During the winter holidays, I picked up CS:GO again. My previous adventures with the game had been as a solo player which resulted, predictably, in frustration and, eventually, me dropping the game. After all, there is only so much one can take when it comes to garbage voice-comms, getting kicked for reasons and other issues present not only in Counter-Strike, but in other team-based multiplayer games.
This time, however, it is different. I have a group of people to play with. My experience has been extremely different. The game is fun and exciting. I have been invested in the game itself and I want to get better. No longer does the idea of sitting down and attempting to learn the smokes seem like too much effort for so little. Nor does the idea of learning spray patterns. The game has given me that same feeling that Quake used to give me, except there is people to play with that are around my skill-level.
Yet… I could have never truly escaped the issues of a multiplayer game, could I? I had been playing a match and one of the opposite team was announced as VAC Banned during the match. Not that it changed much – the rounds they had already taken were gone. As far as I am aware, matches against cheaters do not count towards your skill rating. But playing against cheaters is not fun, and that doesn’t change it. Furthermore, since there isn’t a possibility of leaving a match early if it seems like a waste of time (surrendering counts as double loss, leaving gets you a cooldown), you are stuck for 16 rounds at minimum in which you are going to be beat over and over again – 16 rounds in which you are not having fun.
Then there is the issue of out-of-place players. Particularly, Smurfers. It’s true that, for the first ten matches, a player will be unranked and they may end up playing against people who are simply not a match to them. It will happen and I do not know what could be a better solution than the current system, short of measuring skill during the first three levels the player needs to level up (which I hope they do). However, and partly due to restrictions in the game, there are those that maintain an account with a lower skill rating. Whatever the reason, it effectively ruins the game for the entire opposing team and harms their own. What should have been an even match, unless the player handicap themselves, turns into a stomp. Any opportunities to learn any side could have had are gone on the grounds that even if you do everything right, there is that one player that can just out-aim every single one of you.
I say this as somebody who played Quake Live duels against somebody so much better than me that, in 10 minutes, the score would end up somewhere like 17:5 with him running a handicap (70% of health and damage). Sadly, I believe that it is not considered to be a reportable offense, for obvious reasons.
Regardless, the game is still fun. Even if I resort to running Nova because I have ten more rounds to burn. I do have to note, though, that the issues with the hitbox are becoming obvious and annoying. Nothing game-breaking, but still “that should have hit” moments are… frustrating.