We've been able to play around with the toys Riptide has presented us with for a week or so now, so lets dive in and get our feet wet.
Counter-Strike has undergone a stagnation in the last year. Having gone so long without any updates, every problem and gameplay element had been scrutinised to their highest degree - for example, the M4A4 reigned as the obvious CT option, the Desert Eagle's power had become obviously out of balance and the maps were beginning to be critiqued and tired.
Changes for things were literally being begged for by the community in a small hotfix that would make competitive a little easier; though what no one could have predicted was an operation, a load of skins, all the weapon and map changes we could've asked for all suddenly being dropped on a random day in September. You can never predict Valve's moves, can you?
The M4A1-S has suddenly become the king. Although it's slower fire rate and smaller magazine leave it looking worse than the M4A4, it's damage buff has made it suddenly viable. The pros seem to be having their fair share of practice with it and it's being seen in tournaments across the world. The Deagle is still being used, too - implying that the nerfs to its damage weren't heavily out of proportion, as we've seen in the past (think the AUG and SG damage update!).
Of course, we couldn't go through this article without mentioning Dust II. The most infamous map that will, according to The War Owl, be made in every game that has a map editor, as received a massive change. Sniping into CT from T is no longer an option, as thanks to the bridge put in above suicide. This may not sound like a big change, but it has massive implications to the balance of the map. CT's have an easier time getting to tunnels, making B even more of a tragedy to push as a T, and anyone wanting to challenge the Counter-Terrorist movement to B has to leap into suicide and get one tapped by a scout. It'll be interesting to see how this levels out, but I predict Dust II to be a much more CT sided map for a while.