Valorant, Riot Games' take on competitive first-person-shooters, has solidified a community. It's beta ran a few months until its official, 1.0 release on June 3, 2020. Popular streamers like Shroud, Ninja and Dr. Disrespect have taken their skills onto the battlefield with the former praising its accessibility and fun factor. Shroud has even gone as far to claim that Valorant will eventualy overshadow esports juggernaut CS:GO, explaining that its recent release and popularity has prompted CS developer Valve to push out new updates - something they have to do in the face of fierce competition.
As an consistent player, Valorant is fast, punishing, yet insanely rewarding. Though some heroes on the current eleven character roster fail to be as memorable as other hero shooters like Overwatch, their utilities and purposes create a new spin on the typical formula. The main objective of each match is identical to that of CS:GO, but attacking and defending a spike site require not only knowledge of the four launch maps and the eleven agent abilities, but also understanding the purpose of said ultilities. Some are used for damage and frags, but most serve the purpose of blocking enemy sight, forcing them to change their plans and come up with a new one on the fly. That moment-to-moment gameplay is incredibly rewarding and crowdpleasing.
Since the closed beta, Riot has made some impressive updates and alterations to the characters, maps and basic formula. Something that has remained in tact from beta to the 1.0 release was Valorant's in-game store. It's important to note that similar to Legaue of Legends, Valorant is completely free-to-play. Its store never tries to be egregious, yet the prices seem a bit odd. There are no intrusive pop-ups telling you about hot deals in the store, unless you physiclly click on the icon. Similar to most games released today including Apex Legends and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and its iteration of battle royale Warzone, Valorant offers a battle pass for around $10 where the player can earn various, sprays (both static and animated), banners, weapon cosmetics and Radiant points. Serving as one of two types of currency in the game, Radiant points are used to upgrade the levels of some weapons (turning bullets into laser beams and other VFX options). At launch, Valorant advertised their Prime Collection, a series of sci-fi looking skins for popular weapons culminating to a total price of $70. As of posting this, the Prime Collection continues to cycle through the store, while the Soverign Collection takes the stage.
CS:GO arguably grew in popularity because of the skins market. Riot has since come forward, announcing that Valorant will not include a skin market. As of its current build, the game only offers skin cosemtics, but I feel that in the near future, players will be able to customize their agents. After dumping well over 30 hours into the game during the beta, and many more in the 1.0 release, I've had a chance to gather some sort of opinion on the skin pricing. Most agree that the collections offered at the top of the store are overpriced. Before the beta had ended its closed run, Riot Games announced that all cosmetics purchased and progression during that time period will be wiped at launch, in return for whatever amount you had spent plus an additional 20%. Though a bit disheartening, I thought this was a great business move on their part. The main problem with the current store offers - and this being a completely biased and opinionated statement - is that they're not extremely varied or pleasing to the eyes. $70 for a few weapon skins and an axe doesn't sound very enticing. I understand that the free-to-play structure of the game warrants some type of income strategy, but I find many players feel a similar way as I do on this topic. You're essentially purchasing an entire video game, plus $10 for a few skins. If this doesn't come off as an issue, by all means, feel free to disagree with me!
Valorant has quickly taken hold of the competitive community, and currently stands as my favorite release in 2020 so far. Its inherently hardcore nature and demand for team communication, while also being a smidge more forgiving than CS:GO has brought on veterans of the genre, as well as new players looking for something more than a casual experience. What are your thoughts on the in-game store? Thanks for reading!