Everyone knows that League of Legends is Riot Games' success par excellence. Published for the very first time more than ten years ago, the trend-setting MOBA has, over the years, become one of the most popular games on Earth, gathering around it a very lively and active community of players as well as contributing significantly to the rise of esports with numerous tournaments and competitions held worldwide. Although the flame of League of Legends is still burning brightly, the time has come for Riot Games to try something other than its "golden goose" - a fresh, innovative IP that can bring them back to the fore.
With that in mind, last October, on the occasion of League's tenth anniversary, Riot Games made a number of announcements pertaining to new projects that it has in the works (of course, many of them linked to the studio's masterpiece), together with a mysterious free-to-play tactical-FPS, halfway between Overwatch and Counter-Strike, previously called Project A. Finally, Riot Games has lifted their veil on Project A with a proper reveal event, during which we discovered its official name - Valorant - as well as a bunch of new details.
Staying true to its competitive DNA, Riot's new tactical shooter is a 5v5 character-focused game, and it's currently slated for a PC-only launch. However, in a genre that could be considered saturated, why should players be interested? Let's start with the foundational world-building upon which the game stands. Although only a few plot details have been shared (more will be revealed later, Riot has promised), the main thing you need to know is that Valorant is set on near-future Earth, where heroes (or agents) descend from existing cultures found all over the world. Like we've seen before in past hero-shooters, each character in the roster boasts a unique set of skills that complement the true core of Valorant, the gunplay, which itself is lethal, precise and realistic.
Any shot can change the fate of a game, which is why agents will have a large arsenal of weapons at their disposal. These can be purchased via a round-to-round economic system, and each has its own strengths and strategic value. Even more important, however, is knowing how to use these weapons in the right way. As Riot reiterated during the presentation, a player holding a handgun with a steady aim can easily overpower an inaccurate sniper. This means the abilities of each agent have less influence on the fate of a game than a well-aimed headshot. Instead, these unique abilities are used as an alternative way of approaching different situations.
Speaking of different approaches, the map design also seems to play an important role. Each arena in Valorant is designed to support a range of different playstyles. As for the structure of each game, Riot has gone for a best-of-24 format with two teams of five facing off against one another, where only one team is attacking and the other is defending at any given moment. During each game, unlike in other hero-shooters, players can't change their agent and your choice remains the same until the conclusion of a match. You'll need to pick carefully, then.
There are two other important things that Riot detailed during the presentation. One of them, in fact, had already been presented at the game's teaser last October, and that's proprietary anti-cheat technology that will be available from launch. To combat wallhacks, for example, Valorant uses an exclusive system called 'Fog of War', which doesn't let you see the position of players until just before contact. To make life harder for cheaters, Riot has also introduced League's anti-tampering system along with a new anti-cheat platform called Vanguard. It's a proprietary tool that has constantly evolving detection methods and the ability to instantly ban cheaters. If by chance the system detects a cheat, the game will be immediately ended. What's more, Valorant's own server infrastructure prevents players from using tricks like speed boosts or teleportation cheats.
The other important thing is related to the quality and infrastructure of the servers. Valorant will have dedicated 120-tick servers (where "tickrate" means how many times per-second your client is updated by the server you're playing on), absolutely free and available for all players. In addition, Valorant's servers manage to sample all player movements at 128 FPS, so even if your opponent is lagging due to a poor internet connection, the servers will automatically increase their movements to make them fluid at 128 FPS. Another reason behind this robust infrastructure is to avoid so-called 'Peeker's Advantage', a common technical obstacle in shooters where, due to poor quality networks and other such server problems, an attacking player can sometimes see (and therefore shoot at) a defending player before the defending player has a fair chance to react.
It seems that Riot has thought of everything, then. But what kind of gaming rig will you have to own if you want to play? The company's goal was to make it accessible for as many people as possible. That being the case, here are the minimum, recommended, and high-end specs:
CPU: Intel i3-370M
GPU: Interl HD 3000
CPU: Intel i3-4150
GPU: Geforce GT 730
CPU: Intel Corei5-4460 3.2 GHz
GPU: GTX 1050 Ti
For all PC players, Windows 7/8/10 64-bit, 4 GB RAM and 1GB of VRAM are required.
But what about the game's launch? If Valorant has intrigued you, you will be pleased to know that Riot's tactical-FPS will be available during summer 2020, even if the company isn't ready to commit to a fixed release date just yet. The developer isn't ready to confirm a console version either, as it is "fully focused on the PC version at moment" (although we expect more information in the coming months).
Another important thing that Valorant shares with League of Legends is that this new game is potentially infinite and the idea is very much to continuously renew it with new characters and maps to keep things fresh and hopefully satisfy a thriving community that will grow over time. If its fate is in any way similar to that of League of Legends, Valorant's future will be bright.