Essential pointers to get acquainted with Riot’s tactical shooter.
After having dominated the MOBA scene for over a decade with League of Legends, Riot Games are now moving into the competitive FPS market. Their free-to-play 5v5 tactical shooter Valorant is out now after having been in beta for a couple of months, and millions will be jumping into it for the first time to see what the fuss is all about. If you’re going to be one of those millions, these handy tips and tricks should help you get acquainted with the game. So with all that said, let’s get things moving.
COMMUNICATION IS KEY
As is the case with any team-based multiplayer game, communication with your teammates is crucial in Valorant. In fact, owing to the game’s nature and how tactical it is, we’d say it requires more communications than most games in the genre do. Being aware of your teammates’ positions, which Agent everyone is playing is, how you’re using your abilities, the movements and locations of your enemies, and more is vital, and it’s important for a team to be on the same page with all that stuff. So play with a headset for voice chat if you can. If you cannot, make sure you properly utilize the game’s ping system.
Valorant differs from most competitive shooters in some very important ways. While games like Battlefield, Rainbow Six and the like are extremely fast-paced, Valorant intentionally forces you to slow things down- to the extent that simply running around can be a big disadvantage. Not only is your aiming very poor when you’re running, any time you run, your footsteps also make sounds that enemy teammates can hear and then use to get the jump on. As such, make sure you’re always walking- run only when you absolutely have to, or when you’re dead certain that there are no enemies in your vicinity. Definitely do not run just so you can get to a location a few seconds faster.
DON’T RUN AND GUN
Something else that you should avoid doing is shooting while you’re running. Ideally, you should only shoot when you’re stationary, because that’s when your accuracy is the best. When you’re just walking, while your first few shots can hit their target, your accuracy starts deteriorating the longer you shoot. While you’re running though, your accuracy and spread are at their absolute worst. So anytime you want to shoot, make sure you slow down (or better still, stop moving) before doing so.
ALWAYS BE AWARE
As you may have gathered by now, things in Valorant are nearly as chaotic and frenetic as they can be in most competitive shooters. Which means that you have much more time to take in your surroundings and be aware of them- that, in fact, is not only encouraged, it is almost necessary. Always keep an ear out for the sound of footsteps to make sure enemies don’t get the jump on you, always peek around corners very carefully to get a glimpse of what you’re walking into rather than just blindly running around, and as much as possible, keep an eye on your radar to have a good sense of your surroundings and the layout of the map in your immediate vicinity.
DON’T RELY ON ABILITIES TOO MUCH
A cursory glance at Valorant – with its stylizd art style and its focus on unique characters, each with their unique abilities and advantages – might lead you to believe that the game is a lot like Overwatch, but put those thoughts out of your head before you go into the game. Valorant is not a hero shooter- it is very much centred around skill and tactics, and as such, you shouldn’t rely on your Agent’s abilities too much. Make no mistake, these abilities can be incredibly useful, but they’re more for support than they are for anything else. They have limited uses, and using them wrongly or at the wrong time can also prove to be a costly mistake. Remember that your awareness of the map, how quickly you spot threats, and how well you play are more important than any ability you may have at your disposal.
AIMING DOWN SIGHTS
Years of playing modern competitive shooters have taught us that shooting while aiming down sights is the way to go in most cases, but that’s something you need to unlearn with Valorant. Don’t get me wrong, ADS can still be very useful in certain situations, but for the most part, there are certain disadvantages to it that can prove deadly. When you’re aiming down sights, your view is limited, your rate of fire is slowed down, and your aiming is slower. On the other hand, hip firing accuracy is very good for most weapons when used correctly. So unless you’re sniping or shooting from a distance, avoid ADS.
This, too, is something that has been instilled most of us over the years, almost like muscle memory. Any time you shoot, you immediately reload. Don’t do that in Valorant though- or at least, don’t do it as frequently. Reloading takes time and puts you at a disadvantage for some seconds, where you have no means to fire back at enemies who might catch you off-guard. There’s also the fact that killing enemies in Valorant doesn’t take an awful lot of bullets, unlike most shooters, where we’re used to sustained bursts of fire. So before you’re reloading, make sure you’re in a safe location and won’t be caught off-guard by creeping enemies.
SAVE YOUR MONEY
You might be tempted to purchase new weapons between ever round in Valorant, but you’ll be better served if you save your money (or Creds). Unless you die during a round (in which case you have to purchase new weapons), you enter the next round with the weapon you finished the previous round with, which is something you can do to make sure you have a good gun on while while also saving up for better stuff for later rounds.
GRAB ENEMIES’ GUNS
This is another good trick you can make use of to ensure that you enter the next round with a good weapon. If you spot a dead enemy with a gun that’s better than the one you have, make sure you pick it up, because that, then, is the gun you will start the next round with (unless you buy a new one). Of course, to do this you have to make sure that you actually survive the round, so keep that in mind.
More than purchasing weapons, more than even purchasing abilities, what you should be focused on right off the bat is purchasing armour. As you may have gathered, TTD is incredibly quick in Valorant– it doesn’t take a lot to succumb to enemy fire, and so, having armour equipped is something of a necessity, not only for the added health, but also because it absorbs damage. So save up your Creds, and prioritize buying armour over anything else. Heavy armor is usually the way to go, but at 1000 it is relatively costly- even so, at least make sure you have Light armour (which costs 250) eequipped.
LEARN THE MAPS
Knowing the layouts of maps can define how well (or poorly) matches will go for you in Valorant. As we’ve said, being aware of your surroundings can be crucial to victory, and knowing where enemies might come from or whether or not you can safely go around a blind corner is all part of that. If you know the game’s maps and their layouts, these things become much easier to keep track of in your head.
There is a bit of a learning curve to Valorant. What it wants you to do is not like what most modern competitive shooters want you to do- so take your time to get acclimated with its style and central loop. The open range is in the game for a reason, and it’s highly recommended that you make use of it to get acclimated with how the game wants you to play. Of course, you can always just jump in for a good old trial by fire, but if that doesn’t work out, remember that the open range is super useful.
EXPERIMENT WITH ALL AGENTS
Once again, Valorant is not a hero shooter- playing it with a “main” is not a very good way to play it. Unless you always play with pre-made teams, Valorant will require you to play with all of its Agents every now and then, and so, being familiar with all of its playable characters, their abilities, and unique strengths and weaknesses will be vital. The aforementioned open range is a great place to do this (unless, again, you just want to jump right into matches).