Valorant: Closed Beta Part 2

I just wrote about my experience with trying to get into the Valorant closed beta a couple of days ago. As I still had yet to gain access to the game, I decided to push out a post with thoughts about the streamed gameplay I had watched. Due to having only watched the game I couldn’t comment on certain parts of the experience, and like most things first-had experience makes a difference. Much of what I said still rings true, but having actually played the game now I can offer a few more thoughts.

Yesterday I received an email notification while I wasn’t even watching a stream. Logging onto Twitch from there, I saw my flagged status and was directed to a page where I was able to download the client. The patcher looks much like the League of Legends launcher so I would hope that eventually these are all unified into one for Riot as a whole. Anyway, the game wasn’t too large and downloaded quickly. I managed to get in a couple of rounds last night before bed and I have to say I like it.

That isn’t to say it isn’t without flaws. It does look pretty. It ran smoothly and I didn’t notice any lag, though I did have a ping sitting around 30ms the entire time which is pretty good. I’m not sure if that was due to time frame or smaller servers, but perhaps the server is in California like the old LoL servers used to be, as that was my ping then as opposed to the ~100ish ping I get sometimes now that the servers are in the middle of the country. Whatever the case, these were good conditions to test the game. There isn’t a whole lot to the menu system just yet, but you can look at the collection of weapons that will eventually all have a ton of skins, along with looking at characters and their abilities. There’s a store and all that jazz.

Getting into a live match didn’t take long either. The game loads considerably faster than LoL, that’s for sure. I ended up playing my games as the archer character, though I can’t remember names at this juncture. He had the ability to send out an “owl drone,” shoot shock bolts and recon bolts, and his ultimate allows you to shoot energy beams through walls. I managed a couple of kills with that, and the recon bolt definitely came in handy while I had them, but I learned through playing that you have to purchase your ability charges, though they don’t cost much and some rounds you won’t use any of them. Your ultimate charges over time, but can be sped up with orb drops on the map.

There are two maps currently, and both seem okay. I don’t know them like the back of my hand just yet, so figuring out blind corners and where people will hide will take a little bit. The game mode is always on attack/defend, in that one team goes a certain number of rounds being attackers before swapping sides. As attackers you plant the spike, and as defenders you either kill the attackers or defuse the bomb or both if it happens to get planted and everyone is dead. In my rounds it was mostly just deathmatch, with the spike only detonating once and being diffused once. In most rounds it was pretty even, and though I was not on the first team to reach 13 round wins, we were only behind by 1 and 2 in the games I played. I think with practice it will be more fun, and I also think it would be better with friends. Voice chat is built in, but of course you can always coordinate on Discord.

One thing I would like to see is a push mode, where an objective needs to be moved from point A to point B ala Paladins. I think these characters are set up to do this, and more characters can always be added to make for more diversity. I’m sure Riot already has plans to build upon the game once they go live and get it all stable. Hey, CSGO made a battle royale mode based off of their engine, why couldn’t Riot? I guess we’ll see what happens. Whatever the case, if you manage to get into the beta and want to get some games in, drop me a line!

Valorant: The Closed Beta

We’ve been teased by Riot Games about their new Tactical First Person Shooter Valorant for a while now. First we were shown some early alpha gameplay while the title was still being called “Project A” and then before we knew it, there were more promotional videos and a ton of information about the characters and their abilities. I touched on the latter with a post just over a month ago. About a week ago, streamers and other influencers were given access to the game, and the closed beta was announced. I’ve been patiently waiting for my chance to get into this title, and at this point I was hoping to already be in so I could share some first impressions about the game. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened yet, and this draft has been sitting in a folder collecting dust. I thought it prudent to just talk about what I know, what’s happened, and what I’ve seen of the game so I can still give some sort of impression, but I can’t touch on controls, responsiveness, how good it looks running on my PC, etc. I can give some opinions regardless though.

It was announced on April 7th that Valorant would be entering into closed beta. Plebs like myself were wondering how we could get into the game, and Riot was kind enough to give us a set of instructions. Unlike most betas that I’ve participated in where you simply enter your email address, or check on box on a launcher to “opt in,” Riot wanted you to do multiple things. First, you need a Riot account. This is something new-ish, but anyone who has been playing LoL/TFT would have already converted their existing LoL account into a Riot account. From there, you need a Twitch account. I already had both, so the hard part was already done. From there, you have to link your Riot account to your Twitch account, and then watch any Valorant stream with “drops enabled.” Simple as that right?

