Name a more iconic first person shooter map than Counter-Strike’s Dust II, we’ll wait. Originally spawning from a Team Fortress 2 model and a 1.6 original, Dust II was created by David Johnston back in 2001 and has the honour of calling itself one of the few maps to have been in the competitive circuit in every game in the series.
The map is immediately recognisable for most video gamers, having been referenced and even replicated in numerous other titles such as Fortnite, Far Crys 3 and 5 and Minecraft. According to Jess Cliffe, co-designer of the very first Counter-Strike game, it is actually a common misconception to think that Dust II is set in the Middle East, instead being located in a dusty Moroccon town.
Johnston’s aim with Dust II was to create a map that was balanced, fun and easy to play, and the eventual design of the map certainly does indicate that. The map is more symmetrical than any other in the pool and is effectively just made up of three straight lines leading through Mid and either of the bombsites.
There is a degree of strategy surrounding the route up to bombsite A however, with the route complicated a little by the choice between the slower route of Catwalk or the faster, but more hazardous, option of going through Doors and up Long.
Due to its simple and balanced design, in comparison to other maps in the game, Dust has had very little in the way of strategic changes from the developers on each release in the series. Johnston stated on his official blog that keeping the feel of the original Dust map was the key to the look of Dust II, with the slopes, crates, doors and overall sandy look of the setting all returning in his eventual sequel. Dust II received a huge aesthetic renovation during CS:GO, but the feel of the classic retro is still very much there for all to enjoy.
To the surprise of a lot of the community, Dust II actually spent a bit of out of the professional circuit throughout 2017. In February of that year, it was removed from the active pool, given its very own competitive slot for players and was replaced in the competitive selection in favour of the revamped version of Inferno. It eventually came back in April 2018 replacing Cobblestone.
Because of this time on the bench, Dust II’s official plays on HLTV isn’t as high as its popularity would lead you to believe. 8,996 plays puts it behind the likes of Overpass, Inferno, Train and Mirage and only ahead of the ridiculously unpopular Vertigo and the removed maps of Cache and Cobblestone.
It’s official 51%/49% split in favour of T sides makes it one of the very few maps in the game that has a T side bias at all, with the only other competitive one being Vertigo right now. This is presumably down to how hard it is for CTs to reclaim bombsite B once it’s been taken, and the proficiency of T-sided weapons such as the SSG prior to its earlier a couple months back.
CS:GO is the prime example of real money earning games that dominate the competitive Esports world, and Dust II has gone onto become arguably the most famous of all its maps. It’s hard to imagine a Counter-Strike player who hasn’t invested hours into Dust II and boasts a reasonable level of competency on it at this point.