Insane flicks, Godly clutches, 1000 IQ plays, Hilarious mishaps, Salty losing-team, and toxic winners. These elements, combined with great game-play, make this first-person shooter game worth playing. Counter-Strike Global Offensive, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege, Apex Legends, and Call of Duty Modern Warfare/Warzone dominate the first-person shooter market currently with a huge player-base. Any game trying to challenge these heavyweights should be firing on all their cylinders. Valorant, Riot's first entry into the competitive FPS genre, does just that. It masterfully executes the tried and tested shooter formulas like impactful gunplay, hero class/abilities, and round-based bomb mode. Although there is nothing in this game that sticks out for being innovative or unique and hence it lacks originality, but Valorant is not even trying to win the audience by being original. It just wants to be a fun, easy to play, highly accessible first-person shooter.
Same Old Formula
Valorant is in no way a new concept in gaming. It borrows almost everything from other FPS games like Counter-Strike and Overwatch, mainly CSGO. Both Valorant and CSGO have similar 5 vs 5 bomb mode, weapon economy systems, gunplay, recoil patterns, and movement. Even with many similarities, Valorant feels more easy, casual, and arcade-ish than its counterpart and is as much competitive. Counter-Strike players will feel right at home in Valorant.
Another game it takes inspiration from is the fast-paced fps, Overwatch. The fantasy-like abilities and agent/hero selection in both these games seem similar in style.
Also, Valorant might seem similar to Rainbow Six Siege due to the guns plus hero abilities combination, but this is a silly comparison as R6S is an entirely different beast. I doubt any fps game will ever come close to the deep-rooted and complex system of Rainbow Six to which Valorant is the complete opposite of, simple and as much sweaty or even more.
Valorant feels inspired by many other popular games of its genre and lacks originality, but that does not stop it from being great. It has almost nailed every aspect of a First-Person Shooter game.
Simplicity is the Ultimate Sophistication
Valorant has hit it out of the park with the game-play aspect simply because it is simple and has ticked the box for everything that makes an fps game enjoyable. It has three different game modes, which include Spike Rush, Unrated, and Competitive. Unrated is probably the best game mode that defines Valorant. Two teams with five players each compete in two styles, defense and offense which alternates after the completion of 12 rounds, and the first one to win 13 rounds wins the match. The attacking team tries to plant the bomb, which is called spike at bomb sites A, B, or C. (They are either two or three depending upon the map). The team on defense has to stop them from planting the spike or defuse the spike. The spike takes 4 seconds to plant, 7 seconds to defuse, and 45 seconds to detonate. Either team can also win the round by eliminating all the players on the opposing side. With the completion of each round, players earn money, which is called credit, depending upon their performance. These credits are then used for purchasing different weapons and signature agent abilities, which we will dive more into later on. At the start of each round, players have 800 credits, enough to buy light armor and some cheap handgun. There is a bonus system in which the players are awarded a loss bonus (maximum 2900 credits ) or a win bonus(3000 credits) and a 200-credit reward per kill. Competitive mode is just Unrated with an added pressure that your rank in-game is at stake. Spike Rush, on the other hand, leans more towards casual play and fast-paced action. In Spike Rush, much like unrated teams are split into an offensive and a defensive side, but rather than only one spike, all the attacking team members will receive a Spike. The first team to win four rounds wins the match. Also, the various orbs that are buffs for us or nerf for the opposing team are scattered across the map, which livens up the game even more. As of now, Valorant has 9 different types of orbs. This table from Valorant Wiki summarizes all the orbs, their icons, and uses. In Spike Rush, there is no economy system like the standard mode. Both teams will start the match with the same weapons, armor, and abilities. This game mode makes Valorant feel more aggressive and fast-paced.
Did Riot Games Even Try?
Valorant shares many game-play aspects with Counter-Strike, but the clear and most apparent similarity is the weapon variety. Not saying that it's a straight rip off of CSGO guns as the weapon values, damage output, and spray pattern do differ. Looks like Riot Games themselves don't want to shy away from the fact that they took inspiration from Counter-Strike. Personally, I find this lazy, and it also shows the unwillingness of the developers to take the risk. They probably did not want the headache of balancing weapon-system and wanted to improvise on the pre-existing meta of a similar game. The chart below shows the exact equivalent of Valorant guns to that of CSGO. [table id=2 /] With such excellent and punchy gunplay, Riot should have created something truly original. It is disappointing to think about the wasted potential here.
Spray & Pray?
Valorant builds on top of CSGO-esque weapons and adds the ability to aim down sights, making the gunplay so much better and satisfying. The recoil pattern of weapons is the hybrid of RNG and fixed pattern. Yup that is confusing. What this means is that RNG recoil is activated only after shooting a certain number of bullets(said to be 7 bullets which I can't say as a fact) with a regular pattern. This again is a bit deeper as the RNG part is the straying of bullets. Bullets stray left and right randomly, and to counteract this, we need to look at the movement of the gun sway beforehand and counter it. Riot says that the RNG spray pattern was implemented to reduce the "spray and pray" play-style. From my experience, this will undoubtedly hurt casual experience(those players who don't care about recoil patterns and just want to shoot) as the potential of multi-fragging is severely reduced with the random spray activation. This implementation of the RNG spray pattern is very clever, and currently, there is no other big fps game with such a system.
