Valorant (2023) Review
Story And Setting
Visuals And Performance
Despite its rather young age, Valorant has quickly risen the ranks to become a foundational part of the FPS genre. And by flawlessly combining top-notch mechanics from several rivals, it’s clear to understand the game’s mass success.
- Intriguing Lore
- Strong Gunplay
- Great Maps
- Vibrant Art Style
- Proper Optimization
- Consistent Updates
- Weapon Balancing
- Intrusive Anti-Cheat Software
- Egregious Cosmetic Prices
After the massive success of League of Legends, the team at Riot Games decided to try their luck yet again by breaking into and redefining another genre. But this time, the competition was much more intense, and they had to go up against the likes of Counter-Strike, Call of Duty, Overwatch, and Rainbow Six Seige in an already saturated market.
- Editor’s Note: We thoroughly tested Valorant on PC, putting just over 250 hours into its various modes.
However, against all odds, Riot managed to find a specific spot in the industry and launched Valorant, their competitive FPS title. As an underdog, this project garnered heaps of attention from both the media and the public.
Story And Setting
You’d think that a multiplayer-only shooter wouldn’t have any interesting narrative, but surprisingly enough, the developers have managed to introduce a somewhat basic storyline to the whole thing. The story takes place in a universe where two different Earths exist, Alpha and Omega, as well as a mysterious substance known as Radianite.
Alpha Earth has a lot of Radianite, while Omega does not, and so the central conflict is based on the acquisition of this substance.
That’s the most basic premise, and Riot has done a fantastic job of progressing this narrative over the game’s lifetime. They regularly showcase shorts where we learn more about the world and characters and how the various different characters fit within it. Besides that, the maps’ design and the easter eggs within them reveal interesting yet vague parts of the story.
Overall, Riot has incorporated an intriguing narrative behind Valorant‘s gameplay, where you can learn as much or as little as you want. It’s always minor details that keep the players engaged and let them connect with their favorite agent.
Valorant brings the best of both worlds by combining the hero-class system of Overwatch with the gameplay loop of CS:GO. In a standard match, you can either play as Attackers or Defenders, and the first 5-player team to win 13 rounds wins. After each round, players will get credits based on their performance, which they can use to buy weapons, abilities, and armor for the next round.
The Attackers’ objective is to kill the enemy team or plant the Spike (basically your bomb) at the dedicated sites and protect it until it explodes. On the other hand, the Defenders must either defend the site until the timer ends or defuse the spike if planted by the Attackers. Once you play 12 rounds, you’ll reach the half-time, after which the teams will switch sides.
With Valorant, Riot Games has done the unthinkable and successfully entered a gaming space previously ruled by Esports’ juggernauts.
To prevent the experience from getting stale, Valorant offers players to choose from 8 game modes – Unrated, Competitive, Swiftplay, Deathmatch, Spike Rush, Escalation, Replication, and Snowball Fight. It’s worth noting, though, that the first 5 of these are permanent modes, while the latter 3 are seasonal formats that are temporarily available.
Moving onto the hero system, the game has a selection of 21 completely unique agents. Each agent has 4 different abilities, including an Ultimate ability, which is basically the character’s final trump card. At round start, you can purchase all the abilities except the Ultimate, which automatically charges up as you get kills and play the objectives.
Besides that, the agents themselves are categorized into four types according to their playstyle. Duelists are offensive agents meant to lead the charge into sites, while Initiators can help teams gain control of areas on the map. Sentinels are defense experts for locking down areas and watching flanks as both defenders and attackers and finally, Controllers can divide up hostile territory to make it easier for their team to enter sites.
Unfortunately, the game’s weapon balancing and variety leave much to be desired.
Overall, the addicting and often stressful gameplay loop, coupled with the unique agents and their abilities, makes for a fresh experience every time. The agents’ abilities are definitely the highlight here, though, adding a ton of versatility where you can come up with your own strategies for crafty plays.
Unfortunately, the game’s weapon balancing and variety leave much to be desired. While the gunplay is satisfying and the weapons themselves encourage several unique playstyles, a select few often overshadow most of them as being much more viable choices, like the Spectre in budget and Vandal/Phantom in all-out rounds.
Although this gun meta has improved since Valorant’s initial beta phase, there’s still much to do. Riot tackled this issue by making players rely on their agents more than their weapons, so they brought several new agents to the game, growing the roster from 10 to 21.
Visuals And Performance
Riot Games has always had a distinct and vibrant art style, and no other game probably shows it off better than Valorant. Despite being a few years old, the game’s visuals continue to thrive compared to most modern competitive shooters. While it might not look photorealistic, Riot’s art direction makes it radiant, and no pun is intended.
Each map and location has bright colors, intricate design choices, and stunning vistas to keep you hooked as you play. You can further see these aspects with the agents themselves, who have distinct color palettes that make them stand out from each other. Even the minor map and gun bits have extreme details that your eye can often catch and appreciate.
Riot Games has always had a distinct and vibrant art style, and no other game probably shows it off better than Valorant.
Best of all, you can get these visuals with a modest desktop setup. Like most competitive shooters, Valorant prioritizes performance so that it can run on most hardware specifications. My gameplay had consistent FPS throughout the board, even in moments with many particles and action filling the screen. The game is mainly CPU-bound, yet I crossed 300 FPS on a Core i5-9400f several generations ago.
The accessibility, simple UI, and lack of visual and performance bugs show the devs’ care for the overall user experience. And the multitude of graphical settings adds another layer of convenience, letting you choose performance over visuals or vice versa.
Riot has been actively supporting their game since launch, introducing 11 more agents from the initial 6, adding brand new maps, as well as several balance changes to keep the meta everchanging. It’s one of the many reasons why the game’s player base has only grown since release and why it’s quickly become one of the titans of Esports.
All things considered, Riot Games has done the unthinkable and successfully entered a gaming space previously ruled by Esports’ juggernauts. Valorant, once considered the underdog, filled a tight gap in that space, which ultimately grew so large that it made the game just as popular as its competitors. And with a dynamic story, crisp gameplay, and visually appealing graphics, that popularity isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
This has been our Valorant Review. While you’re here, consider checking out some of our other articles.
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