A Review of Valorant by an Inexperienced FPS Noob [Lauren Bergin].
My earliest memory of a first-person shooter (FPS) was playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare with my cousin. He was the cool kid. He had all of the mature PEGI-18 games that I wasn’t allowed and only wanted because they were for 18s and over. He had the most up to date XBOX 360 and the coolest background lobby skins and simply put: I wanted to be as cool as him.
So, one evening we decided to play Modern Warfare. While he initially absolutely smashed me because I had no idea what I was doing, the more I got used to the game, the more I began to fight back. A headshot here, a grenade there and slowly but surely, the little cousin was starting to beat her elder. As you can imagine, he wasn’t pleased, and after a rather beautiful headshot (not that I’m bragging) from between the ruins of an unnamed Middle Eastern city, he ragequit and we never played again.
Fast forward a few (okay, a lot) of years to 2020. As an avid League of Legends fan, I was immediately swept up in the hype surrounding Riot Games’ new title Valorant. Populated by cool looking new agents occupying beautifully constructed maps, I was desperate to try it. Except, I currently play on a MacBook and the game beta isn’t optimised for Apple, so after pulling a few strings (harassing my partner), I finally got my shot at Valorant. While my actual gameplay was abysmal, I was immediately encapsulated in this whole new world, with a particular fondness for the agent Viper, with whom I felt the most synergy.
As I said before, Valorant’s graphics and art style are nothing to joke about. A blend of Borderlands’ neo-cartoon style and Fortnite’s vibrance, Valorant’s style is a dream come true. While the maps are simple (hardly uncommon for a new game) the integration of this neon hue makes them pop. It makes turning every corner a new and exciting experience — permitting you don’t get shot in the head.
Another aspect of the game which I believe makes it stand out from other FPS is the way in which Riot has designed each Agent’s gameplay. Instead of just throwing a Molotov or grenade as is the case in most FPS, each champion has a unique set of skills that performs the same function. For example, Phoenix’s “Curveball” acts as a flashbang, but instead of simply being a flashbang it is a fireball that blinds the enemy. I think that it’s cool that Valorant incorporates the basic building blocks of other FPS titles in the industry, but its extra flair makes the game stand out amidst its competitors.
Yet another unique feature of Valorant is its concepts of nationhood — and no, I don’t just bring this up because I study history. With the exception of Omen, each agent hails from different corners of the globe, with many of the regions that Valorant includes being ones largely forgotten in the wider gaming world. Raze’s roots are Brazilian, Sova’s Swedish and Jett’s South Korean, to name but a few. Most FPS are set in historical or alternative historical contexts, and therefore draw upon real-life battles or events for their plot to revolve around. In adopting these historical narratives, the main countries that are involved often remain the same: The United States, Russia, Germany, France and the United Kingdom. I feel, therefore, that the eclectic mix of countries that appear in Valorant not only enhance the diversity of the game, but it allows players to feel a connection to their region-specific champion. I’m the perfect example of this: when I first played the game, the champion I wanted to play was Phoenix because he represents the United Kingdom. Where am I from? Funnily enough, the United Kingdom.
Despite this, however, the agent that I felt the most synergy with was Viper. Described as “the American chemist” who “if the toxins don’t kill her prey her mind games surely will”, Viper’s abilities centre around her use of toxic gas to control the battlefield. While not currently ranked as one of the S Tier agents in the game, when I played with her, I felt that her abilities have the potential to alter the Valorant battle experience. If chained correctly, her walls of toxin have the ability to force enemies into isolated situations, with her ultimate (her most powerful ability) locking them inside a ring of poison gas for a quick and easy kill. Her smoke bombs dissuade approach due to the damage that they deal and, when coupled with her grenade that makes areas of the ground toxic and slows movement, they become a deadly combination. I was drawn to her not only because her appearance echoes my own cyberpunk style, but because her design and abilities are both powerful and unique. She’s unlike any character I’ve played in a game before, and I’ve played a lot of video games.
I’m not the only one, though, who is ranting and raving about Valorant. Complimentary reviews have surfaced both from specialist media (including IGN and PCGamer) and more mainstream media, specifically The Guardian. Outside of traditional media outlets, Twitter has been caught up in a Valorant hurricane, with pro players across all verticals touting the game’s success. It’s clear that a professional competitive Valorant scene lurks on the horizon, with esports behemoths T1, TSM and G2 recruiting Valorant professionals. Just the other day G2 signed former CS:GO professional Oscar “M1xwell” Cañellas Colocho to their Valorant roster, sending ripples throughout the esports world. Valorant is here, and it is here to stay. I can’t wait to watch competitive Valorant matches, mainly so that I can pick up some tips and tricks to put on my CV for when I apply to be the world’s next pro Valorant player!
It’s safe to say that my overall impression of Valorant was resoundingly positive. It’s a new and interesting take on the FPS style that we all know so well. It provides new challenges and tests your strategic knowledge in a setting defined by high level graphics and unique map construction. Honestly, I’m itching to play it again, maybe even against my cousin. We’ll see who the cool gamer kid is now.