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Valorant is set for inevitable success, but there’s still room to improve

Expect it to be huge. Valorant, Riot Games’ tactical, abilities- and weapons-based shooter, is finally out in the wild, and it’s arrived off the back of a frankly massive “closed” beta. Some of those numbers, like the outrageous watch times and concurrent viewers on Twitch, are artificially inflated – namely by Riot’s “drops” system of handing out beta keys to random viewers of streams – but the player numbers aren’t. There’s good reason for it.

For starters, I’m not sure I’ve played a game that feels as ground-up optimised for its own purpose as Valorant. This is a game that makes its case through competency. It has the best servers (are we numb to the words “128-tick” yet?), the most optimal art style, an aggressive, proprietary anti-cheat system and a team behind it that feels frankly obsessed with proving its pedigree. It’s a statement, Riot Games standing up and saying “this is what we can do”.

The good news for us is, for the most part, that means Valorant is an exceptionally well-made game. It’s gunplay might not outright surpass the precision of Counter Strike, but it certainly matches it, and while it might not beat Call of Duty or Halo for the pure satisfaction of firing a weapon, in this case that’s sort of besides the point. There are settings for reticule sizes, shapes and colours. There are exact damage stats displayed on the weapon-choice screen that detail head, body, and limb damage – including at different ranges – and bullet-point accurate rates of fire for every firing mode a gun has. Much like Counter Strike – and Valorant really is very close to Counter Strike – precision rules above all.

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