VALORANT Console Preview - One Tap, B Plant, No Cap

With it still making waves on PC, Riot Games has decided that console players should share VALORANT's fun - Is the beta a showcase of what's made the game a hit since 2020? Read our preview to find out more.

Published: June 24, 2024 10:00 AM /

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A spread-shot cover of VALORANT, showcasing playable character Viper posing next to the games logo and against a red backdrop.

In the wake of eSports becoming a growing mine of financial prosperity and career opportunities, it makes sense that console players tend to be on the outside looking in. A keyboard being the optimal solution, its use in a console player base for games like Rainbow Six: Siege or Call of Duty is met with derision, and some would say rightfully so. Regardless, Riot Games has decided to give console players some fun, with their Xbox and PlayStation-dedicated version of VALORANT recently released in beta.

This is the breakout FPS from League of Legends developers Riot Games, the Counter Strike-like which became a smash hit in 2020, during the COVID-19 lockdown. Announced during Summer Games Fest that Riot would be bringing the PC shooter to consoles this year, the month-long beta kicked off shortly after the announcement. With a few of the game's standout maps available in rotation for matchmaking right now, Riot has made sure to plant its feet in the sand in regards to what this console version offers.

There may be a pretense of confusion when it comes to what VALORANT on console is, especially in comparison to the PC counterpart. As someone who has put an almost unhealthy (and almost completely unnecessary) amount of time into the Xbox 360 version of Counter Strike: Global Operative, one could see a necessity to give console players some of their own catered fun. Already, it seems like Riot feels the same way.

An in-game screenshot of VALORANT, showcasing the results screen and the stats of each player in the prior match, with Killjoy being the MVP.

From banning users who use a keyboard and mouse in console lobbies, to providing a keybind to allow players to walk without making noise, VALORANT is providing controller players with as much accommodation in their space, which is great! There’s obviously still a massive discrepancy in skill ceiling between console and PC, but then, that’s not the point, is it? It’s neither a humbling, nor a one-up, they co-exist, and for that, I’m personally grateful for the work put in.

It also helps that the pacing is breakneck, with VALORANT’s “Swiftplay” having matches take less than 20 minutes at a time, even when rounds are stretched out to their maximum. While a full-on Competitive mode with ELO rankings hasn’t been introduced in the beta yet, there’s a taste in the “Unrated” mode, which gives you a feel for the 24-round based mode, and what it offers, which is longer matches, and more focused play.

Still, none of this was really prevalent when playing on my own. At first, I didn’t have a squad to team up with, and VALORANT’s infamously toxic community didn’t really inspire me to ask around for new buddies, regardless of how new everyone was to this specific experience. I stuck it by myself for a while and found myself contending with how much dead air can linger in the moment-to-moment.

An in-game screenshot of VALORANT, showcasing the German operator Killjoy sitting atop her turret.

It’s a PUBG thing. When there’s complete silence, it’s meant to be offset by callouts, team talk, strategic divulgence, maybe even banter, and when you’re solo, VALORANT isn’t communicative like Counter Strike - hell, even Siege. I understand this may be more of a personal qualm than most of the other issues present, but it should be stated how much of a vacuum is present in a singular space.

All of this is to say it’s immediately remediated when you have at least one more friend playing alongside you. Suddenly the energy is frantic, alive, decisions weighted further amongst thought and actual presence. When you or they pop off in a match, it’s not to the sounds of silence, or maybe even nodding approval, but the squad in awe of your work, and it’s nice.

Honestly, there’s not much else to say in regards to VALORANT’s qualities. Its presence in the FPS market has been felt for a while now, its hero-based mechanics and tactical opportunities are always ever-present, synchronicity readily apparent in nearly every hero pair-up - even if too many rely on what are essentially just different colors of smoke grenades - and the weapon balancing is really good.

An in-game screenshot of VALORANT, showcasing the character Killjoy preparing to defuse the bomb after killing the last enemy.

The controls are as good as they can be for an ultimately PC-ortiented experience. With a keybind to walk without making sound or wrangling with dead zones and thresholds for the controller's joysticks, it means everyone has a presence for the tactical FPS genre's most basic tactic, which is sound play. Sensitivity and its other parameters come down to personal preference, and the game's movement mechanics feel fresh and incredibly accessible to anyone playing.

The main issue of VALORANT on console right now is the UI, which is subject to sluggish and intrusive issues at the time of writing. At the start of every round, there’s a combat report that shows damage given and taken during the prior round, and it takes up a fair amount of the screen, with no way to remove it until the round begins. It’s not so much of a deal breaker, but I found optimal gadget placement a pain in the ass sometimes, trying to line things up when there’s an opaque slab on the right of the screen.

Still, that isn’t enough to put even a Gekko-sized blot on how well-optimized VALORANT on consoles appears to be. Catered to the crowd, and clearly focused on removing a damaging ego when comparing the two platforms, these are the same game yet entirely removed from each other, which is an achievement. When Counter Strike: Global Operative released on Xbox 360, there was a small hope to have them co-exist and progress together.

A noble cause, but one ultimately driven to fail when you’re emulating THE PC game.

An in-game screenshot of VALORANT, showcasing the player reloading their gun after eliminating a player.

VALORANT Console Preview | Final Verdict

As it stands, VALORANT’s console offering is shaping up to be a refined experience for those who simply want to pick up the controller and have fun. It’s an ultimately more casual dilution of its eSports-toting, toxic-breeding, rage-inducing PC counterparts, but in this space, something else can grow.

Whether or not Riot can lay claim to what prospers is another thing entirely.

VALORANT was previewed on Xbox Series S using a copy provided by the publisher over the course of 30 hours of gameplay - all screenshots were taken during the process of review.

Previews you can trust: To ensure you're getting a fair, accurate, and informed review, our experienced team spends a significant amount of time on everything we preview. Read more about how we review games and products.


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Samiee, otherwise known by their pen-name “Gutterpunk”, is a non-binary writer who got their start in 2016 by writing too many words about Tom Clancy’s The… More about Samiee "Gutterpunk"

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