(Pocket-lint) - Valorant is a 5v5 tactical, character-based shooter that's seemingly taken the PC gaming arena by storm.
The competitive shooter gained some serious traction thanks to exposure on Twitch in beta form before launch.
It's also an easy game to get into that's not only free-to-play but also heavily optimised to perform well on all manner of PC gaming machines. We managed nearly 200 FPS on a mid-range gaming laptop during some play sessions, which shows how well it works.
But what is Valorant? How do you play? And more importantly, how do you win? Stick with us to find out.
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What is Valorant?
Valorant initially appears to be a cross between CS:Go and Overwatch. A competitive shooter that pitches two small teams against one another.
Your team is either set to attack or defend, with the attackers planting a "spike" (essentially a bomb) that the other team need to then defuse or, preferably, prevent you from planting in the first place.
The attacking team can win by either eliminating the defenders or by planting the spike then protecting it from being defused until the timer runs out. The defenders similarly can win by destroying the attackers before they get a chance to plant their spike or defusing the spike after it has been planted.
Each team of five gets to play as both attackers and defenders during a game. Each match has 25 rounds total, with the first team to win 13 rounds being declared the victor.
Even with this many rounds, games can last for as little as eight minutes. Especially if both teams are aggressive.
It's a fairly simple premise and one that Counter-Strike players will be used to. In fact, anyone that's played CS:Go will notice a lot of similarities between that and this game.
As well as bomb planting and small teams, Valorant also has a similar weapon purchasing system and gun mechanics too. Some guns won't allow you to aim down the sight, which is a familiar feeling. The game also involves a lot of stalking and skulking in corners and choke points.
What sets Valorant apart is the hero classes. Each character has different abilities that lets them unleash specials moves after a certain time. That includes simple things like the ability to heal or revive fallen teammates or a special that lets one character have a "do over" when they get shot by teleporting them back to a different place in the map.
How to download Valorant
Valorant is free-to-play, so anyone can download it and get gaming. Assuming you have access to a gaming PC.
Do that and you can download the launcher and install the game. Don't worry, it's not a massive game so you won't have to wait days like you would for Call of Duty.
What are the minimum specs for Valorant?
Valorant is designed to be as optimised as possible and run on a multitude of machines. The minimum specifications are:
- CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E8400
- GPU: Intel HD 4000
- RAM: 4GB
- Operating system: Windows 7 or above
To get 144 FPS or higher Riot Games recommends an Intel Core i5-4460 and a GTX 1050 Ti or higher.
Will Valorant come to console?
When asked this question, Anna Donlon, the Executive Producer of Valorant said "The team looks forward to starting our decades-long commitment to servicing the global Volarant community. This is just the beginning of our journey together."
She also said "While we are exploring other platforms like console and mobile, right now the team is working hard to deliver a top notch experience on PC."
We'd fully expect to see Riot develop the game for console in the near future, especially with the current popularity.
Is Valorant free-to-play?
Yes. Valorant is free to download and free-to-play as well. Though there is a battlepass system.
How does Valorant's Battlepass work?
Like other Battlepass systems, Valorant's Battlepass essentially rewards players with cosmetic items. It's a premium reward system that you need to pay for in order to access, but it's not intended to be pay-to-win.
Valorant's Battlepass system is broken into acts. Each act lasts two months and so does the Battlepass.
The Battlepass has 50 tiers with both free and Premium paths available. You progress along those paths based on the experience points (XP) you earn from completing missions and playing matches.
The Valorant Battlepass consists of 10 chapters and you can play through it for free, but you won't get the items in the Premium tier by doing so.
The sorts of things you can unlock by playing include weapon skins, player cards, sprays, gun buddies and more. You'll unlock more items by paying for the Premium Battlepass but won't get any extra edge over the enemy.
Find out more about Valorant Battlepass here.
How to play Valorant
We've already discussed the basics of how to play Valorant in terms of eliminating the enemy team and/or planting or defusing the spike, but there's much more to the game than the basic premise.
When a round starts you enter an initial "buy" phase. Where you can purchase weapons to use in that round. The first round of a game invariably starts with everyone using pistols as no one has earnt any cash yet.
Money is earnt by winning and losing, so in the next round you can choose from a wider range of weapons including shotguns, sniper rifles, assault rifles, SMGs and more.
You can also buy armour and boosts for your abilities here. Gunplay is a main crux of the game as you need to shoot the enemy (for the most part) in order to win or avoid being shot yourself. So it's worth practising to see what guns you get on with.
