Excitement continues to swell in the first-person shooter community for VALORANT, League of Legends developer Riot Games' first foray into the FPS genre.
With character reveals and gameplay details continuing to trickle out, we've built a one-stop shop for all things Valorant, from agent details to ability breakdowns and what you can expect from the game.
What is VALORANT?
VALORANT is a tactical first-person shooter developed by League of Legends creator Riot Games. The game is akin to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive in its five-on-five, round-based gameplay as well as the option to purchase different weapons with some alterations, including being able to purchase abilities for your agent and the inclusion of "ultimate" abilities akin to the heroes in Overwatch.
That said, VALORANT is nothing like Overwatch, and it's distanced enough from CS:GO, too. The game's Alpha stage featured nine agents and two maps -- one with two plant sites and another with three. The core objective of each round is to either eliminate the enemy team or complete a defense or attack the plant sites, depending on which side you're on. Offensive players must plant a bomb called a Spike at one of the plant sites and protect it until it detonates, while defensive players will try to stop their opponents from planting or defuse the Spike if it gets set. The first team to win 13 rounds wins the match.
When is VALORANT available?
The Alpha and an esports pro/influencer/media bootcamp are already wrapped up, and the closed beta for VALORANT begins April 7. From there, it's a bit murkier, with a release date tabbed as "Summer 2020" for the title.
Gameplay reveal date: April 2
"Keep up." -- Jett
Riot Games released another short trailer profiling a new character from the studio's upcoming tactical first-person shooter Valorant. South Korea is the unofficial esports mecca, and while other countries may have larger player bases and leagues, South Korea will always be esports' first home, going back all the way to the days of Starcraft. It wasn't a question of whether VALORANT would have a South Korean character, but when they would announce one. On April 2, Jett was announced. Voiced by Korean pop star Shannon Williams, Jett quickly rose up the community ranks as an agent that people can't wait to play.
We took a deep dive into the development of Jett when she was announced. Here's a look at her abilities as well.
Cloudburst: Smoke is a key tactical element in a lot of first-person shooters and VALORANT is no different. Jett's Cloudburst offers zone control and blocks enemy vision with a smoke bomb. Jett can also bend Cloudburst's trajectory.
Tailwind: Tailwind is a simple dash ability. Jett by design is a quick and lethal entry fragger if played well and Tailwind gives her an extra burst of speed in whatever direction she's facing at the time.
Ultimate: Blade Storm -- This is where people will compare Jett to the likes of Akali or Irelia in VALORANT's sister game, League of Legends. Jett's ultimate abandons the game's guns for a set of knives that she can throw for instant headshot kills or lesser damage with a body shot. Blade Storm resets if Jett manages to get a hill while her ultimate is up. Jett can also throw all of her knives at a shorter range with a right-click.
Final thoughts: VALORANT game designer Bobby Prochnow put it best when describing people who will want to play Jett to our own Tyler Erzberger.
"In the right hands, she can out-skill her way through any situation with elegance and grace," Prochnow said. "In the wrong hands, she's a dashing potato that forces your team to 4v5. Welcome home, Yasuo mains."
The "my team's Jett vs. an opponent's Jett" memes are already percolating. You may like Jett if:
You main Tracer in Overwatch
You love any sort of assassin movies and TV shows
You are a Yasuo main in League of Legends
Jett is a flashy character both in design and top-tier execution, but that execution isn't always going to be there for most players. There are going to be a lot of Jett mains in the initial VALORANT beta who will be dead for most of their matches before they grow accustomed to her. Jett's success in a game will also rely heavily on positioning and coordinating with teammates, timing her dashes appropriately so that she can open up possibilities for her team by getting the first quick hits in.
-- Emily Rand
Gameplay reveal date: March 26
"Let them try to get through me!" -- Sage
Riot Games released another character gameplay trailer March 26 for VALORANT, the studio's upcoming tactical first-person shooter. The latest reveal is of Sage a medic from China who focuses on crowd control, support and defense and can revive downed teammates.
Sage carries various orbs, and in brief gameplay footage looks inspired by characters such as Overwatch's Mei, Zenyatta and Mercy or Apex Legends' Lifeline. She is the one eight initial characters revealed in Valorant.
Here's what we know about VALORANT's first defense-oriented character:
Slow Orb -- Sage's Slow Orb puts down a wide green sludge after impact with the ground, slowing enemies, as well as grounding them and causing their footsteps to make noise as they walk through it. In the trailer, Sage uses this ability to slow an enemy, then executes them while their movement is restricted.
