Riot Teams up With Zedd to Release Spectrum Collection
DJ and EDM producer Zedd will be the first musical artist to collaborate with Riot’s tactical shooter, Valorant. The collaboration is no doubt inspired by similar events, such as the Ariana Grande Rift Tour concert in Fortnite. However, the Zedd collaboration created a new line of weapon skins known now as the Spectrum collection that’s sure to release alongside Valorant’s new map Fracture with patch 3.0.5. The collaboration no doubt originates with Zedd’s genuine appreciation for the game, as he has been seen streaming the game in his free time, which has influenced the look, feel, and sound of the Spectrum collection to be a thoughtful synthesis of sight and sound that respects the need for good weapon sound design in a tactical shooter. This collaboration isn’t an empty gesture to capitalize on a recognizable name, but a good-faith partnership that no doubt satisfies Riot’s developers and hopefully, their player base.
Zedd x Valorant Keynote: The Spectrum Weapon Skin Line
In a video released to the official Valorant YouTube, Zedd previews the Spectrum weapon skin line in a mock keynote speech meant to resemble events from companies like Apple and Google. It’s a cute, funny detail that plays with how tech company keynote speeches often promise innovations meant to improve our lives but it’s actually for a bunch of guns that can kill you. In the video, Zedd remarks on how he’s “worked together with the Valorant sound team to design and mix every single audio element… We’ve created a soundscape that’s cool, balanced, inspiring, and I hope you’ll agree, just satisfying.”
The video highlights a compact design for the Phantom, Bulldog, Guardian, Classic, and a new melee weapon with highlighted RGB color design meant to evoke the same look and feel as the ubiquitous, backlit gaming keyboard. In reality, the color design for the weapons is cool, as the subdued hues and bright tones evoke the aesthetic of an EDM show and your bedroom gaming setup. The color highlights on weapons shift and fluctuate as the player moves across the map, similar to the ‘color breathe’ setting on a lot of gaming peripherals. It gives the guns a vibrancy and sense of vitality that Valorant weapon skins have become known for. It’s a neat detail.
The Spectrum skin line’s sound design echoes familiarly with some of the more ‘sci-fi’ sounding skins in the game, but there’s a ‘wetness’ to gunshots with the Spectrum line that gives bullet impact more ‘oomph’ than your typical laser sound effect. As can be seen in this video, sound effects evoke a mix of an arcadey blip sound and your classic sci-fi phaser effect.
Visual effects also come into play as weapons with Spectrum skins gain new muzzle effects that mimic equalizer visualizers. The Spectrum melee weapon is a long blade with slashing visual effects that resemble audio frequency visualizations, hearkening to Zedd’s career as a producer. The finisher animation plays a smooth, synthy jingle that starts out bassy and driven, then cascades into a more subdued iteration of the same jingle. A custom animation plays presenting a Zedd x Valorant logo above the dead player’s body with a rounded, geometric ceiling that pulses along with the jingle’s bass as digital streamers shoot out everywhere.
The collaboration between Valorant and Zedd shows that Riot’s titles can create thoughtful partnerships with outside partners and that the best partnerships come from entities that show a genuine fascination with the product. The Valorant Spectrum weapon skin line does really feel like a Zedd pet project, rather than something concocted by a record label committee. The careful attention to sound design should also be praised, as sound and spatial awareness are key to playing well in Valorant. The knife’s sound effect may be a touch distracting for those using it, but the weapon is meant to be more fun than tactical after all.
Hopefully, this collaboration does well for Riot and encourages more artists to collaborate with games that exist outside of the ‘metaverse’ concept.