Out of the many new innovations in Counter-Strike 2, your ability to customize your weapon loadout is one of the most impactful when it comes to freshening up your strategies in matchmaking and official play. With a limited number of slots available and different categories to consider, big decisions need to be made before you even queue for you game.
Here are the best CS2 weapon loadouts, as seen at esports events and on pro player streams.
What is the new CS2 loadout system?
Unlike Global Offensive’s radial weapon wheel, crafted with console players in mind and offering little flexibility, CS2’s loadout system has taken a lot of ideas from VALORANT’s own gun emporium. Players can fill out a five-category grid with their gun choices in the main menu, all to be taken into their competitive matches.
Any 5 pistols, any 5 mid-tier weapons, and any 5 rifles. Today's Counter-Strike 2 update introduces a revised loadout system where players select 15 weapons from 3 categories on CT and T-side to bring with them into matches. Including the M4A4 and M4A1-S. pic.twitter.com/enl7mW9qnT
The “Equipment” tab offers identical options for everyone: Kevlar, Kevlar+Helmet, the Zeus, and if you’re playing as a Counter-Terrorist, this is where you will find your Defuse Kit, too. So far, so normal.
Next, Pistols. Already, you can see a bit of an innovation here: previously, the Desert Eagle and the R8 Revolver were bound to the same slot on the wheel (since they are both fulfilling the same role of expensive heavy-hitters), but now you have them both available to you at the same time at the expense of something else, should you like to do so. Similarly, you can wield both $500 pistols if you’d like, making the CZ-75 even more of a flex choice than before.
That said, faction-specific weapons remained as such, so no Five-SeveN for you on the T side, sorry.
Next, perhaps the most interesting category: the Mid-Tier weapons. This is essentially the grab-bag of mediocre stuff for eco rounds and when you’re super tilted. Cheapo SMGs, nutty shotguns, and meme weapons like the Negev and the M249 live here.
Next up, rifles. Yes, there’s one typical eco gun, the SSG 08, or the Scout, the cheap sniper, takes up a precious slot in this category if you want to use it – and if you are on the CT side, you’ll likely want to consider equipping both M4s simultaneously.
With just five spots on offer, and having to slot in a cheap rifle, a main one, at least one sniper, and maybe another scoped weapon like the AUG, stuff like the SCAR-20 can rarely make the cut. You will likely have to find other ways to assert your dominance in games where you stacked up the fat $16000 max money in your bank account.
The fifth category is reserved for your grenades, with no customization options in the loadout. You can still only carry one of each grenade (except the double flashbang), and four in total, though you do have the option to drop them on the ground.
There are still improvements to be made: unlike in Valorant, you can’t yet right-click on the menu entry to refund your purchase (you have to click the little reverse arrow in the bottom right), but it seems like such a straightforward quality-of-life improvement that you can’t help but feel that it’s only a matter of time until it gets added to the game.
The devs also confirmed in a recent interview with PC Gamer that more weapons will be added to the game, so there’s going to be some intrigue and added strategy here in the future. You could easily see specialized loadouts for certain maps emerge should Valve play their cards right.
OK, so now you understand how the weapon loadout works in Counter-Strike 2. Time to take a look at the best weapon choices.
The best pro CS2 weapon loadouts in 2023
While Counter-Strike 2 is still a very new game, and the developers will inevitably make many changes to it over the coming years, some weapon loadouts and gun choices have already emerged as superior options to some of the alternatives. Beyond collating stream data and pro play stats, HLTV went above and beyond and interviewed some pro players about their weapon choices in CS2, which provided some illuminating insights, especially now that we’ve seen who’s done well at the first big official esport event on LAN at IEM Sydney.
Pistol-wise, players either believe in the Dual Berettas or double-wield the $500 pistols on both sides. On the pro level, the USP-S is omnipresent on the CT side, but for casual play, the P2000 is just fine. The R8 Revolver is never seen – the Deagle is pretty damn good in CS2.
Pros have gone with both M4s in the rifle category, but if you’re concerned about the money situation and the impact of MR12 on the CT economy, you can get away with cutting the more expensive M4A4. The AWP and the AUG are mainstays, with the Scout a flex choice depending on your roles and playstyle.
For terrorists, this choice is easier, since they only have the AK-47 as a viable rifle. The Galil AR is incredible in CS2, leaving you with three spots for scoped rifles and snipers, depending on your preference.
The cheap SMGs are omnipresent for both sides – meaning the MP9 and the MAC-10 – with many suggesting the XM1014 shotgun is pretty incredible, or borderline OP – CT players often include the Nova or the MAG-7 as a secondary option.
The MP5 and the MP9 are still subject to experimentation, and Twistzzz has even given the UMP-45 a shoutout. Some people are actually willing to give the P90 a go in CS2, and it’s definitely more viable than before in regular matchmaking, but much less so on the T side, where the Galil is genuinely just an excellent option.
What are the best guns to play in CS2 matchmaking?
Look, you’ll know whether you’re a good shot or not, and that should greatly influence your choices. If you are not that precise, the P2000 is a perfectly viable pistol, and both the AUG And the SG are viable to help you even the odds in a full-buy gunfight – just look at how effective karrigan was with it at IEM Sydney.
For Ts, you have fantastic eco options with the Galil and the Tec-9, so you can load up on heavy hitters elsewhere in your loadout. For CTs, money will always be tight, so that could be a good reason to perhaps prioritize the slightly cheaper M4A1-S and maybe a cheeky scout if you’re so inclined.
Ignore the meme guns. SCAR, M249, PP-Bizon: you just don’t have the loadout slots for them.
These are some of the best CS2 loadout choices right now, but never forget – strong strategy, good teamwork and poise under fire will get you much further than a smart weapon selection. Of course, that won’t hurt you either as you look to climb up the rankings!
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