Art By: Alexander Kumor
The gaming world was shaken when Valorant, the new Riot FPS, launched its closed beta. With millions of people worldwide tuning in to Twitch streams to get their hands on a beta key. Valorant, developed by Riot games the same company that created League of Legends, is a new FPS shooter with aspects of Counter-Strike, Overwatch and other FPS titles respectively. With similar gunplay and round execution as Counter-Strike, mixed in with the abilities of Overwatch, Valorant enticed players from all different walks of FPS. At the start of the beta, I was lucky enough to obtain a key. With my experience in Counter-Strike, I knew that the game would feel very similar. But my experience was a bit different than how I imagined it. Before playing the game I felt that the game was a carbon copy of Counter-Strike with some cartoonish looking characters and overwatch abilities. This, however, was not the case. Here are some aspects of the game that I have experienced throughout my time in the beta.
After playing the closed beta for a multitude of hours, it is apparent that this game is a take on the popular game Counter-Strike. The rounds are best of 13 and each round features the attacking and defending side which switches after half of the rounds have elapsed. This is similar to the T and CT side in Counter-Strike. Again sharing similarities with Counter-Strike, the attacking side must plant a “spike” that will explode after a certain time elapses. The defending side must defuse the spike before it explodes to win the round.
In terms of gunplay, Valorant is Riot’s clear take on Counter-Strike. Each gun features a spray pattern that is consistent for the first half, sporting similar variations from their Counter-Strike counterparts. The movement in Valorant is also similar but with a big catch. Riot has been advertising the removal of peeker’s advantage, something that heavily reigned in Counter-Strike. The guns in Valorant are also very similar to those in Counter-Strike, notably the “Operator” the sniper rifle similar to the AWP, the “Vandal” the one-shot headshot weapon similar to the AK-47, etc.
The abilities in Valorant are somewhat similar to those in Overwatch, yet different. These abilities can be forms of utility such as smokes, damaging items, movement, etc. Instead of having the abilities after a cooldown, each ability must be bought after the end of each round. This is similar to the buying of smokes, flashes, and molotovs in Counter-Strike.
Like Overwatch, one must choose an “agent” at the beginning of the game similar to how someone would choose their hero. However, once you lock in that agent, you are unable to change the agent for the rest of the game, you are locked. Some of these agents are used for initiation, or utility play. Each agent is different and will tailor to different needs.
Riot’s promise of 128 tick servers, less peeker’s advantage enticed many players to switch from their favorite FPS games to Valorant. As a previous Counter-Strike player, I can say with confidence that Valorant holds what Counter-Strike players want in a game. For now, Valorant is interesting enough to keep players playing, and in some cases away from other games.
Compared to other tactical shooters that go for a more serious style, Valorant has a more cartoonish Overwatch style of graphics. Initially, I was not a fan of the graphics, it was simplistic and cartoonish. I prefer a more serious grungy style of game. Over time, it became apparent to me that the graphics were simplistic to spot opponents easier. The simple map ambient made it easy to spot enemies, whereas in other games there would be a lot of clutter covering the enemy.
Graphically Valorant should be able to run on most systems, low or high spec. Although the game is not yet optimized fully due to the beta, once the full game is released optimizations should allow players on all types of PCs to be able to play. Valorant’s graphics were made this way to allow the most players to play the game regardless of their PCs, a huge upside when comparing other FPS games that demand high graphic processing.
The impact of Valorant will affect the developers of Counter-Strike and Overwatch, which will lead to those respective games to rebound. Counter-Strike days after the closed beta opened, released two new updates one including a new map update and a crosshair feature from Valorant itself.
With all the hype that Valorant has generated, the viewership topped the charts on the beta release. 1 million individuals were all watching at the same time to get a key, at the time it had the most viewership on Twitch.tv. Streamers that did not usually receive that much attention started to increase their viewer numbers just by streaming Valorant. It does not look like the hype will stop anytime soon as the viewership is still strong and concurrent.
While Valorant isn’t something we haven’t seen before, it is a new breath of life for those who enjoy tactical competitive shooters.
Valorant’s future in competitive play seems promising, backed by Riot and Tencent games it is sure to leave a mark as the next big Esport game. Within Valorant itself lies a ranked mode where individuals compete against each other to reach the highest rank “Valorant” This is similar to League of Legends where a “Valorant” equivalent would be the Challenger tier of League of Legends.
What does this mean for its competitors? With the hype surrounding Valorant and its creators, prize pools are going to be promising assuming professional competitive play takes off
For other FPS such as Counter-Strike and Overwatch prize pools may have to increase to keep players playing those respective games. Both of these games will be greatly affected by Valorant, with both needing massive updates to keep up with the new competition
Popular streamers from these titles have also converted to the Valorant craze. Streamers such as former CSGO pro Scream, Overwatch player Kephrii, and CSGO Mythic Fl0m have all started to transition to Valorant. Former CSGO players Brax a.k.a Swag and AZK have also joined the professional Valorant team T1. With many FPS influencers and former pro players switching over to Valorant already in its beta, it makes the future promising for upcoming pro Valorant stars.
Whether you are an experienced FPS player or a beginner Valorant is a fun game for all skill levels. While it’s going to take some time to master, the road to the top is going to be exciting. For those who have dabbled in previous FPS titles, this game is going to feel somewhat familiar yet distant at the same time. With spray control and movement similar to CSGO, Counter-Strike players should give Valorant a shot as both games are very similar in their fundamentals. Overall Valorant is a great game and should be followed for the coming months. I encourage everyone to give Valorant a try even if you don’t come from an FPS background.
Pros and Cons
- Valorant is a tactical shooter that encompasses a high skill ceiling to master. It isn’t your average Call of Duty shooter where one can simply aim and shoot. Learning spray control, positioning and angels will separate average players from exceptional players
- It is easy to run when the full game comes out it will be accessible to many different people as it does not take too much power to run
- It takes the aspects that tactical shooter players want and puts all of them into 1 game. A conglomerate of abilities, tactical shooting, 128 tick servers, and lessened peekers advantage.
- The game style feels familiar. Valorant is a conglomerate of previous FPS titles. It is not something we haven’t seen before. Due to this familiarity, those who have played FPS before will be able to transition easily. Counter-Strike players, in particular, will find the gunplay and movement extremely similar if not the same.
- Guns are not that differentiable to each other. In games such as Counter-Strike, it is easier to decipher what type of weapon you are holding or what weapon is on the ground as each weapon is distinct. However, the Valorant models are hard to distinguish from one another as all of them feat a jet black finish. In the future changing up the models, a bit would make it easier to decipher in clutch situations.
- Characters are not as memorable. Compared to their Overwatch and League of Legends counterparts, I just don’t see the Valorant agents as anything special. If anything they look generic and in some ways very similar to characters we have seen in the past. Overwatch characters and even League of Legends champions are more memorable in a sense.
- For some, map design hits right on the spot. For me, having three sites on a map like Haven causes too much conflict. The map is large and feels different to play as essentially the middle of the map is opened up as a new site.