There are currently 1.7 million people watching Valorant on Twitch, which means it's matched the game streaming platform's all-time record for the number of people watching a single game at the same time. That's not bad when you consider the previous record holder was Fortnite, a global phenomenon, and Valorant has only just entered closed beta. Maybe people are watching because they're excited for a new game from the makers of League Of Legends, or because they're excited for a first-person shooter following in Counter-Strike's footsteps. Or maybe it's because watching Twitch streams is how you get a key to enter the beta.
If you're interested in getting into the beta, you need to sign up or login to your Riot account, link it to your Twitch account, and then start watching any stream of the game with the 'Drops Enabled' tag. You'll then have a chance of receiving a randomly dropped key to access the closed beta.
This is a clever way of getting a lot of people to watch streams of your game, and to get a lot of livestreamers to start broadcasting it. Still, folks wouldn't be watching the game in their droves if they weren't interested in playing it for themselves. I've seen other games do similar key giveaways with a lot less success.
Unfortunately, getting a key is currently no guarantee of getting access. This is a beta designed in part to reveal bugs, and there's reports of server problems, anticheat errors booting people at launch, and a growing list of other issues on the game's Reddit megathread. Personally, I can't even get it to install - I've got access, have downloaded the installer, but it doesn't do anything when I press the shiny 'Install' button. Hmm.
Cian Maher had more success during preview access a little over a week ago. He played the game for a weekend and enjoyed his time with it, though he was surprised by just how closely it hews to the Counter-Strike template. It's a team-based shooter in which five attackers are attempting to plant a bomb while five defenders are trying to stop them. The weapons are relatively realistic, and you earn currency through play that you can use to buy equipment in the following round. What sets it apart are its character abilities, since every player is a different named person with a different set of magical gizmos or skills. Overwatch is the obvious comparison, though in practice, these sound a lot like equivalents to Counter-Strike's smoke grenades and the like.
We'll have more to say on the game just as soon as we can get it working. If you're playing it yourself, check out Ollie's Valorant weapons guide for great advice on how to shoot heads faster.