A TRULY UNIQUE TAKE ON FPS GAMES THAT HAS SOARED TO GREAT HEIGHTS.
Valorant is a free-to-play FPS (First-person shooter) game by Riot Games which was officially released earlier this year on 2 June. It is currently one of the most popular PC games out there.
I was a late comer to Valorant, only picking up the game in September. On top of that, I have not played any FPS games for 19 months prior due to a lost of interest in that game genre.
When I first saw gameplay of Valorant, I felt that this was a cross between CSGO (Counter-Strike: Global Offensive) and Overwatch; two games which I have tried long ago.
However, while it did adopt iconic game features from other popular FPS games, the end product was an ingenious take on a fast-paced shooter game.
Valorant is a 5v5 round-based game where attackers face off against defenders. The win condition of the attacking team is to plant the spike (which is a bomb) and successfully detonate it or to eliminate all the defenders. As for the defenders, they either need to successfully defuse the spike if it was planted or eliminate all the attackers before they can plant it. This is essentially the same as CSGO.
Another feature that Valorant adopted from CSGO is the buy phase. At the start of each round, you purchase weapons with money. Winning rounds will obviously reward the team with more money while getting kills and planting the spike grants the individual extra cash.
So, where does Overwatch come in? Aside from the cartoonish setting that the game takes place in, all the agents (which are characters in Valorant) have their own unique abilities; that is, three abilities and one ultimate each.
The main difference with abilities in Valorant as compared to Overwatch is that non-ultimate abilities need to be purchased. One of the three abilities for each agent is a signature ability, which is either free or you can purchase additional charges of that ability. The ultimate ability can only be used after racking up sufficient points. The great thing about abilities in Valorant is that, unlike weapons, you don’t lose them upon death.
Valorant is a fast-paced game that may be difficult to get used to for someone new to the FPS genre, or for someone who is used to slower pace FPS games like myself. I was a Battlefield fan in the past where maps were much larger and there was a lot of tactical movement.
In Valorant, you can find action almost instantaneously after the round starts. If its not gunfights, you’ll find abilities like smokes being thrown in your path right away. Quick decision-making is the key to success.
Movement is important in Valorant, especially walking to hide your footsteps when trying to catch the enemy off guard. However, tactical movement alone will not always give you the advantage as you have to account for the enemy team’s abilities and various spots or angles the enemy can use to catch you flanking.
To become a good player in Valorant, you need a strong understanding of 3 things: Gun mechanics, agent abilities and map knowledge.
Gun mechanics is the easiest to improve at. Use the practice range to improve your aim and spray control with any gun. But do take note that aiming down sights with SMGs and automatic rifles in Valorant reduces the rate of fire along with narrowing your field of view. Therefore, it is paramount to brush up your aim using hip fire.
On a side note, I am quite impressed with the user interface of Valorant’s buy menu. Not only does it provide all the essential gun stats (including changes that occur when aiming down sights), but it also gives you the option to request guns or buy guns for your teammate if someone is low on cash.
Your understanding of agent abilities and map knowledge will improve with play time. But even though there are only 5 maps to date, I do feel that map knowledge is the hardest aspect to grasp. It’s probably the most important one too as it directly influences your positioning.
You will need to refer to video guides as there are lots of advantageous flanking routes, spots and angles that you may never figure out just from playing the game. Not knowing the basic map tips and tricks will result in a lot of confusion and frustrating deaths when the enemy team utilises them against you.
There are currently 13 agents in Valorant with Skye being a very recent addition. Agents are grouped into 4 roles. Duelists specialise at fighting rather than providing utility to the team. Initiators help the team push into an objective. Controllers support the team by blocking off lines of sight with smokes. And lastly, Sentinels protect the team from the back.
You start the game with 5 agents: Sova, Phoenix, Jett, Sage and Brimstone. You can unlock 2 more agents right away by levelling up to levels 5 and 10. But subsequently, you have to unlock the remaining agents through completing their contracts, which requires quite a lot of XP and play time. Also, you can only complete one agent contract at a time.
For newer players, I strongly recommend just mastering 2-3 agents that suit your playstyle instead of getting flustered with learning how to play all agents. Its one thing to be aware of how every agent ability works, but it’s another thing to know how to use all agent abilities optimally.
On that note, I would not recommend Sova (Initiator) for beginner players because you need a good understanding of the map layouts and know the many tricks to utilise his recon bolt and shock bolt effectively. Not to mention that his ultimate is difficult to use as well.
The free duelists Jett and Phoenix will require a fair bit of practice. Jett has very good mobility abilities to help score kills, but they won’t be of much use if you aren’t confident or aggressive with your ability usage. You most certainly should not pick Phoenix if you don’t know how to use his abilities properly because all his non-ultimate abilities can negatively affect your own teammates.
That leaves Sage (Sentinel) and Brimstone (Controller) as my suggested agents for beginner players. Sage (the agent in the picture of this post) is a good choice if you want to stay back and support the team with healing, and you’ll come across teammates that regularly request someone to pick Sage for her healing.
But for those of you coming from Overwatch, take note that Sage’s healing utility is nowhere near what Mercy provides. Mercy has her Caduceus staff to provide continuous healing to a teammate whereas Sage’s signature healing orb has a 45 second cooldown after each use.
Overall, I do like Valorant’s game design and definitely agree that it is a refreshing entry to the FPS scene. However, it may be quite a steep learning curve if you’re inexperienced with shooter games or don’t have good reaction times.