Shroud, Ninja, Pokimane: The biggest streamers love Valorant. But how did the new shooter from Riot Games come about? Veterans from Call of Duty, Destiny, League of Legends and former counter-strike professionals have been working on the large-scale attack on CS: GO and Overwatch 2 with maximum confidentiality for 6 years.
With Ninja, Pokimane and Shroud, Valorant has already picked up three of the largest streamers on YouTube, Twitch and Mixer. But how did Riot’s first shooter come about? The making-of.
Did you know that one of the most important CS: GO chief designers is working on Riot Games Shooter Valorant? Salvatore Garozzo. He designed the original version of Cache for Counter-Strike 1.6, which was a free mod for Half-Life at the time. Valve then hired him for the CS: GO version. De_Nuke also came from his pen. Two of the most iconic maps of the CS era. This clearly explains how much respect Riot Games has for Counter-Strike: You don’t just copy the game, you have hired the right people to transfer the world-famous CS-DNA to Valorant.
Riot’s map design team consists of counter-strike professionals
It is no coincidence that Valorant feels like CS, even though it is a hero shooter. Valves chief designer now works for Riot Games.
Counter-Strike can be called the most successful game of all time if we only look at the number of players – there is no other work that has been played consistently over 20 years and was just as successful in eSports. It would not be wrong to say that eSports was born out of a love for two games: Starcraft and CS 1.6. According to a great cover story by Polygon’s colleagues, Valorant was playable five years ago, which is remarkable.
When Riot Games invited me, I was a little skeptical. Of course I liked League of Legends, but as a Valve card designer I didn’t really know how to enrich it. My focus has always been on shooters, not MOBAs. When I played Valorant in this very early form, I immediately thought: Okay, wow, I want to be there! ”
– Salvatore “Volcano“ Garozzo, Senior Game Designer Valorant –
What do the stars say about Valorant?
Ninja currently plays significantly more Call of Duty Warzone and Valorant than Fortnite.
Ninja: “This is the game. It’s finally happening again – NinjasHyper is back.
No, seriously – Valorant is fantastic. I’ve had so many matches with people I didn’t know and we just had fun. I get a lot of friend requests, and it would be cool if Riot offered a second list – one for my buddies and one for people I want to play with here and there. I am also super happy that we are currently streaming a lot in Covid-19 to collect money for people in need and organizations that distribute food free of charge. ”
Shroud: “The gunplay is very solid, the movement rhythms have a good vibe and I like how clear the design of the cards is. Everything has a clearly defined line, not too much CGI effects, a rather reduced look, which predestines the title for eSports. And no, I will not switch back to the pro scene, it was just a joke during a stream. As an eSports Pro you cannot stream because then all your moves and your team’s strategy can be studied. There is only one thing and I love streaming. ”
Pokimane goes one step further: “Valorant could become the Overwatch killer.”
Pokimane: “Even at the risk of making me unpopular: Valorant will win over a large part of the Overwatch community. I don’t want to judge too early, we’ve all only been playing for a few weeks. But Valorant is likely to become the Overwatch killer. Riot is just damn good at live services and the base is already strong, while Overwatch has huge problems on Twitch and with their eSports league, where the teams pay 30 million just to play. ”
We don’t develop a game that everyone will enjoy. And that’s okay. “
Interesting detail: When Riot Games started working on Valorant, they noticed how much core competence from the shooter segment they already had in the company. For example Anna Donlon, who worked as a senior producer on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, which came out in 2009. In addition, Call of Duty: Black Ops 1, 2 and 3. As Executive Producer, she is now responsible for ensuring that all elements flow together, schedules are kept and Valorant can be published in the summer. Your job is to bring games from development to live mode and offer the best support for the fan base – Call of Duty is a title in multiplayer that usually contains a lot of patches and, above all, a tight content pipeline for needs new cards.
Valorant was created with a clear focus on competitive players. You have to master the individual mechanics to be successful. Not everyone likes that, and that’s perfectly fine. I think we decided very early on that we shouldn’t develop a game for everyone here, but a specific target group. On the other hand, let’s just be surprised how many players enjoy it. ”
– Anna Donlon, Executive Producer Valorant
Valorant’s Executive Producer was previously responsible for Call of Duty: Black Ops 3. The most popular CoD in the Youtuber community.
The current closed beta shows: Riot tends not to have to worry too much, the hype around Valorant is gigantic and many people watch Twitch for hours to enjoy the content on the one hand and to be activated for the Valorant beta on the other . The fact that people were willing to pay up to 150 euros for a Valorant beta key on Ebay speaks volumes for how hot people are with the riot shooter. “It is always a good sign if the team spends every free minute with the game internally. We even had to introduce various rules on how much gameplay time each team can invest per day because we could no longer keep up with our work, ”says a relaxed Joe Ziegler, who holds the reins as creative director.
What makes a good tactical shooter?
Valorant is designed for slow, very tactical, methodical gameplay.
The most important thing for a game is its gameplay loops. So the most relevant mechanics that are rewound again and again and must still feel good after the hundredth match: shooting, jumping, sprinting, throwing grenades, using the individual agent skills. Counter-strike expert Salvatore Garozzo and his team take care of these gameplay loops:
Valorant is clearly designed for tactics and careful handling. There are a lot of very good shooters out there that are designed for sprinting, wall running & Co. However, we opted for a slower, more methodical approach. You run more than you sprint. It is extremely important for us that you can move and shoot extremely accurately. This is critical to positioning and how you go into a duel. On the other hand, these “Valorant Moments” are extremely important to us, where someone can win a 1-on-4, simply because he shoots more precisely and uses the tactical elements of our agents smarter at that moment. “
Mechanical skill meets these unique skills that complement the gameplay – they do not replace the skill, which is why we have not overpowered them. This is of course a big challenge because on the one hand we don’t want to take anything away from the gunplay, but the agents also have their place and should play their role. You have to feel good. We want you to enjoy having these agents on the team and not just being an add-on or gadget. ”
– Salvatore “Volcano“ Garozzo, Senior Game Designer Valorant –
No one is better at live-as-a-service game than Riot Games
– Joe Ziegler, Game Director Valorant –
Riot Games is by far the largest development team in the gaming industry. We find over 4000 employees on Linkedin. That’s remarkable, after all, Riot had only had one game for a very long time: League of Legends. In the meantime, other projects such as Legends of Runeterra, a TV series etc., etc. have been added and of course a large eSports team is working on the LCS and the Worlds, but this army of developers is Riot’s greatest strength. Just for comparison: Activision as the financially strongest publisher has only 2000 employees, so many are currently working on League of Legends alone. This huge size allows Riot to offer the fastest game update service we’ve ever seen for a game.
LoL is now a decade old, but there is still an update every two weeks, often new heroes – 148 champions now have LoL, and this update cycle is planned to be maintained with Valorant. This model sounds exciting because Riot is known for working very actively on his games. Six years ago, League of Legends was subjected to a complete design revision and new engine. So it would be entirely possible to publish Valorant in the summer and to update it later. In any case, there will often be new agents, new weapons, cards, etc. to keep the game fresh. By the way, Riot is inviting significantly more players to the closed beta from this month, so just keep an eye on your email account …