Counter-Strike 2 uses subticks, that is, something that is inside a tick, something smaller. When the game was announced, the new tickrate in CS2 caused a whole wave of discussions within the community, and soon all the Reddit and other forums and platforms were filled with various theories about what exactly is a subtick are does it work. CS.MONEY Blog browsed through some theories to figure out how the new tickrate works.
Just in case: tickrate and subticks do not affect CS:GO and CS2 skins in any way. Therefore, if you have not yet prepared for the upcoming huge update in terms of new skins, we advise you to hurry up before others do and break the market! Click on CS.MONEY and upgrade.
What is tickrate in CS? And what is a subtick?
To understand what a sub-tick is, you need to know what just a tick is. It’s pretty easy to explain. Each tick is basically a frozen essence of everything that happens on the map. It’s a moment of time that includes the actions of all players and their positions. The word tick literally means “moment, second”, that is, the smallest perceptible unit of time. In matchmaking, CS:GO servers update the state of the game world 64 times per second, which is approximately every 15.6 milliseconds. Each tick the server and all clients, as the players’ computers are called, exchange information, synchronizing what happens for all match participants.
So what is tickrate again?
- the position of each individual player on their PC
- the position of each individual player on Valve’s server
- each player’s action (or inaction)
- all information about the server in one unit of time (15.6 milliseconds)
Accordingly, 128-tickrate servers exchange information twice as often, approximately every 7.8 milliseconds. ‘Approximately’ because there is a difference in pauses between sending. However, this difference is often calculated in fractions of milliseconds and does not affect the game.
Subticks in CS 2 explained
Valve themselves made a separate video explaining what substicks mean is CS 2. The video clearly indicates what problem the new tick rate system solves. To cut the long story short and simple, subticks should mitigate errors that can occur between a player click and a game state update on the server.
Everything sounds quite simple and clear. Each piece of information that the client sends to the server has an attached timecode in CS 2. Due to this, the server, when updating the game state, collects information from all clients in a chronologically correct sequence and sends the updated game state back to the clients.
Cool. But how do subticks really work? A minute-long video obviously is not enough to explain the details related. Hence the speculations.
Does Counter-Strike 2 have tick-less servers?
Most likely, no. MrMaxim, a CS:GO-community YouTuber, cracked some info packs Counter-Strike 2 sends to servers and it turned out that it sends twice as many portions of data (which are called packets) than CS:GO.
According to MrMaxim, there are two types of packets the client sends. Large ones are sent every 15-16 milliseconds. And there are smaller ones, which follow the large ones with a minimum delay. Literally tenths of a millisecond. We don’t know yet what exactly the client sends in these small packets, but the YouTuber himself suggested that the most important information is sent in small packets, while the larger one contain everything else.
YouTube commentators suggested that it wasn’t all about the sub-ticks, but about technological restrictions on each package’s size. An interesting hypothesis, since all large packets do not exceed 1301 bytes in size. Considering this, we acknowledge that Counter-Strike 2 might be sending a lot more information that previously: package sizes increased by 5-6 times compared to CS:GO.
The same idea states that in Counter-Strike 2, the official servers still update the game status 64 times per second, that is, they work on tickrate 64. This indirectly confirms the delay between sending each large packet.
So, Counter-Strike 2 has 64 tickrate servers, right?
Well, here’s what FaZe Clan’s Robin ropz Kool said on xtreme-jumps.eu:
Sub-tick rate doesn’t feel as good as described, there’s obviously a difference between 64 and 128. It is the only thing which feels bad. Maybe it can be tweaked, it’s more like 64 than 128. The rest of the update is awesome.
It feels bad to criticise that, cause it seems Valve are really trying to fix the tick-rate problem, but I think pushing 128 as the norm would be the answer. But who knows, maybe years from now this way will be much better and I’ll be proven wrong.
Note this: it’s important not only who left the comment, but also where. Xtreme-jumps.eu is a community of bunnyhop and KZ mode fans. All surfing bros know how crucial tickrate difference is between servers with tickrate of 64 and 128 in CS:GO. Therefore, an experienced player will be able to determine which server they are currently playing on, 64 or 128, just by looking at it.
So based on whatever we discussed above about sent packets and how pros can almost feel and indicate 64/128 tickrates, it looks like Counter-Strike 2 servers still work with 64 tickrate. We can’t say for sure, obviously.
What’s better: tickrate 64, 128 or tickless/subticks?
Maybe Valve is using a subtick system to make 64-tick servers indistinguishable from 128-tick servers. It’s also possible that CS2 matchmaking will be moved to 128-tick servers and the new subtick system will only help with rare issues or users with weak PCs. Anyways, the number of explanations (or excuses) is infinite.
So far, we can confidently say only what Valve itself has already said: a subtick takes one action, attaches the time of its completion to the information about it, and sends it all to the server. This, in turn, allows the server to correctly process the sequence of actions of each match participant and update the game state accordingly. On paper, subticks reduce the importance of tickrate. But this is still just a subject to speculation with no official explanation.
Fortunately, Valve has shared other information about CS 2. For example, the game will have all the skins from CS:GO! Therefore, we suggest you prepare for its release in advance and update your inventory with skins that look better in CS2 compared to CS:GO. All of them available on CS.MONEY.