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Valorant logo - pink color version.svg
Developer(s)Riot Games
Publisher(s)Riot Games
  • David Nottingham
  • Joe Ziegler
  • Anna Donlon
  • John Goscicki
  • Trevor Romleski
  • Salvatore Garozzo
  • Paul Chamberlain
  • Dave Heironymus
  • David Straily
Artist(s)Moby Francke
Composer(s)Jesse Harlin[1]
EngineUnreal Engine 4
Platform(s)Microsoft Windows
ReleaseJune 2, 2020
Genre(s)First-person shooter

Valorant (stylized as VALORANT) is a free-to-play hero shooter developed and published by Riot Games, for Microsoft Windows. First teased under the codename Project A in October 2019, the game began a closed beta period with limited access on April 7, 2020, followed by an official release on June 2, 2020. The development of the game started in 2014.


Valorant is a team-based tactical shooter and first-person shooter set in the near future.[2][3][4][5] Players play as one of a set of agents, characters designed based on several countries and cultures around the world.[5] In the main game mode, players are assigned to either the attacking or defending team with each team having five players on it. Agents have unique abilities, each requiring charges, as well as a unique ultimate ability that requires charging through kills, deaths, or spike actions. Every player starts each round with a "classic" pistol and one or more "signature ability" charges.[3] Other weapons and ability charges can be purchased using an in-game economic system that awards money based on the outcome of the previous round, any kills the player is responsible for, and any actions taken with the spike. The game has an assortment of weapons including secondary guns like sidearms and primary guns like submachine guns, shotguns, machine guns, assault rifles and sniper rifles.[6][7] There are automatic and semi-automatic weapons that each have a unique shooting pattern that has to be controlled by the player to be able to shoot accurately.[7] Different agents allow players to find more ways to plant the Spike and style on enemies with scrappers, strategists, and hunters of every description. It currently offers 15 agents to choose from.[8][9] They are Brimstone, Phoenix, Sage, Sova, Viper, Cypher, Reyna, Killjoy, Breach, Omen, Jett, Raze, Skye, Yoru, and Astra.


In the standard non-ranked mode, the match is played as best of 25 - the first team to win 13 rounds wins the match. The attacking team has a bomb-type device called the Spike. They must deliver and activate the Spike on one of the multiple specified locations (bomb sites). If the attacking team successfully protects the activated Spike for 45 seconds it detonates, destroying everything in a specific area, and they receive a point.[3] If the defending team can deactivate the spike, or the 100-second round timer expires without the attacking team activating the spike, the defending team receives a point.[10] If all the members of a team are eliminated before the spike is activated, or if all members of the defending team are eliminated after the spike is activated, the opposing team earns a point.[3] If both teams win 12 rounds, sudden death occurs, in which the winning team of that round wins the match, differing from overtime for competitive matches. Additionally, if after 4 rounds, a team wishes to forfeit that match, they may request a vote to surrender. If the vote is unanimous, the winning team gets all the victory credit for every round needed to bring them to 13, with the forfeiting team receiving losing credit.[11] A team gets only two chances to surrender: one as the attackers and the other as the defenders.

Spike Rush

In the Spike Rush mode, the match is played as best of 7 rounds - the first team to win 4 rounds wins the match. Players begin the round with all abilities fully charged except their ultimate, which charges twice as fast as in standard games. All players on the attacking team carry a spike, but only one spike may be activated per round. Guns are randomized in every round and every player begins with the same gun. Ultimate point orbs in the standard game are present, but there are multiple power-up orbs instead.[12]


Competitive matches are the same as unranked matches with the addition of a win-based ranking system which assigns a rank to each player after 5 games are played. Before you can play in competitive games, you will need to win 10 unrated matches beforehand.[13] In July 2020, Riot introduced a "win by two" condition for competitive matches, where instead of playing a single sudden death round at 12-12, teams will alternate playing rounds on attack and defense in overtime until a team claims victory by securing a two-match lead. Each overtime round gives players the same amount of money to purchase guns and abilities, as well as approximately half of their ultimate ability charge. After each group of two rounds, players may vote to end the game in a draw, requiring 6 players after the first set, 3 after the second, and thereafter only 1 player to agree to a draw. The competitive ranking system ranges from iron to radiant. Every rank but immortal and radiant has 3 tiers.[14][12]


