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CS:GO Operations Explained

Counter-Strike, by itself, has never fallen short of providing excitement for any kind of player. For the serious ones, there’s Competitive and now even Premier. For the casual players there exists Casual and Deathmatch mode, and for those who can’t fathom playing without their best wingman exists Wingman mode. But what if you want to take the entire experience up just one more level? Enter CS:GO Operations.

How Do CS:GO Operations Work?

Operations were first introduced in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and can be likened to Downloadable Content (DLCs) in other games. They run for a limited time and provide gamers with additional tasks, rewards, and game modes to try out in addition to the classic CS experience.

The Operation Pass, a one-time purchase that grants access to a wealth of content, is the central component of an Operation.  Consider it a kind of season pass that gives you access to features not found in the core game. Players who purchase the pass also receive an Operation Coin, an exclusive souvenir that shows their advancement during the event. It begins in the lowest design category, Bronze, and may be raised to Silver, Gold, and eventually Diamond by successfully completing tasks, just like a Major Challenge Coin.

 

Operations breathe life into the gameplay with a series of missions. These are in-game challenges that test your skills in various aspects of CS:GO. Missions can range from simple tasks like winning a certain number of matches to more complex objectives like securing a specific number of kills with a particular weapon on a designated map.

 

Completing missions showers you with rewards. These can include:

XP Boosts

These are among the most common yet useful rewards one can get from a Major. Reaching Level 40 for the first time or essentially “prestiging” your Service Medal for the year can be made a whole lot easier by utilizing the XP Boosts given out during an Operation.

Weapon Cases

Operations usually come with a brand new Weapons Case featuring various finishes (or skins) for different weapons in the game. These are introduced during the said Operation’s running time and can be unlocked through the Operation’s Store.

Operation Stars

Stars are the main currency of a CS:GO Operation and are what the player will use to upgrade their Operation Coin and unlock new rewards. These are obtainable by completing various missions ranging from the simplest of tasks to more challenging requirements, which pay out a reasonable amount of Stars.

 

Some of the most popular community-made maps previously submitted to the Steam Workshop are available during the Operation season. Operation maps are playable at any time in casual matchmaking outside of the operation by “Subscribing” to the map on the Steam Workshop, just like any other community-created map. Nevertheless, on official Valve servers, they are fully supported during the Operation. Some maps even become mainstays in the game and become full-fledged maps used in normal competitive and even professional play.

 

Cobblestone and Overpass were also published and put to the test as part of Operation Bravo. The two extra maps were created by Valve and released as official maps after the operation was finally included to the active duty map group, in contrast to previous operation maps. Soon after Operation Phoenix ended, the community built Cache, which was also made official and assigned to the active duty maps group. Before being formally introduced to the game, the updated version of Train was initially available in the Operation Vanguard map group. After being tested and made available as part of Operation Broken Fang, Ancient was subsequently assigned to the Active Duty Group, taking Train’s place.

Explaining CS:GO Operation Missions

Operation Pass holders could take part in operations beginning with Operation Breakout. Players can begin with a restricted number of missions to accomplish, but after some time, they will be given more to do, and their mission total will increase over time. Missions are delivered on a timely basis. A game queue for the necessary game mode for the task will immediately start when the player initiates it.

After finishing a task, the player receives some experience points, which they can use to level up and qualify for Operation drops. Operation drops happen on a typical Profile Rank rank up before Operation Hydra. When the player reaches 2,000 Guardian XP or Event XP—XP bars that reflect the quantity of XP earned from the Campaign Missions and Hydra Events—they receive an operation drop in Operation Hydra.

In addition to XP, players now receive a fixed number of stars for each task completed since Operation Shattered Web. The stars were either spent at the operation shop following Operation Broken Fang, or they were accrued in the battle pass track of the Operation Shattered Web battle pass.

Pass holders were first exposed to campaigns with Operation Vanguard, when they were granted access to two base campaigns upon obtaining the pass. The old mission system is essentially replaced with campaigns, which are collections of several missions that are unlocked one after the other. The player advances along one of the missions’ sequences after completing a task. Certain missions are Challenge Award missions, wherein the player receives stars according to the mission’s difficulty, which they may then utilize to enhance their Operation Coin. One star is awarded for easy (green) reward missions, two stars are awarded for medium (yellow) reward missions, and three stars are awarded for completing the most challenging (orange-red) reward missions.

Campaigns include a detailed overview of every task from the outset, giving the player a clear understanding of the goals and possible rewards. The player may view all of the tasks prior to Operation Hydra, but they can only be finished when they are opened daily. In Operation Hydra, there is no time constraint and all objectives may be completed without waiting. Campaigns now frequently have stories that are unlocked as the player completes objectives, a feature that has been present since Operation Bloodhound.

List of Past CS:GO Operations

There have been 11 Operations in the history of Counter-Strike, all released in Global Offensive. As of April 2024, there is still no information as to when the first-ever Counter-Strike 2 Operation will take place.

