CS:GO and esports professional host James “Banks” Banks spoke to Hotspawn’s Lawrence “Malystryx” Phillips about his first impressions playing Valorant, and shared some hot tips for newcomers to Riot Games’ new FPS.
Malystryx: The hype around Valorant ramped up incredibly quickly over the last week. Ahead of the closed beta launch what were your general feelings about it, and how have they changed now you’ve played and seen it in action?
Banks: So I wasn’t involved in anything before April 7 but I was creating interviews with people who had. The hype coming into the game came from a lot of the developers coming from a solid FPS background, for example, the notable ex-pro from the golden 1.6 era Volcano, who was involved in creating maps like de_cache in CS:GO. At first, I was certainly skeptical about this whole CS:GO killer kind of mentality, which I do hate.
There is plenty of room for multiple FPS games to succeed competitively and after 16 hours played across two days, I haven’t felt this good about an FPS game with potential since CS itself. Take it this way, I play a lot of MMOs to chill, I enjoyed Apex, Fortnite and love PUBG but it wouldn’t hold me for this many hours without moving or changing…I can even feel my fingers starting to strain a bit so I need to take a break…old age setting in.
Malystryx: Yes, I’ve seen people label it a “CS killer,” perhaps a bit of a stretch. What have Riot Games got right about Valorant, what would an avid CS:GO or FPS player find particularly addictive about it?
Banks: Nothing can kill CS:GO because of the history of the game, what it offers, how basic it is to get into but how hard it is to learn and develop in. What Riot Games did to make FPS players, in general, find this game appealing is the true competitive side of the game, guns that work, agents that are mainly balanced, Raze is the exception here at the moment.
The abilities/utility that agents have do not feel like they take away from the raw aim required in the game, it offers tactical development just like CS:GO does but in a different way. I have played a lot of alphas and betas in my time and never have I had one like this that came out so polished and with the right feeling.
Malystryx: What is it about Raze that makes her the exception?
Banks: Raze, is a female Agent in the game that has abilities that are just overpowered at the moment. A rocket launcher ultimate called Showstopper, the boom bot that bounces off walls and goes in a line before exploding, a cluster grenade that does a lot of damage to the area it hits, and a Blast Pack you can stick to the wall, detonate and do further damage with.
All of her skills are damage, which isn’t the same across all of the other characters, it would be better to give her some utility to do it rather than damage in every single thing she does. Dynamite would be good if it wasn’t multiple explosions, might be more viable. Maybe if her ultimate wasn’t damaged base then it would even out the rest of it…we will have to wait and see what they do to her.
It just needs some tweaking because at the moment you can just take full control of a game by using her abilities correctly, put that together with good aim and getting a lot of kills you can have the ultimate up incredibly quickly. Her rocket is certainly more than just utility, does insane damage and just needs to be changed a bit, it just goes against what the game was meant to be from the early conversations with developers.
Malystryx: Which agent have you got stuck into the most, and why would you recommend them?
Banks: I have played tons of Sova, he has an ability called recon that lets you see through walls by placing a dart on the wall, it isn’t as overpowered as I thought it would be either. His ultimate can shoot through walls and if you pair both together you can take down enemies well but it isn’t easy to master at all. He can also bounce his arrows of walls one or two times which helps for where you can aim it and his shock bolt can do some additional damage before you go into a main fight.
Why should other people play him? I think you should play all agents to understand what they do and who you go up against, I went in with pure FPS wanting to just ignore abilities and kill but I quickly realized that wouldn’t work, I just found Sova and really liked him. Find what fits your play style.
Malystryx: You mentioned the abilities don’t take away from the raw aim, but I noticed KennyS tweeting that he felt the game was “too easy” due to many weapons “having a non-existent recoil.” What are your thoughts?
Banks: So I think he may need to put some more time in, yes the recoil on some guns is lesser but it does actually have hard patterns to follow on some guns, it isn’t so bad where you can just spray and pray and get away with it. By raw aim I mean straight aiming and firing, recoil control is certainly for me easier than CS:GO but I haven’t mastered it yet. CS pros will find it easy at the start for sure but for, example, we saw last night (April 8) some of the top streamers including veteran FPS gods like shroud, flom and skadoodle go up against the developers and they lost despite having some of the best aimers going.
This shows to me the depth of the abilities and tactical side when we get further into it. I am very interested in seeing a team like NiP Gaming, former ex-Paladins world champion players get into this because their game is a better but less popular version of Overwatch, but to me, they should be able to adapt to it incredibly easily. What makes me laugh is certain players from CS:GO who didn’t make it to the top thinking they can go pro in VALORANT off pure aim, yet these are the same people who didn’t learn basic smoke line ups. When the abilities and tactics get developed and come in they won’t last if they don’t learn.
Malystryx: What are some things you’ve learned so far that you wish you worked out quicker?
Banks: 100% look at abilities sooner, I spent the first few games just fragging, even forgetting my ultimate. When I mastered my abilities in the best way possible with Sova I had a 41 kill game and MVP spot, making the abilities and my CS:GO skills work out. Also going into training mode and looking at all the agents was key, learning what to look out for, how to combat and counter other abilities on different agents.
Malystryx: Any popular CS:GO faces you see tearing up the servers? Who seems massively into getting good at it?
Banks: Smooya was doing well on stream, onscreen had some solid games, Shroud and Skadoodle were owning. Haven’t managed to check out fl0m yet but he should be owning, his aim in CS:GO was always solid. NBK from OG tweeted some of his games and he was doing great as well. I think for now the streamers are the ones who are massively into getting good at it, all CS:GO players even the top tier pros want to try it but it won’t replace CS:GO for them because this is a new game and CS:GO already is developed and where they should spend their time, that is why I mentioned before that Kenny would need to give it some more time.