The spark doesn't really want to skip fans after the release of Valorant. Opinions on Riot's new team shooter are drifting apart. That seems strange at first, but it reflects the quality of Valorant quite well, because this free-2-play shoot combines light and shadow like hardly any other shooter on the market. With the multiplayer shooter, Riot Games has made a remarkable debut in a previously unfamiliar genre.
The entry into Valorant is horror. The shooter frightens players with a mercilessly steep learning curve. When the first successes emerge in the matches, you are blown away from the smooth gameplay - at least temporarily, because the point at which you miss variance comes quickly. Nevertheless: Game rounds at Valorant can be pretty much anything in the range between grandiose and frustrating. Oh, and then there's Riot's rather intrusive anti-cheat program with Vanguard.
Valorant: The team shooter is that good
Anyone who, as a newcomer to the shooter, visits the maps of Riot's new free-2-play shooting Valorant will experience the typical “fuck off” moments during the familiarization phase. “Bäm, headshot!” It often rings in your ears, even if Valorant doesn't even have this audio. Fans know what is meant: death is certain and comes pretty quickly.
The four maps resemble a circular course with dark corners. The fatal hit lurks everywhere. It comes from every direction, even from above. Valorant is not a particularly fast shooting game. Riot Games designed the title so that speed is more of a disadvantage than an advantage. If you run and shoot, you won't hit - at least worse. You move slowly around corners, but hits are not a little effective. Valorant can best be described as a mix of hero shooter à la Overwatch and classic FPS in the sense of a Counter-Strike or Call of Duty. Two teams of five players each compete against each other, hacking each other with handguns and long guns as well as very cool special skills and.
The spike is the bomb. Riot Games also coped well with the competition in terms of game modes. The teams play as attackers or defenders and then have to discard the spike and protect or defuse it. On each map there are two to three areas in which the “bomb” can be armed. It is there that the fiercest battles break out. That sounds suspiciously like Counter-Strike and basically feels like it. However, if players are familiar with their agents, not only know their special skills, but also know how to use them tactically, the Plant-the-Spike-Gameplay beats the Plant-the-Bomb-Gameplay by far. It's just a shame: In a normal game round, specials are currently fired at random rather than clever. This results in chaos and unnecessary hectic rush, which is contrary to the basic idea of Riot's Shooter.
A game goes over many rounds. The first team to win 13 of them wins the match. It sounds like Valorant is pulling itself like chewing gum. The opposite is the case. A round lasts a few minutes, especially when experienced players are involved.
And yet they do exist, the heroic moments
It is the special skills that ensure variety in the matches at Valorant. The classic gun play is then enriched with quite creative actions. A jetpack attack from above follows the blockade of a passage with an ice wall. At best, players combine their special skills with the right weapon. The latter must be bought at the beginning of each round (think of Counter-Strike). Everything a shooter's heart could desire is available, from the large-caliber Colt to the sniper rifle.
The highlight: Even the special skills have charges that have to be refreshed for each round - provided charges have been used at all. Too often you catch yourself ignoring the specials completely and focusing completely on the weapon. However, this works reasonably well, because it is precisely well-timed skills that decide the short battles - or a careless move. Whoever runs blindly around a corner dies. If you sprint instead of walk, you die. Anyone wandering around on the maps alone dies. The right heroic moments come about when a team acts as a team, at best discussing things “by voice” and following a tactic.
Even shopping at the beginning of the round can be made tactical. You have to earn money. Kills give you $ 200, discarding the spike brings $ 300 to each team member's account, as does disarming. The round win gives players a whopping 3.000 dollars, but even if they lose there is money, between 1.900 and 2.900 dollars - depending on how many rounds you have lost in a row. One thing is clear: winning is always more lucrative.
The shooters are comparatively cheap. You don't have to save a long time, but every round you spend a thousand on heavy armor, which you should always take into account.
You can also save money in order to be well equipped and to be able to act effectively in later rounds. However, you save even more money by surviving a round: then you take the equipment with you to the next round. Also possible: You collect an opponent's weapon, but you still have to survive.
