Known for many years simply for its massive success, League of Legends, Riot Games is releasing more and more information about its competitive PvP shooter in-the-works. Having been undercover and then announced simply as “Project A,” we now know the title of the game: Valorant. So far, we’ve gotten a name, gameplay footage revealing abilities and weapons, breadcrumbs of lore and art, and a few teasers of playable characters, called Agents, in the universe. Here’s what we know so far about the game.
Valorant is a 5v5 competitive tactical FPS that combines elements of CS:GO and hero-class shooters like Overwatch and Apex Legends. The focus is less on the abilities of the heroes and more on the precision of shooting, skilled gunplay, and strategy execution, with abilities being boosts to gain the upper hand in a match when used intelligently. Agents have four abilities total: a Signature ability, an Ultimate ability, and two peripheral abilities in theme with their character. The game’s time-to-kill is low, headshots are almost always an instant kill, and games can last up to 24 rounds.
IGN reported that “every match will be played on a single map in a Search and Destroy game mode. In every round players will be able to buy their weapons, gear and, most importantly, their abilities. Abilities are not a given in Valorant. You have to make a choice in each round: do I buy a weapon or an ability or do I save what money I have left and buy everything next round? With this in mind it is important to note that abilities will carry over to the next round if you did not use them. Weapons will only carry over when you manage to stay alive for the round – just like CS:GO.”
It’s worth mentioning that, though abilities are purchased, there are different ways to access them. Taken from All Gamers, associate editor, Henry Stenhouse, breaks down this distinction quite nicely:
- Main ability (may also be called “Signature” ability): Available to use each round. How much or how often depends on the character.
- Ultimate ability: Available only when charged through kills and completing objectives. Typically takes several rounds to charge.
- Extra ability 1: Purchasable each round.
- Extra ability 2: Purchasable each round.
The consistency of terminology lacks some clarity here, but essentially, an Agent’s Signature and Ultimate abilities are already “purchased” and exist in their kit inherently from the start; they just require a different “currency” for charging and accessing them throughout each round, or, in the case of the Signature ability, the player “pays” in number of uses available. Extra abilities appear in the shop and are unique to each Agent but must be paid for with credits and are not accessible in an Agent’s kit from the start. That being said, the game’s credits currency for purchasing abilities and weapons in the shop is amassed by getting kills, completing objectives, and adds up from round to round.
All of the aforementioned abilities enable the player and team to assert a tactical advantage as opposed to raw power to overwhelm enemies. Unlike in Overwatch where the gamut of abilities is wider spread and more accessible, Valorant players must make strategic choices as to which ability they will purchase depending on the state of the match and be especially mindful as to when and how to use their Signature and Ultimate abilities given their nature as especially limited resources.
Former competitive CS:GO player, HenryG, tweeted out his impressions of the game after spending a day playing the shooter in Riot’s European offices; he left thoroughly impressed and said that “[Project A] is the best game [he’s] played since CS:GO”
Hello! Strap yourself in. I had the chance to spend a day playing #ProjectA at Riot EU. Today, I'm allowed to share some of my initial thoughts and impressions. Please bear with me, I can't go into too much detail about the specifics of a lot of the gameplay until a later date.
— HenryG (@HenryGcsgo) February 11, 2020
Valorant does not take place in the League of Legends universe, and we know from the announcement video that the game takes place in near-future Earth but with some quirks; magical energy is clearly an accessible resource by way of an event that affected the world.
In an interview with Qwixzo, David Nottingham, creative director of Valorant, unveiled that the team is “pretty confident” about what they’ve built lore-wise for the game and “have a foundation” to engage the player and give insight to the lore through environmental storytelling, i.e. clues in architecture and maps, the dialogue and quips between characters, personality traits and mannerisms of each Agent, etc. In a different interview with Polygon, Nottingham goes on to explain that prior to his onboarding, the team did not focus on narrative, leaving a gaping creative hole to fill in order to bring the world to life. So, Nottingham set his sights on tying, welding, and constructing all the pieces together to make a coherent and engaging narrative to form the foundation of the game’s lore, which will change and evolve over time.
