When Riot Games unveiled Valorant, the gaming community immediately took notice. The studio behind the insanely popular League of Legends working on a competitive FPS shooter was always going to turn heads and Riot Games promised to do right by gamers in this fiercely contested and massively saturated genre. A month has passed since its release and we have had plenty of hands on time on it and we are pleased to say that Valorant is not just a competent shooter, but stands easily as one of the best ones out there.
More than just a Counter Strike clone
The Counter Strike comparisons are fair. Heck they are unavoidable purely because Counter Strikes is merged deeply in the DNA of this game primarily through its gunplay. The weapons are almost lifted from Counter Strike and behave and feel the same. A single shot to the head can and will kill and the recoil really needs to be tempered if you wish to land those kills. Beyond just weapons, the primary game mode of defusing the spike (bomb) is pulled straight out from Counter Strike. So how is this not just a Counter Strike clone you ask? Simple; by merging elements from yet another competitive shooter. Overwatch.
Unlike Counter Strike though, the premise from Overwatch doesn’t run as deep. Yes each agent has its own set of abilities and a super ability in the vein of Overwatch but the form of these, often overlapping abilities amongst agents is what really makes Valorant its own. Obscuring vision, blocking sight lines and pathways is the name of the game here and it has all been designed to further the core gameplay mechanic in Valorant which is map control and situational awareness. Jett and Omen for example, have similar abilities known as Cloudburst and Dark Cover which create an orb obscuring vision. Some agents have more damage dealing abilities like Raze with her rocket launch and suicide bot. No abilities appear gimmicky though and great players will utilise these to great and varying degrees. When you combine the raw gunplay of Counter Strike with these abilities, you get a very unique set of results
Competitive to its Core
Its not surprising that the developers behind League of Legends are taking the competitive aspect of their game seriously. The abundance of options available to players to customise their experience from the myriad of ways you can change your crosshairs, minimap, to what server information is on screen is truly commendable.
Even more commendable however is the netcode in the game or more particularly the server tick rate. A 128 hertz server tick rate means players get to enjoy the best network conditions in online gaming and it really is hard to go jump into another game after experiencing just how smooth and reactive the action on screen is. This is something many competitive online gamers have been requesting for years if the likes of Valorant and the competitive Counter Strike community can benefit from this, then there is little justifiable reason for others to not ensure the same kind of quality in their online games.
Over the days and weeks that we have played Valorant, what really is a welcome surprise is just how positive the community is. With Valorant being a team based game, communication is absolutely fundamental to success and for the most part, the community is extremely welcoming and friendly. Maybe Riot Games’ punitive measures deter people from acting like assholes but it seems to work and when we first started playing, several random players were more than happy to assist us when in our noobish ways. This positive community vibe spills into the general feel of the game where, despite its seriousness and competitive streak, team mates are willing to have fun and have a laugh. That kind of feeling in first person shooters has been missing for quite some time.
As you will have seen from our video, Valorant can be a ton of fun and with it being a free to play game (currently only out on PC), we really recommend you try the game. It is extremely generous in its system requirements so anyone can hop in and play the game. With it costing you nothing (although the costs of optional cosmetics for weapons make us balk) you should try it if you are a bit on the fence about whether Valorant has any distinctive qualities. We believe Valorant will be a staple in first eprson competitive gaming for a long time to come and with plenty of support promised by Riot Games, we cannot wait to see the community grow and grow.