Riot’s shrewd decision to capitalize on the global pandemic of 2020 and release Valorant early, may be its primary ingredient for success. Coupled with its meticulous twitch marketing campaign, large player base and that Valorant itself is a decent game may have largely been a contributing factor to it. If only its success serves as a strong motivation to fix the problem that Valorant has.
Valorant is a 5v5 First-Person Shooter(FPS) that takes inspiration from two of gaming popular shooters. Valve’s beloved Counter-strike gunplay, map design and weapon economics lay the foundation for its inspiration while cementing it with the individualism heroes from Overwatch. And all the while taking a tiny step back on Overwatch cartoon-esque graphics. Yet all 3 of them share a similar purpose; blasting public properties into smithereens.
No longer do you play as an anonymous espionage agent, for you will be playing as one of the many agents available as you set out to plant the spike (bomb). Or to prevent it from happening. A single game consists of 25 rounds and may last up to 40 minutes. But when you’re in a match where your team is being outperformed in every single round, it will feel like it’s forever.
Losing continuously, especially when you’re on a 12th losing streak warpath, will undoubtedly sap your morale. And it’s normal for low EQ individuals to lose all rationality and moral integrity, and turn their mouth to that of a sailor. To combat such toxicity, Riot’s had their agents spur out positive quips to mitigate such demoralizing actions, even when there’s none to be had. And for the builders of the 12th losing streak road for their enemies to tread upon, such quips serve as reminders to keep up with the momentum. Surprisingly, Valorant’s community is not as toxic as I thought it would be.
Valorant | Riot Games
Valorant healthy pool of agents will leave you wanting to try every single one of them. Its myriad of options will surely have one or two agents that suit to your taste. Sadly, there are only 5 agents unlocked right at the start. The rest of them are locked behind contract progression. And unlike Riot’s other game, League of Legend, Valorant neither has a free weekly agent rotation for you to try them out, nor a visual representation of what each of the agents’ skills does. You get to know them the hard way, through combat.
All of Valorant’s agent designs are spectacularly striking and it’s next to impossible to not identify the agent you’re fighting against on the receiving end of your barrel. Viper’s green and black bodysuit, Jett’s white hair and sleeveless cyan top, and Omen’s mummy-esque design stood out even at the distance. Even when you’re up against yours or your teammates’ clone, there will be a red outline on the character’s body to differentiate between friends and foes. This applies to abilities too, as it would be mixed with a tint of red. If the agent abilities are predominantly red, it would take a while to tell them apart. Unless, of course, you’re familiar with the 50 shades of red.
Valorant approach of removing smoke bombs, flashbangs and grenades gave birth to each of its agents’ abilities. Agents such as Brimstone, Omen, Jett, Cypher and Viper have abilities to smoke off an area, whereas agents such as Phoenix, Breach, Reyna and Omen have abilities to blind the enemy. This manoeuvre amplifies the loss of tactical manoeuvrability with each agent death. Nevertheless, there are times when you’re paired up with random players, you will get teammates, or yourself, who will go full herp-derp and not have a single smoker and flasher in the team. At that time, you will probably learn the existence of the surrender function and you can just move on to the next match. GGEZ.
Unlike Valorant’s healthy pool of agents, Valorant map pool is on the lower end. And as of this writing, there are only 4 maps available to play in, though more are to be expected in future updates. Each of them has a unique quirk that makes it stand out from each other. Haven has 3 bombsites. Ascent has close-able metal doors to limit the number of points to the bombsites. Bind has teleportation doorway and Split is a very defender’s oriented map. Despite Valorant’s limited map pool, each of them is a joy to play in. You will learn that certain agents are great in certain maps, though Sage is great in every map due to her ability to heal. But healers can be overrated. You don’t need healing if you don’t get shot.
Just like every other PvP FPS games, especially the popular one’s, Valorant cannot escape its fate from being besieged by the church of the Holy Trinity. Smurfers, hackers and microtransactions. The smurfers doesn’t really pose a problem and it’s more or less given, as Valorant is a free game. It’s all too common for players to have multiple accounts, and you’re bound to come across skilled players playing with their training account every now and then. But hackers are a constant problem in Valorant.
Despite Riot’s bold claim of its anti-cheat software, Vanguard, being able to prevent cheaters from hacking, the result of it has proven otherwise. Hackers are running rampant in Valorant. 1 in 5 matches you have is up against hackers. The walling, the spin-botting, aim-botting and every other hack that are very common in FPS games are to be expected when you’re fighting against a hacker or a team of hackers in Valorant.
It takes experience to tell if it’s a lucky shot or if the player is hacking. But if the player is performing like a god of death in the first half of the match and transforms into the king of turds in the next, you can tell there’s something suspicious about the player. Or when you flash an enemy and there’s a blind status on his character model, yet he is able to pull off a beautiful 180 turn and claim your head, it’s like looking at yellow snow. You know something is a miss.
Valorant | Riot Games
The department of microtransactions can easily be ignored, especially when you do not have a disposable income. But the fickleness of human emotion cannot be underestimated. When you see a nice Vandal (Ak-47) skin, Phantom (M4A1) skin or skins of your favourite gun, the desire to buy skins and replace the dull-looking aesthetic of Valorant’s gun will be set ablaze. Fortunately or unfortunately, the price for a single decent gun skin can easily net you a $20-$30 indie game. And if you like the theme of the skin and want to buy the entire bundle, the bundle can easily cost you $300. The answer to the worth of Riot questionable skin prices is solely dependent on every interested individual. But in the minds of the people back in Riot, such prices are justifiable.
Even with the constant harassment from the church of the Holy Trinity, Valorant is plagued by something that’s more insidious. Unoptimized coding. Valorant is at a state where players with a higher ping have a tremendous advantage over lower ping players. There’s a high chance that your shot isn’t registered by the game when you’re fighting against higher ping players. Despite your shot landing squarely on the players on your end, the game considered it as a miss because of the difference in ping. This results in higher ping players taking advantage of this fatal flaw and are constantly running and gunning all over the place.
To make matters worse, it’s not possible to master your favourite gun. Unlike Counter-strike guns, Valorant’s doesn’t have a spray pattern. Every single bullet, besides the initial bullet, that flies out of the gun barrel shoots out in a random pattern. Coupled with Valorant’s fatal flaw, it is not a wonder why most people treat every automatic gun in the game as an Uzi and perform a drive-by shooting in every round. There’s no satisfaction in mastering a gun when there’s nothing to master in the first place.
Valorant is no doubt a fun FPS game to play. The success of pulling off a tactical manoeuvre despite the loss of a teammate or two or outplaying a strong opponent can be highly addictive. But if you seek out enjoyment in playing ranked matches, the rate of you caving into frustration and going back down to unranked games is faster than Riot’s willingness to fix the game. Honestly, why would they bother fixing the game when they can count the earnings from their $300 skin bundle.
Publisher: Riot Games
Developer: Riot Games
Rating: 7.0 out of 10
Price: Free to Play (with microtransactions)
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