Review – Valorant
What happens when you take the ultra-tight controls of Counter Strike Global Offensive, add a few heroes from Overwatch and put it together in a shooter? You get Valorant, a brand new hero shooter from the creators of League of Legends. But is it any good?
There’s no story in Valorant. This is an entirely PvP experience, but what we do have is a cast of varied and fun characters each with their own unique personalities and quips during gameplay. It doesn’t reach the heights of Overwatch’s characterisation, but it does the job well enough.
If you played Counter Strike Global Offensive at all, you will probably know about Valorant or what to expect from Valorant. It’s a 5v5 team based competitive shooter where the defending team must stop the attackers from planting the bomb, or in Valorant‘s case, “The Spike”. The first to win thirteen rounds wins the game. There is a second mode that is much more casual, featuring random weapons in each round and a score limit of first to four.
During the rounds you will gather some in-game currency determined by your team’s performance. Getting kills, completing the objectives, and winning the round will net you some nice bonuses. However, it doesn’t just leave the losing team behind and I often found the “economy” around this game to be just as fair as Counter Strike, if not better. There’s a tactical element to it; sometimes saving your currency and taking a round loss is better in the long run. Also, buying weapons for your teammates is much easier than in CSGO.
The gunplay feels tight and deadly accurate. Again, much like Counter Strike, you should know what to expect. Guns are as accurate as you are and as long as you shoot in bursts or know how to control your recoil, you will be deadly. It feels great to pull off a snap headshot or get the drop on your enemies, leading to an incredible clutch victory.
Valorant begins to separate itself when you start delving into the “Agents” of the game. You have five unlocked at the start and you unlock more as you play more unranked matches. This can actually take a while, so make sure to pick your Agents wisely. Overall, there are eleven agents in the game, each of them serving different purposes with their ability sets. Keep in mind there aren’t any additional health or base stat changes than what you would expect in say Rainbow Six Siege; all Agents are on an even level.
Where the changes come into play are with their abilities. Jett, one of my personal favourites, has some advanced mobility abilities that allows her to dash around corners and reach higher places. Whilst characters like Sage can set up defensive walls or even revive an ally when she gets her ultimate. Some of the abilities do blend together, like Brimstone and Jett having similar abilities that allow them to limit vision in a spherical area, but their playstyles are totally different. The Agent abilities don’t undermine the core tactical gameplay, but enhance it.
The team at Riot Games have managed to gather map creators from Counter Strike, some of which were behind that game’s best maps. Unfortunately, this hasn’t really transitioned into Valorant‘s five maps too well. The only standout map, Haven, takes a unique approach of having three objective sites split across its lanes. Every other map has its own gimmicks as well, like Split’s grappling points or Bind’s one way teleporters that loop around the map. Sadly, other than Haven, none of them really impressed me. I found myself hoping for a map select so I didn’t have to play Split and its weak layout any longer.
Valorant is rather restrained and goes for a simplistic, almost cartoony art style and some maps do look the same. Textures lack much detail and particle effects are non-existent, but this also means nothing gets in the way. It could look much better, but at the same time there is absolutely nothing here to distract you from the gameplay, and that’s a solid trade-off.
Sound design is as important to a shooter as the gameplay is. Without good sound design you can’t feed back information to the player, and thankfully the sound here is great. Being able to accurately hear where enemies are coming from, as well as noticing loud sound queues for when an ultimate is activated, allows you to prepare and counter.
Finally, I want to mention the progression and storefront. Right now in its current state, I’m not overly impressed. There’s really not a lot to do here, with lacklustre (and expensive) weapon skins and sprays being the only real worthwhile things in game. Also, unlocking new Agents after the initial set can take a while, so make sure you pick wisely
Right now, in its current state, Valorant is in a great spot for a free to play game. Sure, the lack of maps and grindy progression system can be off-putting, but the core gameplay here is phenomenal. A great twist on the Counter-Strike formula.
Valorant isn’t a looker, but this intentional scaling back of the graphics means that nothing gets in the way of the gameplay.
The tight gunplay and fun hero abilities make Valorant a great game to play.
The sound design plays an important factor in Valorant. Thankfully, it’s top tier.
A fantastic new competitive shooter that is let down by its weak map design.
Final Verdict: 8.0
Valorant is available now on PC.
Reviewed on PC.