What Is VALORANT? A Look at Its Key Features and Unique Traits

By Chris Majot in Esports
| April 17, 2020 10:40 am PDT
What is VALORANT?

Odds are if you’re into esports, then you’ve noticed every big influencer and personality in the video game space talking about VALORANT. It’s all over social media, from Facebook to Twitch, and it can be pretty hard keeping up with the storm that this new esport is causing. With all the stir, some people are undoubtedly still wondering, “What is VALORANT? What makes it stand out so much?”

So, let’s take a look at some of the key features of this new esport and see what it’s all about!

The Game

VALORANT is a free-to-play multiplayer first-person shooter game developed by Riot Games. When it was first announced in 2019 under codename Project A, there was a ton of excitement in the esports community, as it would be the first large-scale video game coming from Riot Games since League of Legends, which is one of the world’s most popular esports. Later in early 2020, the name “VALORANT” gained traction for the game’s official name in the esports community via data-mining efforts, and as it approached its first Closed Beta stage, the name was confirmed.

At this time, VALORANT is only planned to be supported on Windows computers. However, that doesn’t mean console players should lose all hope. Because VALORANT is being built on Unreal Engine, one of the top game engines in the market, a console port of the game might not be as implausible as many think since Unreal Engine has built-in support for console games.

VALORANT Gameplay

VALORANT is played in a series of matches where players compete in two teams of five to plant a bomb (aka “the spike”) in the enemy team’s territory. When players die in a round, they won’t respawn until the next one, which makes team coordination and calculated play crucial.

Rounds can end in three different ways: the spike is planted/detonated, a team kills all of the remaining players on the opposing team, or the spike is diffused. Odds are in most matches you will see all three of these scenarios, as every match is played as a best of 25 rounds with each round lasting a maximum of 100 seconds. Before each round, there is a 30-second preparation phase, during which all players can purchase things like guns, armor, and abilities.

Many people like to refer to VALORANT as somewhat of a combination of Overwatch and CSGO. Like Overwatch, VALORANT has players assume the role of a chosen character with unique abilities, and like CSGO, the gameplay is heavily focused on shooting your gun and refined twitch-reflexes.

Agents in VALORANT

Players on each team assume the role of a chosen “agent,” all of which have a set of unique abilities to give them an edge in combat. Agents come in four different classes: Duelists, Initiators, Sentinels, and Controllers. Duelists are considered the most aggressive class of agents that try to push into the enemy team. Initiators are a class that focuses on acquiring information about the battlefield that allows their team to make more informed decisions. Sentinels are VALORANT’s defensive class that are most often seen playing in the backline of conflicts. Controllers are a class that use their abilities to manipulate the battlefield to their team’s advantage.

Each agent has a standard ability that they can use at any point in a round, but they also have two more abilities that can be purchased in the pre-round buying phase for use. Additionally, each agent has a unique “ultimate” ability that charges up as they get kills in a match, and it can also be charged up by picking up orbs on the map. These abilities are extremely powerful and can often shift the tides of a fight entirely on their own, hence their charge-up times restricting how quickly they can be used.

On top of using abilities, Agents can also utilize a variety of different guns that are purchased with funds they earn in each round of a match. The guns in VALORANT range from small pistol-like sidearms all the way up to sniper rifles and shotguns, so there is quite a range of ways for you to play your preferred agent depending on the guns you want to outfit them with.

Maps in VALORANT

Currently, VALORANT is planned to have three maps, but there will undoubtedly be more released as the game persists. The three maps we know about thus far are Haven, Bind, and Split. Haven has a very rural Chinese theme to it and includes three spike-planting sites: A, B, and C. Bind has more of an Arabian aesthetic and includes only two spike-planting sites: A and B.

Split, too, only has two spike-planting sites: A and B, and looks more like an Asian shanty-town. All three maps look to include the same elements of open and tight corridors, outlets for flanking, and multiple points of entry to bomb sites.

VALORANT as an Esport

Riot Games has gone on record saying they are open to input from VALORANT’s community as to exactly how the esport needs to play. They’ve made it clear that they want to foster it much more as a grassroots type of esport rather than something forced. What that means, who knows? It wouldn’t be surprising to see a large number of tournaments throughout the year, much like CSGO Majors, to keep VALORANT’s community consistently engaged.

Only time will tell exactly what form VALORANT’s esport takes, but the esports community has made it clear there is a huge interest in seeing the game played at a highly competitive level, and if anybody can get it there, it’s Riot Games. Betting on VALORANT is likely to be a thing eventually, too.

You can find more content on the promising new VALORANT, as well as tournament picks and previews on a variety of esports, in the esports section of our blog.

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