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Intro to Valorant: What You Need to Know

Out of the loop about Riot's upcoming FPS? Here's what you need to know to prepare for Valorant gameplay, characters, anti-cheat, latency, system requirements, and more.

What is Valorant?

The reveal

During an anniversary live stream last year Riot Games unveiled multiple new game titles they were working on, one being a character-based first-person tactical shooter for PC, at the time known as "Project A".

After years of unprecedented success with League of Legends, the news of Riot Games entering the competitive first-person shooter scene cascaded though social media and a persistent hype sprouted amongst the fans of the FPS-genre including games like Overwatch, Counterstrike, and Apex Legends.

Rumors were running wild, but started to consolidate when former professional CS:GO players such as HenryG shared their experience from a secretive alpha-stage play test they had been specifically selected to participate in. Maybe the most crucial piece of information they gave us was the fact that the embargo would lift on March 3rd.

Ingenuity stems from motivation, and brilliant minds on Twitter quickly started scouring for information and one name kept coming up – Valorant. From registered social media accounts to vast server parks and registered trademarks, Valorant was the common denominator. The name was chosen, and I was frantically F5’ing the official website waiting for the embargo to be lifted. Not only did we get to see awesome unaltered gameplay, we also got an indication of the release date: Summer 2020.

Oh yeah, and it's free to play!

If you have not yet seen the 2 minutes and 40 seconds of unscripted alpha gameplay from Valorant, you should definitely check it out:


In Valorant, two teams of five unique agents go head-to-head in a best of 24 rounds setup, playing half the rounds as attacking and the other half as defending.

While you can obviously win by eliminating the entire enemy team, you can also win by planting the spike (similar to the bomb in CS:GO) and ensuring it detonates before the defending team can disarm it.

Each round starts with a 30 second buy period where each team can stock up on weapons and abilities. During the buy period, both teams’ movement are limited by force fields, with a bit more leeway for the defending team allowing for advanced map positioning.

After the buy period all force fields disappear, and the attacking team has 1 minute and 40 seconds to plant the spike – which takes approximately 45 seconds to explode and 7.5 seconds to defuse.

At launch Valorant will feature 4 maps, whereof one is the triple-bombsite map shown in the video above, and the other being described by alpha testers as a dual-bombsite map featuring single use teleporters for quick surprise attacks.

Agents: Valorant’s Playable Characters

Where Valorant really differentiates itself is their use of playable characters, known as agents. They vary in physical appearance but also which abilities they have access to.

There will be a total of 10 agents at launch, with half being available for free and the other half sold for either in-game currency or real money.

While each team can only pick one of each agent, the same agent can be on both teams to create an equal playing field.

Each agent has:
- two basic abilities they can purchase at the start of the round
- a signature ability which is free and recharges over time
- an ultimate ability which charges up when you win a round, get a kill, plant/defuse the spike, or pick up orbs scattered around the maps

Ultimate abilities may take several rounds to charge up. Do not worry if you die right after restocking on abilities as these will persist though death and be available the next round. Whether you prefer to reveal enemies though walls, throw a flashbang that can curve around corners, setup a toxic screen for tactical movement or to be able to heal and resurrect allies, Valorant has got you covered.

Gunplay is an integral part of Valorant, and you can expect very low time to kill with standard rifles killing in a single headshot and downing an opponent in just a few body shots.

Weapons are bought from the same resource pool as abilities and likewise at the start of the round. Juxtaposing to abilities, all weapons can be used by all agents, but weapons are lost on death.

According to the lucky few who got invited to the alpha test, weapons are still the core of Valorant with abilities acting as tactical support – and with the lethality of weapons, combining abilities with your teammates to surprise the enemy seems more important than ever.

Anti-cheat and low latency

One thing that has always plagued free to play titles are cheaters. The seemingly endless supply of free accounts and no plausible way to pushing culprits have crippled quite a few games already.

Valorant is combating this behavior head-on with their integrated anti-cheat service which will be fully rolled out at launch. While the nitty-gritty details and features of the system are obviously confidential, Riot Games have implemented a fog of war system essentially results in opponents being non-existent up until they are visually present on your monitor – rendering classical wall hacks obsolete.

In addition to their aggressive anti-cheat precautions, Riot Games promises a strong netcode with a less than 35 millisecond latency for players in major cities around the world. And even if your opponent is lagging out, their movement will appear smooth to your device as Valorant will upscale their movement to match their global server tick rate of 128.

System requirements: how to play

As far as we know, Valorant is only being released for PC. As with all competitive first-person shooters, system requirements are a fair bit more forgiving than your classic AAA title. Valorant is not different and promises at least 30 frames per second for most low-end computers.

Hardware requirements:
• Windows 7/8/10 (64-bit)

Minimum (30 fps):
• CPU: Intel i3-370M
• GPU: Intel HD 3000

Recommended (60 fps):
• CPU: Intel i3-4150
• GPU: GeForce GT 730

High-end (144+ fps)
• CPU: Intel i5 4460 (3.2GHz)
• GPU: GeForce GTX 1050 Ti

More ways to prepare for Valorant

If you made it this far my guess would be that you, like me, are pretty hyped for Valorant. With a few months until launch maybe now is the perfect time to prepare.

1. Practice your aim
With a new mouse in you palm, use our aim training tool Aim Master to practice your headshots, flick shots, and reaction time before venturing into the competitive scene of Valorant. (Heck, you might even end up winning some prizes while you're at it).

2. Register for Riot Games’ newsletter
While its unknown how and when exactly beta invites will be distributed, you still may want to subscribe for more Valorant news over at – just in case. Even if you are not selected for beta testing, you will be kept up to date on new information, content and release date.

3. Upgrade your mouse
A new first person shooter deserves the best peripherals and maybe now is the time to upgrade the most important piece of gear for an FPS player: your mouse. While the classic ball mouse might be your go-to (we hope not), the ambidextrous Sensei Ten with 18,000 CPI, TrueMove Pro sensor and tilt tracking is just a whole different experience, and perfect for FPS games. There is a reason why the original Sensei is the most winning mouse in esports.

Also, don't forget a good mousepad with enough real estate for your big plays!

Did we forget anything exciting about Valorant? Tell us on Twitter.

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Header image credit: /u/Grim_Rogue