What is Valorant? A Beginner's Guide to the Tactical Shooter

Michael Caloca / ONE37pm

What is Valorant?

What’s up gamers?! A lot of people who play video games have heard of or play ‘Valorant’. However, if you’re a console player or a PC gamer not familiar with the game, this article will highlight some of the key aspects of Riot’s most popular tactical-shooter.  Keep in mind, Valorant is a PC-only game that is played on mouse and keyboard.

Valorant is a team-based first person shooter. As a player, you are assigned to either the attacking or defending team, which is made up of 5 players per team. Prior to the match beginning, each player selects an ‘Agent.' We'll go into more detail below.


The objective of the attacking team is to take the bomb, which is known as the ‘spike’, and plant the spike in the defending team’s territory. Once the attacking team has planted the spike, they must defend the spike from the defending team’s counter-attack; the goal is to defuse the spike before the timer runs out. The spike detonates 45 seconds after the plant, in which case the attacking team has won the round. If the defending team defuses the spike within 45 seconds, the defending team has won the round.  Additionally, rounds can be won by eliminating all 5 opposing players.  

After 12 rounds, the attacking team flips to defense and vice versa.  The first to 13 rounds win the match, but the catch is that you must win by a minimum of 2 rounds. If the score of the match is 12-12 after 24 rounds, overtime ensues. Each team gets one round on attacking and defending.  If the overtime rounds are split, players are able to vote to draw or continue the match. This continues until players decide to draw or one team wins both overtime rounds.


There are 15 different agents to choose from in Valorant: Brimstone, Phoenix, Sage, Sova, Viper, Cypher, Reyna, Killjoy, Breach, Omen, Jett, Raze, Skye, Yoru and Astra.

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Riot Games

Each agent is equipped with four unique abilities. One of the abilities is free each round, two must be purchased using in-game currency (discussed more below), and one ability is an ‘ultimate’.  Abilities can vary in what they do. Some of the most basic utilities of these abilities are to flash/blind, stun and smoke.  For example, the attacking team may ‘flash’ onto site, therefore blinding defenders in order to take control and plant the spike. Smokes may be used to block off entry points to limit the opposing team from gaining information on location of agents.

The ultimate ability can only be gained by accumulating skill points. The most common ways to get skill points are by getting a kill, grabbing orbs around the map and planting/defusing the spike.

There are four different classes that agents can fall into: Duelist, Initiator, Sentinel and Controller.  

Duelists are essentially the front-line agents. They lead attacks and are critical to gaining entry onto a site. The current Duelists in Valorant are Phoenix, Reyna, Jett, Raze and Yoru.

Initiator's main role is to gather information for their teammates. The current Initators in Valorant are Breach, Sova and Skye.  

Sentinels are primarily defenders. Their abilities allow them to lock down sites and help repel enemy attacks. The current Sentinels in Valorant are Sage, Cypher and Killjoy.

Controllers look to block off entry ways and line of sight for the opposing team. The smokes that they can provide are extremely useful on both attacking and defending sides of the match. The current Controllers are Omen, Viper, Brimstone and Astra.

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Riot Games

Strategy / Tips

If you are new to mouse and keyboard games, I suggest spending some time using Aimlabs or Kovaaks to improve your aim.  Valorant was the first mouse and keyboard game I had ever played, and the time I put into these aim training programs early on in my experience has paid dividends and allowed me to compete in higher ranked lobbies.  

One of the most important things to know in Valorant is that you should generally be walking. The game auto-binds walking to your Shift key, however, I have adjusted my keybinds to set walking as my default and I run when holding down the shift key. I suggest beginner’s try out this type of setting if they aren’t already comfortable with their current binds.

When shooting, it is important to stand still. This may be a tough lesson to learn if you’re coming from a game like Fortnite or Call of Duty. Your bullet spray/pattern gets increasingly wider if you are moving while shooting, making it very unlikely you’ll be able to hit your shots.

Abilities are just as important as good aim. Train in custom matches to learn how to use abilities properly. (Keep an eye out for future Valorant content where I highlight how to use each Agent and the best Agent’s for each map.)

Always keep your crosshair in line with where an enemy's head would be. Headshots do significantly more damage, so it is important that your first shot is always at the enemy's head. This was something that took me a little while to get used to when I first started, but is key to winning your 1 v 1s.

Communication is key. One of the main aspects new players struggle with is learning location names. Studying map location names / nicknames is critical to helping your team win the round and relay information.  

Coordinate “full-buy” rounds with your teammates. You only are given a certain amount of money to spend each round on weapons and abilities. If a team is not in-sync with their buys, they will struggle against an enemy that is coordinating their buys. Be aware of how much spending you and your teammates are doing each round.

Learn to crouch after your first shot. This is a more advanced piece of Valorant gameplay but is critical for a couple reasons. First off, weapon recoil generally will drift up.  This means, after your first bullet, by crouching you increase your chances of landing more shots on an enemy if your crosshair drops to their midsection. In addition, enemies are generally aiming for your head.  By crouching, you are occasionally able to dodge enemy shots, giving you a higher percentage chance of winning the fight.

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Riot Games

Play Valorant!

I hope that this information excites you about one of the hottest shooters in the gaming industry! Valorant is just getting started and I look forward to seeing some of you climbing the ranks on your way to Radiant—the highest rank in the game.  

Good luck and get out there and play some Valorant!

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