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Valorant vs CS:GO - How are they different?

They might seem pretty similar, but there are some key differences.

It’s no secret that Valorant’s heavily inspired by Valve’s iconic FPS Counter:Strike. Many of the weapons are effectively the same, shooting mechanics are pretty similar, and many CS:GO veterans are making the switch to the game because it’s a natural fit - they know they’ll be alright at it.

There are, however, some glaring differences. Many are small, but some are huge and definitely set both games apart from each other. We’ve sunk a tonne of time into both games (I’ve spent a little too much time in CS:GO), and firmly believe they’re pretty different, actually. Below we’ll break down a few key similarities and differences.

Valorant vs CS:GO - How are they different?

Map Design

There’s a clear fundamental difference between CS:GO and Valorant’s map offerings. Valorant’s feel far less open, and largely consist of winding corridors and jagged edges. Hop into CS:GO and you’ll feel a pang of freedom, a sense of claustrophobia lifting a little.

With Valorant’s map design being so tight knit, you’ll find firefights are up close and personal more often than not. There’s a lot of swinging round corners, checking boxes, and walking down tunnels.

There’s also another clear difference. Whereas CS:GO’s maps always have a maximum of two bomb sites, one of Valorant’s currently has three bomb sites (this could change depending on feedback, though). This opens up new strategic options for attackers, but can make defending a struggle if you’re queuing up with randoms.

It largely depends on what you’re after, when it comes down to it. Some prefer a faster, more personal affair no matter what map they’re playing, so if that’s your bag then Valorant’s the one for you.

Buy Zones

In CS:GO, both teams must stay within a small “buy zone” in order to purchase their weaponry/utility at the start of each round.

Valorant’s very different in this regard. The buy zone is much, much larger and takes up a fairly large portion of the map, with white barriers preventing you from accessing its entirety during this time. You’re free to move around and purchase gear within this space, so much so, you’ll find most people standing next to these barriers as soon as each round starts. When they lift, players will already have pushed up to signal where they’d like to take control of the map.

This difference means action kicks off much faster in Valorant. In some cases you’ll swing round a corner within the first few seconds of a game and encounter someone. In CS:GO, it’ll usually take time for rounds to mature and progress. It feels like there’s more of a midgame in CS, whereas rounds in Valorant can be over in a flash. This isn’t always the case, but in general, both games are paced very differently.

Spray Patterns

In terms of selection, weapons in both games are very similar to one another. They’re all parallels of each other with similar mechanics, just with different names. The Vandal is basically the AK47, the Phantom is basically the M4, the Ghost is the USP, and so on.

One major difference between the two games is spray patterns. What is a spray pattern? It’s the pattern each gun makes with its bullets when you hold down the trigger. In CS:GO, hold down the trigger and each automatic weapon will have a different spray pattern which must be learned if you want to control it. By ‘control’, we mean moving your mouse in the opposite direction to the spray pattern to keep your bullets firing in a straight line.

In Valorant, every automatic weapon has a very similar spray pattern. They’ll go up, then left, then right. So if you can learn to counter this pattern, you’re golden for a number of the weapons.

Watch on YouTube

This video by Cloud9 starring pro player TenZ (first NA player to achieve Valorant rank) is a great explainer if you're after a visual illustration of the differences listed here. Plus there are some extra details in there too, which you'll definitely find useful.

Moving on from spray patterns, one other difference between both games is the alternate fire modes - Valorant has far more of them. Only a couple of the assault rifles in CS:GO can be scoped in, but in Valorant, many of the weapons can be scoped in or fired a little differently.

Abilities and Utility

Okay, this one’s a given. In Valorant you’ll pick agents who have a number of different abilities at their disposal. Everything from rocket launchers, to traps, to fire walls are on offer.

In CS:GO everyone is on a level playing field. The closest you’re getting to abilities are smoke grenades, molotovs, and flashbangs.

While many of Valorant’s abilities are utility based (many are effectively smoke grenades, for example), they give each character a playstyle and give them tools to be immediately useful without too much faffing around. In CS:GO you’ll need to learn smoke grenade and flashbang setups if you really want to get competitive. That’s not to say there isn’t a skill ceiling with Valorant, far from it, but it’s definitely more accessible for those who perhaps aren’t as great at shooting.

CS:GO places far more emphasis on shooting. Aiming and clicking on heads will get you far, even on your lonesome. In Valorant, this isn’t the case. You need to play around your team a lot more and coordinate ability usage.

We’ve found CS:GO to be a ‘pure’, ‘clean’ FPS where shooting and map awareness take precedence. There are enough tools to press an advantage or stall the opponent without things feeling cluttered.

So far, for us at least, Valorant’s a lot busier - at times, a touch too busy. If you’re defending a bomb site for example, expect abilities to rain down all over the place. Often smoke grenades smother your vision, arrows reveal your position, traps go off, grenades come flying in. Things can get chaotic fast.

All the Little Things (which are still pretty important)

For this one, we'll keep to a list format which'll help rattle through them all:

  • If you stop midway through defusing the bomb in CS:GO and attempt to resume your defuse, you will have to start from the very beginning. In Valorant, this isn't always the case. If you manage to defuse up to the halfway mark, then stop and start, you'll resume the defuse from the marker.
  • In CS:GO you need to jump through several hurdles in order to download special aim training maps. Valorant has a practice map baked into the game already, which is a nice touch. Granted, it lacks the depth and breadth of CS:GO's offerings, but it does the job nicely.
  • Once you have bought a gun in CS:GO, you cannot refund it. In Valorant, you can right click to refund a gun within the buy menu.
  • In Valorant you can easily request a drop from the buy menu. This means players can easily identify which gun you'd like and buy it for you quickly. In CS:GO, you'll need to verbally communicate this, and the other player would need to purchase the gun and physically drop it for you to achieve the same goal.

That's it for the most glaring differences, but do make sure to keep an eye on the site for continued Valorant coverage. We've got guides to help you play all the Agents, a Best Guns page, and even an updated Server page so you'll know exactly when updates are dropping.

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