Riot Games' new hero shooter is finally out of closed beta, and perhaps you've got your eye on the game that's been dominating Twitch for months now. Here are a few tips and tricks to get you situated in the world of Valorant so you don't get too intimidated. The game's free to play, so what have you got to lose? Dive in!
How To Play Valorant
Think of Valorant as an almost carbon copy of Counterstrike: Global Offensive, but with Overwatch heroes instead. Team composition isn't going to affect the flow of the game too much at lower levels, so just pick whichever character you think looks the coolest! Each game is 5v5 and consists of multiple rounds, setting one team on offense and one on defense. The first win condition is for the offensive team to plant the spike (a sort of bomb) on one of the points the other team is guarding. One player on the offensive team will grab the spike at the beginning of the round, plant it, and then guard it for 45 seconds to win. Alternatively, if one team kills all five of the other team's players, that team wins. On round 11, the offensive and defensive teams will swap positions. First team to 13 rounds wins the game. Simple enough, right?
Learn the Valorant Agent Names
Each of the 11 playable characters are referred to as "agents." Note that players coming from Overwatch will likely just call them heroes, and players coming from Riot Games' other smash hit League of Legends will probably call them champions, but it's all the same. Being that there are only 11 agents available for play, it's imperative that you take a few minutes to learn their names so that you can understand callouts over voice chat. When someone says "Sage tight right," you're going to need to be able to react immediately and know who's there. You can take your time learning each of their abilities while in-game, so don't stress too much about that. Luckily, with the exception of maybe Brimstone and Breach, the agents have very unique designs that are easy to identify out of the corner of your eye.
The Valorant Economy
Unlike Overwatch, you'll have to purchase hero abilities in Valorant alongside guns and shields each round before the gates open. You'll make some money each round by default, but the real money comes from winning the previous round. Tip: you'll get $300 planting or defusing the spike (if you are on offense/defense respectively), so always try to go for it, even if you're 1v5 and there are 20 seconds left in the round. You can also buy guns for teammates or request that they buy guns for you by right clicking. Only help out a teammate if you're absolutely flush with cash—it's more important to make sure you're stocked up. Anything you've bought will last into the next round with you if you don't die, so if you're 1v4 in a round you can afford to lose, consider hiding; you'll keep your shields and gun for the next one and live to fight another day.
Buying Guns and Abilities
Each round will start with a 30-second Buy Phase, in which you can purchase from a selection of guns, sidearms, shields, and abilities. Each agent has three abilities, and as a beginner I advise you to have at least one of each accessible every round. Your main (E) ability will regenerate each round, so make sure to use it. Conserve your other abilities and make sure you only use them when you need to, because if you waste one you're just out $100. You can also purchase light or heavy shields each round for additional health. Make sure to balance your spending on guns, abilities, and shields. Tip: for the first round, stick with the default pistol. Buy one use of each of your abilities and light shields. Depending on whether you win or lose round 1, you may be able to grab a good gun like a Phantom on round 2 and turn the odds in your favor. Your ultimate ability will charge with each kill you get, and you can hit Tab to see how close your teammates are to their ultimate abilities.
Learn the Lingo and the Map Layouts
Like with any multiplayer competitive game, a new language has sprung up around Valorant. You'll need to learn a few words and phrases so you don't start shooting the wrong way when your teammates start making callouts. Many of the locations and rooms across the four different maps are labeled (just hit M to take a look) but a lot of them have names created by the community as well. If someone makes a callout for "Jett is in ramen," you'll be confused at first, but pay attention and learn the names that the community has collectively agreed to. If you hear "Omen is heaven A," you'll find him in the upper window on Point A. If someone yells "Sage is lit on B" make your way to point B and get ready to take her down—she's taken a lot of damage. "C Long" is the long corridor leading to Point C, etc. The best way to learn this slang is by just playing the game and observing.
Learn How and When to Move
It's usually not wise to guard one room for more than 30 seconds at a time (unless your teammates are making callouts to do so). If you don't see any activity on Point C for 45 seconds into the round, it's likely they aren't trying to plant there. Try to cover the middle area between two points (mid) or move over to where your teammates have spotted enemies to give them a hand. Knife-walking and knife-running are absolutely essential in this game—the heavier your weapon, the slower you move. Use the mouse wheel to flip between weapons and pull out your knife to almost double your speed. If you're guarding A and hear a cry for help from B, immediately switch to your knife to run over there. As you approach the point, swap back to your gun and hold Shift to sneak. Remember, if you're not walking, the other team will hear you coming. Foosteps are loud; use this to your advantage to mislead the opponents on your plans.
There's a lot more to be said about Valorant, but this should be enough to get you started. Play around with different agents until you find your main and learn their abilities inside and out. Remember, this game absolutely requires a mic. Playing without one is almost guaranteeing your team will lose. So grab that spike, jump on in, and get tactical.
Valorant is available on PC free-to-play with cosmetic microtransations.