I never expected this popular PC esports shooter to come to Xbox, and I couldn't be more excited

Image of Valorant on Xbox.
(Image credit: Riot Games)

Summer Game Fest 2024 was always going to be more significant to me than any other Summer Game Fest; after all, I was actually there at YouTube theater watching the show in person. Overall, I was also pleasantly surprised by the quality of the event, with host Geoff Keighley clearly taking in (some) feedback from previous shows. However, one announcement completely caught me off guard, and ended up being the highlight of the entire event.

Valorant, one of the most popular competitive first-person shooter games on Windows PC, is actually coming to consoles later this year. It's a huge shift in strategy for Riot Games, and marks the console debut for the studio's core titles. If you had asked me before SGF 2024, I would've told you I didn't foresee Riot making the jump to consoles — and that Valorant was the last game I'd expect to see land on Xbox or PlayStation. I'm very happy to be proven wrong in this case, though, as Riot Games may have just made it possible for me to do 100% of my gaming on Xbox.

That's because Valorant isn't just coming to console... It's doing so in the best possible way.

Valorant is a free-to-play, fast-paced, precise, and extremely competitive 5v5 player-versus-player first-person shooter centered around a roster of diverse agents (each with their own abilities and skills). It's the exact kind of first-person shooter that seemingly only thrives with a mouse and keyboard, and attracts that same kind of players as similar titles like Counter-Strike 2. Valorant is also one of the largest esports attractions in the world, a space typically dominated by Windows PC.

Even when Riot Games teased that Valorant was about to come to new players in a new way before rolling the trailer at Summer Game Fest, I still couldn't let myself hope that I'd see it on consoles. Valorant would by necessity require a huge amount of work to play well with a controller in hand, and I never expected Riot Games to actually put in the effort. By the end of the trailer (which you can watch above), I knew Valorant was about to take over my free time in an all-new way.

Later this year, Valorant is coming to Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5, but it's not going to be the exact same game that it is on Windows PC. Riot Games has taken into consideration how console gaming differs from PC, and I'm incredibly excited to see for myself if the company was successful in translating Valorant's unique moment-to-moment gameplay to new platforms.

All the right changes for the console platforms

You won't lose any of your purchases or progress when playing Valorant on console. (Image credit: Riot Games)

In order to bring one of my favorite online multiplayer games to my gaming platform of choice, Riot Games had to evaluate what needed to change and what needed to remain the same. How do you retain Valorant's iconic core competitive gameplay while also making the game feel good on a controller? The result of this evaluation means Valorant on Xbox and PlayStation won't be the same as it is on Windows PC, but from what I can see Riot is making all the right changes.

For one, Riot Games has poured resources into tweaking Valorant's gameplay, such as movement, shooting, and agent abilities, to work well with the fundamentally different way you move and aim with a controller. On top of that, Riot is introducing a new "Focus Mode" to imitate the precision of hip firing in Valorant without losing the ability to move quickly or spray. It'll function similarly to "aim down sights" in other console shooters, but interpreted through Valorant's gameplay.

As you can see above, players will have multiple controller layouts from which to choose, with each having benefits for different kinds of players. I'll have to see for myself how these control schemes feel before passing judgement, but I'm optimistic at first glance that Riot got this right. I'm further reassured by the fact that Riot Games will not be implementing cross-play between console and Windows PC players, keeping the different input types entirely separate and preserving the unique feel of the shooter on each platform.

There may be cross-play between Xbox and PlayStation (that hasn't been confirmed yet), but no matter what there will ultimately be two versions of Valorant — each with the same core gameplay, but tweaked in the appropriate ways to take advantage of the unique advantages and weaknesses of mouse and keyboard or controller inputs.

The core gameplay will be identical, but Valorant will look and feel natural on consoles. (Image credit: Riot Games)

However, Valorant won't be entirely separate on console and PC; Riot Games is ensuring no existing Valorant player loses their progress, and that console Valorant players aren't treated like second-class citizens. For one, all your profile history, Battle Pass progression, cosmetics, and store purchases will sync in their entirety across console and PC using your Riot Games account. You won't lose anything for making the jump to Valorant on Xbox or PlayStation, and that's because the platforms will have full content parity.

Riot Games has already confirmed that Valorant on consoles will receive the exact same update treatment as Windows PC — every patch, content update, and new season will arrive on all platforms simultaneously, so that all players are playing the latest and best version of Valorant. On top of that, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers will still benefit from the PC Game Pass Valorant perks, so you'll have all agents unlocked immediately and enjoy a 20% experience boost when progressing through the latest Battle Pass.

It's the perfect blend between console-specific changes and multiplatform synergy, and it gives me faith that Riot Games is committed to making Valorant on Xbox and PlayStation as awesome as possible.

Unexpectedly one of the most exciting announcements

I can't wait to experience Valorant on Xbox for myself. (Image credit: Riot Games)

There were a lot of interesting announcements for me at Summer Game Fest 2024. Alan Wake 2 got a surprise DLC expansion that's releasing almost immediately, Blumhouse is surprising me with an assortment of incredibly enticing horror titles, Palworld is getting a major content update with new Pals, and Capcom's Kunitsu-Gami: Path of the Goddess finally got a release date. That's only scratching the surface, but none of those announcements caught my attention in the same way Valorant on consoles did.

It's not just about one of the only competitive multiplayer games I actually enjoy coming to Xbox. It's also about Riot Games taking the right approach, ensuring that console players are treated right and that Valorant is just as good on Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5 as it is on Windows PC. It's a refreshing change of pace in an industry where companies regularly take shortcuts or make terrible player-frustrating decisions in the name of corporate greed.

Valorant could actually end up being one of the best Xbox games you can play. I never thought I'd be able to say that, and it feels good. However, we can't be too certain yet; Valorant has yet to prove itself on Xbox and PlayStation. Fortunately, Valorant's first test run on consoles comes in the form of a closed beta that players can sign up for now on the Valorant website using your Riot Account. Like Valorant itself, the beta will be totally free to play, although entry isn't guaranteed.

The Valorant beta on Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5 kicks off on June 14, 2024, and I'll be first in line to test the game on console and see if Riot really did pull it off. I hope the studio succeeded, as Valorant is the last PC-only game I still regularly play. It'd be very nice to play it from the comfort of my couch.

Zachary Boddy
Staff Writer

Zachary Boddy (They / Them) is a Staff Writer for Windows Central, primarily focused on covering the latest news in tech and gaming, the best Xbox and PC games, and the most interesting Windows and Xbox hardware. They have been gaming and writing for most of their life starting with the original Xbox, and started out as a freelancer for Windows Central and its sister sites in 2019. Now a full-fledged Staff Writer, Zachary has expanded from only writing about all things Minecraft to covering practically everything on which Windows Central is an expert, especially when it comes to Microsoft. You can find Zachary on Twitter @BoddyZachary.