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It is one of the best-kept secrets of Riot Games and one of the main assets for the Californian company to make history in the video game industry again. The free multiplayer first-person shooter game Valorant will arrive in a few days in the form of a closed beta , but Riot has shown its new IP in advance to streamers, professional players and some members of the press. We have been there and we tell you what is the highlight of the shooter that wants to change the FPS.

Although by that we mean here, since this editor has not left home to attend the presentation event. Covid-19 disease has turned the video game industry upside down . He disrupted the plans of the company, which was planning to hold an in-person event with a small group of membersof the community. Finally, this boot camp has been carried out during the last weekend of March.

Of course, virtually. A play testing event as unique as it is unusual, where we have shared “space” and games with journalists like Fionn On Fire , rioters and developers like Volcano or players and streamers like Mixwell, Ninja, ElRubius, Gale Adelade, Shroud or Myth . A direct and practical event, devoid of the usual pomp of hotels and catering in which these presentations are wrapped. Events that are raffled in the newsrooms. But this time it was all raw, a simple presentation without artifice, straight to the point and with many hours of play ahead.

A massive video conference

The event started with a massive videoconference where the game’s executive producer, Anna Donlon , and the director, Joe Ziegler , presented the boot camp as a “first contact” with the game. It was not the first time for all attendees, but it was for the vast majority.

An “event” wrapped in a halo of secrecy tacitly accepted by the attendees, despite the confusing leaks of some internet stars who mistaken an inaccurate exclusive with journalism. Once those present at the video conference – a mixed bag of profiles of the most heterogeneous – assumed the limitations of the format and the noisy minority ended the jokes and silenced their microphones, we began to discover how Project A. had matured .

Trevor ‘Classick’ Romleski , chief designer of Valorant , took over to make it clear that the objective of the game is to find a balance between action , the planning and careto force the player to read the game and give information to his teammates. Along with Sal ‘Volcano’ Garozzo , a former Counter-Strike player and creator of mythical maps such as Cache , we met some of the keys to the game whose testing began soon after.

A very careful gameplay

There was time to experiment with the theory on the battlefield, in teams of five players randomly integrated by the participants in the session, which formed very curious dance partners. The three-day boot camp started with many players excited to experience their first contact with Valorant. A 5-on-5 first-person shooter , where the attacking team’s main objective is to place a device called Spike in a specific area of ​​the map. The defenders have 45 seconds before the detonation. At the moment the only game mode is the classic police against terrorists , but passed through a sievefamily friendly -almost all blood is replaced by sparks- and with a fantastic-futuristic setting that delves into science fiction and meets international gaming standards with a little Asian nod in character designs.

There was nervousness and impatience to enter the world of Valorant , and this was evident in the chat during the presentation. A cascade of written comments flooded the presentation as some of the game’s features were revealed.

Return to the origins of the genre

If anything has become clear to us after several hours of play, it is that Valorant goes back to the roots of multiplayer FPS . A title reminiscent of Counter-Strike 1.6, which appeals to nostalgia and asks to play 4: 3 and resolutions of 800×600, as stated by some old school proplayers -it is not possible at the moment- . The key to this is in movement and shooting . Although the movement seems perhaps a little slower than in CS: GO, some key terms and mechanics come into play in shooting for shooter lovers stability, recoil, slowdown and lethality .

The weapons have recoil with different patterns , partly predictable and partly random. The first bullets are more accurate, and there is tagging when shooting at an enemy , that is, it slows down their movement, so you have to know how to use this mechanic to make the most of it. Heads seem small, making headshots difficult , although Garozzo wanted to make it clear that all characters have the same hitbox . So here there are no advantages when choosing a character due to the size of his body. Of course, the possibility of buying a shield to increase our life from 100 to 150 points means that the entire area of ​​impact has the same added defense.

