Valorant: Overwatch vs Valorant: A Matter of Storytelling
Hey there, folks! I want to dig into Valorant this weekend for a comparison to Overwatch, but not in any of the traditional senses like gameplay or tactics or amount of “hardcore players”. Tonight I’m going to talk about the over-all storytelling aspect of Valorant, or rather its lack there-of. While each character is unique in both their gameplay and their design, we’re not really told why or how the characters are able to DO what they do. One could say that since Valorant just launched it may develop powerful lore over time like Overwatch did, but Overwatch launched with a healthy amount of story backing it even from the very beginning.
The issue that arises for a game with paper-thin lore is a severe level of disconnect between the more casual folks who may wish to invest themselves into a specific character for their personality and a character who has very little to them besides “shoots poison and wears green”. For example, Reaper can do similar tricks to Omen, but we’ve got the explanation for how and why, as well as where the man who eventually became Reaper came from. Same goes for Reinhardt, to flip this perspective around to the opposite side of the alignment scale, who started off as an arrogant and cocky show-off before he was faced with a moment of equal tragedy and heroism back to back. These specific moments in video games are important, as they show us that these classes aren’t just a set of mechanics wrapped into a fancy, stylized outfit. They’re seen as multi-faceted, well-developed individuals who, like us, have flaws and quirks to their personalities
It also makes the characters relatable TO the player themselves, for one reason or another, which is a very big hook in keeping people playing a game at all. In Overwatch, we see some average and some greater-than-average people overcome some extraordinary situations. How they do this ranges from Mei’s incredible intelligence and talent for clever solutions, to Soldier 76’s blunt-force approach of kicking in teeth until the law-breakers get the picture, but one aspect never changes. These characters still have problems like every day people, such as Soldier’s haunted past or Genji having to come to terms with his new prosthetic form. With this connection furthering the link between player and character, Overwatch forms a, for lack of a better term, bond with the player and their character of choice. While I don’t recommend bonding with Junkrat and going out to turn your car tires into a set of explosives (though if you do, post that in the comments, ‘cause it’d be sweet), but it DOES help you to look at someone like Reinhardt and go, “Well, he made mistakes and acted selfishly, but we all do. The important thing is that we learn and grow as human beings."
If it seems like there isn’t a whole lot of Valorant in a VALORANT article, then you and I are on the same page. With as much creativity that was put into every single character design and their respective kit, Valorant has the opportunity to create a mind-blowing world and narrative wrapped with both the heavy science Viper uses for her kit, as well as the magical, almost spiritual, powers that Omen displays. While some players, probably specifically high-ranking streamers for example, may say that it doesn’t matter about lore, I disagree. By limiting this aspect of Valorant, the audience as a whole is equally limited, which could eventually lead to a stagnation in player-base over time. I’m very much hoping I’m wrong in the case that Valorant has no extended lore planned for their game, because I’m sure like many others, I’d love to see how this universe came to be and why certain characters stand where they do in its story. What do you guys think? More story for Valorant or leave it with the basics we have now?