After the release of its closed beta on April 7, “Valorant,” the new release from Riot Games, is breaking records even before its full release date.
The new tactical first-person shooter being developed by the company that produced the already popular League of Legends, set the record for single-day hours watched on the game streaming site Twitch with 34 million hours on its first day alone.
While it has been largely anticipated by the gaming community after being teased under the title Project A back in October 2019, the record-breaking number can be largely attributed to the format of releasing access to the closed beta.
For its viewers to gain access to the game before its unspecified release date in the summer, they must watch at least 24 hours of “drops enabled” streams. After reaching 24 hours, access keys will be given out randomly — in my case, about 72 hours worth of stream watching.
While ensuring that the game’s servers aren’t overloaded, this also gives prospective players a chance to watch gaming professionals play the game at its highest level. This gives them a chance to learn the different aspects of the game and its mechanics before launching head-first into a game itself.
Valorant’s 5 v 5 methodically-paced gameplay that requires pinpoint aiming accuracy largely resembles that of "Counter-Strike: Global Offensive," however, the addition of heroes (or in this game “agents”) is more similar to that of "Overwatch," "Apex Legends" and "League of Legends."
Many of the top eSports professionals of the previously mentioned games have “retired” from their respective games and made the switch over to the new tactical shooter.
Braxton Pierce or “Swag” has now become “BRAX” after switching from CS:GO. "Fortnite" loses Jake "Poach" Brumleve and Harrison "psalm" Chang, "Overwatch" loses John "Wanted" Lin and Jay “Sinatraa” Won, Apex Legends loses Brandon "Ace" Winn and Jared “Zombs” Gitlin.
These players are all respected as the top tier of their respective games. While it’s sad to see these players leaving their communities, it’s also rather exciting.
Imagine the likes of LeBron James and Steph Curry leaving basketball, Tom Brady leaving football, Mike Trout leaving baseball, Christiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi leaving soccer to compete alongside and against each other in a brand new sport.
It would be sad to see them go — they offer so much in their individual sports, but the combination of pure top-tier athleticism would be hard to not tune in to.
It will be exciting to see new stars born out of this new game who can come up with mechanics that are currently unfathomable. Furthermore, it gives an opportunity for newer players to become the new stars of "Overwatch," CS: GO, Apex, etc.
However, this great migration of elite players also speaks to the current state of many of the games being left behind. Many of the professionals leaving are seeking reprieve from the lack of attentiveness from developers.
"Apex Legends" has a history of ignoring feedback from its player base and has even had a history of backlash against their players. The developers of "Valorant" get into games with their prospective professionals in order to learn more about what needs to be tweaked in order to make their game the best version it could be.
Granted, that is what a closed beta is for, but it does look like "Valorant" has a more promising future in terms of listening to player feedback. Patches have already been released (which is highly unusual in beta testing) that have directly addressed the “overpowered” agent, Raze, and other issues that have been posted on Twitter and Reddit.
It’s hard to see a future that doesn’t involve "Valorant" as the next big eSports competition, which makes it even more exciting to play the game in its infancy. The gameplay is currently limited to casual unranked games, however, developers say that a ranked system should be coming to the beta "sometime this week."