Valorant Guide for Beginners (Everything You Need to Know)
Welcome to our absolute beginner’s guide for Valorant.
This is meant for new players that are just starting out and getting on their feet.
We’re going to make the assumption that you’ve never played Counterstrike or similar titles.
We’ll include frequently asked questions throughout the article.
What is Valorant?
Valorant is what’s known as a “tactical shooter”.
The pacing is much slower than other shooting games like Overwatch and Call of Duty.
Although aiming is definitely key, gameplay can often feel like a chess match due to the emphasis on strategic decisionmaking.
This is because guns are very lethal – there aren’t rechargeable shields or respawns so every move matters.
How does a Valorant match work? How do you win a Valorant match?
Valorant’s standard game mode involves two teams of five players using characters called agents.
The two teams use the abilities of their agents and guns to face off in a series of short rounds.
In order to win a match, teams need to win a total of thirteen rounds.
One of the teams begins as the “attackers” and the other begins as the “defenders”.
After twelve rounds, the attackers and defenders switch sides.
The goal of the attackers is to plant a bomb called a “spike” in the base of the defenders.
The goal of the defenders is to stop them from doing this.
If the attackers plant the spike, they must protect it for 45 seconds until it explodes.
During this time, defenders can stop it from exploding by defusing it.
A team can also win by killing all members of the other team (as long as the spike hasn’t been planted by the attackers yet).
FAQ: Is this the only game mode in Valorant?
Right now there are only two game modes: the standard mode that is used in unrated and ranked matches, and Spike Rush.
Spike Rush is designed to be a much faster game mode that’s easy to jump into if you don’t have a lot of time.
It’s first to four wins and the attacking side gets five spikes (one per agent) to accelerate the action.
All players get the same identical gun at random so you don’t have to worry about the shop.
There are also special powerups around the map that grant benefits such as allowing you to run faster or upgrading to a better gun.
There are currently eleven playable agents in Valorant.
The agents all have varying playstyles, strengths, and weaknesses.
Every agent has four abilities including one incredibly powerful one called an ultimate.
Some abilities are purchased using credits at the beginning of a round while others can be cast for free but have a cooldown before they can be used again.
Each team can only choose an agent one time, you cannot have duplicates on the same team.
This allows you to build a team to revolve around different synergies and strategies.
Here are a few examples of the four different agent classes and their roles in a team composition.
In Valorant, players will often take angles behind cover to occupy and protect important areas of interest.
Initiators lead the way for their team with abilities that are ideal for engaging combat.
Breach is the epitome of an initiator as he has multiple crowd control abilities that can be fired through walls and terrain.
For example, he can create an earthquake that stuns enemies or shoot a flashbang that blinds them.
This allows his teammates to push and kill enemies while they’re vulnerable and disorganized.
His ultimate, Rolling Thunder, can be fired from a long-range and knocks up everyone in its path.
This is a great tool for pushing onto a site to plant the spike or to try and defuse the spike by clearing enemies defending it.
While initiators set up the action for their team, duelists are the best fighters in Valorant.
Their skills are usually more geared toward combat rather than providing utility and they are usually built to be self-sufficient.
Our example of a duelist is Phoenix – a pyromancer that can use his flames to dominate the battlefield.
Phoenix has a flashbang, a fireball that explodes on the ground a lingers, and a wall of flame that he can curve to isolate enemies and block their vision.
His fire burns enemies and will heal Phoenix while standing it in it.
This makes him a powerful offensive weapon that can inflict damage while sustaining himself.
Phoenix’s ultimate, Run it Back, allows him to basically 2v1 an opponent on his own.
When Run it Back is activated, Phoenix can engage on an enemy – if he dies during its duration or time runs out, he’ll return back to where he originally casted it at full health.
This allows him to make aggressive and explosive plays that can change the flow of a match into his team’s favor.
We mentioned earlier that Valorant involves playing both offense and defense.
If you fill up your team with a ton of initiators and duelists, you may do well on offense but you may struggle on the defensive end.
Sentinels have abilities that excel in slowing down the pace of the game and fortifying areas of the map.
