Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s Danger Mode Offers a Polished, Bite-Sized Battle Royale Experience
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive's new Danger Zone mode feels brilliant, but likely won't make a dent in the battle royale scene.
When Counter-Strike: Global Offensive was announced to be going free-to-play, it was also announced that it would feature a new battle royale mode called “Danger Zone.” My social timeline was populated with various people complaining that the title going free-to-play would ruin the experience, but not many people seemed to be talking about the new game mode. Being somewhat of a fan of the battle royale genre (despite it being a bit tedious), I was excited to jump in and find out exactly what it was like.
Being a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive player for many years now, I was sort of shocked to find that Danger Zone was, in fact, a Battle Royale mode. So now I guess we can add yet another video game to the growing list of games with a battle royale mode. The market might be overflowing with all of these large-scale battle royale games, but Danger Zone shakes things up by making the mode smaller, faster, and keeps CS: GO‘s arcadey shooter feeling intact.
The usual format most games tend to opt for when attempting battle royale is tweaked in Danger Zone, with only 16 players taking to a single map instead of the usual 100 players. The smaller map still drives players closer together as time passes by using a really nice looking desaturated-red-edged area that closes in. Because the scale of the map and speed of the game are vastly different to the big boys of battle royale, I didn’t feel the same rush and intensity you get when running from the storm in Fortnite.
Instead, I see the Danger Zone closing in, widen my eyes, and utter an “Oh gosh!” to myself as I turn around and wander away. It’s not intimidating enough.
There’s also no free-fall, something most games with the mode utilize to start a match. Instead, you start by selecting your insertion area by marking it on a map before someone else picks it. Once everyone has selected their points, you’re all suddenly above your chosen point and parachuting in. It’s a different way of doing things, but it also works by allowing you preparation time, eliminating the risk of being killed instantly by landing in the same area as someone else.
Interestingly, Danger Zone lets you collect money either scattered around the map, or stacks of it can be found in money bags. Money allows you to purchase some better weapons, ammo, armor, and more. The best thing? Those purchased items are delivered by freaking drones! Drones that appear to get a bit flustered on their way to you in typical clumsy Valve robotic style, but still drones nonetheless.
Drone delivery, as cool as it is, can be a possible suicide risk as other players get to see your drone heading in your direction, which of course gives away your position. If it’s you tracking the drone though, you’ll be able to chase after it and eliminate the enemy while they punch their delivered crate open. Crates can also be found around the world with some being easily broken apart, some requiring the use of tools, and some being locked behind gates that require sweet moolah to unlock.
While having to organize your finances while on the battleground might sound a touch odd, it’s actually a rather nifty system that’s implemented really nicely in Danger Zone. It not only keeps the feeling of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive intact, but it’s so intuitive that whipping the tablet out to order some gear and then go back to shooting oncoming enemies with ease is something I adore.
While I’m talking about the tablet, as well as the purchase screen, the map is viewed through this device too. Rather than going for a static satellite view, Danger Zone instead uses hexagonal tiles atop a black-and-white map that allows you to see your position, track enemies, drones, the red zone, and more. The tablet can be upgraded to perform these different functions, and it certainly changes the way you assess the battlefield. There are also special targets you can pick up which gives you another goal —such as finding a hostage— to focus on rather than just staying alive. These targets, when completed will reward you with a cash prize allowing you to purchase more gear from the tablet’s buy menu.
Of course, while dropping in with all this tech feels nice and less like you’ve just been dumped in a PvP location by some torturous overlord, you still have the general looting system in play. But given the size of the map, it’s toned down a lot compared to other battle royale games. You’ll be finding pistols, rifles, SMG’s, shotguns, melee weapons, grenades, flashbangs, and even Molotovs scattered around the area. Most of these you’ll probably just end up ordering in any way as you find more money.
It becomes clear after a few rounds that the arsenal in Danger Zone isn’t as in-depth as say, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, and feels like the selection is chosen due to the size of the map. The lack of a large range of weapons does leave it feeling bare, but not having attachments means less time spent micromanaging your gear, and more time planning your next move, something I felt made the game more enjoyable as a fast-paced battle royale.
My main gripe with Danger Zone is that because it uses Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s movement system, it feels like you’re gliding across the map. I found myself ignoring tactical maneuvers and just opting to rush in, unload a magazine and hope for the best — similar to how I play in the Arms Race mode. Although the beauty of this is that the game can feel more intense and less like you need to dedicate your time to it, I still miss the heavy headbobbing and sluggish sprinting from other battle royale titles, though. There’s no vaulting system either, so you have to remember back to the time where you had to jump and crouch at the same time to clear objects.
The great feeling about Danger Zone is that due to the size of the map, there’s potential to launch new maps without the developers having to worry about trying to incorporate them into an existing large-scale map. After several hours with the new mode, Danger Zone is essentially a bite-sized battle royale that has a large population of players from CS: GO, which is now growing even more with the recent free-to-play move.
Danger Zone feels great mainly because of how smooth it feels to play, how simple it is, and how compact the map is. It doesn’t feel like it’s going to be the next big battle royale revelation like Fortnite, PUBG, or Call of Duty: Black Ops 4‘s Blackout, but it certainly feels perfect for fans of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive or for those that may struggle to dive into other time-demanding battle royale games.