Valorant hands-on preview: A new offensive

Riot Games' highly anticipated competitive fps has finally hit closed beta, our thoughts.

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Initially revealed as Project A, the word surrounding League of Legends developer Riot Games’ hero-based fps went from optimistic curiosity, to fever pitch levels of excitement. With promises to feature dedicated servers, a rewarding ranked system, and a brand new anti-cheat software, expectations for Valorant were considerably high.

Going global

Valorant finally got into the hands of the public with the launch of its closed beta. I had the chance to jump in and put several hours into Riot’s new fps. It’s no secret that Valorant takes heavy inspiration from Valve’s CS:GO, one of the most popular shooters of all time. From the buy rounds/economy, to the emphasis on peak shooting and tactical 5v5 gameplay, there are plenty of parallels to be drawn.

Where Valorant differs from CS:GO is in the implementation of its hero mechanic. Players select from a roster of ten “agents”, each of which comes with their own unique set of abilities and traits. The combination of different agents on a team allows players to conjure up different offensive and defensive battle strategies. While the addition of a hero mechanic separates Valorant from CS:GO, it does lend itself to comparisons to Blizzard’s Overwatch.

The cavalry’s here

I was taken aback with just how much I enjoyed playing the Valorant beta. I was never one for super twitchy fps games or “peak shooters”, but Valorant has converted me. Each weapon has its own distinct feel and control, which is why Valorant’s gunplay feels top notch. Gunfights feel excellent, and I quickly found myself learning the best spots and strategies to earn a competitive edge. 

The abilities also work to keep gameplay in Valorant feeling fresh, while adding a new layer to the 5v5 fps formula. When on defense, I liked using Cypher’s spycam to keep an eye on the objective, so that I could quickly alert my teammates to the enemy's position. On offense, I found great use in playing as Jett, usually leading the charge, zipping around and attacking quickly as my team rushed an objective.

A perfect blend

Riot Games strikes a balance in combining raw, high-quality fps gameplay with magical abilities. I was concerned that the agents and their abilities would outweigh simple gun skill. I’m happy to report this is not the case. In my experience, the more skilled, and knowledgeable player wins a given encounter about ninety percent of the time. 

What really got me hyped up when playing the Valorant closed beta is the high level of detail and feedback Riot has put into the game. After a match, you can look back on your KDA ratio to see how you fared, but the numbers don’t stop there. You can see what round you performed best, how you stacked up against each individual member of the enemy team, or even how many abilities you used per round. A game of Valorant can run as long as forty minutes, and I easily spent between five to ten minutes after each game breaking down my performance, going round by round and analyzing what I did right and wrong.

New sheriff in town

This sets the stage for what will hopefully be a full release with tons of feedback and analytics for players to dive into. Riot has previously stated that they plan to have a robust competitive and ranked system in Valorant. If what we see in the beta is any indicator, there will be layers and layers of stats, feedback, and other information at the players’ disposal.

Valorant is an exciting take on the 5v5 fps. Riot Games’ expertise in crafting competitive online experiences is on full display as their new IP delivers on high-quality gunplay along with balanced maps, and a well done integration of the hero mechanic. Valorant’s beta makes good on its promises, and I look forward to seeing how the game develops over time. If you're going to be hopping into Valorant, consider reading our guide to the game's characters and abilities

Contributing Editor

Donovan is a young journalist from Maryland, who likes to game. His oldest gaming memory is playing Pajama Sam on his mom's desktop during weekends. Pokémon Emerald, Halo 2, and the original Star Wars Battlefront 2 were some of the most influential titles in awakening his love for video games. Donovan is currently studying broadcast journalism at Bowie State University with hopes to join the Shacknews team full time after graduation. He is a huge Star Wars nerd and film fanatic that will talk with you about movies and games all day. You can follow him on twitter @Donimals_

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