How to play Valorant: 2021 Gameplay Explained cover image

How to play Valorant: 2021 Gameplay Explained

Our Guide to Valorant Gameplay. Everything you need to know about how the game works to get you started!

Overview of Valorant

Valorant is a first-person shooter game that set Twitch records upon its release just over a year ago. It is quite popular in the latest esports news. This popularity means many gamers want to learn how to play. 

Considering Riot Games made Valorant, the same developers who made League of Legends, it’s no surprise it is so popular. The fact that Valorant’s gameplay combines the best of tactical FPS like CS:GO and hero FPS like Overwatch only reinforces its popularity.

Valorant esports soared after a slightly rocky start, in large part due to Covid, and is starting to cement itself as one of the strongest newcomers in the professional scene. It’s in the midst of a very successful champions tour, with the tournament ending at the end of 2021.

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While the Champions tour is a smash hit and will likely become an annual mainstay for Valorant esports, it’s not the only reason for the title’s boost in viewership. Many young and popular esports names like Tenz, Asuna, Wardell, and others are all part of the scene.

Valorant is only in the beginning stages of its life cycle, but Riot consistently updates it. With them continuously pumping out new maps and characters, the game and its meta will likely change significantly as well.

Although Valorant is young, fans of esports should take its prospects of becoming a powerhouse very seriously. Riot’s handling of the League of Legends’ esports scene shows they’re very adept and talented. It’s a good bet they’ll make smart moves when it comes to Valorant.

Match Rules

Although there are a variety of game modes in Valorant, there's only one that truly matters when it comes to the competitive and esports scene. For those who want to learn how to play Valorant at its highest level, they need to learn the rules.

Players can select one of many agents who each have their own special abilities. Each agent has a specific role, whether it’s getting kills, setting up favorable angles or locking down an area. Players will have four teammates by their side and face five opponents, making it a five on five. 

There are four types of agents currently in VALORANT - Image via Riot Games
There are four types of agents currently in VALORANT - Image via Riot Games

The whole premise of Valorant revolves around planting and defusing spikes across multiple rounds. Players will enter the match on a map that has either two or three plant sites and they’ll either be defending or attacking a site. Each team will get a crack at both offense and defense.

Whether a team is on defense or offense, they can win the match if the spike is not planted by simply killing all the members of the other team. However, if the spike is planted the situation changes.

The attacking team who just planted the spike can still win by killing the rest of their opponents, but they can also win by buying enough time for the spike to defuse. Meanwhile, the defending team MUST defuse the spike to win the round.

Each match usually requires 13 victories in a round to win the entire match. The only exception is when both teams have 12 victories. Then, the first team to win two rounds in a row will win the match.

Tip - Walk, Don’t Run

One important thing for new players to know if they want to learn how to play Valorant is stealth. Valorant is a fairly tactical game, so being silent is important. Those who are too loud can find themselves getting caught out, with those who stay silent often being the ambushers.

Although running is good for those who want to traverse the map quicker, walking will make a character’s movement become completely silent. Oftentimes, silence will be more important than speed. 

For example, say a defensive player is on a site that the attacking team thinks they’ve cleared out. By walking and making smart maneuvers, they can get in position to slaughter a team that’s let their guard down. 

Conversely, if a team plants the spike on a site and knows the other defenders will be rotating over, players can silently catch them during the rotation. If they stay silent and walk into a good position to flank from, they can nab some easy kills to opponents in a rush to get to the site.

While thorough and well organized teams probably won’t be as susceptible to this tip, more careless and disorganized teams will be extremely vulnerable. Those who fail to adequately clear out a site or rush into areas while moving locations are the perfect target for stealthy players.

Tip - Don’t Run and Shoot

Another thing that’s important in learning how to play Valorant is gunplay. There are a variety of guns, ranging from pistols, auto rifles, machine guns and more. And with a few exceptions, it’s important to keep relatively still while shooting.

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Aside from certain shotguns and possibly some submachine guns, running while shooting causes a massive dip in accuracy. For some of the more powerful or desirable weapons in the game, like snipers and auto rifles, this can be a death sentence in a gunfight.

Considering how tactical the game is, most encounters will usually not involve much movement. Thus, finding a good position to watch an angle from and keeping your gun stable is of extreme importance. With proper aim, it’s possible for some weapons to kill an opponent in one shot.

Of course, running and gunning while fighting dramatically increases the chances of missing a shot. So unless a player absolutely has to rush, it’s highly recommended for them to take it slow and keep their aim as stable as possible.

Tip - Buying And Saving Your Creds

Another thing to keep in mind are credits. Players will have credits that allow them to purchase guns, abilities and armor. At the end of a round everybody gets credits, but playing well and winning usually grants extra credits. Those who are wise with their credits can gain an advantage.

People who manage their credits well usually see their efforts pay off as the rounds go on. While players shouldn’t be afraid to buy better gear, it’s important to recognize the situation and flow of the match before making rash purchases.

Individuals who identify when it’s a good time to hold back on purchases and when it's a good time to go all in will usually be in more stable financial positions over time. Failing to do this can lead to some wild disadvantages down the line when it comes to weapons, abilities, and armor.

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Knowing how to play Valorant also includes knowing how to manage money. Credits determine what loadout someone will bring into a round, so keeping track of the financial situation of every single player can lead to strategic mismatches.

Tip - Buy Armor

While guns and abilities are important, armor is paramount. There are solid weapons that you can buy at reasonable prices and some players can make it work without heavy ability usage. But armor? Yeah, not having armor is one of the biggest disadvantages a player can put themselves in.

Players always spawn in a round with 100 health. But purchasing light armor bumps the health up to 125, and heavy armor bumps it up to 150. That’s a significant increase and not having it significantly lowers a player’s margin of error in a gunfight. So buy armor, and face opponents on an equal playing field.