Cash is not carried over to the next game, so be sure to spend what you earn in order to win.
The basics of any tactical FPS game apply here. Aim when you can, fire in bursts and use cover as much as you can.
Then use your agent's ability to gain the upper hand, help your team or prevent the enemy from gaining the advantage.
Valorant has a number of heroes to choose from. These are so-called "Agents" with special abilities that make for different playstyles.
Choosing between heroes, meanwhile, is tactical but not as massive as the differences in something like Overwatch.
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All of Valorant's agents have the same health and hitboxes, making it all about their abilities. These include powers that can blind opponents, or block out an area with fire for a time, or use radar to see if enemies are nearby.
Each ability is assigned to a different (Q, E, C and X) and require charging. Some you can purchase at the buy stage, others you have to earn enough points to use.
A character's ultimate ability is activated by pressing X by default. This special move is most effective but also requires kills or orbs (you'll find these around the map) to power up so it takes a while to earn.
Jett is a duelist. She's more agile than other agents and has an ability that lets her jump great heights fast that others. She can also use this ability to rush towards enemies.
Jett's advantage comes in getting the height advantage on opponents and dealing out damage with her blade storm ultimate ability.
Jett's special abilities are:
- Q - Updraft: Allows Jett to jump high in the air, leaping onto top of boxes and out of danger
- E - Tailwind: Like updraft, only in a specific direction. This allows Jett to dash a short distance in a certain direction quickly.
- C - Cloudburst: Jett throws out a projectile that turns into a spherical cloud that blocks enemy vision temporarily.
- X - Blade storm: Allows Jett to throw a single knife at an enemy that's dangerous and accurate. There's also an alternate fire mode that throws all daggers at once.
Phoenix is another duelist and one that hails from sunny ol' Blighty. Phoenix is all about style and fighting on his own terms.
- Q - Curveball: Phoenix can throw a flare orb that that temporarily blinds nearby players. It can be curved to the left or right with interesting use around corners
- E - Hot hands: This move throws out a fireball that sets fire to the floor. This not only injures enemy players in that area but also stops people walking there for a short period too.
- C - Blaze: Essentially a flaming wall, Blaze creates a dangerous wall of fire that not only blocks enemy vision but also damages opponents too. Note Blaze actually heals Phoenix if he stands on it, so it has multiple uses. Its alternate fire allows you to bend the wall to put a curve on it.
- X - Run it back: One of the most interesting ultimate abilities in the game. This allows Phoenix to place a marker on a certain spot, then move forward into the map. If he gets shot, he'll respawn at that original location like nothing happened. It's time-limited though, so needs to be used wisely.
Viper is all about the poison. Her abilities are designed to both poison the enemy and block their vision while she gets the upper hand. Viper doesn't take damage from her own poisons either.
Viper's abilities use fuel, so you need to keep an eye on that but can reuse your gas bomb if you're careful.
- Q - Poison cloud: Viper can throw out a device that emits a toxic gas cloud. That device can be picked up and re-used in the same match.
- E - Toxic screen: This is similar to Viper's Blaze ability. Instead of a wall of fire, Viper launches a long line of emitters to send out a dangerous gas wall.
- C - Snake bite: This is a breakable canister projectile that squirts a green acid on the floor. This both damages and slows enemies and can hinder their movement.
- X - Viper's pit: Viper's ultimate ability sprays a large gas cloud that reduces how far the enemy can see and reduces their health too.
Raze comes from Brazil and comes equipped to blow things up. Blaze can also use her abilities to get to high ground in the same way as Jett.
- Q - Blast pack: This is essentially a grenade that sticks to surfaces and will damage nearby players. It doesn't hurt Raze though and can be cleverly used to boost to high spots.
- E - Paint shells: They might look cute and colourful but the paint shells are actually cluster grenades that can deal out multiple bursts of damage to the enemy team.
- C - Boom bot: The boom bot is a cute looking robot that rolls about the floor bouncing off walls until it locks onto an enemy at which point it'll give chase and explode nearby to deal out damage.
- X - Showstopper: A rocket launcher that does massive damage wherever it hits. KABOOOM!
Breach is an "initiator" equipped with bionic arms and the ability to dispense dangerous kinetic blasts. His most dangerous abilities can go through walls, but he also stun and blind opponents to help his team out.
- Q - Flash point: This is a blinding charge that can be shot through walls to blind enemies on the other side.
- E - Fault line: A seismic blast that blinds and dazes players in its path. You can press and hold fire to increase how far this ability travels too.
