Riot Games released Valorant this week, the free-to-play 5v5 shooter originally featured as Project A. Since this is an online title that is in its infancy and will likely change over time. time in constant dialogue with your players, instead of conventional analysis, we will share our impressions after playing the beta and the final version.
Valorant is a first-person shooter that never tries to hide its similarities to Counter-Strike, the game it drinks more directly and is meant to compete with. Not only in the rules, the structure of rounds or the objectives, but also in the precision of the gameplay; It should be clear to Riot that starting a beta with impeccable precision in gun control was a necessary condition to survive the inevitable comparisons. They know this is the type of game where wins can be decided by minimal differences and, except in a few cases, the system generally lives up to expectations.
Judging by the games I’ve tried, a lot of those who play have taken the leap from Counter; From the beta it was easy to identify who we entered after a long time without playing CS and who haven’t released GO in recent years. Besides the skill difference, there is a pretty difficult process of getting used to the game for those who are new or rusty. It would be nice if Valorant had more tutorials on how to position yourself or what are the dynamics of attack and defense; Beyond the brief initial touchdown, the game seems to assume that you already come with a previous base.
The differentiating aspect to Counter Strike are the abilities, although this time the comparisons come from the Overwatch side. While it is difficult to escape the influence of the Blizzard shooter, here this section is much less central than the shooting itself: weapon mastery is more of a priority than skills to start developing in the game. valuation. This does not mean that they are superfluous, on the contrary: a creative team with their skills will be able to transform them into a differentiator with which to generate pressure and disrupt the tactics of rivals from the first second.
As soon as you start learning how to use the characters, interesting synergies occur almost immediately, providing the team with a series of resources that allow them to improvise in the face of different situations that can arise. Used with ingenuity and knowledge of the cards, they are able to turn the toughest tricks into the right hands. The point where they could improve their skills is variety: among the top eleven agents who repeat smoke grenades, flashbangs, and molotov equivalents. I understand this is a consequence of removing the ability to acquire grenades and turn them into abilities limited to certain characters, but I hope that the agents that will be added will bet on adding more possibilities to the game. instead of just following the fundamentals already known.
With this base, Valorant manages to weave tense games, where you have to fight for every inch of the map and readjust tactics on the fly. There is room for new agents, maps or weapons, but the important thing is that from day one (since the start of the beta), it feels like a complete game in terms of gameplay. Riot herself has shown that the heart of the game is able to withstand sudden changes; The Spike Fever mode that has been released since launch shows a much more choppy and spectacular version, which maintains an accurate shooter but provides a peak for each attacker, reduces the number of turns, reloads skills with each turn and eliminates the purchase. . weapons (everyone shares a random one). Given how easily normal games of Valorant go to 40 minutes, the 10-12 minutes of Spike Fever encourages a bit of play time when we have shorter breaks and can’t commit to a game. longer. .
Valorant was released with four maps: Bind, Split, and Ascent have two objectives, while Haven is the only one launched with three slots to crash the Spike. Each has a very strong personality (the heights of Split, the Gates of Ascension, the teleporters of Bind, the scatter of Haven …) which makes it play differently in each location, although they all share a great design work. in which shows great care in every nook and angle of fire.
All of that personality that they have at a playable level doesn’t transfer to the visual section; the maps are generic and lack imagination. These are disconnected places that don’t add to the decor of the game, nor allow us to imagine a world beyond its limits like Overwatch does so well. As ranges, they work great, but they don’t have all the strength of their branding in promotional images and trailers. Likewise, the Agents themselves have a very high comparison with Blizzard in terms of charisma and personality.
I don’t want to start with that aspect anymore because like I said when it comes to shooting it works. The color gamut isn’t particularly appealing, but it does help with the readability of the settings, making it easier for the characters to stand out without distracting our attention. The color combinations chosen make it possible that as soon as an opponent lets us see more than four or five of their pixels on the screen, it is almost impossible to get confused as an agent. In fact, in general, it’s a game that was a lot easier to read than I expected, something that can work in its favor knowing its creators want to make it a successful esport. Valorant is fun to play and watch.
One of the rare aspects that stands out negatively by its lack of readability is the shape of the arms, which is not very recognizable and difficult to differentiate at the start. This is made worse by being all black, which does not allow you to appreciate the details. The temporary narrative that Riot provided us came with skins, which allowed us to verify that in almost every other color they are much better identified, so we hope they even introduce the option to change the color. . basic weapons in the future.
Currently, the vast majority of skins are paid for, either in packs or as part of the premium variant of the Battle Pass. Account progress is associated on the one hand with this Pass, an approach that has become the standard of the free-to-play shooter, and on the other hand, with the agent “Contracts” divided into 10 levels and are used to unlock new characters and associated cosmetics. For the moment, it seems that they depend on the grindeo of the experience a little more of the story, especially if we want to unlock the full installation of the characters; The game gives us two more agents with relative ease, but the rest requires a few hours and daily objectives.
I’m guessing that aspect of progression will take a backseat when competitive mode kicks in, where Valorant will have to bring out all of his shooter virtues. What we were able to test in the beta (and see in the feeds) looked very good and it is clear that Riot is doing everything possible to prevent cheaters from ruining this experience, to the point that the anti-cheat software of Valorant became a topic of conversation due to the need to run it from the start, the number of permissions we need to grant it, and compatibility issues with the drivers it had in beta. I understand that they don’t want the game to end CS: GO’s issues in this regard, but in the short term I’m less concerned about safety and more about the real elephant in the room – toxicity to the community. .
The experience of playing with knowledge is generally a pleasant one, but as soon as you jump into the abyss of solo matchmaking you come across all kinds of morons in the chat, if not directly verbal or written abuse. Riot will have to find a way to cut that for a game that relies so much on communication to thrive. In my case a few days in the beta was enough to turn off voice chat and I didn’t keep it in the final version. I know this will mean I will play worse because I lack key information, but I have long rated my sanity above my rank. I think the game should bet more decisively on non-verbal communication systems. Apex Legends is a great example of how to put communication at the center of the experience. Valorant has no shortage of options for configuring access to pings and other tools, but they’re more hidden than in Respawn’s game. Being a much less tactical game, it better integrates communication into the default controls and gives it key importance from the first minute.
Another issue that worried me a lot while playing uncompetively was the number of matches I played with at least one member absent. I understand there is a small margin for someone who logged out to come back and no one likes to step in as a replacement in a lost game, but I have played too much in 4v5 (or 5v4) and recently in by the time the game is available she is already very tired of the afk.
At its best, Valorant is a dramatic, tense, creative, and precise shooter. He has a rock solid playable base and when all the pieces come together he’s one of those multiplayer players who has the potential to last for years and years. However, while Riot’s Shooter has all the makings of becoming a lasting phenomenon, there are aspects of the experience that need to be improved upon in order to create a healthier community in the long run.
Riot Games gave us access to a temporary account with all unlocked skins and weapon agents. This account will be deactivated in four weeks.
Source: Twitter Feeds