Top 10 Best Games to Play Like Counter Strike 2

Counter Strike 2 might stand first among equals, but here are 10 games that can be just as enjoyable and engrossing.
Counter-terrorists and terrorits fight on Inferno
Image via Steam

Very few games are exactly like Counter-Strike 2 or any of its earlier iterations. It stands atop a mountain mostly of its own making. But today, there are more contenders to the throne. Here are my Top 10 games to play like CS2 (or as close as they can be).

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10 Games to Play if You Like Counter Strike 2

Many titles take some or a lot of inspiration from CS, whether it’s in their gameplay, the level of mastery required, or the stakes present in every match. CS is also a trailblazer for gameplay-centric economies, even if the only other commonality it shares with these other shooters is that you shoot guns. Let’s jump in.

10. Team Fortress 2

The Heavy enjoying(?) a sandwich, but also confused
Image via Valve

Team Fortress 2 shares several key elements with Counter Strike: few aim-down-sight options, role-based classes, and a focus on mastery. Each of its nine classes can take hundreds of hours to properly learn, and you can easily spend thousands of hours with one without losing your love for the game. I’ve got almost 1,800 hours in Team Fortress 2, with about 1,000 as Spy. I still go back from time to time to remind myself why.

9. Hunt: Showdown

Hunters stalking a swamp in Hunt Showdown
Image via Crytek

An old-west, hardcore, permadeath-style FPS, Hunt: Showdown is perhaps one of the most aesthetically unique of its ilk. It shares a lot of DNA with another entry on our list, but its main connection to Counter Strike is the gunplay mastery required to play. Movement within maps is similar, too. You can spend hundreds of hours learning optimal routing and still only be a novice.

8. Escape from Tarkov

A Tarkov PMC holding a rifle on Lighthouse
Image via Battlestate Game

Tarkov, like Hunt: Showdown, is a hardcore FPS. However, EFT is set firmly in the modern day. And like Hunt, its main connection to CS is in the mastery it demands. To actually be good at Tarkov means putting in the work. It can take some players 1,000 hours to leave the newbie stage. CS also influences the game’s massive, mostly player-driven economy. Controlling the recoil of Tarkov’s many weapons is a bit like CS, as well.

7. Squad

Soldiers in Squad fighting in a desert street
Image via Offworld Industries

I’ve put Squad on this list primarily for the sheer volume of teamplay opportunities that occur in a match. Playing Counter Strike 2, and games in the series as a whole, lives and dies on your coordination with teammates. There are, of course, an almost endless amount of shenanigans available in Squad that you won’t necessarily find in classic CS, but the modding scene is bound to change that.

6. Deep Rock Galactic

A horrid monster being fought by dwarves
Image via Coffee Stain Publishing

As with Squad, Deep Rock Galactic is here primarily for its cooperative aspect. The silliness that can occur every match if you’re not trying your brains out is a plus. Public match CS2, like Camelot and DRG, can be a wild place, but it’s one you’ll want to visit again and again to try something new or experience the wonders (and sometimes horrors) of a large community.

5. Ready or Not

Authorities readying to breach a doorway
Image via VOID Interactive

On the flip side of the tryhard angle, Ready or Not is up there on the hardcore scale, simulating high-intensity situations military and police forces encounter. It’s not as fast-paced as Counter-Strike 2, and it doesn’t have a competitive element, but there’s perhaps no other game on this list that demands as much laser focus to play well. Except for CS2 at the highest levels.

4. Insurgency: Sandstorm

Factions fighting in a desert town in Insurgency: Sandstorm
Image via Focus Entertainment

Insurgency: Sandstorm is very much a bridge between the hardcore shooter and more casual options. Though it certainly leans harder on hardcore than it does casual. The weapons, like those in Counter Strike, can be tough to wrangle, there are fewer means of knowing where the next threat is coming from, and the maps are built more specifically to the game mode you play on them.

3. Call of Duty Search and Destroy

Call of Duty Operators standing on a tarmac
Image via Activision

Don’t put me on the hobbling wheel for placing this heresy on a Counter-Strike list, but Search and Destroy is basically CS in CoD. It has all the qualifications and asterisks that statement brings. There’s borderline broken movement tech, killstreaks, less specialized maps, and much more forgiving gunplay, but the core of the Call of Duty game mode and Counter-Strike are essentially equivalent.

2. Rainbow Six: Siege

Siege operators difusing a bomb and thowring C4
Image via Ubisoft

Rainbow Six: Siege is the first of two games on my list that are basically “Counter-Strike but with X” games. The main modes are roughly the same in Siege — defuse a bomb and save hostages — but Ubisoft’s entry adds not only classes but also environmental alteration.

You can win an entire match for your team by looking through a tiny hole in a wall you made with a single bullet (ask me how I know). Or you can deny access to somewhere with a well-placed steel barricade. And like CS, the maps are small but endlessly replayable, with deep shooting mechanics and plenty of learning opportunities with every death.

1. Valorant

Valorant characters fight in a hallway
Image via Riot Games

Valorant is, at its most basic, what you get when you take Counter-Strike and add character abilities. It’s not a carbon copy, as the simple act of adding powers rewrites how engagements can play out, and the map design has to keep that fact in mind.

However, the five-vs-five setup with a buy phase, similar round-based economy, and challenging weapon mechanics without an ADS option push Valorant right up to the line between inspiration and imitation. You could even say that line blurs to the point of nonexistence, but I leave such judgments to those with much more experience playing both games than I have.

That’s my list of the Top 10 games you should play if you like Counter-Strike 2. For more lists like this one, check out our lists of the Top 10 upcoming RPGs to watch in 2024, 10 Best FPS games of 2023, and the Top 10 best CS2 console commands.

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Author
John Schutt
John Schutt has been playing games for almost 25 years, starting with Super Mario 64 and progressing to every genre under the sun. He spent almost 4 years writing for strategy and satire site TopTierTactics under the moniker Xiant, and somehow managed to find time to get an MFA in Creative Writing in between all the gaming. His specialty is action games, but his first love will always be the RPG. Oh, and his avatar is, was, and will always be a squirrel, a trend he's carried as long as he's had a Steam account, and for some time before that.