The tactical shield was a long-forgotten part of Counter-Strike 1.6. For many, the shield was a feature that proved irrelevant and useless. Others lived and died by it. Unfortunately, it was left out of subsequent sequels in the series. However, in a recent update to the game, the tactical shield was added to Danger Zone, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s battle royale mode. Now that we’ve seen the return of the fabled metal slab, it begs the question: Would the tactical shield be viable in competitive game modes?
In 1.6, the tactical shield was impenetrable. The only way to kill an enemy using the cover of the shield was to go around the shield or to use grenades. Additionally, the shield would be used in addition to a secondary weapon. In your left hand you’d be holding your own personal fortress while your right hand was dedicated to your favorite sidearm. This effectively made you a very mobile tank (if that tank only had a pea shooter).
It’s important to note that in the professional competitive scene, the tactical shield was banned, as it was extremely problematic. One of the major issues with the shield can be seen in this clip.
In addition to providing general cover to the body when holding it, you could hold down the alternate shooting button (same button you’d use to scope with the AWP) to bring the shield in front of you, preventing you from being shot at all in the direction you were looking. You could do this while moving to fend off enemy fire while you attempted to retake a site or you could use it to give your teammates mobile cover to peek around in order to prevent enemy rushes. The shield was as versatile as it was useless. You couldn’t hold a primary weapon while you possessed the shield and movement speed was pretty abysmal.
Matchmaking is one of CS:GO’s major selling point, which didn’t exist in the time of 1.6. While the tactical shield was banned in professional play, there was nothing to prevent its use in general community servers. Because of that, there never seemed to be a strong consensus about allowing or disallowing the shield for general play in the same way that there was in professional play. With the shield in Danger Zone already, Valve is in a position to decide if they believe the shield could be a proper competitive weapon.
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Essentially, the game devs could add the shield to matchmaking or keep it as a feature exclusive to Danger Zone. Valve has shown recently that they aren’t opposed to resurrecting old weapons (see: MP5), but they have been extremely careful to keep their new additions balanced. The question at hand boils down to whether or not the shield would be balanced enough to add. In other words, would it break the game?
If the shield mechanics were left identical to the way they were in 1.6, then the shield would be a CT only weapon. If it was changed to a weapon that either side could purchase, the shield would make it significantly easier to take sites and almost unfairly disadvantage the CT side. There is no easy way to make the shield balanced for the T side. Even if we made the viewing slat on the front of the shield a wallbang location, the shield would effectively be a moving wall that the terrorists could use to get into position. It would take away focus from utility, which currently stands as a key part of any T side (although this could be the perfect way to nerf Astralis).
Additionally, the shield would make 1v1 post-plant situations virtually unlosable for the shield holder. For example, planting under the window in the B site of Dust II and sitting on top of the bomb with the shield would prevent the enemy from defusing the bomb while keeping you alive. Even if you didn’t feel like playing cheesy and doing that, you could move to the back of the B platform and only move from the cover of your shield to shoot the defuser. The shield would force the CT side to choose between saving, always fighting for initial site control, or playing for three or more player retakes. This is not the solution to the dilemma of excessively CT sided maps even if it might feel that way.
First and foremost, it’s important to note that anything bought on the CT side can be picked up by any player following death. This means that all issues related to the shield on the T side will still present themselves even if the shield is only purchasable by the CT forces. The only difference in this scenario is that the CT side would be able to effectively choose whether or not they want the T side to gain access to the shield. This would make buying the tactical shield a similar type of risk to purchasing an auto sniper.
But unlike the auto sniper, the risk does not justify the rewards. If we keep the shield exactly as is, then it would nearly break the game for the CT side. The shield would make any small corridor impossible to navigate if used correctly. For example, consider Long A on Dust II. Typically, there is space for one player to move through the door gaps at any given time. If a player with a shield were to take control of that position, they could completely cut off that part of the map without any substantial amount of skill. In this way, the shield would be nearly game breaking.
The tactical shield has been a cool bit of nostalgia that fulfills its purpose in Danger Zone well. However, in matchmaking and competitive play, the shield would only cause problems. It would force T-side to commit to excessive amounts of utility just to compete against CT side, and when used by T side, it would make pushes and post-plant situations nearly impossible to counter. There’s a time and place for everything, but for the tactical shield, that place is not competitive play.