Barrier Orb -- Sage conjures a wall that can section off parts of the map and be rotated in any direction. Casting under herself allows her to vault Sage or her allies, for a positional advantage, or separate them from opponents.
Healing Orb -- Self-explanatory, but Sage's healing orb allows her to heal either herself or teammates over a few-second time frame. Some big Omnic energy here.
Ultimate: Resurrection -- Sage's ultimate allows her to target a friendly corpse and revive that ally, but the game-changing ability comes with a several-second delay, which exposes Sage to attack from enemies. Use this ability wisely, as it could result in your own demise.
Final thoughts: Sage's game revolves around the ability to play smart, understanding and predicting where opponents might be and positioning yourself relative to your team where you can safely use your Resurrection and Healing Orbs. But Sage is not all defense. She can be used for aggression, too, by making good use of the Slow Orb and the Barrier Orb to hinder opponents and give yourself and teammates the high ground, as seen in the trailer.
Sage has already been compared to Mei and Zenyatta from Overwatch, and understandably so, given the Barrier Orb and the use of orbs in general. But there may be fans of other characters and other games who will also enjoy her:
Lifeline and Wattson players in Apex Legends
Healers in World of Warcraft
Defense-oriented real-time strategy players
Mastering Sage will come with time, and learning the ins-and-outs of VALORANT, particularly its maps and other characters' game flow, will be even more key for her support-oriented style. She'll take dedication and smart players: ones who are willing to patient, hang back and not get all the glory, but set up others for it.
-- Jacob Wolf
Gameplay reveal date: March 19
"Wherever they run, I will find them." -- Sova
Riot Games released another short trailer profiling a new character from the studio's upcoming tactical first-person shooter Valorant. From the snowy mountains of Russia, Sova is someone you wouldn't want to ghost in a texting conversation -- with his tracking arrows, he will find you. The love child of Orlando Bloom as Legolas in the Lord of the Rings franchise and Henry Cavill as Geralt in The Witcher, this expert tracker is ready for the games to begin.
Here is what we know so far about VALORANT'S Russian operative with the flowing locks.
Owl Drone -- What is a world-renowned spy without his trusty ... mechanical owl? The first thing shown in Sova's trailer is the agent deploying his owl-like drone from his wrist to scout further ahead into the map. Not only can Sova's robotic pal scout for him, but the owl drone can also shoot darts at the opponents, revealing any enemies who are hit.
Recon Bolt -- The other ability of Sova's on display in the trailer is his Recon Bolt. With one enemy on the opposing side remaining, Sova fires his cybernetic arrow into an area where he believes the final adversary might be hiding. When his arrow lands, it deploys a sonar emitter, pinging any nearby enemies and revealing them. Luckily for Sova's opponents, Recon Bolts can be destroyed.
Shock Bolt -- Not featured in the trailer, Sova can fire an electrical bolt which damages upon impact.
Ultimate: Hunter's Fury -- What's better than one rocket-like energy blast? How about three? When activated, Sova's ultimate Hunter's Fury allows the agent to become the ultimate sniper, allowing him to fire up to three high-damage spears that can fly across the length of the entire map, heavily damaging and marking any enemy he hits. If Russia needs another member for its Olympic archery team, Sova seems like a good choice.
Final thoughts: Where Phoenix was about showstopping plays and Viper controlling crowds with her poison, Sova is far more tactical in his approach to eliminating his foes. A mix between a carry and a scout, Sova is a nice blend of offense and intel, making him a valuable member of any VALORANT team. When it comes to combat, it appears as if long range will be Sova's sweet spot, using his slew of tracking items to sniff out the opposition and then pepper them from afar with his futuristic arrows. And if that doesn't work, he can just activate his ultimate and become fully scorned, firing across the map with nukes at will.
Here is a list of people who I believe will enjoy playing Sova:
Ashe mains in League of Legends
Hanzo mains in Overwatch
Hunters in World of Warcraft
People who think they're good at darts on a Friday night after a drink or two
Dungeons & Dragons enthusiasts
People who still check the social media of their ex-significant others
To master Sova, it's all going to be about knowing when and where to scout properly. If you can save your Recon Bolts for opportune times, it's going to make number advantages feel like checkmate for the opposing side. For the impatient Sova players, however, who think there's an enemy around every trash can or wall, get ready for a lot of complaining from your teammates.
