A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Valorant is a free-to-play, competitive, online first-person shooter, available for download on Windows-based PCs. Two teams of five players each compete in fast-paced combat, attempting to either eliminate the opposing team or to plant/disarm a device at the key map locations. Players choose from a selection of diverse Agents and fight against each other using a variety of weapon and abilities. Violence is constant, with some blood spray shown onscreen when players are injured or killed, but there isn't any extremely graphic violence or gore. The free-to-play game model offers a fair amount of content to players, but encourages them to spend real world money on items like cosmetic skins, permanent character unlocks, and "Season Pass" content. Parents should be aware that there's some mild profanity in the dialogue and the in-game chat feature could also expose younger players to other offensive language from others.
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What's it about?
VALORANT is a fast-paced, action-packed battle for power and control over caches of the rare element, Radianite. This futuristic gold rush has brought together a diverse group of "Agents," guns for hire specially equipped to handle the dangers of this new frontier. Players battle it out in epic 5-on-5 team matches, using a device known as a "Spike" to attempt claim the opposition's Radianite stores as their own. Of course, that only works if the opponents don't disarm the Spike first. Then again, when all else fail, players can simply wipe out the other team, leaving the spoils of war to the last team standing.
Is it any good?
The field of online competitive shooters is more than a little crowded these days, so to stand out, new titles need to find a balance somewhere between familiarity and innovation. Valorant, Riot Games' entry in the team-based shooter genre, manages to deftly walk that tightrope by borrowing elements from other games, yet piecing them together in new ways that feel fresh and new. The game's diverse cast of Agents, each with their own unique and distinct special abilities, all fulfill specific roles in matches. But there's enough flexibility to allow players to bring a little of their own strategy to the gameplay and keep Agents from being locked into a specific style. Abilities, Ultimates, and weapon loadouts borrow from Riot's multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game background, with players not having immediate access to most skills, but earning resources on the fly to purchase new equipment and to charge up powers. Since these resources are earned for nearly every action in the game, it adds an extra layer of strategy and balance to matches, with players forced to decide exactly when and where to spend their points.
There are currently only two game modes to play in Valorant, both involving planting or disarming a Spike device or eliminating the opposing team altogether before time runs out. The major difference between the main game mode and Spike Rush is the number of rounds teams play. Unfortunately, this means that as much fun as Valorant is to play, it can get repetitive relatively quickly. This is especially true in the main game mode, with the winner being the first team to win thirteen out of twenty-four rounds. Although rounds tend to be quick, thanks to smaller maps and a 100-second time limit, that's still a lot time spent running through the same streets, hallways, and rooms. The Spike Rush mode is a much shorter, best of seven matchup, but also gives players random loadouts, taking some of the strategic elements away. Still, Riot has put together a strong foundation for a new franchise, and it's more than fun enough to keep players coming back.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in video games. Is the impact of the violence in Valorant affected by the competitive nature of the online gameplay? Would the game be as engaging or entertaining if there wasn't any blood shown? How can parents help to keep the violence in an online, competitive atmosphere from carrying over outside of the game environment?
What are some of the ways to practice being a good sport in an online environment? What are some things kids can do when faced with toxic online behavior in a game?
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