Last weekend, we were invited by Riot Games to a virtual event around Valorant. The opportunity for the development team to present their game on Discord in detail but especially to spend long hours playing on it. It’s no secret, Riot Games is in full expansion phase with several titles in preparation and Valorant clearly has the ambition to win against Counter Strike, the king of FPS from an esports point of view. If it is impossible to escape the comparison with the game of Valve, Valorant has a multitude of specific characteristics of its own that will make it a similar game but at the same time so different.
A system already well thought out
The most obvious is of course the characters. For this event, we had nine agents available (but more are planned by the time of release) divided into four archetypes. The controlers will control the terrain to facilitate combat. The sentries will serve to hold a position and slow down the opponent. The initiators are going to have to put the enemy in a weak position for the attack. The duelists will logically serve to engage in combat. If finding your favorite character is not necessarily easy, these four ways of apprehending Valorant can be drawn quite easily depending on the style of play of each one and will greatly help to find his characters of heart.
For my part, it was the defenders, with the healer with the very complete Sage kit, and the Spy species at Team Fortess Cypher, with his camera and his means of tracking. Having tested the game in Alpha, there is still necessarily a lot of balancing to be done on some characters. But Valorant offers characters with totally different styles, with super original powers and ultimates and with a lot of subtleties. It was a pleasure to see the development team explain to us that the Phoenix flame wall could be curved and not necessarily in a straight line, or that Jett’s smoke could be slightly deflected. This is the kind of subtleties of gameplay that shows the religious care that has been taken to each character’s kit.
Alone two maps were available (and four are planned for the release) but also with small subtleties. Instead of a classic map with two points to place the Spike (the bomb in Valorant language), one proposed three points instead of two and the other one-way teleporters which made it possible to pass quickly from one point to the other, but by making a monstrous racket. Otherwise, the cards are really constructed as if you could find them in Counter Strike and some players were already talking about Banana to describe an area very similar to the one found on Tuscan. Regarding the visual aspect of the environment, the team explained to us that they wanted a colorful game, to avoid weariness after long hours of play, and sober, not to have visual fatigue caused by too many elements.
There remains one last point to tackle and probably the most important: the gameplay. If the campsite was necessarily very present and some hit boxes a little wide, difficult to blame something for such precise gameplay. The strafing and movement and noise management are already of impeccable precision. There are of course a certain requirement which can make the gameplay not very welcoming at first sight but buying your powers like you would buy a grenade in Counter Strike quickly becomes instinctive. Being able to jump with Jett gives access to otherwise inaccessible places, where Viper’s poison cloud will quickly deter opponents from advancing. Not all characters have enough to blind opponents and skills like the Phoenix Fireball will prove to be very valuable.
The weapons feel is excellent and the pretty good shop, with a system that allows you to buy for your allies who have run out of money or to ask everyone to save on this round. Unlike League of Legends, Riot did not hesitate to chat with us in Valorant, and if it will surely give rise to unpleasant moments once the game is released, it is still vital in many situations. Finally, we totally find what we feel in CS, a lot of tension at each round and the pressure that falls from the end of the latter, with once again, that little something extra, that little subtlety that makes the difference.
Already a success?
Valorant promises to be a hit without a doubt. Riot’s team knows exactly what it’s doing, what it wants, what direction it’s going and you can feel it in play on a multitude of aspects. It is mastered from concept to gameplay, through its level design to the kits of each character. If the artistic direction will not please everyone, it is clearly assumed even in the smoke bombs which form beautiful spheres in game. The developers explained to us not to want to leave room for ambiguity on the areas of effect of the powers and it is when we are explained these kind of decisions that we see that gameplay remains the main element of Valorant, far ahead of its visual aspect and it is probably the most important for this game which is already announced extremely competitive and full of subtleties. Suffice to say that we are already looking forward to playing it again.