Riot Games’ Valorant is a tactical take on the Overwatch formula

Riot Games is entering the hero-shooter genre with Valorant, but it’s not another Overwatch or Team Fortress 2 clone.

The League of Legends developer is leaning into tactical and precise gunplay as displayed in a preview that showed what to expect before the game officially arrives this summer.

The first Valorant gameplay preview, shown via an internal developer session rather than a scripted video, immediately conveys how the game differs from Overwatch. Players aren’t locked into a set loadout based on the hero they select and can choose between weapons in several categories and buy them on the fly. Matches flow similarly to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive or Rainbow Six Siege, with only a few hits necessary to die. The five-versus-five mode showcased in the video also disables respawning, meaning players have to think twice before moving to a new area.

However, the heroes’ abilities do feel very similar to Overwatch, as they’re able to put up barriers and use “ultimate” attacks. Another can fire a player-sensing dart that is very similar to Hanzo’s sonic arrow, showing their outlines through the walls and barriers.

One hero uses a wind ability to create small cyclones, preventing others from moving through key areas. In combination with teammates flanking from around the corner, it lets them keep the enemy from advancing. These abilities remain utilitarian, with precise shooting and teamwork still being the most important factor in whether a team wins.

Still, it’s clear Riot Games wants precision to matter much more in Valorant than in a typical hero shooter. The game will use 128-tick servers, which should reduce input lag — it’s the same tick rate used by Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, which is prized for its precision. On computers dating back a decade, Riot Games said the game will run at 30 frames per second minimum, while more advanced systems can get to 144 frames per second.

Valorant was first detailed in 2019 as “Project A,” and Riot Games explained that it would take place on Earth, separate from the League of Legends universe. The game comes to PC this summer with strong anti-cheat measures out of the gate and global data centers with as little as 35ms in latency.

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