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Ally with teammates to complete strategic missions. Take out enemy sites. Rescue hostages. Your role affects your team's success. Your team's success affects your role.
―Steam's description of Counter-Strike

Counter-Strike is a team-based first-person shooter in which player either joins the Terrorists (T) or the Counter-Terrorists (CT). In its sequels and spinoffs, the core gameplay mechanics are retained and nearly identical to the original formula. 


The game is played between two teams that will compete against each other in a round-based game. At the start of the game, the players may join either the Counter-Terrorist side or the Terrorist side and play in that team for the duration of the first half of the game. A team wins the game when their score exceeds a set amount. A point is scored whenever a team eliminates the opposing team completely or completes their team-specific objective. When the game reaches halftime, the sides will swap; the Counter-Terrorist team will now play as Terrorists and vice versa. The game continues in the second half until one team wins or the game ties (where the game ends with both sides having the same score).

Each round starts with the two teams spawning simultaneously; they are given a few seconds called the freeze time (or buy time) before the round to purchase weapons and equipments. Depending on the server settings, players can usually buy more equipment in the first 90 seconds after the round starts provided that they are in a designated buy zone for their team. The round ends when a team wins the round or when the round's time limit is reached (default is 5 minutes). The next rounds starts after a few seconds.

The game tracks how many players each player has killed, how many times they have died, and gives players money for killing enemies or completing team objectives. It also tracks how many times each team has won. Both teams receive additional money at the beginning of the next round, with the winners of the last round receiving more money than the losers. Surviving players retain their equipment but those who have died will lose them.

All players killed before the round is over become spectators; their chat and voice messages cannot be seen or heard by the players who are still alive, but they are able to spectate for the rest of the round. Unless you're playing Competitive Mode on Global offensive in which your team can communicate with you after they died to call out death location, damage dealt and possible location of the enemy.


Deathmatch is omitted from the list due to its special non-team based gameplay. See the page for more details.

  • Arsenal: Arms Race
    • Killing a player will change the player's weapon to the next weapon in a list of weapons. Getting a kill at the final Gold Knife level will secure victory for the team.
  • Bomb Defusal/Arsenal: Demolition
    • T: Plant the C4 at one of the bombsites and guard it until it explodes.
    • CT: Prevent the Terrorists from planting the C4 until the time limit expires or defuse the C4 after it was planted.