Like the previous games in the series, Global Offensive is an objective-based multiplayer first-person shooter. Each player joins either the Terrorist or Counter-Terrorist team and attempts to complete objectives or eliminate the enemy team. The game operates in short rounds that end when all players on one side are dead or a team's objective is completed. For most game modes, once a player dies, they must wait until the round ends to respawn. Players purchase weapons and equipment at the beginning of every round with money awarded based on their performance. Completing objectives or killing enemies earns the player money while negative actions, like killing a teammate or hostage, takes money away from the player. In addition, when a round ends all players receive some amount of money, with players on the winning team receiving substantially more.
Counter Strike: Global Offensive adds new weapons and equipment not seen in previous installments, most notably the firebomb for each side (Molotovs for Terrorists and incendiary grenades for Counter-Terrorists). These temporarily cover a small area in fire, dealing damage to anyone passing through.
Global Offensive supports matchmaking and leaderboards for all online game modes, provided by Steam. The provided online service offers the ability to filter by game modes, maps and a built-in Steam friend system. Valve also employs Valve Anti-Cheat, which can automatically remove and ban players from the Valve online network. To match players of similar skill levels for an enjoyable experience, the game uses an Elo rating system. The PC version of Global Offensive also supports private dedicated servers that the player may connect to through the community server menu in-game. These servers may be heavily modified and can be completely different from the base game