Great Features in Valorant and Some That Would Make It Better
The features programmed into the code of our favorite games are what make them our favorite games. Even if some players never see them, like features from hidden details in secret rooms of metroidvania titles to singleplayer content in multiplayer-focused games like Break the Targets in Smash, these features can give a game more style and substance. Without the Play of the Game feature, for example, Overwatch would still be a fun multiplayer shooter. However, that algorithm creates for some incredibly hype moments, especially when you know that everyone else in the lobby is watching your multi-kill… or watching you get three no-kill “eliminations” as Torbjorn while dead.
My point here is that the code producing our favorite features in our favorite games are the DNA of these titles. “Feature” and “mechanic” are as such nearly synonymous, though mechanics are generally more about how characters move and interact in terms of gameplay. Valorant is a solid game mechanically, and has already come a long way since it was first playable, but some new features (that aren’t just a new character, map, or skin bundle) can really breathe new life into a game. So, here I’ll be talking about some of my current favorite features and some that I think the game would really benefit from.
It’s the Little Things
In a game like Valorant, with an exclusive multiplayer focus, many of the features we love are going to be mechanical. Counter-Strike, for example, features buttery smooth recoil reset timings, and Valorant at least has the margarine substitute. One little mechanical feature of Valorant that I love is that you can “buffer” (hold the input so that you do it is soon as you’re able) scoping in with the Operator or Marshall. And if you keep holding right-click after scoping in with the Op, it’ll double-zoom. Obviously, being able to buffer too many inputs can make a game feel sluggish (shoutout to Smash Bros. Ultimate) but this little quality of life feature on the scoped rifles was something I jotted down in a Word document as a great feature way back when I first started playing. I’m glad to be able to celebrate it here.
You can also buffer the act of planting or defusing the Spike by holding the 4 key (or whatever you set it to) down, such as when you’re jumping onto site. This is a bit less exciting, but still a welcome mechanical feature, especially when the clock is ticking down.
Do these mechanical features affect much? Eh, not really. But they do contribute to the overall feel of the game, which I think will get gradually better and better as time goes on.
The ziplines, climbable ropes, and doors on certain maps also contribute to Valorant’s identity. I know a lot of CS players that consider them “gimmicks” but I actually quite enjoy them and look forward to seeing what new little map features get implemented as the Acts go on.
One feature that they’ve already put in since the game’s release is the ability to write incident reports rather than just clicking on a little box in a submenu when you try to report a player. These little text boxes allow for much more accurate reporting and (hopefully) better and swifter responses to reportable offenses.
In a vaguely similar vein, I have my fingers crossed that they make AFK punishments greater and lessen the RR losses taken when playing a game at a numbers disadvantage. I’m so tired of playing like it’s a hockey game where one teammate keeps getting tossed into the penalty box.
The Practice Range
The Range is one of the most important features for Valorant to nail. And so far, Riot have done a great job with it. There are plenty of tools that can help any player get better, regardless of skill level.
Killing bots helps us practice our aim, and the ability to make these bots strafe is a great feature that aids in tracking. The little flying targets behind the main range – outside, in the skybox past the little balcony – are also great for this. There are even walls below the range’s stairs and before heading outside that enable practiced peeks.
The site plant and defuse practice scenarios are also decent for new players, though I haven’t used them in a while. Still important features to include as a tutorial. That said, I’d like to see something more in-depth, like a voiceover with Brimstone or someone else equally appropriate talking newbies through the different scenarios, giving advice, and the like.
One semi-hidden feature of the range is the platforming challenge that you can find by spawning at the target range, turning around, and taking two right turns. It’s easiest with Jett, obviously, but you can complete the whole course with no abilities if you’re a god gamer. Your reward, with or without abilities, is an adorable little virtual teddy bear in a trophy.
Map Easter Eggs
Speaking of these bears, the devs keep hiding them and other cute stuffed animals in spots all around the different maps, including the newest one. Pokin a lil nose out from behind the counter of the water stand, just outside of Attacker Spawn on Breeze.
