Valorant Plans to Add PBE, Design Systems to Combat Smurfing

by in Valorant | Oct, 22nd 2020

Valorant fans have long wondered if Riot Games would be adding a way for players to test out changes before they hit the live servers. It seems that Riot’s heard these questions and have finally provided that long-awaited “yes.” The PBE will head to Valorant sometime in 2021.

This means that Valorant’s development cycle will resemble League of Legends. New changes are designed, sent to the PBE for external player testing before undergoing final changes and hitting live servers. This also means that the Valorant team will be a lot more experimental when looking for player feedback, rather than risk the live metagame getting blown up.

Riot also mentioned that there might be more weekly challenges coming to the game to help with the experience grind needed.

The Public Beta Environment Comes to Valorant

Riot detailed their plans for the PBE in the most recent edition of Ask Valorant.

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

They said specifically that this would mirror the League of Legends development cycle, in which much of the future content will come to it first before hitting live servers. They said that this is not meant to be experimental most of the time but should help quash bugs.

“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.”

But that wasn’t the only big thing we learned in this week’s Q&A.

Riot Finally Acknowledges Smurfing as an Issue in Valorant

Smurfing, or the act of creating a new account by a high skilled player to crush lower-ranked players, has been a problem in online gaming for a while. Valorant is no exception to this rule, with several of the game’s best players making smurf accounts to have an easier time crushing in public games. This has led to an infuriating experience for usually skilled players losing ranking points to players that don’t belong in their games. Riot has finally acknowledged that this is an issue in their latest Q&A.

“Smurfing always sucks, especially when you have rank on the line,” Riot said. “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.”

This means that highly skilled players won’t be in low ranks for long periods, leading to less frustrating matches in general. They are also looking to keep improving this system, but note that the system’s effects go away as you continue to rank up.

“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.”

There was no timeline given for these improvements to the ranking system, but, likely, they won’t be addressed in the middle of an Act to disrupt the competitive rankings at present.


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