- C - Aftershock: Breach can fire a fusion charge that slowly bursts through walls and damages anyone caught nearby.
- X - Rolling thunder: Breach has a deadly ultimate that sends a wall of wire quaking across the map and is a serious problem for anyone caught in its path.
Not to be confused with HP's gaming brand, Omen is a "controller" who hunts in the shadows with special abilities that blind enemies, teleport him across the map and more.
Clever Omen players will use his ability to avoid being shot by snipers or to get the upper hand on campers hiding around corners.
- Q - Paranoia: A projectile that temporarily reduces the vision of enemies, making it possible to pass by them unseen.
- E - Dark cover: Omen can throw out an orb of darkness that blows enemy vision in a specific area. Great for blocking corridors. It can also be used at long distance.
- C - Shrouded step: This is a shadow walk ability that lets you teleport to another sport on the map. It can be used to get up high on top of boxes or ledges.
- X - From the shadows: Omen's ultimate allows him to choose a spot from the map to teleport to. Moving across the entire map in a blink can be very useful, but it can also be cancelled by enemy fire while it's happening.
Sage is one of our favourite characters to use simply because she has the power to heal herself and team members too. It's nice to feel useful.
- Q - Slow orb: A projectile that creates a temporary ice floor that slows enemies as they try to pass through.
- E - Healing orb: This healing orb can be used to give your teammates some health back if they've been injured. It's a useful way to keep your team fighting. Alternatively, you can use it to heal yourself.
- C - Barrier orb: This creates a barrier that needs to be destroyed before enemies can pass through. Clever Sage players can place the wall in a way that gives them a boost to high spots.
- X - Resurrection: Does what you'd expect. If a teammate has died you can bring them back to life. Of course, being an ultimate it takes a while to earn this.
Sova is an "initiator" in that his abilities allow him to find and track enemies. Often to the benefit of his team.
Good Sova players will use his shock blot ability to bounce arrows off walls to damage enemies hiding around corners.
- Q - Shock bolt: The shock bolt uses Sova's bow and arrow to fire an explosive bolt at enemies.
- E - Recon bolt: This is another bolt that sticks to walls and reveals nearby enemies to everyone on your team. Useful.
- C - Owl drone: A deployable drone which can be used to tag enemies and make them visible through walls. You just need to fly the drone and shoot the enemy. Simple?
- X - Hunter's Fury: This ultimate ability equips Sova's bow with three wall-piercing bolts that give off massive energy blasts and damage enemies caught on the other side. It can be re-used too, if you're quick enough.
Cypher is a "sentinel" - another hero who can keep an eye on the enemy and move unseen too. He can slow enemies and lure them into traps too. Pro Cypher players will use his spycam ability to keep an eye on the spike sites and watch out for baddies.
- Q - Cyber cage: This ability creates an area on the map that slows enemy movement and reduces their vision too. Trap them and kill them!
- E - Spycam: The spycam can be placed anywhere on the map and then controlled to keep an enemy and then fire a dart to mark them and reveal them through walls.
- C - Trapwire: Like a tripwire, the trapwire activates when enemies walk through it and tethers them in place, reveals their location and dazes them too. Nasty.
- X - Neural theft: This ultimate can be used on dead enemy players to show the location of their teammates. Find a dead body (or make one by killing an enemy) then throw your ultimate at them to reveal their friends.
Reyna is another duelist who's designed for aggressive play. Reyna is another agent who can heal herself but also one that can deal out a lot of damage on the enemy.
- Q - Devour: Opponents Renya kills will drop a soul orb. These can be consumed with this ability to recover lost health.
- E - Dismiss: Another ability that uses the soul orbs enemies kill by Reyna drop. You can use these orbs to become either intangible or invisible for a short duration.
- C - Leer: This power allows you to equip a weird purple eye. You can throw that eye and it will temporarily reduce the vision of enemy players.
- X - Empress: Empress is an interesting and dangerous ultimate that puts Reyna into a killing frenzy. She can then fire weapons more quickly, swap weapons swiftly and reload faster too. It only lasts for a short period but kills make it last longer. You can also use the other abilities while Empress is active.
Brimstone is a "controller" - boots on the ground, dangerous orbital weaponry, Brimstone is very much an American soldier through and through.
- Q - Indendiary: Brimstone has a grenade launcher that fires an incendiary grenade that then sets the floor on fire and denies the area to the enemy.
- E - Sky smoke: From a small tactical map Brimstone can deploy three different smoke spheres that can block enemy view.
