Valorant is the new first-person shooter from Riot games and it’s out now in closed beta, so if you’re lucky enough to get a beta key drop, then jump in and check it out. The following are my Valorant beta first impressions.
Valorant is a tactical shooter, which is a cross between Counter-Strike and Overwatch. The balance is about 80% Counter-Strike and about 20% Overwatch. Gun-play is going to be key to winning games in this tense first-person shooter, but there’s a layer of character abilities which make this pretty fun. Pin-point accuracy is going to be crucial in this game as the time to kill is very short. Any shots to the head and you’re dead, and a couple of body shots and you’re down.
How to get Valorant beta access?
Head on over to the Valorant website and sign up there. You’ll also need a Twitch account to sign up, as beta keys are accessed through watching Valorant streams. Once you have a Twitch account, link your Riot account via the Valorant website and then start watching streams. Then it’s just a matter of waiting for keys to be dropped.
What are the rules of the game?
Valorant is a team-based shooter with an objective. There are 5 agents per team and you select your agent when you start a match, teams can only have one of each agent at a time. The first team to win 13 rounds win the match.
You start the match either attacking or defending. The attacking team must plant the Spike deep in enemy territory and then stop the other team from diffusing it. Attacking players can win by planting the spike and it detonating or by killing all of the opposite team.
The defending team has to defend the area where the spike gets planted. The defending team can win by killing all of the attacking team.
After 12 rounds you swap sides, so if you were attacking you’re now defending and visa-versa.
The first round is a pistol round and throughout the game, you earn credits which can be spent on guns and armour throughout the game. The amount of credits earned is determined by your performance – so if you get kills, or plant the spike or win round then you’ll get more credits.
There’s a variety of Agents (players) to choose from and each come with their own unique abilities. Agents come in 4 classes – you have Duelists, Initiators, Controllers and Sentinels.
- Duelists – Good for leading the attack. This includes Phoenix, Raze and Jett.
- Initiators – Good for providing more info. This includes Sova and Breach.
- Controllers – Good for locking down areas. This includes Brimstone, Omen and Viper.
- Sentinels – Good for healing and controlling areas of the map. This includes Sage and Cypher
When you start out the game you’ll have access to Sage, Jett, Phoenix, Brimstone and Sova. The others must be unlocked by playing the game. Each agent has 4 abilities and we’ll have a look at Phoenix as an example.
Ability: Blaze – Throw a flame wall onto the ground. This creates a wall of fire allowing you to block off an area or defend. This restricts the visibility for your opponents and can heal Phoenix
Ability: Curveball – Create a fireball which you can throw around corners. It blinds your opponent for a few seconds.
Signature ability: Hot hands – Throw a fireball that explodes on impact with the ground. The fire zone you create damages enemies and heals you.
Ultimate ability: Run it back – Mark your current location and if you die during the duration then you’ll resurrect at the location you marked.
Depending on the class of Agents then you’re likely to have a mixture of abilities that will deny areas, or provide protection to lock down an area.
Find an agent you like, practice with their abilities in the firing range and then jump into a few matches to test things out.
There’s 5 classes of weapons in the game including Rifles, Sniper Rifles, Sidearms and Submachine guns and machine guns. There’s also a tactical knife and a pistol, but you’ll want to replace the pistol as soon as you can.
Each class of weapon has it’s pros and cons, it’s just a matter of finding one that works for you through practice.
This is Riot Games dipping their toe into the first-person shooter genre and so far, so good. They have focused on the technical aspect of the game making sure they have good anti-cheat methods in place and they have a lot of experience at serving e-sports at scale, so you can be confident in the performance.
This is very much like Counter-strike so you won’t be running in and gunning down teams (unless you’re Shroud, Gigz or Dr Lupo). You have to take things slow and practice.
This is very team-focused, so good communication is going to be key for this one. Having a team you can squad up with is going to be useful while you’re learning as random games can be a little unforgiving. If you don’t like getting on the mic then this one might be a little tough for you. It’s not impossible to play without getting on comms, but you’re going to be more of an asset to your team if you do communicate well and often.
The gunplay is solid and the audio is great too. You can feel the weight and the recoil of certain weapons. Listening for the footsteps of your opponents will be useful too, as when you walk you make less sound, allowing you to creep up on your opponents and take them out. The only thing lacking at the moment is the graphics – it’s quite basic and bland, but there’s room to improve this over time. I’d rather a first-person shooter that performs well on the gunplay front, has great online matches and anti-cheat features than a beautiful looking game missing the fundamentals.