My personal favorite little hidden detail on any map is outside of Wine on Ascent. Peek through the little fencing and you can see an adorable group seated at a mini restaurant:
The new map, Breeze, has more than its fair share of beautiful views. For example, there’s a building with “Governor’s Mansion in Sid Meier’s Pirates!” energy, and if you take a peek inside, using the Ghost cheat in a custom game, you can see the governor and his party guests.
Little touches like these make Valorant feel like so much more than hitboxes and hurtboxes, bits and bytes. They also encourage players to explore the maps not just as tactical players, but as virtual tourists looking for cool little secrets and attractions. Some of these, like the pet food bowl that got added to Ascent, even foreshadow new agents – that one foreshadowed the upcoming inclusion of Skye and her Tasmanian Tiger. Like I said in my first article for Esports Talk, this game just exudes personality.
Replays or Demos
This is the big feature they’ve yet to add, if the online discourse I’ve seen about potential additions to Valorant is anything to go by. Even Riot knows it, based on this Reddit comment I’ve had open in a Chrome tab for more than a month, waiting for the right time to include it in an article. That time has come.
One of the most common tips to see in a Valorant guide on YouTube is to watch your replays. But some of us are out here playing on potato-like PCs that can barely scrape together 60 FPS on a good day, and that’s only if you close every other program and make a blood sacrifice to Baal. In other words, having the processing power to have a program record your games in the background to then be able to watch them back is extremely unlikely for a lot of us.
So, a feature in Valorant to play back “demos” of your games in-client would be a huge boon. Counter-Strike has had them since ancient times. Demos are the way most games handle in-client replays. Player inputs are recorded and the subsequent outputs can be recreated by playing these inputs back through the game’s engine. This results in much smaller file sizes than video recordings and enables players to study their “footage” without even closing the game client.
This would also open the door for a feature like CSGO’s GOtv, where players can watch big tournaments from the comfort of the game itself. We might even be able to download other people’s demos someday.
Now, as we saw in that Reddit comment I linked, a Valorant replay feature has been “in the works” for about a year. Hopefully, it comes out soon. A replay system would not only enable the watching back of demos but also would enable Valorant to adopt a feature like Play of the Game in Overwatch. Obviously, this would come after the basic replay functionality, but a PotG generated by the game itself would lend hype and an esports feel to even Unrated matches and would be interesting to see in pro matches as well. A robust algorithm would be needed to determine not just the biggest multi-kill in a certain span of time, but assists, abilities used, whether a wallbang was in play, etc.
We won’t hold our breath for a Valorant Play of the Game feature, but a replay demo player is all but necessary at this point. Oh, but I don’t think Killcams are a great idea, at least in-game in modes like Competitive or Unrated. That seems like it would give away too much information. But it would be great to be able to watch enemy perspectives after the game has already ended.
Not a whole lot of games have this feature, so Valorant could step up to the plate in a big way. Even Counter-Strike players need to turn to third parties like FACEIT or ESL to find competitive matches outside of Ranked. It would be awesome to see in-client tournaments right there on the game’s home screen.
Now, the Valorant team has been discussing on social media recently that they’re looking into different ways to have five stacks compete than just in the Ranked queue. That queue can take a prohibitively long time for groups of five. The devs have already confirmed that they’re “looking into ways 5 stacks can play together competitively”. Well, having the ability to enter in-client tournaments with however many groups of five players would be a great way to get matches together. And then, when eliminated or waiting for your next match, it’d be nice to be able to spectate other matches to cut out some downtime… just maybe not of the team you might play next since that seems like it would be an unfair advantage.
Featuring tournaments – let’s say monthly since that seems reasonable – on the game’s home page, preferably that are split up into divisions based on Comp rank, would make Valorant’s esports experience all the more real to us average Joes who will likely never get sponsored for clicking on heads… or click on that many heads in the first place. Regardless of skill level, there’s a wonderful thrill to a tournament, one that Riot could capitalize on well. Maybe there could small entry fees of a few Valorant points and huge payouts of them for teams that end up on the podium, or they could be free with prizes like skins, a trophy spray, or gun buddies. Either way, this feature would just need the right amount of polish and wrinkle ironing to be hype.
Map & Character Selection / Bans
I’m of the mind that character bans should not be in Valorant’s future… the near future, anyway. Maybe one day, it’ll make sense to introduce them. For now, I think the roster is small enough that every character should be playable in every mode unless there’s some horrific bug going around their code. And the devs seem to agree.