Agents are the Soul of Valorant
Valorant feels fresh and manages to differentiate itself from CSGO because of these agents. They make Valorant dynamic, unpredictable, and flashy. From Raze's annoying and flashy one-shot KO rocket launcher to Cypher's stealthy and surprising Trap-wires, agent abilities define it. What I first noticed when playing the tutorial with an agent called Sova is the synergy between the abilities. Shoot the recon bolt or use owl drone to reveal the enemy position and then either shoot with a shock bolt or use his ultimate to deal damage. A similar synergy exists between the abilities of different agents as well. If the enemy team is rushing, create a wall with Sage and use Jett's super jump-thingy to go above the created wall and catch some players off-guard. There are many more creative ways to use the abilities which make the game super fun. These signature abilities are the heart and soul of Valorant and enhance the already strong game-play to a greater height. [gallery columns="1" size="full" jnewsslider_zoom="true" jnewsslider="true" ids="2113,2115,2114" orderby="rand"] Valorant provides plenty of play-styles to choose from. Each agent is divided into four classes: Initiators, Controllers, Duelists, and Sentinels with which their play-style also differs. Initiators are semi-support agents who push defenders away, eliminate the enemy line of sight, and help their fraggers push upfront. Sova and Breach are the only two agents belonging to this class. This is certainly the most under-used class in Valorant. Controllers are like initiators but a bit more aggressive. They can block enemy vision, completely stop them in their tracks, and can efficiently push along with the Duelists. Viper, Brimstone, and Omen fill this class. Controllers see their fair usage in Valorant matches. Duelists are the aggressive agents that directly engage with enemies. Their sole job is to push and get kills. This is the most popular class. Why? Ahh, we all know it, because our teammates are kill-hoggers. Reyna, Jett, Raze, and Phoenix are the agents in this annoying class. Sentinels are the hardcore-support players that deserve all the respect in the world because they play for the team and not themselves. Cypher and Sage players lock down the area for flanks of the enemy team and watch duelists hog all the glory just because they got more kills. All the 11 agents in Valorant provide unique game-play in their way but lore and personality-wise, they are dull and uninspired. For a First Person Shooter game, it is unnecessary, but there are other similar games(Overwatch, Rainbow Six Siege) that provide in-depth character background. The random dialogues agents say at the start of the round do help a bit in this regard but not to the extent that we fully know the characters.
Battlegrounds are Unique but Linear
Map design is another key feature that either makes or breaks a shooter game. Valorant launched with 4 maps and each has a distinguishing feature. Ascent has closable doors and a courtyard, which is always the choke point for attackers and defenders as it is used for rotation. Haven is the only map with 3 bomb sites. Bind is probably the most unique map in Valorant because of the two-way teleporters that provide quick rotation from one site to another. Split has these ropes that we can ascend and descend. Riot is trying to differentiate each map and that is perfectly fine. Still, after playing the game for over 100 hours, these features make the map easily recognizable but linear, too, as players' actions are easily predictable. They could've combined some of these features to make a non-linear and dynamic map. They feel repetitive after peeking the same angle for the 100th time and holding the same choke point again and again. Some FPS do succeed with such an approach, too, like Counter-Strike: GO, but for a new game like Valorant, we have to wait and see whether the players will get exhausted or not.
Modest Look, Clean Presentation
Valorant looks generic, but as always looks are subjective. The aesthetic of the game matches the fantasy vibe Riot is trying to set-up. Character models look crisp and sharp, and maps look clean and clutter-free. The user interface is on another level. The accessibility options are cleanly lined up. Navigation is as Smooth as Silk!
Thud, Smack, Whack!!
The cardinal rule of Valorant is "Walk, Walk and Walk." This game is very punishing when it comes to the sound of footsteps. The "thud" noise while running is very loud and will reveal your position way before you even reach your destination. While walking, you feel like you are floating on air, no thuds at all. Other simple sound effects of abilities deployment, the firing of bullets, kill sounds, and agents voice acting are noteworthy. The system never feels chaotic or rough even during high-paced actions of drastic gadget deployments or blazing guns.
Can Your Rig Handle Valorant?
Riot Games aimed for universal accessibility with Valorant which is probably the reason for the game's non-demanding graphics and its being free-to-play. Optimization is top-notch. There is every type of visual setting to customize your experience with Valorant so that you can get your desired fps. On my PC with i7 8700k and GTX 1070Ti, the frame rate never dropped below 130 on ultra-preset. Any medium-spec rig can get above the standard 60 fps on Valorant. Riot Games have officially released the specifications as:
Anti-Cheat & Servers
Riot-Vanguard is the anti-cheat system used in Valorant. It detects and blocks any other running software that violates the anti-cheat policy of the game. It seems to be effective as I only found like 2-3 hackers in 100+ hours of my playtime. This is surprisingly low, considering the popularity and free-to-play nature of Valorant. Valorant has 128 Hz tick-rate servers, unlike other competitive FPS like CSGO(128 on community servers only) and Rainbow Six Siege(64 all across). 128 Hz tick rate means that the server can send packages to the client 128 times per second, which means better hit registration and less sense of delay. Kudos to Valorant for understanding what FPS players actually want. Valorant has SEAS server, hence we Nepalese get the standard ping of around 80-120 ms. If you get more than 120ms ping, then you must seriously reconsider your ISP.
Streaming and E-sports Potential in Nepal
Being a free-to-play title has made Valorant very relevant in Nepal, and there are probably thousands of Nepalese playing this game right now. But like every other game except PUBG Mobile, no game is big enough to have streaming or large-scale e-sports potential. It's a sad reality we forcefully have to accept. CSGO and Dota 2 have been around for ages, but their streaming scene has never picked up momentum here, and Valorant is sure to suffer the same fate.
Is Valorant Worth your Time?
- Satisfying Gun-Play
- Silky Smooth Game-play
- Agent Abilities make the game dynamic
- Clean UI and Presentation
- Effective Anti-Cheat
- 128 tick rate Servers
- Unoriginal Concept
- Generic Visuals
In short, Valorant is plain-simple, pure fun, and highly dynamic play that builds upon the game-play of already established games.