The puzzle of why Valorant is so enjoyable to play has been solved thanks to these innovative techniques

When Riot Games translated their online multiplayer expertise from League of Legends to the FPS genre in 2020, it revealed a penchant for Counter-sharp Strike’s angles. However, Valorant remains one of the most popular and challenging shooters in recent memory.

In order to create a shooter that rewards precise precision while yet being scalable over a broad variety of vastly different computers, Riot prioritised polish and code smarts while developing Valorant, which sounds like a lengthy and arduous technological nightmare.

The free-to-play first-person shooter’s tech beneath the hood has enabled it to continue its dominance after two years, so I chatted with Riot’s senior lead engineer, Marcus Reid.

Hertz, you’re the best

High-tick-rate servers are necessary for a game that requires so much skill and precision. In order to find the optimum way to play the game, “we conducted a number of studies with high-skilled players,” Reid explains.

“We discovered that in order to meet our goals, we required 128 tick rate servers. In addition, we aim to keep the majority of our players’ pings below 35 milliseconds at all times. To some extent, they are ideal circumstances.”

Delays caused by a slower tick rate or a greater ping exacerbate issues like peeker’s advantage, which Riot calls a “artefact of networked gaming” that gives a player a vital split-second edge over their opponent while peering around a corner. Players’ ping has been the subject of high-profile conflicts among competitive teams.

Despite this, maximising the game’s scalability remained a top focus. A number of settings are still supported by Riot in order to keep the game accessible to all players. Nvidia Reflex, which skips the render queue in order to improve communication between your CPU and GPU, is also supported.

‘We support some really low-end devices,’ adds Reid, ‘and we want those machines to perform nice and be able to compete in the game.'” I believe Reflex can run on any GPU that was released in 2014, including the 900 series. There are enough of our gamers that benefit from such gear that we believe it’s worth supporting. That high-end gear, though, requires special attention if we are to get the most out of it.

High-end PC owners don’t have an unfair advantage. As a result, even individuals who use ultrawide monitors must letterbox in order to take use of the wider field of view provided by Valorant, which only supports aspect ratios of 16:9 or 16:10.

With laser-like focus

More casual players may be taken aback by Valorant’s high difficulty, which harshly penalises poor performance. All shots are crucial in a game with low time-to-kill (the time it takes for a player to start fire and kill their target). As a result, proper hit registration is essential.

Whenever a problem is reported, Reid adds, “we scrutinise it quite intensely,” as the best way to accomplish this goal.

When it comes to problems and “anything that seems odd,” Valorant’s developers have no qualms about diving in and looking into the details. It’s a process that the team is willing to discuss with the public. Because of these and other initiatives, like as Riot’s tech blog on Valorant’s netcode (opens in new tab), Riot is always keeping players up to speed with any answers and changes made in response to their suggestions.

However, in reality, Riot can only do so much to assure a smooth online experience on their end. Prediction buffering, which seeks to smooth out shaky connections, can only paint over the fractures to a certain degree, Reid concedes.

Players will have a less enjoyable gaming experience if the game client and server cannot exchange information in a timely way due to poor network circumstances, according to him.

At the top of your game

Valorant’s scaling, connection quality, and general reactivity seem to have been mastered by Riot. However, what about the actual show?

Three types of difficulties were discussed before the launch, Reid says. “What server performance goals do we have to meet? And it’s this one that gives you the 128 tick rate effect.

According to him, “GPU-bound scenarios” is the second kind of situation. “This is more common on lower-end technology, such a CPU with integrated graphics rather than a separate GPU. CPU-intensive situations, on the other hand, tend to be seen on higher-end PCs and client PCs. The server performance issues also have some overlap with this.”

There are very few features that Riot eliminates because of performance concerns. The development process is impacted by these considerations. For example, the graphic style for Valorant was created from the ground up to appear well on a variety of hardware. According to Reid, “that’s not the sole factor, but it does remove certain things off of the table” By the year 2012, we won’t be employing real-time ray tracing on laptops.

“We undertake thorough performance testing when we produce new items for gamers today,” he continues. “Performance may be impacted if we introduce a fundamentally new feature that makes the game do more work. “So, we strive to keep new capabilities as lean and efficient as possible, and we also consistently invest in general performance improvement.”

Cloud computing and the next generation

It’s reasonable to speculate that a cloud gaming service like Nvidia GeForce Now, which allows users to circumvent hardware limits totally, may include Valorant, assuming we’re talking about performance. Reid, on the other hand, was quick to say that such a scenario isn’t in the cards for the game right now.

Because of the added delay of passing via a cloud game server and communicating with that server, “the problem would be with a cloud gaming service especially,” he explains. The immediacy you need in a game like Valorant would be tough to provide via a cloud gaming server.” Technology will continue to advance, therefore I don’t want to declare “never.” It’s not something we’re currently focusing on,” she says.

A ray of hope was shed when Reid said that Valorous platform ports to the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S are “certainly being explored.” As far as we know, there was nothing further he could tell us.

While we’d love to see Valorant on more platforms, we recognise that its accuracy-driven design means it’s best suited to the PC. A mouse is more precise than controller analogue sticks, but we hope Riot can find a way around this and make Valorant more accessible to a broader audience. Since it’s a given that everyone deserves a first-person shooter with an emphasis on accuracy,