10-minute match in the former, and 18 players in both squad modes.
Matches begin by claiming a landing zone, then, once on the ground, players can start exploring for cash and completing contracts and mini-quests - such as hostage rescue - for an additional income boost. Cash, in turn, is used to purchase weapons that pack a little more punch than your starting knife, and which are ferried onto the map by drones.
Weapons include the likes of pistols, rifles, SMGs, and heavy weapons, as well as C4 and throwable melee offerings. The bigger deal, however, is your personal tablet, which can display enemy positions, show the route of their drones, and predict the path of the incoming Danger Zone - all of which adds a tactical edge to the familiar last-man-standing formula. You'll find a few more details on the Danger Zone webpage.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive's free-to-play update is available now, so only a quick trip to Steam and some download time is required if you fancy giving Danger Zone a whirl.