But voting for the map about to be played among the players? Now we’re talking. Maybe it’s my old Xbox 360 nostalgia talking here, but I loved the ability to vote for upcoming maps in Halo and Call of Duty when that feature was available (in Reach and Black Ops, respectively). There’s nothing inherently wrong with just being thrown into a map without anyone choosing it, but a feature where you’d be able to vote among the ten queued players for which map you’ll play will likely get more and more appealing as more and more maps get added to the game.
The current system simultaneously incentivizes and disincentivizes complaining. See, it’s easy to complain if you get thrown onto Bind three or more games in a row, but that’s just the luck of the draw. No use complaining about a map if you have no agency over which one you play on.
I wouldn’t say Valorant desperately needs a map selection feature, or at least the ability to ban a certain map as a team, but it might be nice once there are tons of maps with tons of unfamiliar angles to clear. Similarly, a character ban system might be warranted when there are a boatload of power-creeped Agents running around that can throw out mollies that are also smokes and flashbangs and spike pits and dragons.
More of the Same Kind of Stuff?
As you may tell by the question mark in the heading and the last paragraph of the last section… I’m not so sure that we need a hundred agents and fifty maps.
I think the dev team should focus on polishing up the game with features that make the game more hype like the aforementioned Play of the Game, as well as general balance tweaks and maybe a new game mode every couple of acts.
However, I’m not so big on the idea that a new agent should be introduced every Act, and so I’m honestly glad that Riot are letting us sit with just Astra for a while. I mean, I still haven’t even unlocked Yoru. Viper’s Snakebite Shorty was worth more to me than him before he was buffed, and still might be since I’m still not exactly a VCT Master of my current mains. And one thing to keep in mind about adding new Agents is that the more characters that get added, the more overwhelmed old players coming back from breaks will be. Of course, they are great ways to generate hype and to bring people back to the game.
A new map is nice too, at least every once in a while, and Breeze dropped with an awesome trailer, albeit one that was spoiled by an unfortunate leak. There are a ton of angles to learn, but the map seems a bit more straightforward than Icebox was. I’m very excited to see it at the upcoming VCT Masters: Reykjavik LAN event.
But my point here is this: we don’t necessarily need a new character and a new map every three months to keep Valorant fresh. The interactions in each round should do that job. And to my mind, they are, especially in pro play. I would much rather see Riot focus on making what they have as polished and awesome as possible than just making new content for the sake of making new content. The latter is how you end up with busted agents and unfun maps.
Valorant dev “Nickywu” did go on the record (so officially, on his Twitch channel, that I wouldn’t even call it a leak) saying that new weapons will eventually come to the game, but this slow approach – we might not even see a single new gun until 2022 or even later – is the right way to go, in my opinion. Countless hours of playtesting are required to get features like that ready for competitive play, and we still need to master the weapons that are currently in the game, and get accustomed to all their buffs and nerfs.
Cool Movement Tech
Raze blast pack boosts like the ones in this video are some of the coolest things you can do in Valorant, and good movement is an essential feature of just about every competitive game. I don’t like the rest of Raze’s kit very much, personally, and so when we do inevitably see another character, I’d love for them to be able to zip around the map in cool, stylish ways.
Movement is my favorite part of any video game, which is why I love platformers, fighting games, and platform fighting games. There’s something so freeing about being able to jump, dash, airdash, double jump, fly, glide, wavedash, wall-jump, and so on. I’m not asking Riot to turn Valorant into a platformer, of course, but it would be awesome to have a character in the game with dope movement who I actually like to play as. Jett’s movement is pretty sweet, but I’m terrible with her Ult. I’m looking forward to the next movement-centric character, and hope that they aren’t a Duelist.
And the list of neat features, big and small, that Riot could add to Valorant could go on and on and on. I would like the ability to buy a skin of your choosing once in a while, for example, since I’ve been eyeing up the Sakura Sheriff for months. And I’m sure everyone has their personal Christmas list of features that they’d love to see get delivered to their favorite games. Fingers crossed that Riot continues to add layers of polish and sweet new stuff to Valorant for years to come.