The Valorant closed beta started on April 7, 2020, and today Riot's tactical shooter is turning one year old. What changed for the past 12 months? Here's our overview!
Exactly one year ago from today, Valorant entered closed beta. Players were itching to try out the brand-new tactical shooter by Riot Games set out to kill CS:GO. Viewership on Twitch was skyrocketing. Twelve months later a lot has changed about Valorant and a lot hasn't. Let's dig in (TL;DR at the bottom).
Did Valorant kill CS:GO?
No... maybe? Valve's tactical shooter is still as popular as ever and there's no sign of players leaving the title. In the meantime, Valorant has also gathered quite the player base. Looking at the competitive scene, many pro players from CS:GO decided to switch sides and look for better career opportunities in Valorant. That's surely saying something.
Riot Games have done an amazing job in terms of marketing and developing the game's esports scene. It all started with the Ignition Series which celebrated the game's release in June 2020. That was followed by Valorant First Strike which offered us the best of the best in each region.
With the beginning of 2021, Riot had even bigger plans with the Valorant Champions Tour. A series of tournaments that offer amateurs a chance to make it big and even a dose of international play at the upcoming Masters 2 Reykjavik and Valorant Champions in December.
The fact that many players are leaving a well-established scene like CS:GO's is saying one of two things:
- They weren't having that much success in CS:GO
- Valorant's esports scene is better
It could be one, it could be both, but we've already seen numerous successful CS:GO players ditching Valve's game for Valorant.
What changed in Valorant for the past year?
Initially, the number of agents in the closed beta was set to 10. A year later, players have access to 50% more agents with the most recent release being Astra. Currently, the roster offers more to choose from, which allows for more counterplay and that's always welcome. So far, Riot have released a new agent with each new Act and that's probably going to continue, so the number of agents will keep on increasing.
How many Maps does Valorant have?
When it comes down to maps things aren't looking so great. Valorant's closed beta offered three maps - Bind, Haven, and Split. With the official release in June, we saw the addition of Ascent, and later in November 2020, Riot introduced Icebox. That's a total of five maps in one year. No matter from what angle you look at it, that's a really low number. Similar competitive multiplayer titles started out with a much more maps:
- CS:GO started with 6 maps and the number quickly increased. Currently, there are 40+?
- Overwatch started out with 12 maps, and now it's almost over 30
Valorant might be the competitive shooter with the fewest maps maybe ever. Will that number increase in 2021? Considering it's already April and there has been no news of a new map, looking at it optimistically, Riot might add one more map this year. Oof.
Now that's a tricky one. Back in the closed beta, players were screaming "OP" left and right, and it usually involved Raze. A year later, some agents like Sage have received solid nerfs that toned their powers down. Raze, on the other hand, is still capable of killing your entire team with abilities and that's never fun. It's certain that the game is in a better state since the closed beta, a lot of agents were balanced, but some characters just don't feel like they care about gun play. Something that was advertised before Valorant released.
You'll need all your creativity and style to win: can't count on cheats or internet lag to help you. We sent the team on a war against peeker's advantage and aimbots.— nicolo (@niiicolo) October 16, 2019
Riot actually addressed this statement later in one of their blog posts:
If this promise was the thing that made you come to try VALORANT, we’re sorry if we misled you, even unintentionally. But our position is, and has been, that abilities that deal damage are a core part of tactical games—whether it be VALORANT or other tac shooters. - Morello
Skins / Battle Pass
If there's one thing Valorant isn't lacking it's definitely skins. Visual bundles are released quite often and offer different themes and various levels of quality and price. The most basic ones are just a recolor, others offer cool animations. There's also the ultra epic Elderflame, which costs more than a triple-A title. Skins are also found within the Battle Pass for each Act.
The game's monetization system is a bit weird and many players seem to think that the skins are just too expensive. Once you buy a certain bundle, you'll soon realize that it can be upgraded even further, but that'll cost you even more money.
The Vanguard anti-cheat
Last, but certainly not least, is Riot's state of the anti-cheat Vanguard that was set to stop cheaters forever. Plot twist, it didn't. In order to even start Valorant you need to be running Vanguard which has kernel-level access to your system, meaning it starts before Windows, and it's always active. Riot added options to disable Vanguard when not playing Valorant, but if you want to jump back in, you'll still have to restart your computer.
We've heard your feedback about not knowing what the anti-cheat does, and our team has been working tirelessly to address it. We're excited to announce that today, we will be leveling the playing field for cheaters through the power of open source. https://t.co/HhRRcmwd1D— Riot Vanguard (@RiotVanguard) April 1, 2021
On top of that, players are still reporting occasional issues like FPS drops, sudden restarts, and more. This would've all been fine if there were no cheaters in Valorant, but the case is quite the opposite. We've even seen pro players get manual bans in pro matches since the anti-cheat failed to detect their malicious software. Ironic.
TL;DR: Valorant didn't kill CS:GO, but it pulled a lot of players from it thanks to the nice esports scene. The number of agents increased, but there aren't nearly enough new maps. Balance is subjective, there are tons of skins and Vanguard still causes issues sometimes.
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