I always valued competitive network games over single-player productions. Ive spent most of my gaming days playing League of Legends, but the drive of my PC hosted a slew of genres from card games to shooters. Needless to say, I was pretty excited when Riot finally announced they will be creating big, new games. Already at that point, Valorant seemed the most interesting one to me. Even though I was never really crazy about shooting, I somehow felt I had to give this game a shot (no pun intended).
Now, after a few dozen hours with this game, I can safely say that it completely reinvigorated my love for FPS again (until now, Ive only played Apex regularly), and my adventure with Valorant has barely started. Riot Games proves once again that they know how to create solid games, which, although not groundbreaking, bring a certain breath of fresh air to the party. There's still a long way to go before the game can be called a real success, though.
Valorant, or finding equilibrium
Some time ago, news appeared on the web, quoting a statement from an ESPN reporter who said that Valorant is a mix of CS:GO and Rainbow Six: Siege. I completely agree, and I want you to know that if somebody claims the above statement isn't true, it's likely because they haven't played any of these games. Valorant combines elements of both these games, and it does so in the best possible way.
But after getting past the initial impressions, which mostly have to do with the visuals, and checking out the systems, the feeling goes away. Indeed, the cornerstone of gameplay in Valorant is actually a calque of CS:GO's formula. You have two teams, one of which is attacking. They have two ways of winning the game: either plant the spike (a bomb) in the designated area, or just eliminate the defenders, for whom victory conditions are nearly identical, except they obviously need to disarm the bomb. Sounds like something incredibly original? Well, it almost does, except Counter-Strike invented that some 20 years ago. The major difference is that you need 13 rounds to win the match in Valorant. Even gunplay, the way the guns feel and look (all characters in Valorant use the same weapons) are very similar in both games.
So what does Valorant have in common with Rainbow Six: Siege? In the game by Ubisoft Montreal, we use operators distinctive characters that have their own, unique gadgets and handle differently, which makes them fit for different purposes. Its basically the same here. The characters (or rather Agents) have different classes, and their skills make them suitable for... different purposes. So, both games require teams to have appropriate consistency that's the first step to victory which also isn't something uncommon in the world of shooters (vide Team Fortress 2).
Sure, the skills allow the characters in Valorant to do a little crazier stuff, and hence are closer to those from Overwatch (Jett is extremely mobile, Sage can resurrect others), but here comes the catch. In Valorant, you don't get second chances. Timing, and precision, are essential launching skills in the wrong moment may mean you won't be able to draw your gun, which often equals death, and since there's no respawning until the next round, it also means weakening the team.
When it comes to factors determining the overall capability of players, it's first, and foremost, shooting skills, then the knowledge of weapons and maps as opposed to being able to perform some special moves. The characters' abilities are just a seasoning. A significant addition, but they're certainly not crucial.
Skills have to be used with caution and are often simply used to gain temporary tactical advantage (much like in Rainbow Six). They include rather ordinary (although clad in a fantasy mantle) flash and frag grenades, Molotov's cocktails, smokes, and drones that reveal enemy positions. Basic abilities are purchased every round in the store, and special abilities are activated through subsequent kills and rounds. Forget cooldown times and spamming that's so prevalent in Overwatch or Paladins.