Described as a mix of Overwatch ultimates with the mechanics of Counter-Strike, Valorant has been one of the most popular shooters since its closed beta launched. It’s hugely technical, with lots of traps, mechanics and elements that you need to know before jumping in. So before the game’s official launch on June 2, here’s everything a new player needs to know.
This story has been updated since its original publication and retimed to coincide with the game’s launch.
Valorant: How To Download
First thing you’ll need is a Riot account, so if you don’t have that, create one here. The page redirects to the Oceania League of Legends page, but Riot accounts are linked now, so your OCE account for Valorant will be the same one you can use for TFT, League, and Legends of Runeterra.
After making that, you’ll need the Valorant client. You can download that direct from Riot’s servers via this link. It’ll download the Valorant launcher, which is about ~66mb, and then you’ll be able to download the full game after logging in. That’s about 7GB at the time of writing, but if you played during the closed beta, you’ll only have a 2GB update.
Valorant Aiming: Learn the weapon recoil from the in-game aiming range.
Once you’ve run through the in-game tutorial, you can return to Valorant‘s shooting range at any time by hitting the practice button in the top-right of the main menu. The shooting range is essential for giving you a grip on the game’s weapons and your own controls.
By default, the shooting range spawns 30 bots a few seconds at a time. It’s a good start for getting a general feel of flicking from one target to another, but if you hit F3 you’ll be able to have the bots run around. This doesn’t just make them move, but it also widens the field in front of you, which is a better test of your abilities.
More importantly, the shooting range is a good opportunity to just learn how the guns function. If you’re coming from Counter-Strike, the five guns you’ll use the most are probably the Ghost, the Sheriff, Phantom, Vandal, and the Operator. I’ll explain which gun is best for what situation next, but the shooting range is a place where you can test the recoil and just mess around with the ones you like the most.
Convert your Valorant sensitivity from another game.
Valorant is all about high precision. So to get the best start when you do get into the beta, it’s best to look at what other shooters you play.
Anyone interested in Valorant will probably have spent some time with CS:GO, Overwatch, Rainbow 6: Siege, Call of Duty, Apex, Fortnite or some other competitive shooter. And if you’ve spent time with those, you can convert your mouse sensitivity right over.
GamePros has the best sensitivity converter tool around, since it’s free and has a huge list of games that you can use for conversions. If you don’t have any idea of what sensitivity to start with, 0.5 is the default. It’s a relatively high sensitivity, so run some drills with the in-game aim trainer and keep adjusting your aim up or down by 0.01 if you feel like you’re overshooting or undershooting targets.
Don’t crouch, learn how to walk while shooting, and learn how to tap.
There are situations when crouching will genuinely help, but a lot of the time crouching will just make you an easier target. Valorant currently has a mechanic where you can still accurately shoot while holding down the walk key.
It’s made life especially tricky if you come from Counter-Strike, a game that forces you to counter-strafe the direction you’re running to get the most accuracy. In Valorant, you can hold down SHIFT while you’re shooting, which makes you a harder target to hit. It also gives you the chance to realign your aim if your crosshair is slightly off target too, and those things combined will give you more opportunities for more kills. The developers have talked about increasing the movement penalty on accuracy, but for now, you’ll want to become comfortable with a degree of moving and shooting at the same time.
Another useful tip for firefights: try not to spam. Most guns are perfectly accurate after four or five bullets, but if you try and spam beyond that you’ll find yourself running into a lot of trouble. It’s better to fire a few shots, be patient, reset your position and then shoot again. Recoil resets fairly quickly, and you’ll get more kills, win more rounds and clutches with a bit of patience.
Your Valorant rank doesn’t matter.
Like Counter-Strike, Overwatch and anything with a competitive bent, there’s always going to be a focus on climbing the ladder. But it’s worth remembering that it’s more important to get better at the game over time. Fundamentals matter more than winning the match you’re in right now.
It helps to keep that mind, especially once the game becomes broadly available and everyone starts learning all at once. People are going to run around and do crazy things. Teammates won’t necessarily know what’s happening in front of them. They might not know how to use their abilities, or when they should use them. Players new to competitive shooters might not react the way you want when a bomb is planted, or they might bait a little bit.
All of that, naturally, is going to affect how many ranked games you might win. That’s entirely normal. What’s important is to focus on enjoying yourself and the things you’re doing, and what you need to do to get better. If you get too caught up in the idea of constantly watching your career profile get better, you’re going to ingrain habits that won’t actually make you a better player. Worry about the basics, think about what you want to do each round, be strict with it, and just enjoy yourself.
