In early April, Riot Games, the creator of the popular MOBA League of Legends, began a closed beta test of the new multiplayer shooter Valorant. The game was massively streamed on Twitch, which is why it broke the platform’s records, because the developers promised free keys to the game for viewing broadcasts.
Valorant has a plot. Naturally, from the history of the world and LOR in a network shooter, you should not expect something supernatural, but to explain what is happening, the creators came up with the following.
In the near future, a certain «First Light» occurs on Earth — a mysterious event that gives some people abilities. These are called radiants. They change the structure of the world and inflame relations between countries, so special agents from different parts of the world, they are also radiants, converge in battles on special maps.
Valorant is a classic team shooter, where the gameplay is tied to the confrontation of two sides with five players on each. If the trailers and streams of Valorant reminded a copy of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, then so it is — the developers of Riot Games decided to play on the field of a famous project, as they once did with Dota 2 and Valve.
But Valorant copies not only this game, so almost immediately you can see the similarity with Overwatch, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege and other projects. It is also similar to CS:GO, where one side must set a bomb (its local name is spike), and the second to prevent it. In the round, the winner is the one who first killed the entire team of the enemy, defused or installed a bomb. Every 12 rounds, the sides change. The match lasts up to 13 wins.
Before the start of the match, gamers are purchased using the «B» key — they are given pistols, rifles, shotguns, submachine guns, light and full armor, as well as special skills. But the choice is significantly limited, and not all of them are used. So, a shotgun is almost always useless, because the average range of most collisions is high. There are exceptions, but they are few. Some heroes can quickly move behind the back of the enemy, and others quietly bypass and ambush, so they are useful shotgun, but there is still to learn how to correctly apply skills.
During the purchase, players can move to restricted locations on the map on each side. These zones are much closer to each other than in CS:GO, so after the start of the round, enemy collisions, with rare exceptions, occur literally immediately.
Because of this, rounds in Valorant rarely last more than one or two minutes, but the minimum requirements of 13 wins delay the game up to half an hour or longer. In the future, we would like to add other modes, but the main one is likely to be this one, so get ready for a minimum of half an hour in the game.
Valorant is similar to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive with shooter component, as well as the design of maps with a lot of places for shooting and two or three mandatory points for installing a spike. Fans of the Valve shooter will get used to it in a few minutes, but fans of more dynamic battles in the spirit of «Kolda» and «Battles», play at first will seem boring.
There is almost no need to strafe , because the maximum accuracy is achieved standing still, and the TTK is very fast, so the collision of two enemies rarely lasts longer than a couple of seconds, but most often it ends with an instant headshot.
Guns of the same class in the game received different characteristics, the spread and accuracy of shooting, as well as the cost. All of them look almost the same and at first it is visually difficult to distinguish them from each other. Especially in the heat of battle, when you want to pick up the enemy’s weapon and catch yourself thinking that you do not know whether this gun is worse than yours.
Over time, it becomes easier to distinguish it, but it seems that this facelessness was created specifically for gamers to go to the local game store for skins, which are on average more expensive than other games and this is only beta.
Customization and purchase in Valorant is already developed no less than the main gameplay. They sell various cosmetics, including avatars, icons, graffiti, keychains for guns, and so on. But many things are given for free, you only need to complete tasks and raise the account levels. Of course, this will take much longer.
Valorant has its own feature — heroes, they are also Agents. So far, there are ten of them, but only five are immediately available, and the rest are opened gradually. You can also buy them in the game store.
All agents are approximately the same build, regardless of race, gender, and specialization, so no one has any advantages over others. In Valorant, the ability to shoot often decides, especially from medium and long distances. Because of this, it was important not to let some characters be more or less than others, so that it became easier or more difficult to hit them.
Each agent has its own specialization and four skills. Some masters of intelligence, others of disguise, others are called to bring down the power of weapons on the enemy, and the fourth heal and resurrect themselves and their fellow party members. All have four skills: one is available immediately, two more can be purchased in the store along with weapons, and the last one is an ult, the readiness of which depends on the number of kills, rounds won and the selection of black spheres scattered on the map.
Agent skills are designed to diversify the gameplay and make the rounds tactically elegant. But this is where the similarity with the same Overwatch Valorant ends. In the Blizzard shooter, the skills of the heroes are much more important and are spammed by cooldown. Some do not even need to shoot, but only protect or treat their teammates, and this will help the team much more.
In Valorant, shooting accuracy comes first, and Agents ‘ skills are a nice bonus that quickly ends.
Valorant’s visual style is cartoon-like and as simple as possible. The developers immediately said that they did not focus on external beauty, but on practicality and technical jokes, because the game is positioned as a new eSports discipline, which means that the first place is speed, minimal delay and launch on almost any systems.
Developers boast a 128 tickrate, which means the fastest exchange of information between the game and the server. This leads to smooth gameplay and accurate registration of hits, which is critical in eSports.
For serious online battles, the local interface is also sharpened — as clear and simple as possible, as well as detailed statistics after the match, where you can see every step and sigh of yourself, your fellow party members and the enemy team.
The hand-drawn angular and slightly faded style of Valorant is more like its free copy of paladins from Hi-Rez than Overwatch. This graphics does not eat your eyes out, but it is most unusual in 2020. Although you get used to it quickly, and after a couple of hours it seems pleasant.
The local sound is also sharpened for eSports, so Valorant does not allow itself any excesses — the main thing is to hear the enemy, his footsteps and fellow party members. The rest is trivia.
Valorant is unlikely to break the popularity of CS:GO, but most likely, the creators did not think about it. They just wanted to make a new eSports hit that would thunder like League of Legends, gradually building up the audience and nurturing a new generation of gamers. Old people will also catch up, but they will be many times less, because the same «contra» is more mature. Although the tactical and gameplay diversity of Valorant is more due to Agents, but it still will not be enough for fans of more intense shooters and fans of Royal battles. For them, the project will be boring.
In any case, Riot Games has turned out to be a decent niche product that will tear off a decent chunk of the market and take a place in the hearts of gamers. It is still too early to judge how the eSports side of the project will develop, but the game has chances to eclipse the barely crawling Overwatch League at the start, and then we will see.