We spend 3 days in Valorant a true competitor to counter strike.

We spend 3 days in Valorant a true competitor to counter strike.

At the end of March, I was able to participate in an unusual online boot camp dedicated to Valorant. In the company of stars such as shroud, Ninja and shox, I talked with the developers, tested the competitive mode and recorded almost five hours of footage – in general, I got to know the game tightly. I suspect that I was not the only one who, from the announcement, was wondering: “Could Riot make a real“ Counter-Strike killer? ”. I will try to answer it in the material.

Agent Phoenix. Source: Riot Games

How was the test

Before reviewing the game, I’ll tell you a little about how the testing went, because I had played a half match under the supervision of Riot, my opinion would hardly have been worth listening to. But no, the studio allowed about 400 people to the test and really sent us on a free swim. For three days we had unlimited access to the client, in which two maps and nine characters were available.

During this time I played 20 matches, having experienced the whole palette of emotions: I smashed opponents dry and conceded myself without taking a round; Received MVP medals and ranks last in the ranking; he admired the shooting of shox and was amazed at his colleagues, who seemed to have difficulty understanding what was going on on the map.

In the text I will regularly compare the game with CS: GO, because it is in its position that Valorant encroaches. This is a serious tactical shooter, which focuses on competitive gameplay, although this can not be said for the promos. All my impressions are based on the beta version: any aspects of the game may change before release. The prelude is over – let’s talk about the new product.


Rebel shot

Valorant is a tactical shooter whose marketing campaign in recent months has chosen a very strange vector. After information appeared on the network about the abilities of agents, even a loyal audience began to look askance at Riot. It seemed that the studio had turned the wrong way and instead of a normal tactical shooter, she decided to suddenly make an Overwatch clone – also hiding the characters behind the paywall.

Have the public concerns been justified? Not an iota. Valorant plays on the CS: GO field and does not at all claim the status of “MOBA in the first person” a la Overwatch. “Shooting is at the forefront,” the developers said before the start of the test, and in the first round we were convinced of this.

Valorant’s ganplay is made according to all the canons of the planet’s leading shooter: shootings end in seconds, and the ability to get around the corner, aiming at the opponent’s face, in most cases leads to victory, no matter what the spell master plays against you. And most importantly – shooting Valorant is very nice.


The arsenal of the game actually copies CS: GO, getting rid of duplicates. Valorant has two SMGs, four assault rifles, two shotguns, two sniper rifles and two machine guns, as well as a set of five pistols. All of them will seem familiar to fans of the Valve shooter.

A hit in the head from almost any weapon is guaranteed to kill the target, the damage from shooting at other parts of the body depends on the opponent’s presence of armor. The spray pattern in the game is fixed only at the first shots – then the barrel will still lead away in the standard direction, but with an error. However, as in CS: GO, too long “clips” in Valorant usually mean that you have already made a mistake.

Tactical shooter – not MOBA!

The ability of agents in Valorant is the same equipment that is available in shooters claiming to be realism. Yes, even if in the narrative of the game Phoenix throws a fireball, but in fact this spell is not much different from the usual Molotov. There are also “flash drives” with “smokeys” – but not with each of the agents, which allows us to clearly distribute responsibilities between teammates.


If in CS: GO everyone can buy the right grenade and help themselves or teammates, in Valorant only two agents have the ability to blind the enemy from around the corner. Six characters have Smokey, but only three of them can use their talents in attack – the skills of the others are more suitable for protecting the plant.

An important nuance: it is impossible to change agents during the match. This puzzled me during the first games, but then the developers explained the meaning of this decision – the whole thing is in balance. Yes, players can score five defensive heroes and strengthen points, but then – after changing sides – it will become more difficult for them to restrain the opponent’s onslaught: the ability to throw smoke in another part of the map is unlikely to help Omen if he becomes a victim of the famous rush bi strategy .

At the same time, nothing will stop Omen from giving out five headshots from around the corner, having forgotten that he is an attacking character based on a set of skills. I admit, all my life I played shooters exclusively “from shooting”, and in CS: GO this was usually enough for me. After several matches, I decided to follow the same tactics in Valorant: I waved my hand at abilities and began to just keep good angles – the results were not long in coming.


There are several abilities in the game that have no analogues in CS: GO. For example, Sage can build a wall of ice blocks, which can be broken only by shooting – this will take place near the local AK-47 store; Sova can fire arrows that allow you to see enemies that fall into the projectile’s range through walls; and Cypher is able to place a banner on the map, which will inform him of the approach of the enemy.

However, the walls can be broken or bypassed, arrows can be blown up on approach or hidden around them at an angle, and stretch marks can be noticed and disconnected in time. After three thousand hours in CS: GO, I initially took these abilities with hostility, but by the fifth match I got used to it. Yes, the new rules are unusual – but they rather complement the classic formula of a tactical shooter, rather than destroy it.

Black Hole in Five

We need to talk separately about ultimates, which most of all frightened the public. I’ll tell you more about them in another text, but now I’ll just mention the main thing: no, ultimates do not break the game, they are not too strong.

In fact, I would say that ordinary skills influence the course of a match much more strongly, because their regular use helps to achieve an advantage. The average player can use the ultimates on his strength five times per match – they accumulate for too long, and not one of them guarantees victory in the round.


The audience immediately compared the capabilities in Valorant with ultimates from Overwatch, without thinking that there was a fundamental difference between games. In a Blizzard shooter, the outcome of the card can really decide one episode: if Dawn and D.Va work together, they can kill all the enemies and push the load to the finish line. But in Valorant, even making perfect use of all five ultimates, you guarantee yourself only one round – you need 13 to win.

With this in mind, reviving a teammate in every tenth round or even calling a three-second death ray from heaven no longer seems so terrible – it’s much more useful to be able to regularly put smoke in another part of the map to confuse opponents.

