Reading now: Valorant’s impactful hero abilities are an exciting departure from CSGO
Here's the moment that Valorant finally clicked for me we were on match point attacking site A of Bind, a compact, two-lane map with teleporters that connect its objective sites together. After losing myself and two other teammates to an entrenched sniper, our Sage narrowly planted the bomb and retreated to Showers unscathed. As she reached safety, she used her ultimate ability to revive me. We could see the bomb from our positions, so all we had to do was defend. Fortunately I was playing Cypher, a covert spy with the best kit for the job.
I tossed my surveillance camera on a nearby wall overlooking the bomb and covered our flank with a cloaked tripwire. I watched through the camera as the enemy Viper’s poisonous wall erupted in front of the bomb and cut off our best sightline. Instead of pushing, we waited for the sound that signaled they started defusing. Right as it sounded, I shot a tracking dart from the camera blind through the poison wall and stuck the defusing Viper, exposing her silhouette through walls for a brief moment. We used the opportunity to peek from Showers and simultaneously kill Viper and the Jett protecting her.
It was a deeply satisfying fight. Like a clutch round of Rainbow Six Siege, I used an intelligence gadget to gain the upper hand and help a teammate nab an important kill. So much of Valorant is Riot doing its best imitation of Counter-Strike’s rigid gunplay and strategic weapon economy, but I definitely can’t do this in CS:GO.
After a weekend with Valorant, I’m loving how its interpretations of equipment like flash and smoke grenades transform simple tools into character-defining skills. Take Phoenix’s Curveball, a flash grenade that only travels left or right, or Viper’s Poison Cloud, a noxious smoke plume that consumes a shared tank of fuel that powers her other abilities. The ghostly Omen has a version of a smoke grenade, but he can precisely channel it through walls and combine his short-range teleport skill to disappear into it.
The bones of CS:GO are here, but with a lot of magical assists wrapped around them. There is no universal equipment that anyone can buy, so your role is limited by your agent’s abilities. There’s a great spread of overlapping utility between Valorant’s nine agents that gave me the impression that any team composition can satisfy a team’s tactical needs. Since it’s easy to cover the basics, I felt a lot of headroom to pick whoever I felt like playing. Most of the time, that was my robo-buddy Cypher. On defense, I appreciate the security of his tripwires that spot enemies through walls when triggered. Cloaked tripwires might sound oppressive for attackers, but they’re easily spotted if an enemy is walking (holding the Shift key). Both teams' agent lineups are public information from the get-go, too, so it’s easy to know when to expect traps.