It was hinted, it was speculated, it’s been foreseen, and it’s finally here. Not long after the colorfully chaotic Broken Fang ended, CSGO players received a new content update – Operation Riptide.
Are we surprised that it dropped? Not really. Are we astonished with what it provides? Absolutely! The September update CSGO content is such a gem to both those who treat the game seriously and those who just like vibing with it. Join us on a critical review of the new operation!
The Setting Of Operation Riptide
While the previous season pass brought players into the conjoined world of urban skirmishes and a mezoamerican throwback reflected in the new Competitive map, Ancient, this time around we are getting a more tropical and rural setting to go with.
The opening intro of the operation sees two Ts just chilling in the premise of a cottage that later proved to be a part of the new Danger Zone map, County. Skipping stones and laughing they are suddenly confronted by a diver task force member blasting out of the lake waters.
Taking a bird’s eye view of the whole content update, we see more themes of jungle, outskirts, small villages and natural materials. Some agents that were introduced before got some new outfits that are more suitable for an adventure in the countryside. The weapon skins from all the new collections often include imitations of natural materials or very floral and organic patterns.
Speaking of weapon skins, well…
One Case, Four New Collections
That’s right, you read it right, Valve is stepping up the update game with one more community case skins collection that we are used to. And the skins in all of them? Splendid!.. well, mostly.
The operation case itself seems to not have a leading theme, which is almost a rule for cases at this point. The rarest skins like Desert Eagle | Ocean Drive or SG 008 | Turbo Peak are very colorful and contemporary, while the middle tier skins like MAC-10 | Toybox or M4A4 | Spider Lily are playing on some specific ideas. The underdogs like AUG | Plague are more toned down and pattern-oriented… except for USP-S | Black Lotus, which looks like it made a great escape from a Classified rarity to live a simpler, less competitive life.
The gun skins, however, are not the only drive here. Operation Riptide Case brings an interesting collection of droppable knives, including six new finishes for five well-established knives. Opening the Riptide Case, you can loot Bowie Knife, Shadow Daggers, Butterfly Knife, Huntsman Knife and Falchion Knife in Black Laminate, Autotronic, Freehand, Bright Water, Lore and – most interestingly – Gamma Doppler.
Train 2021 Collection
The Train Collection is the street kid of the bunch, but still with a mellow mood. M4A4 | Coalition looks very classy and very expensive, which it will probably get, given how rare the community collection skins get. Glock-18 | Gamma Doppler seems a bit of a stretch, but hell, why not. Fans of a hard-to-come-by white loadouts will be delighted with the USP-S | Whiteout. Other than that, we witness the return of old time favorite (or notorious) finishes like AUG | Amber Fade or R8-Revolver | Blaze.
Vertigo 2021 Collection
More urban, more aggressive and more.. meh? From all the skin collections, this one seems the most heavy-handed. The M4A1-S | Imminent Danger is as much on the nose as classics like AWP | POW!, but with less fun. Five-Seven | Fall Hazard, Galil AR | CAUTION! and some others play on the same theme of Vertigo being a map where it’s easy to fall to your death, but it all just lacks the oomph.
Dust 2 2021 Collection
Looks like the all time favorite is getting a lot of love this autumn. The skins are mostly brownish and yellowish to reflect the limestone environment of the map, but we also get some nice color accents. Most of them might look dull at first glance, but will provide a nice filling for more focused, less attention-grabbing loadouts… The prime counterexample being AK-47 | Gold Arabesque, which looks like it was imported straight from Saints Row! Other than that, UMP-45 | Fade and MAC-10 | Case Hardened join the bounty of perfect variant hunt.
Mirage 2021 Collection
Going into a more blazing spectacle in its rarer skins and ochre and purple in the more common ones, Mirage 2021 seems to be a scene kid cousin of Dust 2 2021 Collection. AWP | Desert Hydra is probably the most satisfyingly flashy skin of the update, and looks truly epic. Desert Eagle | Fennec Fox, also designed by 2minds, is more toned, but not any less astonishing. Overall, this is the only collection of the new four that could make a loadout on its own to a good effect.
Riptide Stickers And Patches
So much customization on the way! Operation Riptide brings two sticker packs with it – Riptide Stickers and Surf Stickers. The first one is oriented on the game itself, including some inside jokes, but overall much more serious and universal in tone.
The second one is a lot larger, introducing several variants to pretty much every new design, including several different holo versions. The theme is undoubtedly surfing, water monsters and something you might just call “the flow of things”. You also get Agents Ava and K riding the surf boards with several different variants, and toads holding all kinds of CSGO knives. A lot to choose from!
The patches use some of the motives from the stickers and play on further aquatic themes like Cthulhu, pirates, mermaids and anchors. They are done in a more dark manner, but my guess is that they will present well even on the sunny agent characters.
