Buggy but Clean Controls — First Impressions of VALORANT on Console

Riot Games' massively popular FPS has finally made its way to console in closed beta.

After tons of speculating and waiting, Valorant on console is finally a reality. While it's only in closed beta currently, we can finally see how Riot's juggernaut FPS will play on consoles. If you want to sign up for a chance to play in the closed beta yourself, you can do that here.

First Impressions

Performance Issues

While playing, there were a few things that stood out. The first of which were the fps drops. I was playing on an Xbox Series S (not X or PS5) so maybe that had a little to do with it but fps drops were plentiful throughout my play session. Now it's unclear if it's just from being used to having a few hundred fps on PC and now seeing substantially less on console made it feel worse than it actually was but there was absolutely some noticeable choppiness with how the game performed.

Controls

Outside of the game running properly, the most important thing for a console conversion of a PC game is going to be the controls. For the most part, the controls in console Valorant are good, however, there are some limitations.

The console version has its own mechanic called "Focus aiming" which is essentially a slight ADS usable on every single gun. It lowers your sensitivity for more precise adjustments and is incredibly useful. However, for guns that have an actual ADS to them like the bulldog, vandal, and phantom, for example, this means to use their actual ADS you have to hit LT+R3.

The tutorial also did not explain this and it wasn't until I realized I couldn't burst fire with my bulldog that the focus aim wasn't counting as a console ADS and is a separate mechanic from actual ADS'ing.

On the topic of ADS'ing, it's worth mentioning that it is incredibly powerful.

Console valorant using focus aim.
Aiming using "focus aim" /
Console valorant aiming using ADS.
Aiming using the actual ADS. /

As you'd probably expect in a console shooter, having the ability to aim down sights, is incredibly strong and allows for easier gun control and micro-adjustments in your aim. I found that focus aiming was good for medium range gunfights and actual ads'ing was better for longer range gunfights.

The lack of buttons can make communicating via the in-game pinging feature a bit more annoying. It's up on the d-pad by default to ping. Pressing it once will use a standard ping, double tapping it will use a danger ping and holding it will open the ping wheel. It was kind of annoying that it opened to the social wheel (the one that allows you to say "yes", "no", etc.) instead of the one that allows you to communicate critical information such as where enemies are coming from.

The console version is more likely to have players with no microphone for communicating. It would be good if they added more tactical pings like, "I'm going to get the orb," "Smoke this off," etc.

The gunplay was smooth and felt decent. I've only played two games so far, so my aim isn't at the level it should be yet, but it felt good taking gunfights.

In terms of abilities, I played Omen and Gekko and found all of the abilities easy and intuitive to use. The only concern in regards to character abilities are if the faster and more precise ones, like Raze satchel-ing, will work with a controllers limitations but we'll just have to wait and see as controller players get better over time.

One final note on controls; to slow walk you just push the left stick slightly and to run you hold it down. This is a great way to avoid needing another key, but I would caution that it may give players with higher-end controllers an advantage since they're more likely to have stiffer analog sticks that are easier to move precisely.

UI Notes

The UI is nice and functions well. The buy menu is substantially more annoying to navigate than it is on PC but that's to be expected with a controller instead of cursor, and it gets the job done.

I actually think the console scoreboard looks nicer than its PC equivalent.

Valorant console scoreboard.
Console scoreboard. /

One thing worth mentioning that is extremely annoying, albeit very minor, and that's that you can't move while the scoreboard is open. That's not a huge deal at all it's just incredibly annoying.

Final Thoughts

Valorant has been arguably the best competitive FPS game out there since it's launch a little over 4 years ago, and based on what I've played so far, the console version is likely going to be quite good. PC will always be the definitive version, as is per usual with PC to console conversions, but Valorant on console isn't going to have much competition.

In terms of competitive FPS games on console, you've got Halo Infinite, Call of Duty, Rainbow Six Siege, Apex Legends, and Overwatch 2. That's really it. Halo Infinite is dying fast. Call of Duty is not a great competitive game and costs $70 every single year, Siege is not free-to-play either and will probably take even longer than Valorant to unlock every operator, Apex is a BR so either you're still in to those or you never want to play one again, and Overwatch 2 is a hero shooter, which aren't for everyone.

Valorant on console will likely be a great game and trounce its console competition if Riot Games doesn't just view it as a random side project and actually gives it a respectable amount of attention over the years.


Published
Ben Fitzsimmons

BEN FITZSIMMONS