In an effort to get some of the more popular games on the site, I have decided to review Valorant as I have been playing it pretty consistently with my friend Yoogen almost every Saturday. It’s been pretty fun as I have been getting back into competitive shooters again. It feels good to see yourself getting better and better as you start to understand the game more and more every time you play. I imagine that my fellow writers Peace and Homs have similar reasons as to why they play fighting games. Anyways, tangent aside, let’s get into things:
Valorant is a competitive 5 v 5 shooter where you use characters known as agents. Agents have different abilities to use to their advantage, similar to Overwatch. The main game mode known as Plant/Defuse is structured around rounds, with the goal being to win 13 quick paced rounds over a 30 minute period. There is an attacking and defending team who each have access to guns and special gadgets. Attackers have to gain control of certain sites on the map where they can plant a bomb known as the “spike”. After planting the spike, the attackers must defend it until it detonates. Defenders on the other hand have to stop the push by stalling with their various gadgets and defuse the bomb if planted. Additionally either team can win by just outright eliminating the other team. Then there are also some more casual game modes such as deathmatch or various spin offs of Plant/Defuse with shortened lengths, random agents, etc..
Then there are the agents. Similar to heroes from Overwatch or operators from R6, agents each have special abilities that they can use to gain an advantage. There are four categories of agents: Controllers, Duelists, Initiators, and Sentinels. Controllers manipulate the map to create safe passage for their team or lock the enemies in disadvantageous positions/pushes. Duelists are the people who are supposed to get the most eliminations as their abilities are very offensive. Initiators are the group who are supposed to break choke points for the team and allow the team to push with stuff like recon or flashbangs. Sentinels lock down points for their team and have things such as tripwires or turrets. How many characters of each role there are on your team really depends on the composition you’re trying to run.
To be successful in Valorant one must use a mixture of game sense, communication, and gun skill. Game sense includes learning to use operators to their maximum potential and also understanding the maps to exploit cover, line of sight, and the agent picks/gadget placement for success. Communication is super important as this is a team based game where how well you are coordinating will determine your success. Sure you could carry your games as a duelist but that will only really get you so far. Gun skill is pretty self explanatory on the surface, but there is so much depth to understanding your perfect sensitivity, line of sight, and crosshair design/placement. This can lead you down a rabbit hole of training your aim for hours to be able to get sweet headshots and swings off all the time. All of this means that there is a huge skill ceiling to overcome to get good.
When combined together, these factors can be very overwhelming, as getting stomped in a given round can make you feel helpless when you can’t think through these factors straight. This makes the game not very friendly to those who are just just looking for some casual fun as Valorant is a high-stress/high-fun type of game, not something you’re gonna wanna be winding down to. You could just stick to the casual game modes but even those carry their level of stress. This might intimidate some people away from the game; it’s just the nature of competitive shooters. However, what I’ve found to be the case is that one can be successful in Valorant by just mastering one of these categories, but if you manage to grow a bit in each category you’ll do decently.
This actually allows us to delve into the spiritual connection I’d like to make and that has to do with the fundamentals of our spiritual lives. Just as I’ve laid three main pillars to getting good at Valorant: game sense, communication, and gun skill; there are three main pillars to our spiritual lives: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. One can always work to improve the fundamentals of the faith to grow in holiness. Prayer is about our relationship with God, how can we improve the time we spend getting to know the deeply rich nature of our Lord? Fasting is putting our consumption of this world’s goods in check and always making sure our most valued good is God and nothing that is temporal, that which moth and rust destroy. Almsgiving focuses on how much we freely give away to God and neighbor, this includes things like our time and money. Together they give us clear objectives to focus on and something to return to if we find our spiritual lives faltering. Returning to these fundamentals is actually what the season of Lent is for. This allows us to repent of our downfalls to prepare our hearts for the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ during Easter. So to my fellow Catholics I say get to work, for we are all called to be saints. Do this while remembering that God freely gives us his grace and wants us to grow because as St. Irenaeus says, the glory of God is a human being fully alive.