Valorant Guns: Know which one suits you best.
Out of all the weapons, the ones you’ll spend the most time with are the Phantom and Vandal. They’re effectively the equivalent of the M4A1 or AK-47 from Counter-Strike, with the Phantom having lower recoil and a higher rate of fire, but less damage to armour from 15 metres and beyond. The Vandal is a great gun if you love one-tapping faces, and given that Australians will always be around 150-250ms behind their American opponents, it’s not bad to get accustomed to a weapon that can kill in a single hit.
The Operator is the AWP of Valorant, able to kill with a single body shot and capable of doing enormous damage through walls. It’s the most expensive gun in the game at $4500, so you’ll need to save accordingly. Like CS, you can get multiple kills with a single AWP bullet, and it’s a great tool for holding long sight lines.
Outside of that, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. Most people will either buy armour and use the “Classic” pistol (which is like the Glock from Counter-Strike) to save money for abilities. The Sheriff is a guaranteed one-shot headshot under any circumstances, and the Ghost functions very similarly to the USP from Counter-Strike 1.6. The second and third round is where you’ll want to look at the Spectre, since it’s a fully automatic sub-machine gun for $1600 that’s easy to control.
All the other guns are largely situational. The Shorty is a two-bullet shotgun that’s $200 and great for holding close quarters if you don’t mind a do-or-die type weapon. The Bucky costs $900 and can combo really well with certain abilities if you want to get aggressive, like Jett’s dash and updraft. The Stinger is a $1000 burst-fire sub-machine gun that’s handy for longer sight lines, if you want to save money earlier in the game for an Operator. The Marshal is the second sniper rifle in the game, costing $1100, but requiring two body shots to kill (like the Scout from Counter-Strike).
Valorant Abilities: Don’t waste them!
If you don’t need to use an ability or an ultimate in a round, don’t use it. Abilities carry over from one round to the next, helping you save money for crucial rounds later in the game. The difference here is with ultimates like Sage’s resurrection. Resurrecting a teammate even after you’ve won the round can let them save thousands of dollars by picking up a nearby weapon – provided you res them with enough time left on the clock.
More importantly, even something as simple as holding an Omen or Brimstone smoke can mean the difference between a win or a lost clutch. It’s teamwork that gets you into bombsites and helps you retake them, not massive solo plays. Sure – players can pop off from time to time. But you’ll win more rounds if you always have a bit of utility up your sleeve when the round gets tight, as opposed to panicking and spamming all your abilities in the first 30 seconds.
Be careful about using abilities when enemies are close, and don’t forget how long an ability takes to activate.
Each character in Valorant has a different animation and cooldown on their ability. Very few of those animations are short enough that you can get away with using an ability against a charging enemy. A lot of new players end up dying in duels or losing a round because they thought they had more time and space than they did, as they forget to factor in the sound, cooldown and delay on using their abilities.
The same goes for the start of a round. In Valorant, players can run to certain points of the map during the buy phase before the round starts. What this means is that people will then usually go for a pick, or use abilities to try and zone out certain chokepoints, bombsites or angles as soon as the round begins.
But what’s important to remember is how long it takes for those abilities to activate. Brimstone’s orbital smokes, for instance, take about three to four seconds before the smoke actually covers the area you want. I’ve seen countless players die because they fired off a smoke and ran out thinking the area was covered before it actually was.
The same applies to characters like Viper, Breach, and Omen, who all have a smoke or smoke grenade-equivalent ability of their own. Omen’s grenade is the weirdest of all to use, as it brings up a map and forces you to use the right click to move the grenade to the location you want. It’s effective at covering an area, but it’s slow moving, so it’s not something you can deploy on the run during a rush.
Jett’s smoke grenade is unique too. You can either throw it directly by tapping the key, or you can hold down the ability (C by default) and then move your crosshair. Doing this will cause Jett’s smoke grenade to curve in the direction of the crosshair, which is super handy for rushing bombsites or blocking areas that you can’t directly see. The other advantage of Jett’s smoke is that it’s a little faster than other characters, so it’s great for a quick attack.
Phoenix is another character that you’ll want to be careful with, since his flashes have a certain arc that they always follow. You’ll flash yourself and your teammates if you screw it up, so practice with it a little bit in the firing range to get a feel for how it works.
Know which walls you can and can’t shoot through.
Here’s a fun thing that the Valorant tutorial doesn’t really tell you. If you ever want to know what objects you can and can’t shoot through, simply look at the hit marker on the object. In the image above, you’ll see a large hole hole where some bullets have been spammed through the box. That means the bullets have gone through, and anyone standing behind is ripe for a bit of spam.