Operation Riptide Agents
Aside from the usual roster of cops and villains, the themes of Riptide are accented in both new agents and revisited outfits for known faces.
On the T side, the more notable newcomers are clearly alluding to action flicks, like the Rambo copycat Crasswater the Forgotten, both with a shirt and without, or Col. Mangos Dabisi that just screams Wesley Snipes. With CTs, it’s less about the references and more about the premise, albeit with much less character. For one, Skipper Davida “Googles” Fernandez is a cunning SEAL agent with an interesting backstory.
It’s a bit shocking to see Mr. Muhlik being put in the lowest grade category, but maybe his holiday garb doesn’t come off as exciting as his action outfit. On the other side, Lieutenant Farlow gets a ‘Treehuger’ makeover, putting some jungle camouflage on, which is not only adequate to the main theme, but also looks pretty neat.
New Riptide Maps
Skins and stickers, while numerous, are just a tip of the iceberg. Players get a few new areas to go around in different game modes. New Danger Zone map, County, is obviously the figurehead of the operation. It takes place in a sort of American North coastal countryside, and the trailer for it uses a Neil Young song. To say that Far Cry 5 is a reference point here would be a bold understatement. See the trailer for the map below.
The map that brought my attention specifically is Extraction. First of all, it provides a twist on the hostage rescue scenario, having only one hostage and two alternate rescue points. Second of all, it’s designed spaciously enough to provide a nice arena for both Deathmatch and Arms Race games.
Also, Bazalt is an interesting take on making an uphill bomb scenario map, but the gleeful northern buildings painted in plain colors surrounded by raw hexagonal stone pillars might get some getting-used-to.
While not a new map, the most clickbaity thing about content updates is the Dust II rework. It’s pretty simple, the mid freespace next to the T spawn has been blocked by a connector wall, leaving only a small chasm of look-through between T and CT spawn. However, it buries one of the most important landmarks of the map, so the reactions might be mixed.
Riptide Gameplay Updates
Content is one thing, the thrill of the fight is another. The latest update tweaks quite a lot of things, and while only a few are advertised, the full list is available in Valve’s recent update blog post. Among these you can find e.g. updates to Premier maps like aforementioned Dust 2, Inferno and Ancient.
The spotlight belongs to new operation missions with fun twists on old tasks. You will either race towards a goal or perform a series of very specific tasks within one game. However, other game modes get their overhauls, too.
Two most noticeable changes are the introduction of shorter competitive matches and expanded deathmatch conditions. Now, when playing competitively, you can choose to search for short games, which will end when one of the teams wins 9 times. This is a welcome change to those who want to rank up but find it a bit too difficult to spend a lot of time in one sitting on CS GO. That’s a big one up, Valve, thank you, signed – a working man.
When it comes to deathmatch, now you can choose among three different variants – Classic (team deathmatch with individual scores), Free For All (self-explanatory) and Team vs Team (collective score).
What’s less noticeable is that the Arms Race wargame also got its rehaul. This includes a change in weapon progression (including the order of weapons) and a bonus of a health up every three kills. I’m a fan of this mode myself and can’t wait to see how it goes.
Changes to mechanics
Gunplay has also been updated, with a controversial nerf to Deagle body damage (now it takes 3 body shots to kill) and a power-up to M4A1-S (which now kills in four body hits like AK 47 does). Some are afraid that this will really stir up the meta, but hey, every time such changes are introduced, there are fear mongers out there ready to preach doom and gloom.
A welcome, but intriguing change? The possibility to drop grenades. This seemingly simple mechanic might have immense repercussions on nade strategies. It’s not only about exchanging utilities between players, but also the fact that now it’s literally possible to make stacks of them during one round.
In the background, quietly, hostage maps also got their new feature. CTs can now buy a ballistic shield, like the one that was recently available to Danger Zone contestants. This might make it easier to protect hostages carried to the rescue zone.
Operation Riptide Summary
Contrary to the operation’s name, the new update is a real influx of new content and brings with it a wind of change. The spiteful might say that this probably alludes to a decrease of active users after the recent Prime update, but hey, changes have been made, love it or leave it. The amount of new fun is frankly enough to get every pessimistic soul on board.
What’s interesting market-wise, it’s the second batch of community skins this year, leaving the stock really saturated with rarely dropping items. How much scarcity can be induced further? Will it lift the prize of every uncommon skin, as it usually did, or will it eventually demotivate participation? We’ll see what the tides of the market bring.
That was a lot to process! Anything else you’ve spotted about the Operation Riptide and think is worth mentioning? Let us know here or on our Discord channel. You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for a daily dose of CS GO content.
(And no, I’m not ending this article with a surfing reference, you can’t make me.)