Ask VALORANT #6 Analysis

Since the release of VALORANT in early June, the developers have provided constant community feedback. Some of what they say pleases die hard players, while a solid amount leaves a bad taste in peoples’ mouths. Such is the difficulty of running a competitive game where the slightest balance issues can ruin the experience.

Developers responded to a few community questions earlier this week in Ask VALORANT #6. The top issues brought up include the strength of the Operator, the oddities of footsteps, and patch rollout questions. There were some reasonable and strange responses to the questions at hand.

What are your thoughts on the opinion that “the Operator is too OP”?

We think the Operator isn’t “too OP” but do believe that the feeling sometimes comes from a lack of personal agency against the weapon (for Agents that don’t have tools to break line of sight for themselves), coupled with an overwhelming amount of team coordination to effectively counter an Operator. We’re looking into a lot of avenues to help smooth out the experience but we do believe the Operator should be powerful and should encourage a team to thoughtfully enter a space where it might be in play.

This is a good response from the developer. I don’t think you can say that the Op is straight up overpowered. The weapon does demand a lot of coordination from opponents, but it isn’t something that should be taken away. FPS games need a good sniper to balance out rounds and change the layouts of maps. Teams just need to find ways to smoke off angles and disrupt the Operator-wielding player.

Why do EU/CIS/TR regions get patches and features later than everyone else (like Deathmatch)? Why can’t you just turn things on for everyone at the same time?

There are two things we consider when we select the time to ship new content: server stability and game stability. For server stability, if there’s high demand for a new feature (as there was with deathmatch), we see massive amounts of players logging in simultaneously to play. If we launch a high-demand feature on top of peak login time (typically around 4-7pm anywhere), we’re deliberately DDoSing our servers by creating the largest possible spike of logins. 

Another solid response. It does make sense that patches should be implemented during less busy times of the game. This is just a timezone thing, and I don’t really see a scenario where it is a big deal that a patch arrives hours later for one region. This also peels back the curtain into an interesting part of game development and server maitenance.

Sometimes it feels like sound is off in the game, like footsteps are much closer than they really are, or I hear them in the wrong direction! Am I going crazy? Does VALORANT do something different with sound?

I’ve also heard feedback around the fact that people have a hard time telling how far away a footstep is, which there is truth to. We optimize for making sure footsteps are heard, as opposed to optimizing for portraying distance. What this looks like is an attenuation curve that is somewhat flat, versus one that drops off a lot over distance. There are a couple reasons we do this. One is that under chaotic conditions where abilities are being used and you are probably hearing a lot of VOIP from your team, it is essential that you don’t miss a footstep.

Based on internal playtests, not hearing a footstep and getting killed by someone you knew had to run to get to you is very tilting. This feels especially bad for players who have internalized rotation times on the map and have good communication and callouts on their team.

We also know our game will be played in a variety of contexts. NA players may be used to playing in a quiet room and hearing every detail, but players in China or Korea may be playing in a loud PC Bang, where a footstep that was quiet but gave more information on distance would be lost. I have never played professionally, but I imagine clarity would also be appreciated for esports players who may be in a noisy stadium (hopefully someday!)

Ok, this one isn’t as great in my mind. I feel like a major problem with VALORANT is the odd audio cues that come from footsteps. It can be quite grating sometimes to not have a solid level of audio to fine tune the game. The logic about PC bangs is very sound, it is just a little frustrating that the game has to be tuned to everyone instead of just our selfish gamer selves.

We currently mix the game in stereo, meaning there is no difference between a sound 45 degrees to your left in front of you and a sound 45 degrees to your left in back of you. Some people expect to be able to hear this difference, but that is not currently possible.

This is the response that really makes me scratch my head. I guess it isn’t possible, so I’ll take their word for it. Maybe in the future it will be.

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