- low entry threshold;
- low hardware requirements;
- satisfying gunplay;
- well-designed maps;
- a varied set of characters;
- synthesis of a few tried solutions;
- Riot Games should be able to realize the e-sports potential.
- the notorious Vanguard anti-cheat;
- which, despite best efforts, doesn't work;
- 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.
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.
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?