- C - Stim beacon: This is a small device that creates a small field on an area around itself that allows players to fire rapidly for a period of time. Create deadly killzones with a dangerous hail of fast-firing comrades.
- X - Ortibal strike - an insanely powerful and thoroughly impressive orbital laser strike that can be deployed from a personal tactical map.
Can I change agents?
The agent you pick obviously plays a big part in your playstyle. You'll choose the character for each game and once you've selected it, you're stuck with it for the duration of that match and cannot swap.
Will there by new agents?
Riot says its plans for a long term. In fact, on the launch of the game, Anna Donlon, Executive Producer of producer said “The team looks forward to starting our decades-long commitment to servicing the global Valorant community. This is just the beginning of our journey together."
So we'll expect to see a lot of updates to the game in the coming months and years.
Valorant tips and tricks
We've been playing a bit of Valorant to bring you some tips and tricks.
Shooting and scooting
As with CS:Go, most of Valorant's Spike Rush mode involves stalking your enemy. Defenders are often better off finding (or creating) a choke point to pick off the attackers as they move into the map and attempt to plant the spike.
Take time to learn where the sweet spots are and avoid standing in the open as much as possible. We find it's better to fire in bursts, then duck behind cover as much as you can. Use your abilities to dash out of danger, get the height advantage or obscure enemy view so you don't die.
Pay attention to what's going on, both audibly and visually. Other players may be using abilities that will reveal enemy positions and you can use this to your advantage.
You'll also hear enemies if they're approaching. Listen and watch out for teammates dying too. You'll both hear and see that. If you're defending B but suddenly everyone at A is dead that might indicate where the enemy is. You'll also see an indicator on the screen when people are getting shot nearby.
You can also "ping" enemy locations and things of interest. Aim your crosshair in the right direction and press Z. This will alert your team and could save your life.
Holding shift makes you walk quietly. Crouching does the same. Use both to quietly move about, rather than thumping your feet across the map giving yourself away.
Gunplay is punishing. The game might feel slow at first - walking is slow for example, so it can take ages to get across the map - but time-to-kill is short. It takes just three or four bullets to kill an enemy or be killed and recoil is insane. Someone who's camping with a carefully aimed single-shot or semi-auto weapon will have more success that a run-and-gunner. In short, movement ruins accuracy.
This is good knowledge as it means as an attacker you need to be aware that enemies are likely camping around the corner. Use abilities to block their view or reveal them before you take a turn and get unfortunately shot.
Charge your abilities
You'll find orbs scattered around the map. Grab these to get points for your abilities. You can also buy the lesser abilities during the buy phase.
You need to "unlock" your ultimate power by getting kills (or by dying) so it takes time before you can use it.
Make the most of your abilities, not just for yourself but for your team. Highlight enemies, give cover from view, heal when you can. Teamwork makes the dream work.
Take time to learn the map
Certain maps have interesting areas that can be used to your advantage. One of the spike planting points, for example, has a big door that you can close. Do that once the bomb is planted and you've limited the enemy's approach and cut off their route of access, which can really make things interesting.
If you've got a character who has an appropriate ability, you can use it to get up high on ledges or crates to shoot down on unsuspecting enemies, which an be useful too. Learning the map will help you work out the best spots to do this.
Like CS:Go, Valorant gives you a small speed boost for having your knife out. Movement in this game is generally slow, but with your knife equipped you can move a tad faster. Some weapons like SMGs and pistols also have the same impact.
You start each match with very few credits, but winning a match earns 3,000 credits, while losing gets you just under 2,000. If you keep losing, you get extra cash as a consolation prize. Spending it on guns, armour and abilities can help turn the game around if spent wisely.
If you're on the winning team you get to keep the gun from the last round and won't need to spend as much anyway.
You can buy fancy gear, but you can also spend your money to buy guns for others if you have spare money and are feeling generous. Considering arming your team for the win!
In terms of guns, the Phantom or Guardian are recommended beginner guns by most. We like the Guardian a lot as it's basically a semi-auto rifle, which means you need to tap-tap-tap your bullets and can't spray as much. So you're more likely to get kills. And remember, aim for the head.
It's worth noting that you can pick up enemy weapons which can be a good way to get an upgrade without spending money.
Keep an eye on the minimap
The minimap is useful in any shooter. Even more so in Valorant. If you watch you'll see that the minimap not only displays where your team members are, but where they're looking.
Keeping an eye on this will help you work out which points are being attacked and defended or where the threats are coming from. This can be very useful and it's important to keep one eye on it so you can see if/when people start dying.
Good luck out there!