Marksmanship is more important than evasive maneuvers
If you take it easy, you have a better chance of winning. With Valorant by Riot Games, accuracy is more important than the hopping maneuvers known from other shooters, with which one tries to avoid bullets. Headshots are critical factors, one or two of which are fatal. So it's better to spend a moment on aiming than on movement. Anyone who pauses briefly to send projectiles towards the enemy will benefit. You have to internalize that with Valorant, because it is so very different from everything that you have known competitor shooters up to now. Valorant brings a lot of fresh ideas into the genre, especially because positioning and communication become so enormously valuable.
Agreements are always the way to the goal, in every situation. It starts with the selection of characters and ends with the wise use of special abilities. Even when shopping for weapons, communication is the key: sometimes there is big shopping, sometimes the team decides to save money and sometimes accepts a round of losses in return.
Knowledge is the second essential key in Valorant. Know the agent, but above all know the different weapons. Every shooting stick has its individual strengths and weaknesses. The result: Valorant's gun play is one of the best of the genre. The choice of weapon makes a noticeable difference: sometimes a single shot from the sniper in the head is fatal, sometimes a hit to the body. Some assault rifles fire effective bursts of fire, while other rifles allow you to pull the trigger all the way through.
The agents play just as differently. There are a meager eleven of them, you start with five agents. The selection is comparatively small. The variety suffers as a result, which is a shame, because the pure gameplay has a lot to offer. The agent's ultimates are always a highlight - however, these have to be recharged first through kills. It takes six to seven, but then firing the final skills is effective. The choice of agent makes a huge difference. Sage heals and uses ice walls as blockages, Sova and Cipher help with the clarification. Other agents are real damage dealers.
In principle, you can activate any agent for free, but you have to invest some time for this. As a free-to-play shooter, Valorant relies on in-game purchases of weapon skins. It's not even particularly expensive. Riot's decision not to offer agents for sale is a brave one. Whoever gets to unlock a character, makes a decision and makes the wrong choice, has to wait a long time. Incidentally, Riot did not use loot boxes. Good this way!
Valorant: Average pretty
Valorant is not visually impressive. The graphic quality is somewhere between nice and functional. Riot's Shooter doesn't come close to competitors like Overwatch or Call of Duty. On the other hand, Valorant plays extremely smoothly, apart from occasional network problems. The design of the maps is successful, but they are not optical delicacies.
After all, each of the four cards creates exciting game situations. The same applies to the few game modes: There is a training mode, Spike-Rush, a short mode and custom games - that's it. If there is variety at Valorant, it is through the gameplay itself, not through the framework conditions that Riot creates.
From a purely technical point of view, Valorant works perfectly, apart from the anti-cheat tool. This has to be installed separately and is nested in the autostart area. If you exit the Riot Vanguard and then want to play Valorant, you have to restart your computer first.
In addition, the anti-cheat tool operates in a sensitive process area and has virtually access to every hardware area of the PC. This does not have to be the case, because the program can then even cause crashes. This did not happen in our game test, but other players report system crashes.
One could accept that if the Riot Vanguard would effectively prevent cheats. However, because cheat developers can also work on the sensitive program level, the Vanguard cannot prevent cheats in precisely these cases. After just one week, it is clear: Valorant is also cheating. You still have to keep the Vanguard active in order to play.
Due to the very sensitive intervention in the structure, the question remains: How much can players trust Riot? Everyone has to answer this question for themselves and decide for or against the anti-cheat program and thus for or against Valorant.
Number of players: Multiplayer online
Age: from 16 years
Playing time: 60+ hours of play
Long-term motivation: high
Publisher: Riot Games
Developer: Riot Games
Year of publication: 2020
Costs: basically free-2-play
Basically, Riot Games is doing a lot right with Valorant. The fast laps are fun, the tactical component is always noticeable. The mix of hero shooter and classic FPS works extremely well, especially in connection with the differently oriented agents and their skills. The gameplay is terrific, but it takes a comparatively long time to get used to it, because Valorant does a lot differently than other team shooters.
After all: The game, trimmed for efficiency, offers good conditions to establish yourself in the esports scene, even if it will take some time. The steep learning curve suggests that real professional matches promise a lot of excitement. “Easy to learn, hard to master”, Riot Games consistently follows this motto with Valorant. It takes hours to get to know all the maps, agents and weapons. Investing the time is worth it, because with increasing experience you notice what cool stunts and moves can be performed on the cards.
Valorant not recommended just because of the anti-cheat tool would be a mistake, because the free-2-play shooter with the fair price model is fun. However, you have to give the developers an immense leap of faith.
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