The Deathmatch mode was introduced on August 5, 2020.[15] 14 players enter a 9-minute free-for-all match and the first person to reach 40 kills or the player who has the most kills when time is up wins the match. Players spawn in with a random agent, and all abilities are disabled during the match which indulges pure gunplay. Green health packs drop on every kill, which set the player at maximum health, armor, and ammunition, unless the player is using a machine gun, which only gives the player an additional 30 bullets.[16]


The Escalation gamemode was introduced in February 2021 and is similar to the "gungame" concept found in Counter-Strike and Call of Duty: Black Ops, though it is team-based rather than free-for-all with 5 players on each team. The game will pick a random selection of 12 weapons to move through. As with other gungame versions, a team needs to get a certain number of kills to advance to the next weapon and the weapons get progressively worse as the team moves through them.[17] There are two winning conditions, if one team successfully goes through all 12 levels, or if one team is on a higher level than the opposing team within 10 minutes. Just like Deathmatch, players spawn in as a random agent, unable to use abilities, as the gamemode is set for pure gun fights. Though, abilities like Sova's shock darts, Raze's boom bot, and rocket launcher, are abilities that everyone gets to use as a weapon. After a kill green health packs drop, which replenishes the player's health, armor, and ammo to its maximum. The gamemode also has auto respawns on, respawning players in random locations around the map.[18]


There are a large variety of playable agents available in the game. Each agent has a different class which indicates how the agent is usually played. Duelists are the offensive line, which specializes in attacking and entry fragging for the team. Duelists include Jett, Phoenix, Reyna, Raze, and Yoru.[19] Sentinels are the defensive line, which specializes in locking down sites and protecting teammates from enemies. Sentinels include Sage, Cypher, and Killjoy.[19] Next are initiators who plan out the offensive pushes. Initiators specialize in breaking through defensive enemy positions. Initiators include Skye, Sova, and Breach.[19] The last class are the Controllers, who specialize in setting their team up for success. They use their heavy utility to control sightlines on the map. Controllers include Viper, Brimstone, Omen and Astra.[19]


Valorant was developed and published by Riot Games, the studio behind League of Legends.[20][5] Development started in 2014, within their research and development division.[2] Joe Ziegler, Valorant's game director, is credited with the initial idea of Valorant while formulating potential games with other Riot developers.[2] David Nottingham is the creative director for Valorant.[2] Trevor Romleski, former League of Legends's designer and Salvatore Garozzo, former professional player and map designer for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive are game designers for Valorant.[21] Moby Francke, former Valve developer, who has been art and character designer for Half-Life 2 and Team Fortress 2, is the art director.[22][23]

Valorant was developed with two main focuses: making tactical shooters and e-sports more accessible to new players, and creating a game that would attract a large competitive scene, while solving many of the points of criticism voiced by professional players from games in the genre.[24][25][26] Games aimed at large, active communities and playerbases, typically free-to-play games like Fortnite or Riot's own League of Legends, tend to put an emphasis on a wider array of system performance improvements and game stability rather than newer technologies or graphics as a way of making sure they're as accessible as possible. In interviews leading up to the game's launch, game director Joe Ziegler and producer Anna Donlon said that Valorant was made for people playing their first tactical shooter just as much as it was for professional players, and that accessibility of the game was a large priority.[25]

