Is CS2 Sub-Tick System vs 64-Tick & 128-Tick? - Hellcase Blog

For quite a long time, many CS:GO players preferred third-party platforms like FACEIT and ESEA to regular in-game matchmaking. One of the reasons for that is the difference in the tick rate of the servers. These online gaming platforms offer servers with 128 tick-rate, while Valve’s official servers are operated on 64.

With Counter-Strike 2, however, the developers brought a “no-tick” system and introduced the sub-tick update. Let’s determine how the sub-tick works and see if it is a game-changer compared to what we are used to.

What Are Ticks?

First of all, let’s define ticks. In CS:GO, and other multiplayer games, an update between the game’s servers and connected PCs is called “a tick”. Every tick is measured in hertz (Hz), and it is a single processing step where the server calculates player movement and bullet trajectories, for example.

Tick rate, in its turn, refers to the frequency at which the server updates its game state. So, a 64-tick server updates 64 times a second, and a 128-tick server updates 128 times a second.

How Do Ticks Impact Your Gameplay?

To a certain degree, the accuracy of your movement and shooting increases while playing on a server with a 128-tick rate compared to a server with a standard 64-tick rate. To put it simply, a higher tick rate provides a much smoother and more responsive gaming experience.

You might have encountered situations when the shot you fired was supposed to land on the target, but instead, the bullet just went somewhere else. Or maybe you and your opponent shot each other simultaneously, and you even swear you heard your AWP shooting, but somehow you end up enjoying the rest of the round in Spectators Mode.

These are only a few examples showing the cons of 64-tick and 128-tick servers. Let’s see what poor hit registration looks like in-game.

Examples Of Low Tick Rate Impact

We have scoured the web to find clips of mishaps that occurred due to the imperfection of the 64-tick and 128-tick systems so that you can understand what it looks like in action.

Here’s a highlight showing how the server did not accurately register the player’s shots.

Although the 128-tick rate is supposed to better the preciseness of the shots, it is still not perfect.

Here is a clip of Aunkere “missing” a shot that was supposed to be a clean headshot.

And another example of the game server not registering what seemed should have been a hit.

Now, the dessert. Do you remember G2’s Niko missing several shots on s1mple? It happened on Nuke in the BO3 Grand Final of PGL Major Stockholm 2021.

The score was 15:12 in favor of G2, and both teams were left in 2 vs 2. G2 Niko, the top fragger of the map, crawled up the stairs to reach Heaven, peeked at the site, and found unsuspecting s1mple scoping in the other direction.

He aimed his head, fired three shots with his Desert Eagle, and none hit the target. Then, s1mple turned around and flick-shot Niko milliseconds after, and b1t took down the hunter. It could’ve been G2’s ticket to Mirage, but a series of unfortunate shots led to overtimes that NAVI won, securing their first Major title.

Some blamed Niko’s aim, some blamed Desert Eagle’s poor accuracy, and some blamed the imperfection of the tick-rate architecture. Whatever the actual case was, it is now in history.

When Valve announced that Counter-Strike 2 will launch this summer and the new sub-tick system is coming to the game, G2 remembered this moment of failure and posted a meme about it on their Twitter account.

NiKo would have hit this on CS2

— G2 Esports (@G2esports) March 22, 2023

After watching this clip of Niko playing Counter-Strike 2, however, the question arises if there ever was a tick rate problem in the first place.

Now, let’s find out everything about the sub-tick system and how it will change your gaming experience in Counter-Strike 2 (except for Niko’s).

New Sub-Tick System in Counter-Strike 2

Counter-Strike 2 is the most significant technical leap we might have ever witnessed in the history of the series, and the sub-tick system is worth taking a closer look at. We have already covered new features of Counter-Strike 2 here and here .

In one of the Counter-Strike 2 trailers Valve posted on their YouTube channel, they explained how the new sub-tick or “no-tick” system works.

According to developers, the sub-tick system makes your gameplay precise and smooth like never before. So how exactly will the no-tick or sub-tick update change the game?

How Is Sub-Tick System Different From 64-Tick And 128-Tick?

As the Valve developers explain, Source servers that operated on 64-tick and 128-tick rates only evaluated the player’s movement and shooting in discrete time intervals of ticks. The time between the ticks did not exist.

Previously, we have learned that a tick is an update that keeps game servers and all connected PC “aware” of what is happening in the game, and more ticks mean more updates per second. Thus, the more updates happen, the more smooth and more accurate gameplay feels.

While most of the time, the experience was seamless, there were still moments when milliseconds between your mouse click and tick could make the difference in the outcome of your shot. That means the time between ticks actually impacted whether your shot lands on target or misses it.

In Counter-Stike 2, however, the tick rate no longer matters for moving and shooting. The new sub-tick architecture lets the game server accurately calculate your actions, so it knows exactly when you fired your shot, jumped your jump, and peeked your peek. Now, what you see is what you get.

Why Not Make a 256-Tick System?

You might have a question about why not just upgrade official servers to a 256-tick rate system instead of developing a new “no-tick” architecture, and it’s a great question. If it worked great with transferring servers from 64-tick to 128-tick and provided CS:GO players with double the smoothness and accuracy of their moves, why not double it again?

While doubling the frequency of ticks might theoretically lead to an even better experience, the reality hits with several reasons why this is a bad idea. Let’s find out why 256-tick servers are not an option for CS:GO and Counter-Strike 2.

Diminishing Returns

It is true that CS:GO players felt an incredible improvement in their gaming experience on 128-tick servers compared to official Valve servers that operated on 64-tick. However, the difference between 128-tick and 256-tick might not be as noticeable, and there will be no increased responsiveness and better registration of hits.

Server Load

Unsurprisingly, a higher tick rate will require more server resources. Because the server will need to double the frequency of updates it makes per every second of the match, much more powerful servers will be needed to host the games. Potential server strain and higher costs are the reasons not to double the frequency of ticks again.

Bandwidth & Client Performance

A higher tick rate requires both the game servers and players’ PCs to be more powerful. Doubling the tick rate of the game servers might lead to a group of players experiencing major performance issues due to slow or inconsistent internet connection.

Considering all these factors, the benefits of doubling the tick rate once more, from 128 to 256, will probably not be worth putting in all the additional resources and costs required. We are sure that Valve developers considered this opportunity and concluded that the game and the players would benefit from the “no-tick” architecture much more than the 256-tick rate.

Wrapping Up!

Have you already received an invitation to join Counter-Strike 2? If you are one of the few lucky ones, congratulations! And if you did not get a chance to try out the upgraded CS yet, keep your head up, we are sure you will get to do it very soon.

There are new details on Counter-Strike 2 revealed daily, so visit our blog to stay updated. Also, explore our blog for articles about CS:GO skins and other cosmetics, in-depth game guides, and esports news. See you on the no-tick server, he he!