Riot Games has entered the hero shooter space with its new game, Valorant. Like Riot Games' well-known game, League of Legends, this 5v5 attack and defense team game is free to download and play.
While a first-person shooter isn't typically my game of choice, as a long time League of Legends fan, I was excited to see what Riot's new creation was like. The concerns I had going into this new game were how it would play for someone who is a beginner to this playstyle with it being a PVP game, and if this community would have the same issues League of Legends struggled with.
Valorant is like a cross between Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Overwatch. Like Counter-Strike, one team is trying to plant a spike in the other team's range and detonate it while the other side is defending. Each player only has one life per round. You win by either defeating everyone on the opposing team or successfully detonating or deactivating the spike, depending on which side your team is on that round. The first team to 13 rounds won wins the match.
The two teams begin on opposite sides of the map and start with choosing their weapons for the round. Typically, the team will then decide on their attack or defense strategy and get moving. While making a way to defend or attack the base, players keep an eye out for enemy players and take them out as they come across them since this is one of the ways to win the round. What you do individually as you make your way to the enemy team depends on your agent.
Like Overwatch, there is a large cast of characters, all with unique backgrounds and abilities. There are five unlocked agents when you begin and eleven in total. The more you play, the more agents are unlocked. Each agent in the game has a specific role they play for their team. There are four total roles — duelist, initiator, sentinel, and controller. The duelist is your attacker. The initiator pushes through to the enemy sites. The sentinel holds an area once your team takes it. The controller uses their special abilities to give your team advantages by altering the field.
While in Overwatch, your characters have different difficulty levels, in Valorant, the role that matches your play style is the only thing that will make the characters easier to play. All of the characters across the board require precision to make your hits and headshots are key. Each player is allowed to start by choosing from one of 17 guns. The guns available are not different based on the agent selected; everyone gets to select from the same list. You will only be allowed to use the guns you have earned the money for, so you have to choose carefully, as it resets at the start of each round.
As each player begins Valorant, they are entered into a map called the Range to get acquainted with the game. Players can come back to this map at any time to test out new characters, weapons, and to practice their skill shots and reaction times. As you're going through the entire Range, you can adjust your aim sensitivity and test that in the shooting area as well. This is a great low-pressure way to test out new settings, weapons, and tactics.
New after Beta
On launch day, Valorant released a new map, agent, and game mode. The new game mode is called Spike Rush and has a few changes from the main game mode. In this mode, each player is given the same random weapon, and everyone on the attack side is given a spike they can plant instead of just one person. Basic abilities are free, and orbs are randomly placed on the map to provide special powerups. The idea behind how to win is the same, but to win the match, you have to be the first team to only four round victories.
Because precision shots are such a big part of this game, Riot launched the game with anti-cheat prevention and detection built-in. Their 'fog of war' system makes it so an enemy player won't show up on your map until they are just before your line of sight. Speed and teleportation hacks can be an issue in this style of game, so Valorant games are server-authoritative.
They have continued the use of their anti-tamper system they have with League of Legends and developed Vanguard to instantly ban cheaters, ending the match immediately without punishment to other players. This is a new system that will evolve over time. While ensuring that players have a pleasant experience by limiting the ability to cheat is essential, this anti-cheat is installed in a way that it is always running, even when you aren't playing the game, and can block programs on your computer.
Although there is a way to turn it off, you would have to reboot your PC when you turn it back on to play Valorant every time. There have been players reporting that their computers have been crashing. This seems like a big hindrance with the risk of crashing your computer, having this running in the background all the time, and having to restart the computer each time to play if you disable it from running continuously.
When it comes to the community, however, Riot has made it very easy to have a positive experience playing Valorant with others. As soon as players are finished with the Range, they are shown guidelines to player behavior, focused on working with your team collectively, not aggressively. Players are also given the option to use team and/or party chats. With team voice chat turned on you will be able to talk with your entire team throughout a match, with party voice chat only those you have invited to play with you will come through. This way, if you don't want to speak with other players, you don't have to, but it may make it difficult to strategize if you don't have a full team. But, if you're a beginner and likely to be targeted for criticism from those who don't have respect for the community rules, it may be an experience saver.
If you're a beginner to shooter games, this probably isn't the game for you. I was a bit new in this arena, and while it was cool to see Riot do something different, the focus on precision in shots is vast and will likely be a source of frustration for anyone who isn't used to that style of play. However, if you are a veteran to the style, adding in the combination of special abilities that aid your strategy is a challenging way to mix things up. I personally think that having the original play style go until you hit 13 wins is a bit long, especially if you get stuck with an incohesive team. I found more enjoyment in the Spike Rush game mode as it was a fun way to try out new weapons and is way quicker to get through.
Hopefully, we will see Riot's efforts to prevent cheating and toxicity in the community pay off. I look forward to seeing if Valorant enters the esports arena and what new releases they will come up with as the game and the community grows.