Riot chose to develop Valorant using Unreal Engine 4, which the development team said would allow it to focus on gameplay and optimizations rather than spending time on core systems.[27][28] To meet the goal of a lower performance barrier so more people could play Valorant, the team set notably low minimum and recommended hardware requirements for the game. To reach 30 frames per second on these small requirements, the game's engineering team, led by Marcus Reid, who previously worked on Gears of War 4, had to make several modifications to the engine. These modifications included editing the renderer using the engine's mobile rendering path as base, or reworking the game's lighting systems to fit the static lighting that tactical shooters often require, as to not interfere with gameplay.[27] Unreal's modern underpinnings also helped to solve many of the issues that Riot set out to solve from other games in the genre, and additional modifications helped to meet the game's other goal of creating a suitable competitive environment, including optimizing server performance by disabling character animations in non-combat situations and removing unnecessary evaluations in the hit registration process.[29][25][27] During development, Riot Games made promises to work towards a ping of less than 35 milliseconds for at least 70% of the game's players.[30] To accomplish this, Riot promised servers in or near most major cities in the world, as well as working with internet service providers to set up dedicated connections to those servers.[30] Due to the increase in internet traffic during the COVID-19 pandemic, Riot has had trouble optimizing connections and ping to their promised levels.[31]


Valorant was teased under a tentative title Project A in October 2019.[32] It was announced on March 1, 2020, with a gameplay video on YouTube called "The Round".[5][33][34] The closed beta of the game was launched on April 7, 2020.[32] For a chance to obtain a beta access key, players were required to sign up for accounts with both Riot Games and the streaming platform Twitch and watch related streams.[35] This beta ended on May 28, 2020, with the game being fully released on June 2, 2020.[36]


Valorant has been compared to Valve's Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, with both games having two teams of five attempting to plant a bomb,[4] and Blizzard Entertainment's class-based shooter Overwatch, as both games have multiple classes and characters catering to various playstyles.[42]

Austen Goslin of Polygon praised the beta of Valorant describing it as refined and "one of the most fun tactical shooters I've played".[2] On the first day of its beta launch, Valorant amassed the second most concurrent viewers for any game ever on Twitch, with 1.73 million viewers tuning in across dozens of streams. Only another title from Riot Games, League of Legends, has had more concurrent viewers, when 1.74 million watched the 2019 World Championship final.[43]

It was nominated for Best Esports Game, Best Multiplayer and Best Community Support at The Game Awards 2020.[44]


Valorant, like many other competitive shooters, has become active within esports. Riot Games decided to create the first tournament called “First Strike” to establish a foundation for an esports scene to be created with the game.[45] In November 2020, Riot Games announced the 2021 VALORANT Champions Tour which is a year long competition consisting of 3 levels (Challengers, Masters and Champions). The competition aims to declare the first ever Valorant global champion.[46]

Anti-cheat software

The game has been criticized for its anti-cheat software, Vanguard, as it was revealed to run on a kernel driver, which allows access to the computer system.[47] OSNews expressed concern that Riot Games and its owner, Chinese technology conglomerate Tencent, could spy on players and that the kernel driver could be potentially exploited by third parties.[47] However, Riot Games stated that the driver does not send any information back to them, and launched a bug bounty program to offer rewards for reports that demonstrate vulnerabilities with the software.[48][49]


  1. ^ "End of Year: Audio Discipline". Riot Games. Retrieved January 15, 2021.
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  3. ^ a b c d Goslin, Austen (March 2, 2020). "Valorant: Everything we know about Riot Games' new shooter". Polygon. Vox Media. Retrieved April 14, 2020.
  4. ^ a b Goslin, Austen (March 2, 2020). "Riot's Valorant mashes up Rainbow Six with CS:GO for a speedy new tactical shooter". Polygon. Vox Media. Retrieved April 14, 2020.
  5. ^ a b c d Kim, Matt (March 2, 2020). "New Riot Shooter, Valorant Announced: Screenshots, Release Window, PC Specs". IGN. Ziff Davis. Retrieved April 14, 2020.
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  9. ^ "All Valorant characters and abilities guide". PCGamesN. Retrieved January 6, 2021.
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  14. ^ "VALORANT Patch Notes 1.03". Retrieved July 9, 2020.
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  28. ^ @UnrealEngine (June 18, 2020). "The tech behind the hit tactical shooter: @RiotGames Principal Software Engineer, Marcus Reid, talks about @PlayVALORANT and how the team utilized #UE4 for lightning-fast multiplayer gameplay and performance. Join us at 2PM EDT for Inside Unreal:" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  29. ^ "Shipping amid COVID-19 // Dev Diaries - VALORANT - YouTube". Retrieved January 2, 2021.
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