Dropped into a cel-shaded, pastel war front, walls of noxious green poison and bouncing shadow spheres barrage the battlefield at every turn. Ducking and darting through the hailstorm of bullets, you turn a corner to face an ambush of enemy players. Luckily, you aren’t alone, as suddenly from behind you, battle bots and electric arrows pierce the air as you charge headfirst into the fray.
VALORANT is the new team-based, five versus five first-person shooter, or FPS, a game from Riot Games, the company who brought us League of Legends, one of the most popular esports games in history. VALORANT has broken new ground in the FPS world and today, with the help of the Coastline Esports Club’s very own VALORANT veterans Ian Steenbergen (who goes by A Jelly Sandwich in VALORANT) and Guirguis (who goes by Gee in VALORANT), we will learn the what, the how and the why behind this exciting new game.
VALORANT is a five on five first-person shooter game (the eyes of the player are the eyes of the in-game character); that has been established. But, what lies beneath the surface that makes VALORANT an intriguing game?
VALORANT is set on a futuristic Earth plagued by a mysterious event called the First Light. From this event, world technologies and mystic powers were discovered. Emerging from the shadows, an organization called the VALORANT Protocol awakens, gathering Agents from around the world, all with expansive backgrounds. And with this backdrop (and much more lore to come), the stage is set.
VALORANT is a video game and all video games, at their core, share the same purpose: to entertain. The goal here is no different, and VALORANT, borrowing from a history of successful FPS games, delivers. As Steenbergen puts it, VALORANT “combines all my favorite games into one amazing piece of art”.
VALORANT’s primary game mode is called “Plant/Defuse”. Over the course of twenty-five 100-second rounds, with the teams switching objectives in between, one team is to plant a bomb in the enemy base while the other team defends the base. If all members of your team are eliminated, the opposing team wins the round and vice versa. As credits (the in-game currency) are awarded for kills, wins, and losses, each round begins with players purchasing new guns and character abilities that can inevitably change the tide of battle. With quick rounds, teamwork, and important character choice, VALORANT offers a world of potential.
The game is visually stunning. All of the playable characters have distinct color palettes associated with them, so the battleground is a spectral display of varying shades of fiery reds, dusty yellows, electric blues, venomous greens, and everything in between. Although the central mission is to destroy the enemy by whatever means necessary, there is tact for beauty, even for a mercenary.
Although VALORANT’s currently only on PC, how the game is played is the differentiating factor between other FPS titles. It all comes down to VALORANT’s eccentric Agents and their roles.
As we’ve seen from League of Legend’s one hundred and forty masterfully crafted, diverse playable characters, Riot Games knows how to create fair, fun, and interesting characters. In VALORANT, there are thirteen playable characters known as Agents, each with four unique special abilities. Some of these abilities heal teammates, block enemy vision, deal damage, cause diversions, set traps, along with much more. While all of the gun options are available to everybody equally, players can only choose one Agent to play as for their individual game. Crafting the perfect five-person team to match character strengths and exploit enemy weaknesses is where VALORANT shines. Esports Club Member Guirguis agrees that mixing ability combos in “creative ways that can be unpredictable for the enemy team” end up being “mentally rewarding and satisfying”.
The thirteen Agents are classified into four distinct roles: duelist, sentinel, initiator, and controller. The duelists are self-sufficient Agents in charge of first contact and initiation on the enemy team, dealing high damage. The sentinels are spies and healers, gathering information and offering defensive assistance. Initiators work as crowd control and recon, flushing enemies out of hard places. Controllers are Agents that control a battlefield by offering smoke screens and holding perimeters. Each role can bleed into another’s, but each Agent’s primary powers place them in their valued role. According to Steenbergen, “a successful team … is all about strategy and team composition”, meaning you don’t want four duelists and one controller on a team; you need an even amount of every role in order to win.
With so many competitive video games vying for your attention, one might ask “why should I play VALORANT?”. The why comes down to its permanent audience and its rewarding learning curve.
As its beta (a closed version of the game only released to specific players in order to test it) finished and the game was globally released in June earlier this year, VALORANT is rapidly becoming one of the most popular esports games. Although most popular at first while in its early development and calming down since VALORANT has found its steady audience. Within six months, (at the time of writing this article) VALORANT holds the 9th overall viewer ranking on Twitch with a daily viewer average of around two hundred thousand. VALORANT is here and it isn’t going away anytime soon. Learning the game early while its popularity climbs will help you be a master in the long run.
As both our Coastline Esports Club Members agree, VALORANT “can be very challenging at times”, but that’s what makes it fun. Guirguis notes that “it’s not a game where you can just jump in and have a good performance without actually trying … it takes a lot of focus to be consistent” while Steenbergen differs saying that “it’s not a game that requires a lot of learning. Players who are familiar with FPS will easily adjust to the game aim wise, with the characters taking a slight bit of time”. The challenge of VALORANT is existent in learning its initial characters and in its long game consistency. A growing list of characters, team consistency, and repeat success are all things that boast VALORANT’s enjoyability.
VALORANT is an exhilarating new playground bustling with appetizing possibilities. If you’re scared of getting into VALORANT because you’re worried your inexperience forever hinder your individual and team’s game, don’t worry! Steenbergen mentions that “the community is also really kind and helpful compared to” other FPS games. “Everyone is there to have a good time and teach others who are new some strategies that might help them win their next ranked game.” There is so much to explore as VALORANT continues to make its mark on esports and video games at large.