Valorant, Riot's new free-to-play hardcore FPS, will launch summer 2020

You won't have to wait long to play Riot Games' take on a hardcore shooter, because "Project A," aka Valorant, is planned to release this summer. Announced during a recent hands-on preview event, producer Anna Donlon revealed that Valorant would first go through a beta test before Riot Games would confirm an exact release date, but that Riot was "committed to that summer window."

"We're not going to give a definitive date yet because a lot of that is going to have to do with what we learn in our beta," Donlon said. "If we have a very successful beta, maybe earlier in the summer. If we have some kinks to work out, maybe later in the summer."

Donlon did not specify when Valorant's beta would happen, or whether it would be an open or closed beta, but it's reasonable to assume it might mirror Riot's other new game Legends of Runeterra, which is currently in open beta but is closing in on a full release in the next few months.

Still, it's exciting that Valorant will be released so soon. It was originally announced as "Project A" during Riot's 10th anniversary livestream in October 2019. Valorant is a competitive shooter that borrows liberally from both Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Overwatch. Players fight in 5v5 bomb matches that can last up to 24 rounds, using money earned in combat to purchase weapons and special character-specific abilities. Unlike Overwatch, though, Valorant's emphasis is on highly precise and fatal gunplay with special abilities taking a backseat. For example, a character's ultimate ability, like Brimstone's orbital bombardment, can take several rounds to recharge between uses.

Though parts of Valorant definitely seem derivative of other games, Riot is banking on winning over fans thanks to under-the-hood server performance and air-tight anticheat. Dedicated servers will run with a 128 tick rate, doubling the accuracy of data sent between players and the servers (CS:GO only uses servers with a tick rate of 64), and Valorant was built from the ground up to prevent cheaters and hackers from exploiting it—though we won't know how effective that'll be until it's in players' hands.

Despite how obviously Valorant is mimicking CS:GO, Wes really enjoyed what he played of it —and it's not like there's a lot of competition for Valve's enormously popular shooter.

Read his big feature on the design of Valorant here, which focuses in on how Riot designed its combat, netcode and anti-cheat. Then check out our overview of all the latest information and our character guide, which details the eight confirmed agents and their special abilities.

Valorant will launch sometime this summer and will be free to play.

Steven Messner

With over 7 years of experience with in-depth feature reporting, Steven's mission is to chronicle the fascinating ways that games intersect our lives. Whether it's colossal in-game wars in an MMO, or long-haul truckers who turn to games to protect them from the loneliness of the open road, Steven tries to unearth PC gaming's greatest untold stories. His love of PC gaming started extremely early. Without money to spend, he spent an entire day watching the progress bar on a 25mb download of the Heroes of Might and Magic 2 demo that he then played for at least a hundred hours. It was a good demo.