VALORANT is a free-to-play 5 vs. 5 first person shooter published by Riot Games, well-known for creating the game League of Legends, and is in a closed beta version at the time of writing this. In the game, you play as one of ten ‘Agents’ with different abilities, with access to a variety of guns you can purchase. The first team to reach 13 total rounds won will win the game, with both sides switching between being the attacking and defending team after 12.
Both teams have different goals to accomplish in order to win a round. The attacking side needs to plant a Spike at a designated spot and let it detonate, or kill all members of the defending team. The defending team needs to either prevent the Spike from being planted or defuse the Spike after it is planted, and they can also kill all members on the attacking team to win.
The game is very similar to the Counter-Strike series in terms of objective, guns, and movement. Even with these similarities, VALORANT has aspects about it that make it different from anything in the Counter-Strike series.
As mentioned earlier, VALORANT has ten playable characters called ‘Agents’ with a variety of abilities that only they have access to. Each character has two abilities they can purchase at the start of every round, an ability that recharges every round, and their ultimate ability that gains progress in order to be used by gaining kills, dying, collecting orbs found throughout the map, and planting or defusing the Spike. Each game I played felt unique, as people tried out different strategies that a character or a certain combination of characters can do. It felt engaging to try and anticipate what the enemy would do with their abilities they had available.
For me, these characters were the main source of appeal for this game, but there are some minor qualities that are also interesting to mention as they have not been commonly seen in other first person shooter games. Your crosshair, or aiming reticle, in the game can be customized to each player’s best interest. Riot Games has stated that they will introduce systems that allow for lower latency, or delay between input and what you see on your screen, for every VALORANT player. They’ve even introduced Riot Vanguard, an anti-cheating system that runs on your device in the background and stops possible cheating software from running.
Now, are these differences that VALORANT has when compared to something like the Counter-Strike series significant enough to make it a unique game? Personally, I believe so. Instead of only relying on gunplay, players will also have to adapt to how they should use their abilities, along with the several ways the enemy team can use their own. The individual ‘Agents’ also give the player a sense of individuality, as having a unique set of abilities to bring to the team makes each player feel needed.
As the game is in closed beta, the only way to play it is by making a Riot Games account, connecting it to a Twitch account, and watching streams of other people playing VALORANT for around two hours. This gives your Riot account a chance at being able to log in to the VALORANT beta after downloading it, with more hours watched giving you a larger chance. Personally, if I didn’t have access already, I would wait for the game to officially release, which will most likely happen in the summer.
Overall, I believe that VALORANT’s unique characters and numerous other additions to the gameplay of a long-standing franchise can provide a great experience, although it might be off-putting to some that are used to something like the Counter-Strike series. Due to the game being in closed beta, there will be future updates and fixes that might change the game. As the game is, however, I would give VALORANT a B+.