Valorant will be released on PC, with low-end specs in mind to ensure a smooth experience for every PC gamer. Based on the Alpha from the announcement trailer, the game is running on Epic Games’ Unreal Engine. Riot is also well aware of the potential for cheating to occur and is taking great measures to ward against it by enacting an anti-cheating engine called Vanguard to detect hacks and shut down unfair play. Paul Chamberlain, senior software engineer at Riot Games, notes in an interview with Polygon, “if we want [players] to invest in being good at this game, we need to give them strong anti-cheat [protection]. So we started early. We built the whole game with the fact that there are cheaters in the world in mind.” In the same article, David Strailey, another senior software engineer at Riot, describes the fight to reduce latency and remove “peeker’s advantage,” a problem in tactical shooters that gives the player who turns a corner the advantage to respond faster — and even not be seen by the “peek-ee” — because of problems with lag. The Valorant software development team is hard at work to ensure a positive and rage-free experience for all players, competitive or casual.
Valorant’s art style is simplistic on purpose to relay crucial information that players need for highly competitive play and to relay it fast. Moby Francke, the highly respected art director of Team Fortress 2, leads the Valorant art team into metamorphosing another unique style where art truly complements gameplay in the world of shooters: streamlined, clearly communicated, and effective while not being boring. A thread of tweets from @YangCLiu highlights the intention behind the choices made by the Valorant art team. He also goes on to link an eye-opening and in-depth interview with Francke, where Francke speaks about the psychology of his choices as an artist working in games and his journey as an artist overall.
Valorant Characters and Weapons
Phoenix, from the U.K.:
“Phoenix’s star power shines through in his fighting style, igniting the battlefield with flash and flare. Whether he’s got backup or not, he’s rushing in to fight on his own terms.
- Hot Hands – Throw a fireball that explodes after a delay or upon impact with the ground. The fire zone damages enemies, and heals you.
- Blaze – Cast out a flame wall that blocks vision and damages anyone passing through it. You can bend the wall when casting by turning while holding left click.
- Signature Ability: Curveball– Cast a curving flare that bursts into brilliant light after a brief delay, temporarily blinding all looking at it. Left click curves it left, right click curves it right.
- Ultimate Ability: Run it Back – Mark your current location. If you die during this ability’s duration, or when this ability’s duration expires, you’ll be reborn at the marked location with full health.”
Jett, from Korea:
“Jett’s agile and evasive fighting style lets her take risks no one else can. She runs circles around every skirmish, cutting enemies up before they even know what hit them.
- Cloudburst – Throw out a cloud of fog that obscures vision on impact. Hold down the ability button to bend the cloud’s in-flight trajectory.
- Updraft – After a brief wind up, propel yourself upwards.
- Signature Ability: Tailwind – Immediately dash a short distance in the direction you’re moving.
- Ultimate: Blade Storm – Arm yourself with several deadly throwing knives that deal moderate damage and kill on headshots. Scoring a kill restores all daggers. Left click throws a single dagger. Right click throws all remaining daggers in a short-ranged burst.”
Viper, from the USA:
“Viper deploys an array of poisonous chemical devices to control the battlefield and cripple the enemy’s vision. If the toxins don’t kill her prey, her mind games surely will.
- Snakebite – Fire a projectile that explodes into a pool of damaging acid.
- Poison Cloud – Throw a gas emitter that you can reactivate to create a poisonous smoke cloud at the cost of fuel. The emitter can be picked up and thrown again after a short cooldown.
- Signature Ability: Toxic Screen – Deploy a long line of gas emitters that you can reactivate to create a tall wall of toxic gas at the cost of fuel.
- Ultimate: Viper’s Pit – Emit a massive toxic cloud in a large area that lasts as long as Viper stays inside the cloud. Enemies inside the cloud are highlighted to Viper.”
Sova, from Russia:
“Sova tracks, finds, and eliminates enemies with ruthless efficiency and precision. His custom bow and incredible scouting abilities ensure that even if you run, you cannot hide.
- Shock Bolt – Fire an explosive bolt that emits a damaging pulse of static energy upon impact.
- Owl Drone – Deploy a pilotable drone that can fire a dart that will Reveal enemies who are hit.