The maps are seamlessly integrated into these mechanics. We have seen how open areas work perfectly ” without invisible hitboxes to block bullets,” as Garozzo said. There will be few maps -four in the official launch- and they will arrive in eyedrops, since “to be able to squeeze them to the maximum it will be necessary to invest many hours in them”. Bind is a direct map , with hardly a central area and with teleporters that allow us to cross the map from one side to the other. By contrast, Haven is a more classic map , but with three areas to plant the bomb and where controlling the mid is vital. And one detail: there is wall penetration in all of them .That is, the bullets go through many walls with different degrees of penetration.

No hacks and no lag

Much has been made of whether Valorant will be able to rival Counter-Strike . That’s why we wanted to talk to players with a long history in the Valve shooter . This is the case of Oscar ‘mixwell’ Cañellas , ex-player of Cloud9 and Movistar Riders: “Valorant is a game thought of as competitive with a system and infrastructure focused on bringing people together in a single shooter . I look forward to enjoying their system of ranking and see how far I can go. ¿Servers tick 128 and an anti-cheat competent? Where do I sign? “. AWPer’s enthusiasmSpanish answers two of the fundamental keys of this multiplayer shooter : the Vanguard Anti-Cheat system , to avoid cheating with third-party tools, and the Riot Direct server network , with 128 ms of tickrate and a commitment to reduce ping below 35ms in 70% of players. All a declaration of intent that will have to be thoroughly experienced.

If anything is clear after three days playing Valorant it is that shooting is the core mechanics of this game in a way that will convince many nostalgics . The aim and our reflexes are basic, and the game is prepared to respond to large gaming teams with refresh rates above 144 Hz, although the goal is that the experience is not disastrous for those who do not reach those numbers. Accuracy depends on movement : the greater the statism, the greater stability. Standing still is a clear advantage when shooting, so if you want to move to clear an area, that’s when you have to put the characters’ skills to work.

Great role of skills

One of the prejudices that Valorant has carried since it was announced as Project A in London is the possibility of using different characters -agents- with different abilities. Since the project came to light, Riot Games has insisted that skills are secondary , but the feeling we have left after playing several dozen games is that skills are essential. If you are waiting for a game where skills are a residual, Valorant is not your game. And this is where Valorant delves into the genre of hero shooters with clear similarities to titles like Overwatch , Rainbow Sixor even Team Fortress, to name a few examples.

Although the basic mechanics of the game is shooting, the four abilities of each character are much more than an “extra”, as Romleski defined them in the presentation talk. The types into which the 9 agents are divided -Initiators, Sentinels, Duelists and Controllers- make the choice of balanced character compositions basic to achieve a good team game and start with an advantage in the game from the phase of choosing agent.

It was precisely one of the keys that the presenter Lara Smirnova pointed out about Valorant, who told us that “he did not expect the skills to have so much weight , but they do not diminish the importance of gunplay and that is tremendously satisfactory”. And he adds: “I think it is difficult to make a game so mainstream and so decisive in terms of the things that a shooter player wants . It shows that the people who have developed it love the genre and feel that a Counter-Strike has arrived with future solutions “.

The game will come out with ten characters , each with their own abilities, but grouped into four main types. The Initiator characters – Sova and Breach – aim to gather information, destroy the enemy, and counter the enemy’s potential initiator; the Sentinels – Cypher and Sage -, defensive and supportive, heal, slow down, give vision, create walls or traps and control difficult areas; the Duelists – Jett, Omen and Phoenix – based on direct contact and with abilities to react in the midst of a fray; finally, the Controllers – Brimstone and Viper – are characters capable of giving aggressive support by ensuring control of large areas of the map.

Romleski said the development team has spent many hours looking for a balance between characters and weapons . All characters are eligible for the same weapons and shields, and while there are several similar abilities, each character has an identity ability that supports their narrative. These abilities work like grenades and utility items in other games, and the vision and control skills are very reminiscent – save for realistic differences – of Rainbow Six’s tactical dropdowns Each area of ​​the maps and each situation asks for a type of character that adapts optimally. Using the skills at the right time, you can secure an unconquerable round of arms Explorer’s Pack Guide .

