After a two-month closed beta, Riot’s guns n’ wizards shooter Valorant is now out for everyone to play. Valorant is the League Of Legends developer’s first tactical FPS, pitting teams of five players against each other to capture objectives. It’s very ‘CS:GO meets Overwatch’, and what’s more, it’s free-to-play. For those of you already embedded in the game, its full release today comes with some lovely new things to see and do – there’s a new character, a new map, and even and a jaunty hat for a frog.
You can play Valorant for free right now if you’re in Europe and the UK, just sign up for a Riot account and download it over on the website. The game’s release is being staggered globally, however, and won’t released until 8am EDT and 5am PDT for all our American pals.
So, what’s in store for all you new and returning player today then? For starters, there’s a vampiric new agent named Reyna. Her abilities revolve around “soul orbs”, which enemy players drop when she kills them (similarly to how Reaper worked when Overwatch first released). These orbs are used to power her abilities, allowing her to either heal herself or go invulnerable for a few seconds.
The other big change is the introduction of the new map, Ascent. It’s based in Italy, and has a big open middle area for teams to skirmish in. It’ll be more common in matchmaking rotation for the next few days so players get a chance to have a go on it.
Old map, Split, has had a few changes, too. They’ve reworked the mid chokepoint, and (more importantly) made “a certain frog’s head a little warmer” in response to the excellent “Froggie hat” Reddit post.
There’s loads more going on in the launch day patch notes, too, if you wanna check those out. The last really notable thing I spotted was that there isn’t a competitive mode releasing with the game today, that won’t be making a return until a few patches down the line.
It feels strange that today is Valorant’s official release date. The game already managed to accomplish so much in its beta period, what with breaking Twitch records for its crazy number of concurrent viewers, and swaying esports pros to leave their old games.
Valorant hasn’t slipped by without its share of controversies, though. It came under fire for its “invasive” anti-cheat software, Vanguard, which runs a kernel-level driver at start-up, giving it full administrator privileges. You can have this turned off now when you’re not playing, but players are still a little iffy on the intrusiveness of it all.
RPS’s resident Valorant expert, Matt Cox, is whipping up a review for the game right now for those of you who fancy reading up about it a bit more before jumping in. But while you’re waiting, let him tell you why he thinks the beeping of the bomb is one of Valorant’s best tricks.