Valorant closed beta: First impressions of Riot’s upcoming FPS

Valorant

After nearly two months of closed beta, Valorant temporarily closed off the game on May 28. It is currently set to launch on June 2.

Any attempts to log in to Valorant will hit you with an error prompt saying you are unable to access the game. And if you’ve been playing Valorant consistently over the past month like me, then this message prompt might have hit you with some disappointment.

But for those who haven’t received a key or are holding off until the official launch, here are my first impressions of the game to help you decide whether or not the game is worth jumping into on June 2.

Abilities Make You Feel Useful           

One of the things that make Valorant stand out from other esports titles such as Overwatch or even Riot’s own League of Legends is that there is never an incomprehensible flurry of abilities on screen. Since abilities are limited use rather than on cooldown, every ability use is more impactful and more strategic than ever before.

While the core of Valorant is its gunplay, abilities are what make the game more fun for everyone. Even if your aim is off for the day, pulling off a successful resurrection as Sage or even gathering intel as Cypher can make enough of a difference to win rounds. However, don’t expect to win too many games relying on abilities alone.

But certain abilities – like Sage’s heal and ice wall – are perceived to be so strong that she is nearly essential to have in every game. I’ve played plenty of matches where people have dodged because nobody chose to play Sage on our team. Even the devs admitted that Sage is overpowered in a recent patch note.

Shooting Is Difficult Yet Exciting  

The gunplay shares most of its similarities with Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, with variations and add-ons that make the hardcore shooter more accessible than its predecessor. But Valorant also adds some depth to shooting mechanics.

For those new to both CS:GO and Valorant, here are some key mechanics:

  • Moving while shooting will cause shooting errors.
  • Bullets will recoil above your crosshair when spraying.
  • You can aim down sights (ADS) with most guns, trading off fire rate for accuracy.

Shooting is much less punishing compared to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. For example, walking will still grant a decent accuracy boost from close to mid-range, and the ‘skating’ that occurs in CS:GO when you stop moving is effectively nonexistent in Valorant.

In Valorant, nearly all guns are viable in certain scenarios. Even the heavy machine guns can still be used accurately within the first few shots. Abilities can be used to counter certain guns, like how a well-positioned ice wall can stop an operator from sniping out your team. They can also be used to enhance certain guns, like how smokes can make shotguns more useful in some scenarios.

A big part of what makes the gunplay great is the quality of life features that are external to the matches themselves. I’m talking, of course, about the crosshair editor and practice mode.

The crosshair editor has a ton of customization options, but with more features that would only be available through console commands or mods through CS:GO. The practice mode is both a customizable mini-game and a great aim trainer. Frankly, I’ve never seen a practice mode that’s been prepackaged into a game be done this good.

The Maps… Not So Much

If Valorant were to have a fatal flaw, it would be its current three maps. In their current state, the maps feel claustrophobic and only feel fun to play on the defender’s side. Currently, the only map that I look forward to playing in is Bind. The other two maps, Split and Haven, just aren’t as fun to play in my opinion.

I won’t go into great detail, because a great video posted on YouTube dives deep into why Valorant maps just don’t feel as fun to play. Watch it below.

Now the developers have already started to combat this. In a recent patch note, they made small adjustments to Split to make sightlines more balanced for the attacking side. It’s also reassuring that map design is a much easier problem to fix than the core gameplay, as fresh new maps hopefully improve the ideas of the old ones.

Conclusion

Valorant has a bright future ahead. Through their developer’s patch notes, it’s clear that they listen to their community and will consistently improve the game in the years to come. If you were a CS:GO player like me, Valorant is definitely worthy of a shot. If you’re new to hardcore first-person shooters, there’s definitely a place for you with the game’s diverse abilities and difficult-yet-exciting gameplay. As for me, I will definitely be coming back on the grind on June 2.

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