Valorant's next cosmetic bundle is looking eerily familiar. The Black Market pack, arriving on April 12, is an unsubtle homage to Counter-Strike conveniently timed with Valve's recent announcement of Counter-Strike 2.
Interestingly, the Black Market bundle is the exact opposite of Valorant's typical style of loud, impossible-looking magical skins. The five included skins transform default Valorant guns into a close approximation of their Counter-Strike equivalents. For example:
- The Vandal becomes an AK-47
- The Bulldog becomes a FAMAS
- The Marshal becomes a Scout (these two already looked pretty similar)
- The Classic becomes a Glock-18
- The knife becomes a butterfly knife
In case you're still unsure if the similarities are a coincidence, the Black Market bundle even references Counter-Strike's terrorist/counter-terrorist format by changing each skin's appearance when you're attacking or defending. If the reference holds up, I assume you'll only see that wood-grain Vandal on attack.
Switch sides // Switch skins. The Black Market Bulldog, Vandal, Marshal, Classic and Butterfly Knife Melee have unique Defender and Attacker appearances. Bundle hits your shop April 12th. pic.twitter.com/MIKsW9Z0QDApril 10, 2023
Reactions to the bundle are appropriately mixed. Some players are enjoying the cheeky Counter-Strike makeovers, while others are taking this as a sign that Riot is intimidated by the buzz around Counter-Strike 2. Personally I think these skins, while simple, are a huge improvement over Valorant's dreadfully boring all-black default skins. It's a shame that they'll probably be wildly overpriced: official pricing hasn't been announced yet, but judging by the way Valorant tends to price bundles, expect to pay anywhere from $60-$80 for all five skins (or $16-$23 per skin).
"I mean guess it's fine, but I can't justify paying money for generic skins for weapons I've used in every FPS shooter for the last 20 years," wrote Redditor xStickyBudz.
Another common reaction is disappointment that the attack/defense skin swapping feature will be exclusive to this bundle. Valorant players have been asking for a similar feature that works for any skin for years, but according to Riot, it hasn't materialized because of the potential strains on hardware requirements.
"More skins and more memory = more load times," wrote associate art director Sean Marino in a response on Reddit. "We want players to get in the game quickly and not have a bunch of things going on in the background preventing you from doing that—more memory means bigger hardware memory requirement."
Fair enough, but if I were a Valorant player I don't think I'd be satisfied. Would players really mind slightly longer loading times if it means more freedom to show off the skins they've paid hundreds or thousands of dollars on?
Riot continues its commitment to keeping Valorant low-spec enough to run on anything, but that comes with sacrifices.