For this class, we’ll highlight Sage, a Sentinel that can fit into any team comp.
Sages abilities include healing herself or her allies back to full health, conjuring a wall, and orbs that create fields that slow everyone moving through it.
On defense, Sage can delay an enemy push singlehandedly by building a wall and slowing down their advance until help comes.
On offense, she can use her wall to block off flankers or to wall off a chokepoint after her team plants the spike.
Her ultimate, Resurrection, can help erase her team’s mistakes by bringing an ally back to life, effectively making a round 6v5.
These capabilities allow Sage and other Sentinels to have a huge influence on a match through sheer utility, having zero abilities that deal any damage.
To round out a balanced team composition, consider including well-rounded agents called Controllers.
Controllers have a mix of offensive and defensive abilities that help facilitate their team’s strategies.
Let’s take a look at Brimstone, one of the most versatile Valorant agents.
Brimstone’s unique playstyle revolves around surveying the map and controlling the ebb and flow of the battlefield.
He has smoke grenades that can be launched from his minimap, a napalm grenade that he can use to delay or root out enemies, and a Stim Beacon that buffs agents within an increased firing rate and other benefits.
Although he may not be as good at fighting as a Phoenix or as good at delaying as Sage, Brimstone can delay better than a Phoenix and fight better than a Sage.
Brimstone’s ultimate, Orbital Strike, exemplifies this balance as it can be used to clear out defenders while attacking or to protect a site from attackers.
FAQ: How do you unlock agents?
There are five free agents that are available when you first start playing: Brimstone, Jett, Phoenix, Sage, and Sova.
By completing your new player contract, you’ll unlock two free agent vouchers.
For the rest of the agents, you’ll have to either spend monetary currency or grind experience points to complete an agent’s 5th contract quest.
FAQ: How do ultimates work?
In Valorant, ultimates can be cast after collecting a number of orb points.
Within the current roster, this number is either six or seven orbs depending on the agent.
You gain one orb for every kill, death, spike plant, and spike defusal.
Every map also has two ultimate orbs that can be collected by agents.
Ultimate points are wiped when teams switch sides, so be sure to use your ultimate before that happens.
In general, most players will use their ultimate only once or twice per half.
FAQ: Do agents have different sizes and hitboxes?
Unlike games like Rainbow Six Siege or Overwatch, all Valorant characters will have the same hitbox sizes.
They may have certain elements that make them more visible, like Sage’s ponytail or Cypher’s hat, but these will not register a hit if fired at.
This is a conscious balancing decision by Riot to keep the game focused on gunplay and abilities rather than having to worry about agents of varying sizes and shapes.
Guns and Economy
At the beginning of every round, you’ll have a short time period to use credits to purchase guns, shields, and abilities.
There’s a wide variety of guns of different prices and purposes.
The main categories are sidearms, shotguns, SMGs, rifles, snipers, and heavy machine guns.
Here’s a quick breakdown of their general niches:
- The cheapest options, all 800 credits or below.
- There’s a wide variety of options from a silenced pistol to a sawed-off shotgun.
- Blow enemies away with one to two blasts at close range.
- You can shoot shotguns accurately while jumping.
- SMGs (sub-machine gun)
- Guns that excel at close to mid range.
- Good choice if you like spraying
- The most versatile guns in Valorant.
- The Vandal and the Phantom are the most commonly used guns
- The best choice for long-ranged engagements.
- Headshots are one shot, one kill.
- Heavy guns offer the most persistent firepower with massive ammo magazines.
- Great for shooting through walls.
Every gun has different attributes that indicate their performance in different areas:
- Firing mode
- Some guns have two different firing modes between their primary fire (left-click) and alternate fire (right-click)
- For example, the Classic pistol fires one bullet with primary fire but fires a three bullet burst with alternate fire.
- The alternate fire rifles like Vandal allow you to look down its sights to improve your accuracy at longer range.
- Rate of Fire
- Represents how many rounds a gun shoots per second
- Clip Capacity
- Indicates the number of rounds fired before a reload.
- Wall Penetration
- There are many walls that can be pierced on Valorant maps.
