VALORANT Beta Review (Xbox) - Riot Makes Its Console Debut With A Well-Crafted Shooter

We can still remember the hype when Riot Games launched its Counter-Strike-like shooter VALORANT on PC a few years ago now - there was a lot of excitement around such an esteemed developer taking on Valve's mammoth FPS series head-on. Four years later, the team is bringing the game to console, and its initial beta has gotten off to a pretty good start on Xbox.

We've had access to said beta for a week-or-so now, and besides playing through the helpful tutorial and messing about in the game's practice area, we've only started to dip our toe into public matches in the grand scheme of things. Riot has designed VALORANT to bring players in through a fairly simple team-shooter concept, while then providing tons of depth for hardcore FPS fans - and it seems to be getting that balance pretty spot on.

So, take this beta review as very-much an initial gathering of our thoughts on VALORANT. You'd need to put hundreds of hours into this game to properly learn all of its mechanics, maps and varied heroes - but we can say that the game plays very well on console and you can tell that Riot has been cooking this version up for some time.

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Heading into public matches, you'll immediately get that Counter-Strike feel. Gunfights are intense, and are as much about the placement of your character, the angles you're shooting at, and your overall accuracy when trying to take down foes. Weapons are punchy and weighty, and they're not afraid to punish you if you decide that moving around a whole lot while firing is a good idea. It most certainly isn't.

Therefore, it's best to be patient when it comes to VALORANT combat, especially if you're playing one of the traditional no-respawn game modes. A plant-the-bomb affair is what Riot's shooter is centered around — as you'd probably expect — and the game's intricate map design combined with its massive variation in player abilities gives the mode quite a bit of depth for something that's been done loads over the years. We had fun here, even if we got our arses kicked aplenty.

This mode also borrows that CS-style weapon-buying economy, where players earn cash throughout matches that they can spend at the start of each round on various weapons and kit upgrades. It means you're starting out with a pistol and will be notably punished when falling in battle - but it does provide quite a nice balancing act to sort out throughout matches. Knowing what to purchase and when to buy it is something that you'll learn over time, and even something that you'll just get a feel for in each individual match.

VALORANT Beta Review (Xbox) - Riot Makes Its Console Debut With A Well-Crafted Shooter 1

There are other modes here in VALORANT, and we must admit, we spent a fair amount of our time playing good old Team Deathmatch here (it actually allowed us to rack up some kills, OK?). This is pretty much as you'd expect for the game mode - although it does work-in a 'Gun Game' style progression system where weapons cycle up as the game progresses. This helps keep things nice and even as each team moves from basic pistols to powerful assault rifles. If you want a more casual PvP VALORANT experience to begin with, we recommend heading here first.

Okay, so, characters. VALORANT has absolutely tons of 'Agents' baked into its multiplayer suite at this stage, and this — along with the visuals — is where the game feels more akin to Overwatch than Counter-Strike. All heroes have two abilities alongside a chargeable 'Ultimate', and although some of these do overlap in nature, we can see there being loads of depth to learning all of these mechanics and finding the right hero for you. Truth be told we need more time for further comment on this system and to find our top pick, but we're sure to be on that road as the game progresses from beta to the full launch.

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From a technical perspective VALORANT feels great on Xbox Series X. This is miles and miles away from that dodgy Counter-Strike: Global Offensive port we got for Xbox 360 back in the day, and as we mentioned earlier, Riot has done a brilliant job at making the gunplay feel great on a controller. The team has split the player bases between console and PC though in the name of fairness, and we think that was probably a good shout. You simply need decent aim-assist in a game like this to make it play nicely on controller!

In the end, we're intrigued by where VALORANT will end up on Xbox. This beta is certainly a solid start, and this is quite different to most console shooters out there for its weapon mechanics alone. It's going to take us some time to properly learn the game, but with Riot's might behind it, VALORANT feels like an FPS that's worth investing in. For now, the beta is a sign-up-and-see job, but the full game will be free-to-play when it properly launches - just as it is on PC.

Tell us if you've been playing VALORANT on Xbox, and what you think of it so far!