Valorant Will NOT Be The Next Rainbow Six: Siege
Over a month ago, I wrote an article that asked the question: Will Valorant follow the same path as R6S? In that article I explored the possibility of Valorant, a potential CSGO competitor, being left by the wayside as somewhat of a disappointment in the same manner that R6S experienced. In this article, as you might have gathered, I’ll be going over why I don’t think this will be the case for Valorant and why I think the game will have a healthier lifespan than its Rainbow Six counterpart.
Let’s start with the obvious elephant in the room: Riot Games has the resources and talent to quickly update their Valorant to suit the player-base's needs in an incredible fashion while also employing their changes in a manner that uses their League of Legends client to advertise and hype up the changes en-masse. In short, they have the speed and advertising power that R6S just doesn’t. That’s not even a debatable point at this time. When was the last time a new Champion came out in League that you didn’t, in some way, hear about? Even if you don’t play the game, you probably see the Riot Games’ posts at some point or by word of mouth the news about a new champion or cinematic comes your way. Can you say the same for Rainbow Six? Even I, who pop into the game every now and then for fun, can’t remember ever hearing about a new character in that game. New updates, new content in general, it's all run by only the most consistent of players. Riot Games have much more skill in the advertising category and they have a much bigger player base to keep interested in their FPS. It's that simple, even if it seems unfair to point out. It's a game changer, quite literally. Another reason, albeit a smaller one, that I think Valorant will have a healthier life than R6S is that the game is very obviously its own FPS. To the untrained eye, R6S looks very similiar to Counter Strike, if slightly more realistic. They both have a very down-to-earth color pattern that reminds one a dry day. A dull backdrop without too much life to it. In the case of CSGO this is an advantage as it makes the opponent's pop out and provides its players with a very clear goal: You’re watching this angle on B-site, if you see an enemy, you’ll DEFINITELY see him and you can try and win the duel.
But with R6S? The art style, by design, meshes everything together in a dark-washed over manner. The game itself employs very ‘cheeky’ means of holding angles; destroying walls to peek through, throwing out cover to hide behind, and straight up making fake copies of yourself to distract the enemy, so its likely the developers wanted to ensure characters looked a little more blended with their environment to keep up with that theme of exposing very little of yourself. You can argue that this design is more enjoyable and adds an extra layer of depth to the game, but you can’t argue that it isn’t a turn off to most new players who can handle only so many steep learning curves in a game.
Valorant follows in the footsteps of CSGO here. When Pheonix pops around the corner, not only do you see an enemy without a single doubt in your mind of who you need to shoot, but you also know EXACTLY which agent just turned the corner. They pop out. The same is true for the agent’s abilities. See a camera fly onto the wall in front of you? Cypher is around. A flash bang blind you from around a corner? You’re 100% about to get rekt by a Phoenix. Oh look, a big wall just appeared on the other side of the map. They have a Sage over there for sure. You see the point I’m making? In a game that wants to retain players early and grow the base over time, giving new players as much information as possible while reducing the amount of ‘how was I supposed to know’ moments as much as a dev can is paramount. Valorant does this, R6S does not. In Valorant, it's mostly up to your skill with a weapon where abilities can be the difference between two players of equal skill otherwise, where in R6S the difference between winning and losing could simply be being lucky enough for an opponent to check one corner before checking another. In summary, Valorant does all it can to not hide any information from its players while Rainbow Six is built to be a game of information. This isn’t a bad thing, but it's not good for player retention given the fact that they always feel like they aren’t playing the game for the first month or so, they are simply ‘studying’ until they can play. This phenomena can be seen in a comparison between League of Legends and Dota2. Dota is obviously respected in the gaming world as an incredible piece of competition, but League retains the larger general playerbase simply because Riot Games designed it to have a simpler format that gives the players as much information starting out so that they have a better player retention rate. These might not seem that big of a deal, but it makes all the difference for first impressions when shown to the average player. I know many of you will feel hard done by with this post, thinking that maybe I’m being too harsh on R6S without mentioning its strong points, and don’t get me wrong, what R6S does right it does brilliantly. It's a great game, but no one who plays it competitively can honestly say that it's going to retain the average player in the same way Valorant will. It's just a fact. This isn’t to say that Valorant is going to be the success over the long-term that Riot wants it to be. It’s just to say that, even in a disappointing manner, Valorant is going to challenge CSGO in ways that R6S just couldn’t. We’ll have to wait and see how the game develops over the long term, and only patience can reveal that to us. Until that time comes, GLHF. -E