A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Although there are some underlying plot points if players want to dig into the expanded lore of the characters outside of the game, the main premise is to either plant a device (the "Spike") in the opposing team's territory when on offense, to disarm the device when on defense, or just lay waste to the opposing team.
Positive Role Models
The game has a diverse cast of Agents with a wide range of abilities, but there's not much room for character development outside of short bios. Basically, each Agent is designed to fill a specific role and that's as far as it goes.
Ease of Play
The basic mechanics of the game should feel familiar to first-person shooter fans. There are other nuances though, such as the variety of Agent abilities and the use of in-game resources to fuel those abilities and to select weapons.
Violence & Scariness
The game's focus is player versus player combat, so violence is constant. Players use a range of weapons and abilities against each other, including guns, blades, arrows, explosives, and more. Some blood spray shows onscreen whenever characters take damage or are killed.
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Some profanity, such as "s--t," can occasionally be heard in the characters' dialogue. Parents should also be aware that the game's online chat, both text and voice, could potentially expose younger players to other offensive language and content.
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Products & Purchases
The game is free-to-play, with a rotating limited selection of freely available playable Agents. Players can unlock Agents and earn extra content and cosmetics via gameplay or by purchasing items with in-game currency bought with real world money.
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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.