Operation Payback

The one that started it all. Operation Payback was the first of its kind and was launched on April 25, 2013. It is the most barebones of the bunch but, at a time where CS:GO was just growing, it served its purpose well as a benchmark for future success. It cost $6 and came with seven new maps namely Downtown, Motel, Museum, Thunder, Favela, Library, and Seaside. It ran until August 31, 2013 and introduced the first Operation Coin to the world which came with three different tiers: Bronze, Silver, and Gold. Instead of having to complete missions to earn a better, flashier coin, one only had to play an accumulative ten hours for the Silver version and 50 to get the Gold one.

Operation Bravo

Operation Bravo took things a step further from Payback and became the first Operation to come with a brand new case – the Operation Bravo Case containing the legendary AK-47 | Fire Serpent. It ran from September 19, 2013 to February 5, 2014 and also cost just $6 to access all the content. The concept for the coin remained the same, with the only difference being the Silver Coin’s hour requirement jumping from 10 to 30. Three of the maps that came with Operation Bravo, namely Overpass, Cache, and Cobblestone, all made their way to the Active Duty map pool with Overpass remaining in the competitive rotation up until now.

Operation Phoenix

Operation Phoenix was one of the less loaded Operations during the height of CS:GO, but it was also the cheapest. At only $3, it came with eight maps and the Operation Phoenix Case which stands to this day as one of the game’s most iconic. With skins like the AWP | Asiimov popularized by Kenny “kennyS” Schrub as his “Magic Stick” it’s safe to say that Operation Phoenix has left its mark on the Counter-Strike world.

Operation Breakout

The fourth CS:GO Operation was one of the turning points not just in for the Operation feature of CS, but the franchise as a whole. It ran from July 1, 2014 to October 2, 2014 and introduced the Operation Breakout Case along with three new collections. The Operation Journal was introduced during Breakout and the Operation Coin was revamped to the system it’s known for having now: upgrade the coin by completing missions. Arguably the most iconic map collection of all time, the Cobblestone Collection, was introduced during Operation Breakout and brought to life the AWP | Dragon Lore which is known these days as one of the most popular and most prestigious skins one can ever own.

Operation Vanguard

Operation Vanguard introduced the concept of earning Stars to redeem rewards for the first time. The maps Backalley, Workout, Bazaar, Facade, Marquis, Season, Train were added to the game in that span of time along with the Operation Vanguard Case. One of the skins, the M4A4 | Griffin was found to be in violation of plagiarism for stolen art and was subsequently remade by its creators.

Operation Bloodhound

Operation Bloodhound introduced the Guardian game mode, which was basically almost like a campaign-style mode since it pits real users up against AI opponents. It ran from May 26, 2015 to September 30, 2015 and came with six maps, six collections, the Operation Bloodhound Case, and the Falchion Case. Skins such as the AK-47 | Aquamarine Revenge, the AWP | Medusa, and the AUG | Akihabara Accept were all added to the game during the Operation Bloodhound season.

Operation Wildfire

Operation Wildfire was CS:GO’s one and only operation of 2016, which ran from February 17 to July 16 of the same year. It kept the classic $6 price point and came with the Operation Wildfire Case as well as the updated version of Nuke the whole world uses currently. It is arguably one of the blandest Operations in Global Offensive especially considering its predecessors, but Valve would immediately bounce back with the next one anyway.

Operation Hydra

Operation Hydra was the last CS:GO Operation to have the low price of $6 for all its content. Maps were shuffled around and the Operation Coin earned the Diamond tier for the first time in yet another progression revamp from Valve. The Operation Hydra case was not the only thing to come from this, as the now-popular Wingman game mode was also introduced for the first time during Operation Hydra and has remained a staple even in Counter-Strike 2.

Operation Shattered Web

Operation Shattered Web was released two years after Hydra, ending a lengthy drought. It came with a ton of content and ran from November 19, 2019 to March 30, 2020 – crossing over to CS:GO’s COVID-19 era. The Shattered Web case was shipped out during this time along with three new collections and Agents as a different kind of skin people can purchase to customize how their in-game avatar looks. Shattered Web also introduced the Battle Pass concept for the first time which is something that has stuck until this day. Its price more than doubled that of what was previously being charged, now at $15 compared to the previous $6.

Operation Broken Fang

Operation Broken Fang came right at the height of the global pandemic and was in place from December 3, 2020 to March 31, 2021. Still costing $15, it came with the Broken Fang case, new maps, stickers, graffiti, and even patches. Stars earned through the Battle Pass could now be exchanged for different rewards in the Operation Store, which had everything from individual cases to Agents.

Operation Riptide

Operation Riptide was the last of its kind to be released in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and the latest Operation since. It ran from September 22, 2021 to February 22, 2022 making it now over two years without an Operation. It came with the Riptide Case, the Train 2021 Collection, the Dust 2 2021 Collection, the Mirage 2021 Collection, and the Vertigo 2021 Collection. It also came with the additional bells and whistles Broken Fang came with and maintained the Operation Store concept wherein anyone can trade in their earned Stars for rewards.

Will CS2 Have an Operation?

Nothing is set in stone at the moment and nothing has been announced by Valve regarding operations, but given its strong track record of success and popularity from the fans it has always remained a possibility. At the moment, though, all anyone can do is simply wait.

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