- Guns that have high penetration will deal more damage through walls. Lower penetration will have decreased damage.
- Spray Pattern
- Repeatedly firing a gun by shooting quickly or spraying will increase its recoil.
- Some guns are more controlled while others will fire wildly.
- Spray pattern indicates how a gun’s recoil will behave if you aren’t controlling it.
Guns will also deal varying amounts of damage based on the range from the target and where the bullet hits.
Some guns will deal more damage at close range but will be less effective at longer ranges.
Guns that are good at longer ranges are typically slower and do worse in close-ranged combat.
Headshots inflict the most damage, body shots are second-most, and leg shots deal the least amount of damage.
Let’s take a look at the Phantom and Vandal rifles, two of the most popular guns which are the same price and often compared.
Below, we can see that the Phantom has different damage thresholds based on the target’s range: 0-15m, 15-30m, and 30-50m.
In comparison, the Vandal will maintain the same amount of damage from 0-50m.
Based on these stats on range and damage output alone, you may think that the Vandal is better.
However, if you take a look at their other properties, you’ll see that the Phantom has a faster firing rate and a larger magazine size.
The TLDR is that although similar in many ways, the Phantom is better at fighting at closer ranges due to its faster firing speed.
At close distances, the Vandal may be overwhelmed by faster sprays but it is more consistent at longer ranges.
This makes the two guns shine in different situations despite being the same price, so it mostly comes down to your personal preference and playstyle.
Be sure to practice at the shooting range often to get used to the feels of different guns for different situations.
We recommend getting used to two to three guns as you start out. This is up to you but a well-rounded example would be:
- The Classic for pistol rounds and because you always get it for free.
- Either the Phantom or Vandal since they’re the standard versatile guns.
- A gun in between the value of pistols and rifles, such as a shotgun/SMG/heavy machine gun
If you haven’t really played shooting games before, you’ll probably want to avoid the sniper rifles until you build experience with easier guns.
In Valorant, you can make your agent tankier by purchasing shield armor.
There are two types: light shields that provide 25 armor and heavy shields which provide 50 armor.
Shields will absorb 66% of all damage taken, everything else will be removed from your health total.
They do not regenerate between rounds so you’ll have to buy more if you die or lose some of it.
Every bit of health matters in Valorant so be sure to purchase armor when you can afford it.
Fundamentals of the Valorant Economy
When a round ends, you’ll receive credits based on how you and your team did.
We won’t go into all the details since this is a beginner guide but in general, the better you and your team play, the more money you’ll get.
Here are some examples of how credits are earned throughout a match:
- Getting a kill = 200 credits
- Winning a round = 3,000 credits
- Losing a round = 1,900 credits
There are also some comeback mechanics. If a team goes on a 2+ round loss streak they will earn an extra 500 credits for a 2x loss streak and 1,000 for streaks greater than two.
Overall, managing your credits adds an extra layer of depth to the game since you’ll have to balance short term success with long term success.
Why managing your economy is important
Let’s say your team loses a round early on in a match and falls behind in credits compared to the other team.
During the next round, the enemy team will have all their abilities and enough money to purchase Vandals/Phantoms and heavy armor.
What do you do?
Let’s say your team spent its remaining credits on the best options it could: Stingers, Buckys, light armor, and some abilities.
It’s possible you could win despite having a disadvantage and manage to win the round.
However, in most cases, if you have players of relatively equal skill level against each other, the ones with better equipment should win most of the time.
After losing another round, you would start the next round with almost no resources at all.
This would cause a massive gap in economy between the two teams and make the match snowball.
The better decision would have been to save money by only buying cheap options – this is known as a “save round”.
Basically, the idea here is that you do the best you can with limited resources.
If your team loses, oh well, you’ll have enough to go toe-to-toe with them on even ground in the next round.
If you manage to win somehow, awesome! You’ve made a big jump
In reality, you’d likely lose the round but you may have been to kill a few enemies and take their guns for the next round, thus saving your team some money.
Keep in mind that this always depends on the context.
If it’s close to swapping sides or the enemy team is one round away from winning the match, you’ll probably want to all-in with what you have.
