Riot Games, creators of the wildly successful MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) League Of Legends, have dipped their toes in the world of FPS (first person shooter) and struck gold. Valorant is a competitive 5v5 character-based tactical shooter where in Riot’s own words, “Creativity is your greatest weapon.” So, what makes Valorant worth checking out? Well, I will be doing my best to break that down for you.
Obtaining a Beta Key
Although Riot only released the closed beta for Valorant on April 7, the game has made a huge splash in the FPS world. For one, Valorant has shot to the number one highest viewed game on Twitch, with an impressive 3.2 million followers and growing. How is this possible during a closed beta, you ask? Currently, the only way to get a key to the closed beta is by connecting your existing Riot account to Twitch, then watching Valorant streams with the drops enabled tag, and praying to whatever deity you believe in that the algorithm takes mercy on your soul! Prior to the release of the Valorant closed beta, I didn’t have a Riot account. I created my account on April 13, linked it to Twitch, and began to watch. On April 25, I got the email that the beta was now mine, so if you’re just getting started, don’t be discouraged if you don’t get an email with your key right away. Good things come to those who wait.
Now you have your key and it’s time to play, here’s what you need to know about the Valorant Agents. Agents are your playable characters, and each comes with a unique set of skills and abilities that you must use along with the raw power of artillery to outsmart and out gun the opposing team. Agents are categorized in one of four ways: Initiator, Controller, Duelist, or Sentinel.
- Initiators are trick shotters. They use their abilities and the power of geometry (angles) to clear the point for the rest of the team. Current Initiator agents include Breach and Sova.
- Controllers are a support class that uses their abilities to create walls and obstacles in order to split an area and help their team move in unseen. Current Controller Agents include Brimstone, Omen, and Viper.
- Duelists are your team’s DPS (damage per second), Their abilities allow them to send out frag-like abilities that cause constant damage to the poor fools hit by them. They are usually in charge of first contact with the enemy team. Current Duelist Agents include Jett, Phoenix, and Raze.
- Sentinels are your defense and healers, Although they pack a punch like everyone else, their main objective is to lock down and defend flanks while administering healing to the other three categories. Current Sentinel Agents include Cypher and Sage.
Admittedly I have not played every character yet. I started with Sova and fell in love with him; however, when I can’t snatch him, my second favorite is Raze and third favorite is Phoenix. Sova’s abilities allow me to basically see through walls and around corners which makes it insurmountably easier to get 180 degree shots and pre-fire kills or to know exactly where to aim my ultimate. Raze and Phoenix have captured my heart for the same reason: fire and explosions. There’s something incredibly satisfying about getting a bot buddy or fireball kill after launching it into a direction you thought, maybe, someone was at a second ago. All said, I am immensely interested in trying out and mastering each operator out now and those to come.
Time to Play
Now you have a character, and it’s time to play. First, you will play through a quick tutorial that teaches you the basics of the game. You learn that your objective as an Agent is to either attack or defend an objective. Attackers are tasked with storming an objective, taking control of the site, planting the Spike (bomb), and defending it from defusal until detonation. Defenders are tasked with preventing the Spike from being planted by defeating all enemies or defusing the Spike once it’s planted. Along with these game basics, you learn about Valorant’s economy system. Each round begins with a buying phase, where you spend your previously earned credits to purchase better guns, armor, and ability charges. Credits are earned by getting assists, kills, plants, and of course, by winning the round.
After the tutorial, you and your team will be launched into one of three current maps: Bind (code name Duality), Haven (code name Triad) , or Split (code name Bonsai), to fend for yourselves and strive for sweet victory. Don’t worry, you only have to win thirteen rounds. How hard could it be? Let’s get to these maps. Bind is a two-point map with a dusty desert town theme, Haven is a three-point map with an imperial city theme, and Split is a two-point map with a vague, post apocalyptic aging city theme. Each map comes with its own list of callouts for each room, corridor, or tower it may have. These callouts help your team determine where enemies are or are coming from. Getting at least a vague grasp on them will help your team ensure victory; however, learning them is not absolutely necessary to do well in the game.
I have a few opinions about these maps. Firstly, Split is arguably the worst of the three current maps. The Split map contains only two points, A and B, so there is less to worry about if you’re defending. However, being an attacker or an aggressive defender on this map is an absolute hellscape as it contains more angles than a hectogon, making roamers easy pickings for a corner camper. Even though I have major issues with Split, I love the other two maps, Bind and Haven.
Bind is another two-point map; however, it contains a natural amount of angles and several portals to travel quickly from point A to B or vice versa. Though be warned: portal travel is risky as anyone near the portal opening can easily hear when someone goes through, so be ready to open fire if you use this method of travel. I learned very quickly that there is nothing more frustrating (or satisfying) than a portal kill, depending on who is on the receiving end.
Haven is the only three-point map currently available, and it is also my favorite map. The theme of Haven personally tickles my appreciation for imperial architecture and design, and provides fresh gameplay round by round as there are so many different ways to attack and defend the three points. Each point in Haven has several access points for attackers to attempt to penetrate and equally as many points of defense for long range and close range combatants. I just really love Haven.
Now that you’re trained up and understand the game, you’re clicking heads and making callouts like you have the mini-maps tattooed on your brain, it’s time to get serious. It’s time for Ranked Play! Ranked Play was released for North America servers on April 30, and was released on European servers after the hotfix patch on May 1.
Valorant ranks are awarded as follows from lowest to highest rank: Iron, Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond, Immortal, and VALORANT. Each rank has three tiers within the rank that you must surpass to rise to the next. Ranked matches work the same as regular matches, except in these matches, you are judged on your abilities as well as the match outcome itself. As in all ranked systems, abandoning a match will lead to reduced progression in your ranking and game restrictions. Games where you and your team have decisively smashed the enemy team will yield a stronger effect on your rank while close matches will impact it less. So don’t worry too much, and have fun, yeah?
I have not tried any ranked matches yet, but feel confident that with the right team mixed with mediocre snap shots, callouts, and jokes I could achieve at least high bronze to low silver. Wish me luck, everyone.
Overall, I believe that Valorant really is the next juggernaut of FPS and has the potential, if properly nurtured, to overtake Overwatch and possibly even Fortnite in popularity. Here’s to you Riot, you made one fun game. Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to gather up my credits, grab my weapon of choice, and click heads to my heart’s content.
Update: Riot has announced that Valorant will be released on June 2, 2020.