Walls that can’t be shot through won’t have a hole in them – you’ll simply hear and see sparks flying off the wall every time you shoot. It’s a quick visual tip, but one that can really help you out in a clutch situation.
Right-click a gun to ask a teammate to buy it.
You don’t have to physically drop guns to your teammates in Valorant. If you can’t afford a weapon, simply right-click it in the menu and your teammates will have the option of buying the gun for you. They can be anywhere on the map when this happens, as long as it’s within the 30 second period before the match begins.
Similarly, if a teammate wants you to buy a gun for them, just click the buy icon that appears next to their portrait in the buy menu. Sharing is caring!
Communicate as much as you can, and don’t forget to ping the map with Z.
Even if you don’t have a microphone, let your teammates know where you died! The radar has a pretty clear icon when an enemy shows up or kills a teammate, but you can’t rely on everyone looking at the radar at all times. Verbal communication is always faster. Similarly, if you’re talking to your teammates more, they’ll also be more likely to help you out when you need it – whether that’s through buying a gun later on, peeking a corner with you at the same time, or making sure you’re covered when planting the spike.
You won’t know this as soon as you start playing, but the map also has some general locations for different parts of the map. You’ll learn all of these over time, but in the interim you can tap Z to ping wherever your crosshair is aiming. Holding down the ping key will also bring up a wheel, similar to Apex Legends, where you can issue different commands. It’s still best to use voice chat for co-ordinating attacks, but if you at least ping the locations of enemy sounds, teammates will be able to make better decisions when rotating around the map.
Always peek with your teammates.
Here’s one of the biggest pieces of advice for winning more rounds. If you see a teammate going around a corner, in almost every situation it’s a good idea to make sure you’re as close to them as possible. If they miss their shot or screw up, you’ll have the best opportunity for getting the kill straight away. If you wait too long, the enemy will have more time for their recoil to reset, more time to use abilities, and more time to get support.
Similarly, encourage your teammates to pick with you at the same time. It’s easiest if you ask beforehand and just co-ordinate verbally. But if you just make sure you’re peeking with your teammates when entering sites and checking corners, you’ll get more kills and win more rounds over time, guaranteed.
Don’t bait, basically.
Know some good smokes and entry points to cover sites.
Attacking can be one of the hardest things in a game like Valorant – or Counter-Strike. But attacking gets a lot easier if you know how to close off portions of a site before walking in. Most of Valorant‘s roster has some ability for doing this, and characters like Sova can reveal locations too by firing recon darts over the top of walls.
Valorant doesn’t have a skybox, so you can even be really clever in how you defend or attack bombsites. There are some great videos on YouTube, including this one which highlights many bolts that will help reveal defender locations, attacker rushes, and more. If you see an enemy recon bolt, just shoot it with any weapon and it’ll immediately disable the vision. It’ll disappear on its own after a couple of seconds, though.
Two things to keep in mind: recon bolts are line of sight only, so it can’t see behind walls. Smokes and Phoenix/Viper’s walls of fire or poison will block the recon bolts too, so keep that in mind.
Keep an eye on the enemy team’s money and ultimate status.
The game updates you every round on how much money the enemy team has and their ultimate status. The money’s more important, as it gives you an indicator as to how much utility they might be able to purchase. That gives you more choices in determining how to hold (or attack) a site. It can be handy in a clutch situation as well, since you’ll know whether a Raze could be holding a rocket launcher to defend a spike plant.
Know which characters combine with others.
Every character has an ability that works really well in conjunction with another. Sage’s Ice Wall has already been used a ton by Jett and Omen characters to reach some truly dirty spots, but there’s also a lot of other small interactions that can help you win a round.
The sound of Raze’s Boom Bot, for instance, can be easily masked and hidden with gunfire and some smokes from Brimstone or Omen. It’s a great way of forcing enemies in small bombsites to reveal themselves when they wouldn’t otherwise want to (as the Boom Bot will kill them if it gets too close). Sage’s ice orbs can be lobbed over walls, trapping defenders in the open when trying to snipe or hold long site lines. Even something as simple as Sova’s recon bolts can be a great way to bait out an opponent before going for a pick, because many newer players will often instinctively try to shoot the bolt without thinking that an opponent will pick beforehand.
Sova’s wall can be a great offensive utility too, as it’ll boost up any players on top of the wall when it spawns. This is a great way to give yourself and a teammate a height advantage when picking early in the round, although it means you lose the ability to zone out a chokepoint or doorway later on when you might need it a lot more.