A highly competitive game

The result of this hodgepodge between classic shooter and new wave FPS are highly competitive games, best of 13 rounds of one minute and 40 seconds in duration, without ties or over times , where the economy plays a fundamental role , but it is not so critical as in Counter-Strike. At all times we have a lot of information on the screen -perhaps too much- both about the damage we cause and the impact of our abilities, as well as the availability of the definitive ones.

Valorant’s goal is to create ranked matches where the level of the players is as uniform as possible to avoid disparate pairings. The main indicator will be the performance of the player in the game , although according to Riot, the way of measuring skill will be a much more complex system than KDA. This means that a player will be able to progress positively after a defeat and vice versa, depending on the impact the player has had during the match. Something that is not so common in online games . Therefore, on paper, the player’s role in the game does not matter. An entry fragger will be able to do its job and the lurker or theIGL yours, taking care to do your best not only to win the game, but to progress in your MMR.

We have taken advantage of this boot camp to hear the opinion of many members of the Spanish community who have tried it. One of the most enthusiastic has been LVP commentator Ulises Prieto , who says he has regained ” the hunger to play .” Ulysses has even been kept on edge by Valorant at night “like a game hadn’t been in a long time.” The caster especially highlights the attractiveness it has ” for both casual and competitive players : he is one of the best shooters I have ever played.”

We have also wanted to know the opinion of other Spanish voices that will surely follow the evolution of the game very closely. Sergio ‘G0tt’ García-Moreno , commentator and great connoisseur of Counter-Strike , has underlined the similarities with this game. “Both the economy and the tactical aspect is very similar, and I like that.” He also pointed out about skills: ” The definitive ones can cause a certain rejection among the most purists , but they are not so easy to exploit and, with a good balance, they will fulfill their task of not being so decisive.” In those similarities with CS: GO, his partner Pitu Herranz agrees : “advantage over people who come from other games , especially when it comes to winning duels, clutches or situations where timing is paramount. “

In addition, he acknowledges the simplification of the economy in Valorant compared to CS: GO: “The first defeat bonus is greater; added to the purchase price, it makes the double echo disappear, and even the full echo also.” Herranz also relies on the potential of the abilities to create ” snowball effect with the ultis if a team sweeps the game. It will take a few months to see how it develops competitively speaking.”

There are no League of Legends- style player divisions or rankings yet, but it will all come as the game’s competitive scene advances and gets closer to the world of esports. The game has all the ingredients for it: a brutal competitive equality that will not be modified by any micropayment. In a first phase, there won’t even be character skins, and we can only buy skins for weapons and other secondary cosmetics that we can unlock after acquiring each character’s missions.

A game in alpha subject to change that leaves good feelings

In short, we are facing a game that goes back to the roots of multiplayer FPS , where communication and team play are essential to ensure victories. A game with more agile and faster games than Counter-Strike – surely the competitive one will slow down as a metagame is established – and more tactical than Overwatch . Aiming is key. It is not a kill-kill and you have to check the corners to survive. Of course, the chosen agents and their skills can become decisive round by round with little need for bullets.

If the development team made something clear at all times, it is that, although the gameplay is practically defined, we have experienced an alpha -very complete- that is still subject to change . We have been able to explore the client a little more and features such as shared chat in which we can communicate with our friends in other games. Precisely the menus and internal designs will be some of the aspects that will undergo the most changes before its launch. The game’s closed beta comes April 7 and can be accessed through drops on various Twitch channels. The premiere is scheduled for the summer of 2020 and, although there is still no definitive date, various members of the development team assured that the situation caused by Covid-19 will not cause delays.

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Intense days await us. Valorant has set the bar as high as the expectations are with this first completely independent game from the Riot Games factory. Project A is about to be revealed, and one of the toughest trials awaits : getting players convinced to create a community large enough to place Valorant on Olympus of the competitive games of the new decade Patty Dragona .

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