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[Time to Play] Valorant, Riot Games’ unoriginal but surprisingly fun FPS game

Valorant’s in-game characters (Riot Games)
Valorant’s in-game characters (Riot Games)


Yes, Riot Games’ Valorant is a new game. But is it original? Certainly not.

The soon-to-be released first-person shooter game seems like a mishmash of everything users have seen before -- the graphics of Team Fortress 2, the effects of Paladins, the gameplay of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, the gun sounds of Sudden Attack and skills that recall Overwatch and Apex Legends.

Though it’s undeniable that Valorant was “inspired” by other FPS titles, the game itself is exciting enough to intrigue gamers looking for something new.

On May 5, which was Children’s Day in South Korea, Riot Games launched the closed beta of Valorant in the country, offering standard five-on-five bomb disposal mode. The rule is simple: Whoever wins 13 rounds first wins.

But this simple rule may put off some users.

When users play a game, they expect it to be a game, not homework. Playing a minimum of 13 rounds per game was stressful, even exhausting, like running a marathon. Though each round lasts for no more than two minutes, it is challenging to maintain concentration for at least 26 minutes straight, especially in an intense shooting game.

As each round has to be finished in two minutes, players have to die fast, which is why weapons are so powerful in the game. In a standoff with an enemy, the engagement typically ends in a split second, which might come as a disappointment to users looking for a back-and-forth gun battle. However, newbies, who always die first in the game, can benefit from the time limit as it reduces waiting time for the next round.

Above all, the game was missing one of the most crucial elements of a shooting game: dynamic hit registration.

When a bullet hits a target, the target should jolt back in response so that users can tell they are shooting straight. But in Valorant, hit registration is virtually nonexistent. The only hit recognition in Valorant is a falling back motion when the target collapses and dies.

Surprisingly, despite its shortcomings, Valorant is a new breed, a hybrid of traditional FPS and hyper, which makes the game special and unique.

Valorant resembles traditional FPS games exemplified by Counter-Strike as victory is determined by the player’s shooting skills. This makes the game fair.

To differentiate itself from simplistic FPS games, Valorant seems to have benchmarked Blizzard’s Overwatch by giving special skills to each in-game character. For example, a character called Sage can create an ice barrier and block a passage, forcing the enemy to take another route. Another character called Jett is specialized for an ambush, equipped with the ability to dash forward and jump over tall obstacles. 

Sage’s Barrier Orb (Valorant screenshot)
Sage’s Barrier Orb (Valorant screenshot)


In short, Valorant has satisfied both old-timers and newbies by maintaining an emphasis on shooting skills but at the same time giving rookie players special abilities to compensate for their lack of proficiency, which can shift the tide of the game completely.

All in all, Valorant is perhaps one of the most unoriginal yet groundbreaking games users have ever seen. Valorant’s strategy -- taking the middle road -- has clearly worked.

By Kim Byung-wook (kbw@heraldcorp.com)


Time to Play is a review of new game releases. Kim Byung-wook is a staff reporter at The Korea Herald and a hardcore Fifa Online 4 user with 456 friendly match wins. He has also played StarCraft 2 Zerg and once ranked diamond. Currently a captain in the first-person shooter game Sudden Attack and the owner of Lv.184 Soul Master in the role-playing game MapleStory, Kim still plays Football Manager 2017. -- Ed.
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