The new agent skins added to Counter-Strike at the beginning of the Shattered Web operation caused a bit of controversy regarding issues of visibility on certain maps. Valve have addressed the issue in their latest patch.
When Shattered Web first released in November, CS:GO fans were thrilled with the influx of new content. One new aspect was custom player character skins, known as agent skins, that players could buy or earn by leveling up their operation pass.
But little time passed before players at casual, competitive, and professional levels noticed that certain skins gifted an additional advantage on certain maps. In the notes for their December 13 patch, the Counter-Strike team at Valve noted that the problematic skins would be adjusted, not removed.
“3rd Commando Company, ‘Two Times’ McCoy, and Seal Team 6 Soldier have been updated to improve visibility. These previously mid-tone agents have been darkened, and contrast has been increased in their head and shoulders.”
The previous iterations of these characters featured much lighter greenish tones, which let them hide in numerous spots around various CSGO maps. One of the more egregious examples was on the newly revamped Cache.
There was also an issue of these skins being used with a bit of shrubbery on Overpass, next to bathrooms. In addition to the darkening of the problematic skins, Valve announced that they “pruned” the shrubbery that made CTs appear nearly invisible.
Finally, they removed the pixel-gaps in the boxes on the A bombsite on Mirage; a frequent spot for players to get cheeky frags through, including FaZe’s Olof ‘olofmeister’ Kajbjer Gustafsson in the recent BLAST Global Final.
The issues created by the initial versions of these skins had the potential to cause problems at the pro level, and players and professionals at that level responded. Team Liquid’s star Jonathan ‘EliGE’ Jablonowski suggested a command that would revert models to default for the players, which would keep the new skins viewable for spectators.
Shawn ‘FMPONE’ Snelling, who designed and then re-designed the previously mentioned Cache map, originally said there should be an option to disable them altogether. Both ESEA and FACEIT announced that the new skins wouldn’t be used during their competitive matches.
With the decision to alter the skins rather than outright remove them, Valve has made it clear that they are committing to the skins remaining in the game.
If these changes, along with any potential future ones, satisfy the competitive community, we may see tournament organizers unban them heading into 2020.
Full patch notes for December 13 CS:GO update:
[ AGENTS ] – 3rd Commando Company, ‘Two Times’ McCoy, and Seal Team 6 Soldier have been updated to improve visibility. These previously mid-tone agents have been darkened, and contrast has been increased in their head and shoulders.
[ MISC ] – Accolade weighting has been adjusted for non-Competitive modes. – Added nametag preview on the model to match the rendering rules. – Fixed items inside storage units sometimes showing up as unacknowledged. – Fixed overview map from crashing when drawing too many line segments.
[ MAPS ] – Overpass: – Pruned some shrubbery.
– Mirage: – Removed pixel-gaps on boxes in bombsite A.