Riot Games is not only taking over Blizzards employees, but also emulates it in some ways for example, by adopting the strategy of reinventing the wheel. Why create a new genre or a revolutionary gameplay model, when you can copy the ideas of the competition and just improve on them? Warcraft imitated Diune, World of Warcraft drew handfuls from Everquest, and the new shooter from Riot Games is just Counter Strike, only with heroes. Is this approach enough to defeat Valve's legendary shooter? Were trying to find an answer to this question below.
A hero won't do the shooting for you
By far, the biggest difference between Counter Strike and Valorant are the heroes. The version of the game that we were able to test had 8 characters available, but we can expect a minimum of 10 characters on launch day. Each of them, aside from appearance, differs from the others with the available skills (four of them). A basic one is available in each round for free, two more can be purchased at the beginning of the match for the cash you have. An additional, fourth skill is a special ability that we get after getting enough kills, or collecting power spheres that are available on the map.
Is it a bit like Overwatch? Maybe, but it actually looks very different. First of all, the abilities are much less powerful and only help shoot the enemy rather than annihilate them. Thus, we have access to all sorts of area-of-effect "spells" that limit visibility like a smoke screen, or slowly deal damage to enemies within their reach. Most of the abilities available in Valorant are auxiliary skills, and 90% of the frags we get from typical gunplay.
Of course, there are some deadly exceptions, but even these require considerable skill and good planning to actually get a frag. Most often, these are special abilities that take much longer to "charge" than in Overwatch, and can only be used once every few rounds. A good example of the philosophy that guided the game's developers is an air raid that one of the characters has access to. This attack is very powerful and can destroy the entire enemy team, but before it hits the target, the enemy has enough time to escape. In addition, the player calling the strike in is vulnerable for a short time and can be easily killed.
Heroes are not new in online games, but, it certainly is one of the elements that can give an advantage over Counter Strike. Not just because players like to collect stuff. Characters are also an excellent substitute of story in online games. Even if we are not particularly interested in the setting, a game with fleshed-out characters is just much more compelling. In addition, fantastic skills allow much more freedom in developing the game and introducing new, interesting ideas. Slow changes in CS can of course be considered a big advantage of the game (classic sports such as volleyball are also doing quite well, without monthly updates), but for players of LoL or Fortnite, frequent updates are already a standard, and without them, it would be difficult for developers to maintain interest in the game.
While the abilities in Valorant don't seem very powerful at first glance, they can make a huge difference at the highest level of difficulty. However, this will require considerable skill and coordination in the team. I am convinced that the game will make a great battleground for e-sports players, who should be able to exercise some really spectacular moves.
A few words about how servers work and why Valorant won't have lags
The second aspect of the game that should makeValorant a serious competitor for Counter Strike are the technical aspects. Unlike Fortnite or Apex Legends, the game was prepared from the very beginning with professional players in mind, ensuring they're provided with the best conditions. All servers will work at 128 Hz, which in CSGO works only on private servers and during professional tournaments.
The brief presentation also showed how Valorant developers are going to deal with players who take advantage of low internet connection. In case you're wondering how is that possible we're talking about the so-called "teleports," which make the player briefly disappear. In Valorant, this problem is solved by synchronizing the animation server-side. On the demo, the lagging opponent moved quite normally for other players, so shooting him was no longer a problem.
Since we're talking about lags, they should be as small as possible in Valorant. All thanks to the network infrastructure Riot Games developed for League of Legends. It's not just about the servers, but also routers and even wires. What does it look like in practice? The user clicks a button, the information about the click has to get to the server. How quickly it gets there doesn't always depend solely on the distance to the server. Internet providers sometimes prefer to send a signal through several other access points, because it is simply cheaper. This is not a big problem for the regular user when browsing the Internet, but an increase in latency from 80 to 300 milliseconds can be very noticeable during the game.
With its own infrastructure and collaboration with Internet providers, Riot is able to ensure their games get shorter and more modern network pathways. The result? 75% of Valorant players shouldn't have ping larger than 35 milliseconds when the game launches, and this number should decrease further in the future.