If we must: How to make the ideal VALORANT battle royale
We’re heading down a path that all shooters have to travel, even if they shouldn’t. In the first week of July, various outlets have reported that a battle royale mode for VALORANT is in the works. According to various VALORANT insiders, several players from the Chinese PUBG were invited to playtest the mode back in November. Likely, the mode will launch along with the confirmed release on mobile, but the timeframe for that is uncertain. This makes sense give how insanely popular mobile battle royales are in games like China and India.
It’s hard to imagine a game like VALORANT, a tactical shooter with direct influences from CS:GO and Overwatch, with a battle royale mode. That being said, CS:GO does have one in Danger Zone, but it pales in comparison to other dedicated BR games. It can give us a small source of inspiration when it comes to planning a battle royale for VALORANT, but this is no easy task.
If we must have a VALORANT battle royale mode, here’s what we gotta do.
Designing a VALORANT battle royale map
Arguably the most important feature of a successful battle royale. Maps like Warzone’s Verdansk, Apex Legends’ Kings Canyon or World’s Edge, and (checks notes) the Fortnite map are all vast, detailed, and meticulously designed. So if VALORANT is really going to jump into a crowded battle royale scene, the map has to be solid.
So since a focus of VALORANT is knowing callouts and angles, what if we took all the maps and stitched them together? A map the size of Verdansk or Kings Canyon feels far too big for VALORANT, and a battle royale would need a map larger than a standard VALORANT map, even Breeze. With this idea, we get something akin to the Danger Zone map that’s large enough for people to move around but not so large that players are spending 10-15 minutes. Take one of the maps and place it in the center, serving as the final zone, and stitch the other five together around it.
With all the maps stitched together like a makeshift quilt, the benefit of knowing callouts and angles can be applied to the battle royale mode. With all the maps having different skyboxes, we could slap the visuals from Astra’s barrier on all the backdrops. For the purposes of lore, we could say that she pulled all the agents into her astral projection. Potentially, five maps would surround the sixth map, with that map serving as the central zone towards the end of a match. The problem with designing a battle royale map is that it wouldn’t feel like a VALORANT map, so this feels like a better solution.
VALORANT battle royale weapons and abilities
With weapons and abilities, it’d be nice to see some progression take place during a battle royale match. Let’s start in the beginning. In Fortnite and Apex, players start out with nothing, while Warzone players will drop with a pistol. For the VALORANT battle royale, it would be best if players started with a Classic pistol, given how atrocious the knife hitboxes are.
With each kill, players will be rewarded an ability point, which they can spend in a variety of ways. They can purchase one of their signature abilities, buy a basic weapon, or pool their ability points to unlock their ultimate or buy a better weapon. Players can also earn ability points by assisting their teammates, picking them up, or reaching milestones like being alive after half the players have been eliminated or after the map collapses in.
This is just the foundation of an idea for weapons and abilities that can be easily altered. Players might also be able to just pick up weapons that are laid out on the ground. Instead of earning ability points from kills, players could also earn credits from kills, earning more from players who’ve killed more. But the premise is the same as any other BR: start small, get kills, earn gear and abilities, then the surviving players duke it out when they’re decked out in the final stages.
VALORANT battle royale balancing and other gameplay issues
It goes without saying I’ve never designed a battle royale before. I’ve barely played them relative to other gamers, having put just a little bit of time into all of them. Solving balancing issues before they arise is a necessity, as more will inevitably arise after release.
Weapons like the ODIN and the primary rifles such as the Vandal and Phantom shouldn’t be available right away. In a BR map as small as the one envisioned, one player with one of these guns is going to clean up against players with pistols.
Where we run into a real conundrum is agent selection. In battle royales like Fortnite, Warzone, and PUBG, the character used has no effect on the game. The only popular BR that does is Apex Legends, but those characters were designed to compete in a battle royale, not a round-by-round tac shooter. Some ultimates would be insanely overpowered in a BR setting. Jett’s knives reset on a kill, meaning in theory she could literally knife every other player. Cypher uses an enemy corpse to reveal all other enemies. Omen can teleport anywhere. It’d be a shame to remove ultimates altogether, so altering ultimates slightly seems the way to go. Maybe Jett’s knife reload caps out at five kills, and both Cypher and Omen have maximum ranges for their ultimates.
Thankfully, I’m not in charge of creating the VALORANT battle royale, if one even exists. I understand why it’s being made; not to appease the current base but to attract new players on a future platform (mobile). The presence of a battle royale is going to upset some fans, and how it’s produced will likely upset some others. It’s rare for a game to add a battle royale mode that explodes in popularity; see CS:GO’s Danger Zone. The exception is Warzone, which has become so large that it’s essentially its own game. That’s the goal for VALORANT BR, but hardly the expectation. It might be a long time before we see any footage for the alleged new mode. But if they take any of my ideas I expect a check in the mail.