-- Tyler Erzberger
Gameplay reveal date: March 12
"Welcome to my world!" -- Viper
Riot Games' March 12 profiled a new character from the studio's upcoming tactical first-person shooter VALORANT. An agent from the United States, Viper, as her name suggests, is all about poison, using her biological warfare to get the upper hand on the opposition. If you're not good at holding your breath, you're not going to have a good time playing against Viper.
Here is what we know so far about Valorant's queen of toxicity:
Poison Cloud -- The first ability shown in Viper's trailer is her Poison Cloud, which, as the name suggests, creates a fatal cloud of poison that can stop the enemy in their tracks. As with some of her other abilities, Viper has a fuel meter, where her venomous roadblocks dissipate when her tank reaches empty.
Toxic Screen -- Similar to Phoenix's Blaze spell where the British operative can form a wall of fire, Viper can do the same with her toxic gas. As seen in the trailer being used alongside her Poison Cloud, the one-two combo is perfect for crowd control to plant the Spike (Valorant's version of a bomb) and force your opponent to play into your hands.
Snakebite -- Not featured in the trailer, this is Viper's ability where she fires a projectile that explodes into a pool of damaging acid.
Ultimate: Viper's Pit -- This is where the map really becomes her playground. When activated, Viper emits a massive, poisonous cloud, where unlike her other poisonous roadblocks, won't dissolve from a lack of fuel. Instead, as long as Viper stays alive within her toxic domain, Viper's Pit will remain. Also, any enemy that steps inside the Pit will be highlighted for Viper to have an easier time to take down.
Final thoughts: Crowd control, crowd control, crowd control. When it comes to Viper and what makes her special, it's all about how she can bend the map into her favor. With her poisonous walls and clouds, Viper can make any map an unbeatable obstacle course for the enemy. All of Viper's tools make her the perfect agent to deploy the Spike on the offensive, her ultimate forcing the defense to run into her domain than the other way around.
Here is a list of people who I believe will enjoy playing Viper:
Singed mains in League of Legends
Mei mains in Overwatch
Mages in World of Warcraft
People who enjoy forcing others to take the long route to things instead of taking a shortcut
Fans of the game series Fallout
To master Viper, controlling her fuel tank and knowing when and where to utilize her crowd control weapons will be key. For the top Viper players, she will become a headache for the entirety of a match for the enemy. To the players who don't use her correctly, the only toxic thing about her will be your teammates trash-talking you in game chat.
Gameplay reveal date: March 5
"Oh, you wanna play? Let's play." -- Phoenix
Riot Games released a short trailer on March 5 profiling the first agent from the studio's upcoming tactical first-person shooter VALORANT. Hailing from the United Kingdom, Phoenix is one of the eight agents confirmed to be playable in the game, his fiery aesthetic going hand-in-hand with his gameplay.
Here is what we know so far about Valorant's resident firestarter:
Curveball -- The first ability shown in the trailer is Phoenix's signature ability, Curveball. With a snap of his fingers, the UK operative can create a flare and weave it around walls. After a short delay, the flare bursts, blinding all that look at the fireworks show. I'm sure Counter-Strike fans will be amused by this literal flashbang.
Blaze -- After Curveball and a solo kill on the enemy Jett, Phoenix shows off another one of his unique abilities, Blaze, where he can cast a curving wall that blocks vision from the opposing side and damages anyone who passes through the flames.
Hot Hands -- Hot Hands is one of Phoenix's abilities not shown in the trailer. His own personal Hadouken from Street Fighter, Phoenix throws out a fireball that detonates following a short delay, or explodes on impact. The fire zone left behind deals damage to enemies but will heal Phoenix.
Ultimate: Run it Back -- For a cocky character, there is no better ultimate than Run it Back. While not shown in the short trailer, Run it Back is your chance to go for the big play without the fear of your team flaming you if you don't get the job done. When Phoenix has enough points to activate his ultimate, you can press "X," marking your current location on the map. If you perish during your ultimate's time limit, like the mythical firebird itself, Phoenix will rise from the ashes at your marked location, ready to have another chance at winning the round.
Final thoughts: Overall, Phoenix is a straightforward character. An aggressive damage dealer, expect this agent to be highly coveted when the game releases and a staple for top fraggers when the game transitions into a full-blown esport.
In the hands of good players, Phoenix is going to be a showstopper, his ultimate a chance for a one-on-five to be actually doable if the player can pilot the agent correctly.
In the hands of first-timers and not-so-great players, get ready for a lot of wasted ultimates and Leeroy Jenkins moments with this aggro agent.