Valorant is a team-based tactical shooter and first-person shooter set in the near-future. Players play as one of a set of agents, characters designed based on several countries and cultures around the world. In the main game mode, players are assigned to either the attacking or defending team with each team having five players on it. Agents have unique abilities each requiring charges, as well as a unique ultimate ability which requires charging through kills, deaths, or spike actions. Each player starts each round with a "classic" pistol and with one or more "signature ability" charge. Other weapons and ability charges can be purchased using an in game economic system which awards money based on the outcome of the previous round, any kills the player is responsible for, and any actions taken with the spike. The game has an assortment of weapons including sidearms, submachine guns, shotguns, machine guns, assault rifles and sniper rifles. Automatic and semi-automatic weapons such as the "Spectre," "Odin," and "Vandal" have recoil patterns which have to be controlled by the player in order to be able to shoot accurately.
In the standard non-ranked mode, the match is played as best of 25 - first team to win 13 rounds wins the match. The attacking team has a bomb-type device called the Spike, which they must deliver to a specified location and activate. If the attacking team successfully protects the activated Spike for 45 seconds it detonates and they receive a point. If the defending team is able to deactivate the spike, or the 100-second round timer expires without the attacking team activating the spike, the defending team receives a point.[ If all the members of a team are eliminated before the spike is activated, or if all members of the defending team are eliminated after the spike is activated, the opposing team earns a point.
In the Spike Rush mode, the match is played as best of 7 rounds - the first team to win 4 rounds wins the match. Players begin the round with all abilities fully charged except their ultimate, which charges twice as fast as in standard games. All players on the attacking team carry a spike, but only one spike may be activated per round. Guns are randomized and every player begins with the same gun. Ultimate point orbs present in the standard game are not present, but sometimes a power-up orb will appear in their place.
Competitive matches are the same as standard matches with the addition of a win-based ranking system which assigns a rank to each player after 5 games are played. In July 2020, Riot introduced a "win by two" condition for competitive matches, where instead of playing a single sudden death round at 12-12, teams will alternate playing rounds on attack and defense in overtime until a team claims victory by securing a two match lead. Each overtime round gives players the same amount of money to purchase guns and abilities, as well as approximately half of their ultimate ability charge. After each group of two rounds, players may vote to end the game in a draw, requiring 6 players after the first set, 3 after the second, and thereafter only 1 player to agree to a draw. The competitive ranking system ranges from iron to radiant. Every rank but radiant has 3 tiers.
The Deathmatch mode was introduced on August 5, 2020.14 players enter a 9 minute free-for-all match and the first person to reach 40 kills or the player who has the most kills when time is up wins the match. Players spawn in with a random agent they have unlocked in the game, and all abilities are disabled during the match.
Valorant was developed and published by Riot Games, who have previously developed League of Legends. Development started in 2014, within their research and development division.Joe Ziegler, Valorant's game director, is credited with the initial idea of Valorant while formulating potential games with other Riot developers. David Nottingham is the creative director for Valorant.Trevor Romleski, former League of Legends's designer and Salvatore Garozzo, former professional player and map designer of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive are game designers for Valorant.Moby Francke, former Valve developer, who has been art and character designer for Half-Life 2 and Team Fortress 2, is the art director.
Valorant was built using Unreal Engine 4, which allowed the development team to focus on gameplay and optimizations. In order to reach 30 frames per second on minimum hardware requirements, its engineering team, led by Marcus Reid, who previously worked on Gears of War 4, had to make several modifications to the engine, such as editing the renderer using the engine's mobile rendering path as base.They also optimized server performance by disabling character animations in non-combat situations and removing unnecessary evaluations in the hit registration process.
During development, Riot Games made promises to work towards a ping of less than 35 milliseconds for at least 70% of the game's players. To accomplish this, Riot promised servers in or near most major cities in the world, as well as working with internet service providers to set up dedicated connections to those servers. Due to the increase in internet traffic during the COVID-19 pandemic, Riot has had trouble optimizing connections and ping to their promised levels.