FAQ: How do I buy a gun for a teammate or request a gun?
Managing your economy isn’t just for you as an individual but applies to your team as a whole.
If the best player on your team is popping off, they’ll have extra credits they can use to help out their weaker teammates.
To request a gun, just right click on it within your shop.
Once you or a teammate make the request, it will show up for your team here – the first person to click the button that has enough credits will buy the gun and it will automatically appear in the hands of the asker.
Another way to acquire a gun for your team is to buy it and then physically drop it by pressing G.
FAQ: Is there a free way to get gun skins?
Unfortunately not right now.
You can only acquire gun skins by using currency purchased with real money.
More Valorant Beginner Tips and Tricks
Here are some more quick tips that are important to remember. We’ll be adding more here over time so be sure to check back!
Sound is everything – make sure to wear headphones!
Listening closely to your surroundings is a very important part of playing Valorant.
You can hear everything from footsteps and abilities to agents landing from high ground or even reloading.
If you don’t use headphones you’ll be at a big disadvantage compared to players who are using them.
Unfortunately, this also means that you shouldn’t play music while you play.
The big white circle represents how far enemies can hear you
Speaking of sound, be mindful of how much sound you’re making, especially when your team is being sneaky.
Sound goes farther than you think. If you take a look at your map while you’re running, you can see the range that enemies will be able to hear you as indicated by a white circle.
The closer you are to an enemy, the louder your noises will be to them.
In most cases, it’s better to walk than run as you travel around the map because walking is completely silent in Valorant.
Don’t move while shooting
Unlike other FPS games, moving while shooting in Valorant is very detrimental because it dramatically increases your gun’s recoil.
Getting hit in Valorant also greatly reduces your movement speed, making you easier to hit.
So in most cases, you’ll want to just stand still or crouch and take aim to kill your enemy.
If you’re at close ranges or using a shotgun or SMG, you can consider moving while shooting since recoil doesn’t matter as much when you’re right on top of your opponents.
Check the minimap…but not for too long
If you’re coming from League of Legends, you may be used to constantly checking the minimap (hopefully).
In Valorant, the minimap is very useful as you can see things like:
- Where your allies are looking
- Where agents died
- Where the spike is
- Where abilities are
However, since aim is so important in Valorant and every second matters, you should be checking your minimap must less than you would in League.
Here’s an example of why below from former League of Legends pro, Scarra:
Scarra is holding an angle waiting to catch an enemy. He changes his gaze to look at the minimap and misses when the enemy finally moves into range.
Luckily he had an ally nearby to save his life – otherwise, he would’ve likely died.
So overall, understand that the minimap is there to give you info but be sure to only check it when it’s safe to do so.
When in doubt, keep your gaze in front of you looking for threats and be ready to shoot.
When in doubt, keep your gun out
With so many awesome agent abilities, it can be tempting to switch to your abilities in the heat of battle.
However, since switching between your guns and abilities to use them takes time, you can often get caught and die before being able to retaliate.
To avoid this, get in the habit of pulling out abilities behind or close to cover.
For example, as Sova, you would ready your bow from behind cover, peek quickly to shoot it, and then return back behind cover to safely bring out your gun.
This is much safer than coming around into the open and then trying to pull out your bow.
If you hear an enemy nearby or even feel like one is close, it’s better to be safe than sorry – just keep your gun out until you know it’s safe.
Use G to drop the spike (or anything else)
As we mentioned earlier, you can drop a gun by pressing G (by default).
You can also use this command to drop the spike if you picked it up on accident or want to give it to another team member.
This seems simple but it’s one of the most common questions players ask when they first start out.
Understand which terrain is penetrable
We mentioned during the guns section that you can shoot through a lot of the walls and terrain in Valorant maps.
The key way to tell is by watching how your shots interact with the surface.
If it leaves a black hole, it means that it can be penetrated.
If it doesn’t leave a mark and creates a spark, it cannot be penetrated.
Thanks for reading and welcome to your journey as a growing Valorant player! Join our Discord community to find other new players and mentors to learn from.