Back in 2014, Riot Games began developing the first-person tactical shooter game the world now knows as Valorant. The developmental process consisted of two three-year timelines with research and development leading off and pre-production and production taking the helm to finish it off. The result was a unique FPS title that many in the gaming community saw as drawing heavy influence from both Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Overwatch, but has since come into its own. Almost two years after Valorant’s official release, the game has an impressive player base, a lucrative professional scene, and Riot is continuing to expand in-game content. For many, the game has been in constant rotation for a while now, but there are plenty of players that are picking it up for the first time and may benefit from some direction. Whether you’re brand new to the game, or still considering giving it a try, this guide will help you get a better understanding of Valorant.
Understanding How the Game Works
Now before you dive into a match and attempt to get a win, it’s best to understand the basics of how the game works and how to approach it. Each match puts two teams of five against one another with the ultimate objective of winning 13 rounds before the opposition does. A round can be won a few different ways; defusing the Spike, successfully detonating the Spike, or eliminating all five of your opponents. Exactly what your win condition is depends on which side you are playing for, however, each team is guaranteed to play both sides once per game. The two sides are referred to as attackers and defenders and the sides switch after 12 total rounds have been played. The attackers are trying to plant the Spike on a designated site on the map (this will be explained further), while the defenders are attempting to stop them from planting, and subsequently defusing if it is already planted.
Source: For the Win
Selecting Your Agent
Before each match begins, there is a waiting period where both teams select from a wide variety of characters known as Agents that all have their own unique abilities and equipment. An Agent can fall into one of four categories that determine the playstyle they best suit. The categories are Duelist, Initiator, Sentinel, and Controller. Duelists are designed to be aggressive and seek out engagements with enemies, Initiators are meant to help your team open up a site and gain map control, Sentinels are for locking down different areas of a map, and Controllers use their abilities to cut off enemy sitelines and create pathways for their team to pursue. A team can have any combination of these Agents (as long as an Agent isn’t selected twice on one team) but it is best to find a balanced mix to give your team the best all around chemistry.
The Buy Phase
Once the match starts, the buy phase will begin. This is the period of time where you can purchase weapons and abilities before you start attacking or defending each round. You will start off with a sidearm and one ability for free every round, but oftentimes it is best to upgrade. Fortunately, there are a plethora of options to choose from that are broken up into separate categories including sidearms, smgs, rifles, snipers, heavy, and shotgun. Each weapon type excels in specific situations, so testing all of them as you play can help you find the best pick for your gameplan. In addition, buying abilities is something you may want to prioritize when you can as they are variables that can even help a team with poor weaponry win a round. Purchasing items requires credits, which you are rewarded for your actions during the previous round. Eliminating enemies, planting the spike, defusing the spike, and surviving a round are some of the ways you can earn credits. Buying in coordination with your teammates is a good practice as it will help keep everyone around a similar amount of credits, preventing anyone from being unable to upgrade at the same time. However, a team that has a low number of credits may opt for a save round, where less items are purchased in order to save credits for the following round.
Learning the Valorant Maps
Everything so far can be applied to every match you play in Valorant, but the map you are playing on can change a few things. Currently, Riot has released seven maps for you to play on, which are Breeze, Split, Haven, Ascent, Icebox, Fracture, and Bind. Unlike most things in Valorant, you are unable to choose which map you play on as it is decided randomly prior to Agent selection. Each map is unique in its design, with some being smaller and more compact and others being large and complex, so the path to success is different for all. For example, you may want to craft a team of Agents whose abilities are better suited for the map you are playing. Communicating with your team through voice or text chat about your team composition can be crucial to the outcome of the match.
Likewise, purchasing certain weaponry may be a good option or a poor one depending on the map. If you are going to be playing areas of the map that are prone to close quarters engagements, a shotgun or smg may be more efficient than a sniper. The one aspect that remains constant throughout all maps however, are the designated sites where the attackers can plant the spike. Every map has either two or three of these sites (labeled A, B, or C) where defenders will want to secure and attackers will want to execute their plan. The design and location of these sites are different on each map, but you can rest assured that there will always be a couple. Some maps also include ziplines, closeable doors, and one-way teleporters that will become useful to you as you learn how to utilize them effectively.
Your Journey Through the Ranks
As you rise through the ranks of Valorant, new strategies and challenges will present themselves and you can learn from them to further your development as a player. Valorant is no doubt a complex game and becoming a skilled player will take time and dedication, but having a good understanding of the basics will help set the foundation for improvement. To get started or to learn more, visit the official Valorant website.
If you are looking for even more assistance in getting better at Valorant, check out our Valorant esports leagues where you can join a team and practice and compete every week while being coached by a Valorant expert. You can also test out our coaches by signing up for a private coaching session. Visit our private coaching page for more. To learn more about Valorant, head over to our Valorant webpage where we go into more specifics about the game and how to get involved in it.
Chase Mulonas is a 23 year old living in Grand Rapids, MI. Video games, Esports, and all forms of media are the things he is most passionate about and he is actively working to make a full-time career out of the combination of the two. In his free time he enjoys playing games with friends, collecting vinyl records, and watching professional esports.