Well it’s been seven days and I’ve had a Twitch stream open in at least one tab for hours at a time during all seven of those days. There’s one open now as I write this. Still no access. Apparently you won’t receive a key, instead you will be “whitelisted” and will receive a notification through Twitch that will allow you to download the game. It hasn’t happened for me, but with the sheer number of people streaming the game, it obviously has worked for many. Watching the official Twitter account and reading articles elsewhere leads me to believe that they aren’t giving them out like candy as one would have expected. Instead, they are “monitoring” things and expanding servers and capacity as they go. I’ve read that drops happen 24/7, but do you really want to watch that much of a game for that long? I don’t. I haven’t really been watching most of the time anyway, instead leaving the stream run while I do other things. Whatever the case, I still want to play the game, but I don’t want to burn out on it before I try it by watching too much.

But I have watched. And I have liked much of what I’ve seen. The game is pretty, even while being streamed. It’s definitely just an updated Counter-Strike but it obviously has some quirks of its own. The fact that there are characters and they all have different abilities is a big part of that, but I also don’t really see their abilities playing into rounds all that much. The spike (think bomb) rarely gets planted. It’s even more rare that a planted spike gets defused. It ends up mostly being 5v5 deathmatch with some splashy effects that seem to have little effect on the game outside of hindering visibility.

For example, several characters have grenade abilities that leave an orb of smoke or other energy, poison etc that blocks vision through it but also reduces visibility while inside of it. One character makes a wall of poison. One can shoot arrows through walls. Some have vision abilities that allow you to temporarily see enemies behind walls or around corners. None of this seems overpowered because it almost all feels pointless. The gun play looks pretty damn good though, and that’s what I’m most interested in. However when a game is so obviously an iteration of an already existing title it’s hard to see it not setting itself apart all that much. Honestly I think Overwatch might have done a better job in this department, but it was also boring rather fast. Perhaps after more testing and patches and whatnot this game will truly set itself apart, but for now it looks like a mod of Counter-Strike which is already a mod of Half-Life.

I’m reserving my official judgment until I actually get to play the damn thing, be it during the closed beta or later when there’s an open one, or perhaps even after launch. But for now I’m not as impressed as I once was and I just want to try the damn thing myself. Also Riot, with the amount of games you now have under your belt (Legends of Runeterra just launched as well), maybe it’s time to make that Riot Games launcher? I despise having a ton of launchers, but since you’re your own company this seems to make sense to pack them all in one easy spot.

I’ll be back to talk about this game more as it develops.

Next For Riot Games: Valorant

We’ve know about “Project A” since Riot’s tenth anniversary stream that went live late last year. At that point in time very little information was revealed outside of that code name and the fact that it would be a hero based tactical shooter, as if Overwatch and Counter-Strike had a baby. Despite the fact that I’ve loved Counter-Strike since it was just a mod, I never really cared for Overwatch. In fact, I haven’t really cared for many of these style of “Hero Shooters” and I’ve played a handful of them. However, I do think that if any company has the ability to get me to play their games without question, Riot Games does. They’ve built trust with me over the years and despite taking breaks from their main game League of Legends, I always find myself coming back around. So far I’ve enjoyed their other forays into new territory, with Teamfight Tactics and the little bit of Legends of Runterra that I’ve played. As such, I think I am the target audience for this new title, which we now know is called Valorant. First things first, let’s look at some fresh alpha game play to put things into perspective:

Wow, so this really does look like Counter-Strike, but with characters called “agents” who have various abilities. Otherwise, it’s still plant the bomb (called a spike here) if you’re on the attacking team, or defuse the spike if you’re defending. Otherwise, killing the entirety of the enemy team (as there are no respawns) will win you the round. Polygon has a ton of info up about the game, including a Q&A that addresses game play, fluff skins, and future plans, along with another article detailing all of the agents and their abilities. There isn’t anything inherently unique about the premise of the game nor the abilities of the agents, but it still looks like a lot of fun. I tend to be better at first person shooters than I am at other styles of game so I think it’s something I could actually be competitive at. Graphically it looks sharp, but apparently the minimum specs mean you can play the game on a toaster. Thankfully my aging machine is still more powerful than a toaster, so I should be able to jump in right away.

There is a planned beta that I assume will happen soon. The launch window is summer of this year so I think we’ll be able to beta test within the next couple of months and Riot can make adjustments from there prior to full launch. I can’t seem to find a way to sign up for beta yet, but as soon as I can play it and talk about it some more I will do so. I’m actually pretty hyped for this one, but I am trying to temper my expectations. Whatever the case, as more information drops I’ll be sure to throw my two cents out there.