The only skill that seemed too strong to me was the usual jerk a few meters ahead owned by the Jett agent. This is not an ultimate, but an ordinary ability – a character can use it a couple of times per round. The developers called the skill “defensive”, which led most of my colleagues to the idea that with this jerk it was necessary to escape from bullets. However, I found another application for him – and began to break the timings when playing as an attack, repeatedly appearing on the screen of the enemies a little earlier than they expected. This is a really strong skill that knocks everyone out of their comfort zone. Around all the other abilities – I guarantee you – you can easily play.


ESports pending

Valorant is focusing on competitive gameplay. The developers immediately said: no casual modes, events with PvE and custom games – at least at the start. We did not have access to the rating mode, but even the “standard” mode (which in CS: GO is an excursion to the very bottom of the Internet) in Valorant is a classic 5v5 confrontation with economic control and standard round timers.

Apparently, the rating format will differ from the usual one only by the effect on users’ MMR – the gameplay will remain the same. In the game you can find a table of ranks – there will be seven of them, each with three levels. However, the developers have confirmed to me that the release may change this system.

Before the start of the game, you need to select the heroes – to some extent, this process allows you to distribute the roles in the team. After this, the attack side must establish a bomb, the defense, accordingly, does not allow the attack to do this. Many expected that Riot will show us a story presentation in which it will reveal the lore of the heroes and tell you why they are blowing up a particular location. But instead, they revealed a couple of technical chips to us and informed that, in essence, no one needed the plot. The priority of the developers is high-quality gameplay with ample scope for honing skills.


This is not difficult to notice: a training ground with the functionality of the most popular training cards from CS: GO has already been added to the game, as well as many interesting mechanics aimed at improving team interactions. For example, a system of marks – you can place points on the map, telling teammates where to go, and where categorically it is impossible to meddle. And in the weapons purchase menu, you can offer the team to save money for the next round or ask for a drop – and indicate to potential benefactors which particular rifle you would like to receive.

Mechanically, the game process is identical to what we are used to seeing in CS: GO. At the beginning of the round, the defense is distributed among the points, and the attack decides where and how it wants to go with the bomb. An interesting innovation is the protective barriers, similar to Team Fortress 2. At the beginning of the round, they prevent the attack from “picking up” a point before opponents can take key positions and place devices.

But after the barriers fall, the game turns into a real tactical shooter – that is, in CS: GO. In the video below – the standard round in which I played the role of the teammate who is always late with a constriction. I am sure you will notice other familiar details.


Work on Valve bugs

In the advertising campaign, the developers laid great emphasis on the technical features of Valorant, in particular on the high tick rate of servers, which CS: GO fans have been dreaming of for many years. This parameter determines how often the client and server exchange data. In Valorant, this will happen 128 times per second – twice as often as in a shooter from Valve. But the technical differences of the games do not end there – before the start of the test, Riot revealed a couple more interesting features.

So, in Valorant, they made a big bet on the hit registration system. If there is a Battlefield fan among your friends, you surely heard from him complaints about the “netcode”, because of which the players die from bullets every match after they have disappeared behind the wall. This is due to the fact that the hitbox of characters “lags” behind the model itself. In CS: GO, this can be seen during mine clearance – how many pistol rounds were lost due to the fact that the CT player during the diffuse started spinning in place, depriving opponents of the opportunity to make a headshot.

Valorant developers have tried to get rid of such a rassinhron. In the examples shown to us, the character’s hitboxes always always ideally coincided with the visible models – regardless of how the characters moved actively. Directly in the game it was impossible to turn on the display of hitboxes, but I can assure you – behind the wall from a belated bullet I did not die even once, only from lumbago.


The sound in the game is perfect, and I am surprised that the developers did not focus on this during the advertising campaign. At Valorant, I always heard perfectly what abilities enemies use and where they stomp. What is important – not only horizontal, but also vertical positioning of sound works perfectly. If the opponent decided to run under your window, you will know about it for sure.

Another technical feature of Valorant is the ping compensation system, which allows character movements to be smooth even if your opponent plays from the basement in Texas. However, it was difficult to test this mechanics: colleagues from Europe participated in all matches with me, the ping of which rarely exceeded 50 ms.

Finally, the anti-cheat that Riot developed specifically for Valorant should be noted. For safety reasons, we did not disclose all the specifications, but explained some of the principles of its operation. The anti-cheat itself is a driver that starts at the start of the operating system and monitors all processes occurring on the PC. This will allow him to define both internal and external cheats.

During the game, the system will record a second before each kill and compare the signals from the mouse with what was happening at that moment on the screen – thanks to the use of machine learning, this process will become more and more accurate over time. According to the assurances of Riot Games, all violators will receive hardware bans and will not be able to play Valorant on previous devices. It’s a pity that Valve has not been able to come to such a decision over the years.


Valorant is one of the most ambitious projects of recent years. Riot Games, which created the most popular MOBA on the planet, suddenly decided to enter a different market and launch a tactical shooter. I don’t want to throw big words and say that this game will definitely “kill” CS: GO, but after three days at Valorant it was difficult for me to restrain my admiration.

A lot of games tried to repeat the Counter-Strike success formula, but all failed without exception. Valorant seems like a project that could break this tradition – Riot turned out to be a very easy to learn game with excellent shooting and endless scope for tactical tricks.

After playing my last match before closing the servers, I, with a sense of accomplishment, wrote down my final thoughts on paper, and then … I realized that I wanted to start the search in Valorant again. She is really fascinating, and I don’t know which game I can say something like this in recent years. For three days I spent in Valorant more than a day of pure time, but I was not tired of her at all. And this is perhaps the best compliment you can give a session shooter.