- Signature Ability: Recon Bolt – Fire a bolt that deploys a sonar emitter. The sonar pings tag nearby enemies, causing them to be revealed. Can be destroyed.
- Ultimate: Hunter’s Fury – Fire up to three deadly energy blasts that spear across the entire map. Each hit enemy takes heavy damage and is marked.”
Cypher, from Morocco:
“Cypher is a one-man surveillance network who keeps tabs on the enemy’s every move. No secret is safe. No maneuver goes unseen. Cypher is always watching.
- Free Ability: Trapwire – Place a stealthed tripwire between two walls. Triggering enemies are restrained and revealed for a short time. If the trap is not destroyed, it activates to daze the trapped victim. Can be picked up.
- Cyber Cage – Toss out a remote activation trap. Reactivate to create a cage that slows enemies who pass through it. Look at a trap and press USE to detonate it, or hold ACTIVATE to detonate all.
- Signature Ability: Spycam – Place a remote camera. After placing, reactivate to view the video feed. Left click while in camera to fire a tracking dart. Recharges when picked up or killed.
- Ultimate: Neural Theft– Extract information from the corpse of an enemy, revealing the location of their living allies.”
Sage, from China:
“Sage creates safety for herself and her team wherever she goes. Able to revive fallen friends and stave off forceful assaults, she provides a calm center to a hellish battlefield.
- Slow Orb – Cast out a radianite orb that breaks into a slowing field upon impact with the ground. All caught in the field are slowed, grounded, and make noise when moving.
- Barrier Orb – Conjure a large, solid wall. Right-click to rotate the wall before casting.
- Signature Ability: Healing Orb – Heal an ally or yourself to full health over a few seconds.
- Ultimate: Resurrection– Target a friendly corpse. After a short delay, revive them with full health.”
Brimstone, from the USA:
“Brimstone’s orbital arsenal ensures his squad always has the advantage. His ability to deliver utility precisely and safely make him the unmatched boots-on-the-ground commander.
- Incendiary – Launch an incendiary grenade that deploys a damaging field of fire.
- Stim Beacon – Target a nearby location to call in a Stim Beacon, giving all players near it Rapidfire.
- Signature Ability: Sky Smoke – Use your map to call in orbital deployment smokescreens that obscure vision. Click to set the locations, and confirm to launch.
- Ultimate: Orbital Strike – Use your map to target a location, launching a devastating orbital strike that pulses for high damage over several seconds.”
Omen, country of origin unconfirmed
“Omen hunts in the shadows. He renders enemies blind, teleports across the field, then lets paranoia take hold as foes scramble to uncover where it might strike next.
- Paranoia – Send out an Ethereal shadow in a straight line, Nearsighting anyone it touches.
- Shadow Walk – After a delay, dematerialize and teleport a short distance.
- Signature Ability: Dark Cover – Cast out a stealthed ethereal orb that bursts into an obscuring sphere of shadow at its final location. Can be charged to increase distance.
- Ultimate: From the Shadows – Select anywhere on the map to teleport and reform. When arriving, appear as a Shade, that will go back to your original location if killed. Once the teleport is complete, become Incorporeal for a short time.”
Weapons in Valorant belong to one of six different categories: Rifles, Snipers, SMGs, Shotguns, Heavys, and Sidearms. Agents can carry a primary gun, a secondary gun or sidearm, and a knife to round out a weapon arsenal of three. Weapons are lootable upon death and will persist between rounds as long as you stay alive. Teammates are able to purchase weapons for each other with their credits and can then trade them between rounds, a balanced mechanic to ensure that those who are ahead have to make a choice: donate credits to their team members to ensure that no one falls too far behind or hoard to ramp up but risk the bounty on their head and the catch-up required by their teammates. Or, reverse it: have teammates hoard up credits and dump onto one player; the strategic possibilities are limitless.
It remains to be seen if these credits must be used exclusively to purchase weapons or if another player can use them to purchase their Agent’s abilities in the shop. I imagine credits will be non-discriminating, but we will not know until later.
Valorant is poised to make its entrance, and fans of the genre can look forward to a newcomer that will certainly make a name for itself in the competitive scene. Be on the lookout, as Valorant is set to release on PC in the summer of 2020.