Level Design Difference between Wingman & Retake Mode – CSGO Game Analysis

Introduction of CSGO

As a CSGO gamer with a duration of up to 2,200 hours, I compared 2 game modes in CSGO, which is the official Wingman and the Retake Mode from the player community.My analysis is focused on the level design of these modes, and how those difference influence players’ choice during clutching.

Since there are several different maps for these two game modes separately, map Shortdust and Dust2 were selected as examples (The predecessor of Shortdust is De_Dust in CS1.6 ).

In conclusion, Wingman is more suitable for players to improve the Clutch processing ability.

Background of Clutch

The CS series is a 5v5 multiplayer confrontation FPS game. The rules of the Competitive is well-known so that won’t be introduced again. During the progress of one round in Competitive, a special situation will appeared, the Clutch, which happens when both teams lose some members but still needs to fight to the end.

Mechanical analysis of Clutch’s core gameplay

In the Clutch, the strengh of CT and T sides will be unbalanced due to the loss of team members, which make the information of opponents intent more important. Meanwhile, because of the insufficient members and projectiles,neither side can gather full information of the defensive and offensive layout and details. In other words, the fog of war has become more intense, and both sides are unable to figure out the opponents’ intentions. Therefore, in the Clutch, the player’s abilities to gather, analyze, and utilize the information properly was necessary and vital. It includes reconnaissance, prevention of information leakage, analysis of the gathered information, and deception using false information.

In CSGO, information mainly has the following manifestations, which are roughly divided into two categories, intuitive and non-intuitive.

IntuitiveSee the enemy directly
Non-intuitiveBased on soundFoot Step
Numbers of Firearms’ Sound
Other detailed sounds (dropping items, waving knives, throwing grenades)
Planting and defusing bombs
Based on UtilityNumber of Grenades
Intensive use of Grenades

To make the analysis simple, only the information based on sound will be included.

To emphasize, the core skills of the Clutch gameplay are information gathering, analysis, and unitilization.

Common Contents in level design

In a level in video game, there are commonly 4 kinds of different contents. The specific contents in each game level are decided by the deliverables.


The overall structure of the level, the world view and other environmental backgrounds.


The difficult area during gameplay. It is out of the player’s expectations and can increase the player’s mood swings (success/failure). It is also used to control the pace of the battle.

In single-player games, Chokepoints are usually the refreshment point of the emeny. In multi-player games, they are the conflict area in which two sides engage.

Architectural relevance        

The flat, non-intense flow during gameplay. It means the continuity of a level, less abrupt changes in scene. It can lower player’s mood swing, by having the level fits to player’s expectations.

Area Guidance      

Some special and tricky areas which can give players clue. Players can except what will happened in front.   The following analysis will focus on the above four points for different deliverables. 

Wingman Level Design Analysis

Shortdust level structure image


In general, based on my game experience and previous analysis, the official devierliables of Wingman are as follows:

Retain most of the original deliverables in the Competitive mode

A game experience with a small number of people (2 on each sides)        

Improve the Clutch processing skill to better play in the Competitive   

What will players experience in Wingman?


Wingman’s map is smaller than the Competitive’s map and only has one bombsite so that each teams has a possibility to gain control by only two players.

However, the complexity of the map has not changed significantly. Both T and CT have 2-3 paths leading to the bombsite, making the players’ gameplay as complex as the Competitive.


The following picture shows the comparison of bombsites between Wingman and Competitive. The red circle is the conflict zone, and the blue rectangle is the area for players to relax before the engagement. It can be seen that the Wingman has fewer choke points, which is more suitable for fighting when there are fewer people.

Shortdust Conflit Area
Dust2 Conflit Area

And even though the number of bombsites is reduced, before the player reaches the bombsite, the blue area is still reserved for the player to relax, to achieve the same “relaxation – tension – relaxation” battle rhythm that is the same as the competitive mode.

How it has a better Clutch experience than Competitive?

According to the previous analysis, the core gameplays of the Clutch are the gathering, analysis, and utilization of information.


The figure below shows the maximum distance at which the player can obtain the information when an event occurs.

It can be seen that in the Wingman, even if there is still two or more corners away from enemies, the player can easily collect enemies’ information by sound

The circles with same colour in different map have a same size. It indicates that in the same sound information range, the structure of Wingman’s map is more complex than that the Competitive. Furthermore, though the enemies make some noise and disclose their direction of the player, their exact position is still uncertain. That means player need to analyse the sound information more carefully than in Competitive. It enhances player’s ability on information analysis. After the player gambles on enemies’ intent, they need to counterattack. They can hind in a corner waiting for ambush or make a decoy to lead the enemies go to the wrong way. These two are only the example choices, there are still more choices depends on player’s utilization of the sound information.

Chokepoint (Conflict Area)   

The choke points at the beginning of each round of Wingman have been mentioned in Figure 1.2. In the middle stage of the round, due to the small area of ​​the map and the extensive roads, players can quickly rush to the scene after collecting information and engage in battle. At the same time, since there are only two players on both sides, it is impossible to control multiple areas, so when the player’s team goes to the next area, it means giving up control of the original area.

Shortdust Infromation Range
Dust2 Infromation Range

As result, the relative position of the two sides and rapid changes and the conflict zones also changing, which in turn makes the player needs to re-gather, analyse, utilize information. This cycle of core gameplay from time to time enables players to improve the Clutch processing skill.

Game behaviour and experience classification

Simple enjoyment: information gathering        

Difficult enjoyment: analysis and application of information        

Communication enjoyment: communicate with teammates at all times        

Core gameplay cycle: information gathering, analysis, application – change relative position-information gathering, analysis, application        

Comparison analysis of the Retake Mode level


Improve the Clutch handling ability (unachieved)        

Improve the ability of offensive and defensive points        

Refreshing battle, shorter round time        

Design contents


Retake Mode scenario: T side has already planted the bomb and have the full control of the bombsite. T side needs to prevent the bomb from being defused. CT side needs to regain the control of the bombsite and defuse the bomb before it explodes. Because the full control of a bomb side is a huge advantage for T side. The number of terrorists is always one less than the polices, which make the game roughly balanced.

The following image shows the start position of CT and T sides. Four terrorists all start at one position, and five polices start among three positions randomly. It clearly shows from the map that polices have nearly no choice of the route to attack the bombsite, with only 40 seconds before the explosion. Moreover, there is no need for players to gather, analyse, and utilize information. At the same time, there is no possibility to change the relative position, so the core gameplay cycle of “information gathering, analysis, application – change relative position-information gathering, analysis, and application” does not exist. Therefore, the Retake Mode level design did not achieve the deliverable of enhancing the Clutch handling capabilities.

Retake Mode level structure diagram

Chokepoint (conflict area)        

There is no blue block for players to relax their mood, so the battle rhythm is so fast, thus achieving the deliverable of refreshing battle.

The conflict areas are all around and inside the package points. Players are constantly attacking and defending near the bombsite, practicing targeted exercises, and achieving the deliverable of improving the ability to attack and defend the bombsite.

Retake Mode conflict zone


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