The Valorant Closed Beta is underway and anyone who’s anyone seems to be playing it. And given League of Legend’s popularity, it’s no surprise that Valorant is proving to be a mechanically tight experience. Confidently sitting at the top of Twitch’s most viewed games, unless your Uncle works at Riot Games, the only way to get invited is to watch designated streamers and cross your fingers. If you have yet to achieve influencer status and play the game for yourself, it’s fine, because your friends at Too Far Gone have, and I’m happy to break down all the little things that I think help Valorant make the difference.
Spending and Receiving
It’s the first thing you do every round, which makes it kinda important, and while it might seem like a straightforward thing there’s actually quite a bit that goes into buying a kit.
In Counter-Strike, buying a gun for someone on your team takes several steps. First you gotta buy the gun, then you gotta physically toss it to them. If you’re too far away, you gotta coordinate with the other players to get the right gun to the right person, or shoot it at the beginning of the round to take advantage of the physics and send it their direction. At any point someone else can accidentally (or intentionally) get the gun, further complicating the whole event. In Valorant, right clicking a gun in the buy menu sends a request to your teammates which any of whom can fulfill by simply clicking a button. What’s more, none of this has to take place in the “starting area”. Players can kit themselves, or each other, from anywhere on the map during the pre-round sequence, making it super easy and convenient to set-up a strategy.
Players can sell parts of their kit back for cash, making accidental ‘mis-buys’ a thing of the past. The buy menu also tells you the minimum amount of money you’ll have by the end of the upcoming round based on your current cash on hand, freeing up your brain to focus on more pressing matters than the math of it all.
It’s a phrase more generally reserved for the particular nuances of a map: boost spots, off-angles, time that it takes to get from point A to point B and the like. Apart from the intricacies that only come from dedication and practice, Valorant brings a surprising amount of detail to the mini-map. In this case, the mini-map is the whole map, and it’s hella detailed–and it needs to be hella detailed for the combination of abilities and gunplay Valorant is trying to achieve.
When a teammates spots an enemy, they’ll show up on your radar, and the circle surrounding you on the mini-map shows the area that you can be heard within–both of which are incredibly useful, allowing you to get real specific when you’re throwing out utility, some of which (smokes, recon arrows) can get initiated through walls or from the opposite end of the map. Even the maps will reveal themselves to you, indicating what surfaces you can shoot through by generating bullet-holes and little flares when shot at.
Interface and Experience
More to my point than anything else, Valorant treats the details seriously.
Postmortems found in the Match History are already giving me flashbacks of studying Halo 3 heatmaps. You can slice up a game several different ways to see who the impact players were, moving beyond the KDA to see stuff like cash spent per kill. The timeline shows you who’s killing who, where, when, and with what. It’s the kind of stuff Counter-Strike has only recently started implementing vis a vis flashbang assists.
In game, you’ll get the skinny at the end of the round or upon death without rooting through the console. You’ll get to see the damage you dealt, who got killed, where you hit em’, the whole megillah. The in-game announcer will audibly note time left on the clock, giving you the cues you need while keeping your eyes on the prize. Even the way the program itself behaves is impressive. If you’re alt-tabbed while queuing, Valorant will take over the screen again once a match has been found.
With all that in mind, it’s still early days. But with 128-tick servers, an impressive first showing free of major bugs and the esports behemoth that is Riot Games behind it all, Valorant might have the staying power to capture some significant turf in the FPS genre.
Image Credit: @PlayVALORANT