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A Primer To Valorant: Riot Games’ New Multiplayer Shooter
Back in October 2019, Riot Games offered a sneak preview of its shooter project Project A as part of its 10th Anniversary Edition. Now, after the registration of an official Twitter account called Valorant and leaked information about the game (many of which were shared by esports expert Rod Breslau on Twitter), Riot has properly unveiled the new online multiplayer shooter that they’ve been cooking up.
Here’s everything we know about Valorant, the upcoming 5v5 shooter that looks like part Overwatch and part CS:GO.
Valorant is basically CS:GO meets Overwatch/Paladins.
While the ADS feature is more ubiquitous here than in Counter-Strike, the bomb-defusing mode and weapon-buying menu (yes, they even have a weapon-buying menu) shown in the video above make direct comparisons to that competitive shooter inevitable.
Matches are a 5v5, best-of-24-rounds affair, with players split into attackers and defenders. Guns are lethal – headshots will kill opponents instantly, and “most rifles kill in 3-4 bullets”. Recoil is “punishing”.
Meanwhile, the cast of characters and their unique abilities instantly bring the words “hero shooter” to mind.Â The original announcement video previewed a few abilities, ranging from movement-restricting powers to green energy that does… something.
Notable in that video were the revive ability and one that allows players to summon floating knives that can be propelled towards enemies. The knife-summoning character is also shown to be able to lift themselves into the air with what is probably a separate power. In the new gameplay video, one of the players deploys a drone, so we might see more technology-based abilities as well.
Interesting, the start of the video shows a player replenishing their Curveball ability by purchasing it. It looks like abilities don’t come free in Valorant.
I had assumed that combining powers like that will be a notable part of the game, and it seems like that’s indeed the intention. The official website is keen to emphasize that creativity is as important as your shooting skills:
“Imagine this: tactical shooter meets hypernatural powers. Everyoneâ€™s got guns and a unique set of abilities, so how do you beat someone with the speed of wind? Use your own moves to outplay them and beat them to the shot. Valorant is a game for bold strategists who dare to make the unexpected play because if it wins, it works.”
After watching the gameplay video, however, Valorant seems more like Counter-Strike with a dash of Overwatch/Paladins than a true hero-shooter.Â In their hands-on preview of the game, PC Gamer wrote that “hero abilities allow for clever strategies and exciting upsets. Look past them, and Riot Games has fundamentally spent the last five years building Counter-Strike“.
They also noted how Riot “emphasized, again and again over two days of playing Valorant and talking to its creators, that the shooting is the main course and the abilities are the side dish”.
According to Breslau, Valorant will launch with a roster of eight characters. Aside from each having their own unique abilities, each hails from a real-world country, so it seems that the game doesn’t take place in a fictional setting.
Having characters of different real-world nationalities also invites comparisons to Rainbow Six: Siege, although it doesn’t matter as much as the Counter-Strike/hero shooter similarities.
The characters are:
Sage is shown in the accompanying screenshot in Breslau’s tweet. She has four abilities: Barrier Orb, Slow Orb, Healing Orb, and Resurrection. Resurrection is likely to be the revive ability from the announcement video.
Sage’s other abilities solidify her support role. Barrier Orb places a solid wall, Slow Orb slows enemies, and Healing Orb heals. Very self-explanatory, but undeniably useful.
Breslau also says that one of these characters will be locked. Perhaps it’s Omen?
While most of the character abilities would feel right at home in a fantasy game, Valorant’s main arsenal consists of modern-looking guns. Aside from the shotgun, submachine gun, and sniper rifle seen in the announcement video, the main reveal video shows pistols and assault rifles, including one that looks like an AK.
The gameplay video does show a blue-energy-tinged bow, but given how it’s quickly put away after launching the arrow, it’s likely to be tied to a character ability. Given that Valorant seems to be channelling Counter-Strike’s spirit, the focus on a normal modern-day arsenal makes sense, although it still feels uninspiring.
Riot has designed each map to “support a wide variety of strategies and team compositions”, While the map in the video gives off a bit of Counter-Strike vibes, PC Gamer noted that the maps in Valorant have some notable differences.
According to the website, Valorant’s maps have variances like having “three bomb sites” or “a pair of one-way teleporters”.
Valorant’s look reminds me a little of Dirty Bomb, which also combined a cartoony look with grounded environments and modern weaponry. Valorant looks more cartoony, however, which makes it a bit more similar to Team Fortress 2 in that regard.
The visual style is probably related to Riot’s desire to make the game as accessible as possible to everyone. On the game’s website, Riot states that they want the game to run at “at least 30 frames per second on most min-spec computers (even dating back a decade)” and “60 to 144 FPS on modern gaming rigs”.
Riot is taking Valorant seriously as a competitive shooter experience, and they’re showing this by focusing on not just the gameplay, but infrastructure.
In their press release, Riot said that the game will have “an unprecedented, best-in-class technical back-end to support the game, including dedicated 128-tick servers for all global players, for free; a custom-built netcode in pursuit of precise hit registration; server authoritative game architecture and proprietary anti-cheat prevention and detection from day one”.
“Valorant is highly consequential, so players should know for certain that their win or loss is the sole outcome of their own skill and strategy,” they added.
Valorant is slated to release sometime in Summer 2020. The game will be free-to-play and a global launch is confirmed.
You’d probably want to keep an eye on both.
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