Riot gave us another glimpse of what’s coming.

Valorant: Fighting Smurfs and a PBE Server on the Way

Valorant
Ask Valorant smurfs PBE server

Image credit: Riot Games

Valorant’s latest #AskValorant blog post is out. In this week's edition Riot Games talk about fighting smurfs and a PBE test server soon.

Riot’s tactical shooter Valorant is about to get more attention. Another week, another Valorant blog post. In the latest edition Riot Games talk about smurfing, a new test server, and weekly challenges.

The Battle Against Smurfs

Smurfing is a common issue in most multiplayer titles. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, a smurf is someone who made a new account in order to play against players of a lower rank. The results of that discourage new players from sticking with the game as they’re given the illusion that their opponents are much better.

Smurfing always sucks, especially when you have rank on the line. While it’s hard to stop smurfing entirely in a free-to-play game, we are taking action to combat it. Right now we have a behind-the-scenes system for Unrated as well as one that applies to Iron through Diamond ranked players. The latter tracks an individual’s performance and notices when a player makes a highly disproportionate impact in a game. We then quickly boost them to harder matches and higher ranks in Competitive.

We stop leveraging this system for Immortal+ players because there isn't a ton of room to smurf or play down when you are already near the top ranks. Longer term, we’re also looking at ways to further accelerate placing smurfs into appropriately skilled matches. But right now we are prioritizing some improvements to our core rank system and leaderboards ahead of that.

Riot’s plan to fight smurfing is to propel these players into higher ranks much quicker where games will be significantly harder. This seems good on paper but it might open a whole new world of account sellers.

Valorant logo Riot Games

Image Credit: Riot Games

A Valorant Test Server Is on the Way

If you’ve played League of Legends, you’re probably familiar with the PBE. It’s a separate dedicated server where every new patch is available to play. This way Riot can get more data on the upcoming changes they plan to implement, and players get to experience what’s coming before it’s officially out.

We will be creating a selectively updated pre-release environment, or PBE, some time in the first half of 2021. Specific features/queues will be advertised or limited and patches will be targeted for a certain length of time in advance of going live.

For those that are familiar with the League of Legends PBE, this will serve a similar purpose. We hope to expand on what we have learned and provide an early access experience that does not drastically differ from the live version of VALORANT, but still allows for a glimpse into what we are working on. This will also help us to gather more information so we can capture performance changes and expose bugs early that players might run into.

That’s certainly good news but it’ll be some time before “the first half of 2021” which could be anywhere between January and June.

More Weekly Challenges?

The goal of weekly challenges was to provide a bulk source of XP progress and tie some playful texture to the progression experience. To be frank, we're not happy with the current state, as some of them can be a grind. It's also been difficult to strike the right balance between interesting missions and not promoting unhealthy play patterns (eg. playing only to harvest orbs and use your ult).

Our short term outlook is to reduce the completion requirement for many weeklies in Act III and remove the worst offenders completely. So hopefully these changes, along with the extended length of Act III, many more of you will progress further and faster into the Battlepass.

Long term, we want to revisit how to keep game-to-game progression engaging. It's still early, but we have a design that seems promising for further exploration.

Riot seem to agree with the community that the current state of weekly challenges is – disappointing. Fear not, as Act III will introduce some changes and make it easier to level up your Battlepass!

Stay tuned for more Valorant news and check EarlyGame or the EarlyGame YouTube channel for everything gaming and esports.

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