Few companies dare to enter the Multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) scene. Why? Very simply; in order to make a success of a MOBA, a supremely large amount of resources are needed. Only the likes of mega-corporations such as Activision Blizzard and Epic have tried and succeeded, while the number of failed attempts from other companies litter the graveyards behind them. To put it bluntly, if you aren’t offering something sure-fire like pokies, your chances of making a successful online-only focused game are slim, and the potential to waste millions in time and effort are overwhelming. But with that being said, a new contender has entered the arena; Valorant. And early signs say it has what it takes.
You’ve probably heard of Riot Game’s new game by now, and are also aware that it has what most would refer to as an uncompromisingly hard-core approach. Or to put it another way; it isn’t for casuals. The action is fast paced, the nature of the gameplay is extremely competitive, and those who aren’t thoroughly experienced will be ground up like so much wet putty.
But then, this is exactly what the game is going for. It is clearly aimed at the eSports crowd, and isn’t ashamed of wearing this intention on its sleeve.
Only The Serious Need Apply
First and foremost yes, Valorant is clearly geared towards being a Counter Strike: Global Offensive successor. Or at least, it is aiming at the same crowd. Even a passing glimpse of Valorant will reveal that it takes most of its cues from the CS:GO eSports sensation.
CS:GO is, somehow, still one of the most popular professional eSports leagues in the world. There are currently a million playing the game on average, which puts it head and shoulders above any other game on PC. But lest we forget; CS:GO is also getting a little long in the tooth, and to think that it is time for a new sensation isn’t exactly unwarranted.
Thinking that Valorant could be the new sensation is indeed deeply optimistic, given the previously mentioned graveyard of failures. If Valorant were to be a success, it would have to bring something truly interesting to the table. Just being a CS:GO clone certainly wouldn’t be enough.
Counter Strike With Magic
There is a little twist. Although Valorant takes most of its inspiration from CS:GO, or rather has virtually copy/pasted the ‘plant a bomb while the other team stops you’ mechanics of that game wholesale, the developers smartly decided to add a little flavour of their own. In Valorant, the players have superpowers.
Yes, Riot weren’t ashamed about blatantly stealing popular MOBA ideas, and repurposing them. The team-based superpower concept is pulled directly from Overwatch. You can scoff and roll your eyes at how unashamedly Riot pulled ideas from other successful titles, or you can acknowledge the fact that the end result is something pretty darn good.
Valorant is, without beating around the bush, and excellent MOBA. It has managed to nail down the core aspects that made both CS:GO and Overwatch work, has elegantly combined them into one game, and done so while still delivering interesting character designs. Bravo, Riot.
Will It Succeed?
In a world where Battle Royale titles seemed to be the future, Riot decided to thumb its nose at the trend, and instead deliver something slower, far more methodical, and significantly more skill focused. The Battle Royale model is chaotic and random, offering casual players the chance to go head to head in a world where victory and defeat are often largely out of the individual’s hands.
Valorant, meanwhile, allows focused team-based play, with the randomness of a Battle Royale tossed out the window. You win because you are skilled, communicate with your team, and know what you’re doing. The 13 round sessions can take up to 40 minutes before a winner is declared, and you better believe that matches are fought passionately by everyone involved. If Valorant will or won’t be a CS:GO killer remains to be seen. Chances are it will see some success, based on reception since the beta went live on 7th April. The full release has not yet been revealed, but hints are that it will be before the end of 2020.