Valuing
Developer Riot Games
Publisher Riot Games
Official site beta.playvalorant.com
release date summer 2020
Genre Multiplayer first person shooter

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 began to be massively streamed on Twitch, which is why it broke the records of the platform, because the developers promised free keys to the game for watching the broadcasts. We managed to get into beta, play a couple of dozen hours and form our opinion about the project. Details below.

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Valorant has a story. Naturally, one should not expect something supernatural from the history of the world and lore in a network shooter, but the creators came up with the following to explain what is happening.

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 heat up relations between countries, so special agents from different parts of the world, they are radiants, converge in battles on special maps.

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Valorant is a classic team shooter where the gameplay is tied to the confrontation of two sides with five players each. If the trailers and streams of Valorant reminded of a copy of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, then it is — the developers from Riot Games decided to play on the field of the famous project, as they once did with Dota 2 and Valve.

But Valorant copies not only this game, so the similarities with Overwatch, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege and other projects are almost immediately visible. It is also similar to CS:GO, where one side has to plant a bomb (its local name is Spike) and the other side has to stop it. Those who first killed the entire enemy team, defused or planted a bomb win the round. Every 12 rounds, the sides change. The match lasts up to 13 wins.

Before the start of the match, gamers are purchased through the «B» key — they give pistols, rifles, shotguns, machine guns, machine guns, light and full armor, as well as special abilities. But the choice is significantly limited, and not all of them are used. So, the shotgun is almost always useless because the average range of most encounters is high. There are exceptions, but they are few. Some heroes can quickly move behind the back of the enemy, while others quietly go around and set up ambushes, so the shotgun is useful for them, but there is still a need to learn how to use skills correctly.

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During the purchase, players can move in limited places 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 requirement of 13 wins drags out the game to half an hour or more. And it’s sometimes annoying. In the future, I would like to add other modes, but the main one is likely to be this one, so get ready for a minimum entry into the game for half an hour.

Valorant is similar to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and the shooter component, as well as the design of maps with many places to shoot through and two or three obligatory points for installing a Spike. Fans of Valve’s shooter will get comfortable here in a matter of minutes, but fans of more dynamic battles in the spirit of «Kolda» and «Battles» will find it boring to play at first.

There is almost no need to strafe here, because maximum accuracy is achieved while standing still, and TTK is very fast, so the collision of two enemies rarely lasts more 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, spread and accuracy of fire, as well as cost. They all look almost the same and at first it is visually difficult to distinguish 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 don’t know if this gun is worse than yours.

Over time, it becomes easier to distinguish it, but it seems that such an impersonality was created on purpose so that gamers go to the local game store for skins, which are on average more expensive than other games here and this is only a beta.

Customization and purchase of visual items in Valorant has already been developed no less than the main gameplay. They sell various cosmetics, including avatars, icons, graffiti, gun trinkets, and more. But they give a lot for free, you just have to complete tasks and raise account levels. Of course, it will take much more time.

Valorant also has its own feature — heroes, they are Agents. So far there are ten of them, but only five are immediately available, and the rest are opening gradually. They are also allowed to be bought in the game store.

All agents are about 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 heroes be larger or smaller than others, in order to make it easier or harder to hit them.

Each agent has its own specialization and four skills. Some masters of reconnaissance, others of disguise, others are called upon to unleash the power of guns on the enemy, and the fourth heal and resurrect themselves and their party members.

Everyone has four skills: one is available immediately, two more can be bought 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 picking up black orbs scattered around the map.

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Agent skills are designed to diversify the gameplay and make the rounds tactically elegant. But this is where the similarity with the same Overwatch in Valorant ends. In Blizzard’s shooter, hero skills matter much more and are spammed on cooldown. Some do not even need to shoot, but only protect or heal teammates, and this will help the team much more.

In Valorant, shooting accuracy comes first, and Agent skills are a nice bonus that ends quickly.

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The visual style of Valorant is cartoonish 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 speed, minimal delay and launch on almost any systems are in the first place.

The developers boast of a tick rate of 128, which means the fastest exchange of information between the game and the server. This leads to smooth gameplay and accurate hit registration, which is critical in eSports.

The local interface is also sharpened for serious online battles — the most understandable and simple, as well as the most detailed statistics after the match, where you can see every step and breath of yourself, your party members and the enemy team.

The hand-drawn, angular and slightly faded style of Valorant is more like not Overwatch, but its free copy of Paladins from Hi-Rez. Such graphics do not eat out the eyes, but are as unusual as possible in 2020. Although you get used to it quickly, and after a couple of hours it seems pleasant.

But about the “omnivorousness” of the game on the most miserable “buckets”, the developers have been cunning so far. True, optimization can be improved on release, but in the closed beta, even on a weak system with a video card equipped with two gigabytes of memory, Valorant barely pulls 80 fps at the minimum settings, which constantly drop to 40–50. For a story-driven single-player game, this is enough, but for a multiplayer shooter, some will find it insufficient. Although the developers themselves assure that 30 fps is a sufficient minimum for a comfortable game.

The local sound is also tailored for esports, so Valorant does not allow itself any excesses — the main thing is to hear the enemy, his steps and party members. The rest is trifles.

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Valorant is unlikely to kill the popularity of CS:GO, but, most likely, the creators did not even think about it. They just wanted to make a new esports hit that would boom like League of Legends, gradually building up an audience and educating a new generation of gamers. Old men will also catch up, but there will be many times less of them, because the same “contra” is more mature. Although Valorant has more tactical and gameplay diversity due to Agents, it will still 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 worthy niche product that will tear off a decent piece of the market and take a place in the hearts of gamers. It’s too early to judge how the eSports side of the project will turn out, but the game has a chance to outshine the barely creeping Overwatch league at the start, and then we’ll see.

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