Valorant: a competent competitor to Counter-Strike

In late 2019, “League of Legends” developer Riot Games teased the creation of “Project A,” its take on a hero-based first person shooter. Its February closed-beta launch only heightened the anticipation, as it was met with positive reviews from professional players, the FPS community and received record high viewership on Twitch.

Since “Project A” was renamed  “Valorant” and launched on June 2,  it has taken the gaming community by storm.

For those who have  played a game like “Counter-Strike,”   the high-stakes round-based gameplay of “Valorant” will immediately seem familiar. With a blend of “Counter-Strike’s” mechanical skills and “Overwatch’s” emphasis on communication, “Valorant” achieves a healthy balance between the two styles that appeals to different types of players.

Teams take turns as either the attacker or defender in a best-of-25-rounds competition, switching sides after 12 rounds. The attackers’ main objective is to plant the spike (a bomb) in one of several designated bombsites. Defenders are tasked with fending off the attackers and defusing the spike once it has been planted. Of course, wiping out the enemy team is another way to win rounds.

 The time-to-kill in “Valorant” is extremely low. However, this is conducive to the game’s structure, because otherwise players would spend hours on the up to 25 rounds in a single match. Despite ultimate abilities in “Valorant” possessing many similarities to those of “Overwatch,” their power is balanced out by the need to collect points in order to use them, rather than a cooldown system.

 “Valorant” also incorporates a little twist to the hero-shooter genre by giving players the option to buy charges of two less powerful abilities. They take the form of attacks, tactical abilities or enhanced physical capability.

For those who’ve never played a game like “CS:GO,” micromanaging an in-game economy in a first-person shooter will seem alien, but it adds another layer of tactical depth to its competitive gameplay. Not only does your hard-earned in-game currency go toward buying abilities, but you will also have to buy your own weapons and shields, which act as additional health points.

If an agent’s toolkit isn’t to your liking, the game won’t punish you for not playing a certain role. Unlike “Overwatch,” “Valorant” bases its gameplay around aim instead of anchored roles like DPS, healer or tank.

“Valorant’s” minimalistic art style is tailored for combat readability; its visuals are based on the principle less is more, with its simplistic design making abilities easy to differentiate. This does come with downsides, such as the uninspired character designs and flat particle effects, but it makes engagements easier to understand and doesn’t overwhelm the player.

The gameplay isn’t for everyone, with aim and recoil control being just as important as team chemistry and information gathering. Not many games incorporate a movement inaccuracy system as punishing as “Valorant’s,” requiring you to stand completely still for perfect accuracy, so it’s definitely something hard to get accustomed to.

The fact that it has a strong-but-intrusive anti-cheat only adds to why the game is worth trying out. It’s the only first person shooter on the market that’s free but also has a strong anti-cheat, instead of forcing you to play with cheaters like the “Counter-Strike” free experience.

“Valorant” is a strong competitor in the FPS scene, backed up by a strong array of characters and skill-based gameplay mechanics. It’s a must-try for people looking to get into online games.