Counter-Strike 2: How to Join The Limited Test

Counter-Strike 2 is finally more than a meme. Here's how you join the competitive shooter's limited test.

Counter Strike 2
Photo: Valve

Valve confirmed a series of recent rumors by (somewhat quietly) revealing the long-awaited Counter-Strike 2. Though the full game won’t actually be released until “Summer 2023,” the Counter-Strike 2 team has announced that some players will be able to participate in a limited test of the sequel starting today. How do you join the limited test? That’s a great question.

First off, you cannot request to join Counter-Strike 2‘s limited test. Invites to the game’s limited test will be distributed by the developers to players that meet “a number of factors deemed important by the Counter-Strike 2 development team.” According to the development team, those factors include “recent playtime on Valve official servers, trust factor, and Steam account standing.” In other words, the more you’ve played Counter-Strike and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and the better your reputation is in those games, the more likely it is that you’ll receive an invite.

Rankings or your relative “skill” are not specifically listed as crucial selection factors, though you have to expect those will play some role in the selection process. Valve seems to be looking for players that can really help them test the game, and experienced players are obviously more capable of doing just that. Of course, you can expect to see quite a few CS: GO streamers also score invites.

How do you know if you’ve been selected for the Counter-Strike 2 limited test? Well, if you have been selected, you’ll see an invite notification on the CS: GO main menu when you launch the game. When you receive an invitation, select the “ENROLL” option and download the test. From there, you’ll need to re-launch CS: GO, select the “Limited Test” option, and you’ll be able to play Counter-Strike 2.

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Valve will continue to invite additional players to the limited test over time, but there is currently no word regarding when those invites will be distributed, how they will be determined, or how long the limited test will last. However, the game’s FAQ page seems to suggest that the Limited Test will be accessible up until Counter-Strike 2‘s full release, so it seems reasonable to suspect that additional invites will occasionally be issued up until then.

The good news is that Counter-Strike 2 and CS: GO appear to have a pretty harmonious relationship. Progress in Counter-Strike 2 will carry over to CS: GO, and you can access your entire CS: GO inventory during the Counter-Strike 2 test. However, Counter-Strike 2 will not allow you to modify existing items within the Limited Test version of the game.

It sounds like relatively few people will be able to play Counter-Strike 2 right away, though many more people will certainly be watching others play the game. After all, Valve doesn’t exactly rush to release new games (or even substantial updates to their games), and Counter-Strike has long been one of the company’s most popular and successful titles. Actually, some fans felt that they would likely just release CS: GO updates for the rest of time rather than try to make a Counter-Strike sequel.

Still, the timing of this release is interesting. Riot Games’ Valorant has courted quite a few Counter-Strike fans in recent years, and it’s going to be interesting to see how many of those fans return to CS (or find room for both). Furthermore, while Counter-Strike remains one of the monsters of the eSports scene (and a regular top game on the Steam charts), this sequel is going to have to compete with not just Valorant but the many other live-service multiplayer games that already demand so many hours of players’ time.

It will be fascinating to see if this game can please hardcore Counter-Strike fans while giving new, or lapsed, players a proper excuse to dive into this pretty intense shooter series. Hopefully, this test will give us a little better idea of what the game’s future holds.