Valorant is coming to console, and it feels shockingly good to play

Valorant is coming to console, and it feels shockingly good to play

Riot Games has officially announced that Valorant is coming to consoles. The announcement of the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 versions of the tactical shooter came during the Summer Game Fest show on Friday, but Polygon had a chance to check out the game early and talk to its developers about how it translates to the new platforms.

Bringing Valorant to consoles was a no-brainer for Riot, according to its developers. After all, in the studio’s opinion, the idea of an audience that wants a complex tactical game isn’t unique to PC. Those kinds of players exist on consoles; they just haven’t really had a game that fits that niche.

“We’re working from the assumption that competitive players are competitive players no matter which platform they choose to play,” Arnar Gylfason, Valorant’s production director, told Polygon. “It is a bit of a leap of faith… to take this hardcore competitive tactical shooter to a platform that doesn’t have the same background and history of tactical shooters as PC.”

A screenshot from Valorant on Xbox Series X, a Phoenix player aims at a Sage player on Bind Image: Riot Games

But even if the audience is there, Riot’s bigger challenge was making sure it got the gameplay right when translating it from PC to console.

“The guiding light was always that the game has to feel good to play on consoles for us to want to make it,” Gylfason said. “That was always true. When the game didn’t feel right or wasn’t fun to play, we were like, We either need to solve this or not [make] it.

The first big hurdle was figuring out how to translate Valorant’s methodical shooting to a controller. Precise gunplay is the name of the game for Valorant’s PC version, so the console version needed to match it without the benefit of a keyboard and mouse to make that precision easier. Riot’s answer to this is something called Focus Mode, which lets players enter a different, lower-sensitivity mode when they pull L2 or the left trigger.

Jett preparing to throw shuriken in Valorant Image: The Game Awards/Twitch

According to Gylfason, this mode serves two purposes for Riot. It allows for the kind of precision that Valorant’s quick gunfights necessitate, allowing players to flick their analog stick toward targets in a snap before tapping the trigger to finesse their reticles to the target’s head. It also lets Riot keep the familiar “left trigger then right trigger” mechanism common in console shooters — the same one that Call of Duty helped establish nearly two decades ago.

All of this leads to an experience that, in my time playing, feels fundamentally and unmistakably like Valorant. It’s still a tactical shooter, it’s still slow-paced and careful, and almost no changes have been made to the core gameplay to move it over to consoles. Gunfights are also still extremely quick and demanding, rewarding headshots above everything. And the Focus Mode, mixed with some very light aim assist, makes getting those headshots feel as smooth and gratifying as it does on the PC original, if a little less precise.

A Sova player is planting the Spike in a game of Valorant while his teammates, Sage and Jett, watch for enemy players Image: Riot Games

“It truly needed to feel like Valorant with a different input mechanism,” Gylfason said in a presentation to journalists and content creators ahead of the console version’s reveal. “We never want players to feel like second-class citizens just based on what platform they choose to play on.”

But just because Riot’s looking to tap into the console audience with this version of the game doesn’t mean that PC players can’t dip their toes into Xbox and PlayStation once in a while. As part of the console version’s initial announcement, Riot also made it clear that all progress and cosmetics will transfer between players’ accounts on any platform, so you won’t have to rebuy skins no matter where you’re playing.

The one thing that won’t transfer is your competitive rank, which will be separate for PC and consoles. This is in large part due to the fact that Riot will not be offering crossplay between PC and console for Valorant — though Xbox and PlayStation players will be able to play together. While aiming on consoles feels great, it doesn’t match the speed and precision of a mouse and keyboard, which is likely why Riot’s keeping those rankings separate.

Valorant’s console versions will be playable in a limited beta that begins on June 14 on both Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5, but the developer hasn’t revealed a full release date for the game just yet.