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Image from playvalorant.com

As competitive gaming rises in popularity across the world and on our own college campus, the significance of Esports is wildly shifting. In particular, VALORANT has entered the competitive scene as a powerful role model for the future of first-person competitive shooters.

VALORANT is a free-to-play competitive shooter that was published and developed by Riot Games in June 2020. The game began with an ambitious goal of solidifying itself as a major title in competitive Esports and by 2022, it has proven to be successful. In the month of September, VALORANT hosted over 22 million monthly players and these numbers continue to climb.

As Esports welcomes new titles to the competitive queue and continues to gain public attention, it is important to ask these questions: What does VALORANT do right and what does this mean for the future of competitive first-person-shooters?

Gameplay Innovation in VALORANT

VALORANT features many different gameplay elements that differentiate it from other shooters. Matches use a typical 5v5 format and a bomb-oriented objective, similar to other popular shooters such as Counter Strike: Global Offensive; however, VALORANT gameplay also includes unique agent roles, abilities and map details that allow for intricate strategies that highlight individual player talents.

VALORANT has 19 agents with four individual abilities that make every match of VALORANT unique and exciting. The agents can have one of four unique roles: duelist, initiator, controller, and sentinel. Each of these roles gives the agents intended purposes, whether that be to block entrance and exit points or to target enemy agents.

Game strategies shift depending on the map, the opposing agents and the available ultimate abilities, which allows for different players to play to their strengths instead of having interchangeable team roles. 

The agent roles of VALORANT give the game an extended lifespan and allows the developers to change the game over time. Right now, a new agent named Harbor is in development, who will likely be a controller and feature water-based abilities.

Image from playvalorant.com

With new content and animated shorts that the VALORANT team releases on YouTube, VALORANT continues to attract new players and streamers to the game.

Joshua “Thumper” Riesenberg, the head coach of OU VALORANT, found many features that make VALORANT stand out. 

“It’s the chess game within the game and how difficult, but pure, the gun play is,” Riesenberg said. “It’s the thinking game and strategy that I enjoy the most,” 

VALORANT takes the strongest aspects from other first-person shooters, such as the unique agents in Overwatch and the bomb-oriented goal of CSGO, and creates a innovative game that brings new insights to the conversation of competitive shooters.

VALORANT at OU Esports

As OU Esports has continued to announce new competitive teams and titles, OU’s VALORANT teams have steadily grown. In spring of 2022, OU Esports added a new VALORANT Black team and began the Fall 2022 season with two VALORANT competitive teams. While the game itself has attracted numerous players in its own competitive mode, competitive Esports matches further changes gameplay.

Image from playvalorant.com

Arjun “Peenmasta” Penmatsa is the team captain for the OU VALORANT Black team and immediately expressed his interest in the creation of a new VALORANT team. 

“I have been playing VALORANT since November of 2020, primarily with people I knew from high school,” Penmatsa said. “While I continue to do so in college, I wanted to experience a more strategic and competitive environment compared to just playing ranked.” 

As VALORANT continues to expand, the future of competitive shooters is revealed. Players want new, exciting material that draws in a diverse range of players. 

In addition to agents from across the whole world, VALORANT’s vivid art style and wide range of cosmetics serves to attract gamers through more than strictly gameplay. 

VALORANT attracts both streamers and Esports franchises to expand their own focus on VALORANT-related content. With a large community and room for expansion, VALORANT is a shining example for FPS Esports.

 While it is unclear what future first-person competitive titles will look like, VALORANT is a game that brings Esports to everyone and its popularity will undoubtedly inspire the future of Esports and competitive shooters.

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