Moving on to brief discussion about Valorant’s graphics and art style, it has a heavy emphasis on cell shading making the game almost look like a comic book or anime. While it may come off as somewhat generic, the maps are full of color and different locations making the game pleasing to the eye, a stark contrast from something like the grays and yellows of a Call of Duty. Abilities are flashy, making them feel good to use and convey good visual information. The agents and their weapons are all made in high detail giving them lots of character. The UI is pretty concise and gives you the information you need to know without taking too much of your screen. Overall there ain’t much to go crazy for or hate.
Its sister category, sound design, on the other hand is amazing. Every weapon in the game sounds awesome as they are loud and leave ringing in your ear. This makes each weapon and ability so satisfying to use as they give you a great sense of power. It also makes the game easier to understand as weapons and abilities are easily identifiable by distinct sounds which one can put to memeory. So as a general tip, remember to always be using your ears.
Overall Valorant is a pretty cool game and I can definitely see why it’s popular. It feels super good to play with sharp mechanics, constantly getting to see yourself improve, and awesome sound design that makes you feel like a powerhouse.
Time Sink: You could theoretically keep trying to get better and better at the game and trying to climb the competitive latter for an infinite amount of time. Make sure that it’s not taking time away from important things in your life like your job, family, schoolwork, etc.
Story: Mostly outside the game, similar to how Overwatch or Rainbow Six have an overarching story through comics and youtube cinematics. Seems to be leaning to be a mystery that gives groundwork to certain elements from the gameplay. I can’t really give it any moral warning or praise because it doesn’t appear much in the game and is still developing and shouldn’t really affect whether you should play the game or not. However the general premise is that certain individuals received powers during an event known as the “The First Light” where meteors were falling to earth embedded with a strange energy known as “Radianite”. This power is then utilized by the countries of the world and even dubious organizations like terrorists. This leads to the creation of the Valorant organization and sees agents fight against shadow versions of themselves affiliated with terrorists.
Language (excluding social interactions): There is some profanity to be found, nothing crazy though. However some characters will belittle or even dehumanize their opponents. I have not encountered any character in-game using the Lord’s name in vain.
Violence: While lacking the violence of something like Call of Duty, you still are using very realistic looking and sounding (at least in their base skin) to eliminate your enemies, which you see die and fall to the ground with a groan of pain. There are also executions/finishers where some weapon skins reward the player for eliminating the last player. This may be in the form of them being chained up by a Japanese demon (oni), being burned to a crisp by a dragon, or being sucked into a black hole (all of which is heavily stylized). There is also some blood when you are shot. Corpses and blood can be turned off, but executions I’m not sure. I couldn’t find any info online and don’t have any skins that trigger them to test for myself. There is still the general sense of playing a game where it’s fun to kill others, even if that might not be the primary reason you play, it’s still something you should consider, especially parents so that kids don’t play for similar reasons.
Use of powers: Many characters use magic like abilities such as being able to control shadows, animal spirit, stars, etc. Other characters use more sci-fi like abilities such as high tech grenades or turrets. There are lore implications to the powers, but again, the story affects the gameplay very little.
Consumerism: While the game might be free to play, you are only given a base roster of 5 characters. The others you have to unlock by playing which does take a good while or buying them outright using real life currency. However if you have Xbox Game Pass you get all the characters in the game for free which is pretty cool. There are also tons and tons of weapon skins that you can buy which do cost a pretty penny and you could easily spend more money then you need to.
Social interactions/Wrath: While this may not necessarily be an issue with the game itself and more a problem with the players, you could experience various forms of toxicity since tense games often lead to tilted people who say pretty mean things. This may be in the form of voice chat or text chat (which has a team and global version). You may also see inappropriate names from other players. You can disable seeing the names of other players, mute others (text and voice), and disable random people inviting or joining you. Something else to note is that you yourself could also easily get tilted and give in to wrath, so if you have anger issues maybe stay away from the game. Remember there is a person on the other side of the screen who is created in the image and likeness of God.
Security concerns: To play Valorant you must download Riot Games’ anti-cheat software known as “Riot Vanguard” which has extensive access to your computer. Some fear it because of its connections to Chinese companies and assume this could also mean the Chinese government having some of your info if Riot Games ever decided to do dubious things and go past their promise of it being purely an anti-cheat.