The tagline of VALORANT is “Defy the Limits,” and it’s more than a catchy slogan. It’s a mindset the developers want every player who loads into the game to have when they explore the sandbox they’ve created.
“The statement ‘Defy the Limits’ comes from a feeling that in our game, we are asking you to go above and beyond what you’ve known before and break our game, to create strategies and tactics that defy the odds and overcome your opponents,” Ziegler said. “We want you to take the tools we’ve given you and innovate, create and exceed your own expectations of what you can accomplish. This game is not a game we’ve made to play only the way we’ve envisioned it. We know players are clever and intelligent, and we want to see how far they can go.”
Riot saw some of that outside-the-box thinking March 27-29, during a three-day online playtest session for VALORANT that included esports pros, gaming influencers and media members. There were moments when a player would figure out an exploit or a strategy with a specific agent that the creators didn’t think was possible. Although the developers don’t want to create a situation that is imbalanced or outright broken, innovation that comes from understanding the game and the tools given to them is what they expect. The caveman strategies created during the early days of the beta and release, if things go the way Riot hopes, will be relics of a nostalgic past in the coming years, as the best players in the world warp what is believed to be currently capable in VALORANT.
Riot Games wanted to go beyond its usual borders in another way with VALORANT, too. Unlike their flagship League of Legends, which is set in a high-fantasy-like world with demons, wizards and monsters coming from fictional lands, VALORANT takes place in an alternative universe to our own, with the various operatives in the game coming from countries such as the United States, Morocco and South Korea. The game is geared at a global audience, from its style to its beats.
The in-game music, a thumping electronic beat that greets you as you sign in, along with other head-bobbing tracks, is characterized as “unapologetically global” by Ziegler. That carries over to the agents: Riot set out to give each one a distinct personality and style that harken to their country of origin, and the creators got voice actors from an agent’s country to make each character as authentic as possible to players from the region.
Phoenix, a smooth-talking and show-stopping duelist with a vocabulary to match from the United Kingdom, is one of VALORANT’s most popular characters early. His ultimate, called “Run it Back,” involves the confident (sometimes overly so) operative rushing into battle and rising from the ashes if the time out during the ability runs out or if he is killed within the time limit. He doesn’t only revive, though, respawning from where he activated his bold maneuver. Phoenix is nonplussed, returning to the battlefield by tugging on his popped jacket collars and ready to go back into the fray.
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It’s those small moments that create the overall style VALORANT is aiming for. Most shooting games either are gritty and dark with muted colors and gratuitous violence or go for a kid-friendly approach, with flashy gameplay and lighthearted fanfare. Riot, seeing both sides, decided to go down neither route with VALORANT. The game doesn’t shy from the things that made the FPS genre popular, but it is meant to appeal to a wide audience looking to play the game for thousands of hours. That extends to how the maps of the games were designed.