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Game review 03 June 2020, 15:23

author: Paul Wozniak

Valorant Review – Great Combination of Tried Ideas

Riot Games has been assembling different ideas for a long time and created a shooter like the Frankenstein's monster. But it worked out a little better for them.

The review is based on the PC version.

PROS:
  1. low entry threshold;
  2. low hardware requirements;
  3. satisfying gunplay;
  4. well-designed maps;
  5. a varied set of characters;
  6. synthesis of a few tried solutions;
  7. Riot Games should be able to realize the e-sports potential.
CONS:
  1. the notorious Vanguard anti-cheat;
  2. which, despite best efforts, doesn't work;
  3. graphics – for some.

Valorant's closed beta was likely the most controversial, yet the most popular series of beta tests I can recall. Of course, most of the controversies didn't concern the game proper, but rather all the things that getting access to the tests entailed, namely linking your Riot account to Twitch and then watching the selected streamer for two entire hours.

One way or another, this type of marketing ultimately proved effective. Streamers took advantage of the game's huge surge of popularity, contracts were signed with professional players (during a closed beta, mind you); some fans were interested in the next, big, online FPS, and others simply jumped on the bandwagon along the way.

And although I think blowing up hype is often detrimental, Valorant has certainly been an exception, and the hype seems justified. Riot Games' new child is a very good, considered production. It doesn't reinvent the wheel, but rather uses tried elements from other games and combines them into a remarkably accessible and satisfying whole. This, along with the players' trust in the creators of League of Legends, is enough to ensure Valorant a considerable popularity for years to come.

Valorant officially launched on June 2. - Valorant Review – Great Combination of Tried Ideas - dokument - 2020-06-03
Valorant officially launched on June 2.

New combination of old elements

Anyone who's been interested in Valorant from the beginning probably never expected this game to be anything but average. The gameplay formula straight from the wildly popular Counter-Strike (5v5 skirmishes with teams attacking and defending certain points on the map) was combined with a hero shooter, introducing a set of characters with distinct abilities. Here, however, the character's abilities are largely replacing typical grenades, although some of them have a large impact on the game (e.g. reviving or quick dodges). Using them in the right moment can tip the scales of victory, but what counts the most in player's skill and knowledge of maps (much like in CS). I was skeptical at first, but this formula actually turns out great.

Heasdhots are satisfying, heroes with tactical abilities make gameplay more interesting, and players use the same weapons. . None of these things is really innovative. . And I think that's the most interesting thing about all of this, because Riot Games once again (after League of Legends, Teamfight Tactics) creates a game that simply cherry-picks the most interesting solutions from other games, without too much effort directed at coming up with anything particularly groundbreaking. And this strategy seems to be working, and Valorant can become a massive hit – there's really not much you can hold against this game.

Low requirements, low entry threshold

Apart from the very well-executed, albeit derivative, gameplay, there are at least two things that spell success for Valorant. The first is small hardware requirements. The goal is simple. Make the game run even on a toaster, so that more people are able to play. This obviously comes at the expense of graphics, and the cartoonish setting may not appeal to everyone, but personally, I had no problem with it. After all, you don't play Valorant to marvel at the views.

What's really noteworthy is the super low entry-threshold. ? After launching Valorant for the first time, you're not overwhelmed by a multitude of game modes and menus. Completing the tutorial is enough to prepare you for online matches. That's more important than it seems; in CS, for example, you really have to plough through the non-intuitive beginnings and learn vague game modes before we're able to play like our favorite streamers. Such problems do not concern Valorant players at the moment, which simply means more players will be willing to stay.

SECOND OPINION

Maybe it's because I'm over 30 years old, but I wouldn't really say Valorant has a low entry threshold. If I didn't really have to test the game, I'd probably bounce off. Why? I just couldn't manage. I played with people, who already figured out their specials. And I just sucked!

I got a little bit better after a few hours, of course, but Valorant is simply a combination of a skill-based, unforgiving shooter, with extensive tactical abilities. I haven't had such a rough beginning since years! Therefore, as befits a fossil, I went back to Counter-Strike, just to make sure I've still got it, you know?

Martin Strzyzewski

Cheaters and Vanguard

This doesn't mean Valorant is perfect. Yes, most of the biggest problems are not strictly gameplay-related, and they're generally the problems of genre as a whole. First, there are cheaters – hordes of them, in fact. They can really spoil the fun, but you probably know that. The devs, of course, know it, and their remedy is called the Vanguard anti-cheat system. What's so controversial about it? Well, the system actually works at the kernel level of the operating system. At the same time, the creators never stated the system will prevent cheaters from entering Valorant. From the very beginning, it was intended as a tool for quick identification and effective banning of cheaters.

In Valorant, everyone finds a character for themselves. - Valorant Review – Great Combination of Tried Ideas - dokument - 2020-06-03
In Valorant, everyone finds a character for themselves.

But still, cheating is prevalent in the game. What's more, I'm almost certain that now that Valorant is available to a much wider audience, things will only get worse. But it's hard to blame the game's creators. As I wrote above, that's par for the course.

Another element of Valorant I feel inclined to criticize are the absurd prices of some cosmetic items, and really high thresholds of some of the free rewards. Problems are also bound to arise when it comes to character balance. But it's honestly not terrible for now. I cut my teeth on online games, so I've pretty much gotten used to it. I don't think it's a good thing, but that's the way it is.

A new set of gun skins costs like 70 bucks. - Valorant Review – Great Combination of Tried Ideas - dokument - 2020-06-03
A new set of gun skins costs like 70 bucks.

Further development

Reviewing network games is not an easy task. What's also an inherent part of these games is that they evolve a lot more than other titles, and they can go through some really dramatic changes. In the case of Valorant, however, I am absolutely confident about the further development of the game. The developers from Riot Games have proven that they can keep their games alive (vide League of Legends) for many years, even despite the huge changes the game underwent some really big changes. This is undoubtedly thanks to taking proper care of the e-sports scene, the popularity of which certainly translates into more players. Of course, it doesn't have to be the case with Valorant, but the creators have already proved they listen to players' feedback during the beta, and new content added to the game on release (new hero and new game mode), warrants optimism for the game's future development

A new heroine in Valorant – Reyna. - Valorant Review – Great Combination of Tried Ideas - dokument - 2020-06-03
A new heroine in Valorant – Reyna.

All in all, Valorant is an incredibly successful combination of elements known from other online shooters. There's nothing groundbreaking, but the most important elements work together really well, and the new game from the creators of LoL is just fun to play. Unconventional marketing paid off, as the game reached even those who aren't really all that crazy about online shooters. It is difficult to pin-point specific flaws of gameplay mechanics, and the game's development seems secure. The biggest single issue so far have been the cheaters, but this isn't unusual for the genre. And while it's far too early to say that Valorant will dethrone CS:GO, I'm certain we're witnessing the birth of a solid production to confidently rival to Valve.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

I've been a fan of network games for as long as I can remember. I've spent countless hours in MMORPGs, card games, and MOBAs. I follow pro scenes of games I don't even play myself. With Valorant, I've spent a good few hours playing together with friends. And although adult life can sometimes take the fun away from playing games, I can safely say that with the official launch I want to play Valorant again.

Paul Wozniak | Gamepressure.com

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