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How to Play Valorant: The Ultimate Starter Guide

How to Play Valorant: The Ultimate Starter Guide

Valorant is a tactical character-based 5v5 shooting game developed by Riot Games. It was released on June 2nd, 2020. Since this is such a new game and the strategy behind it can be overwhelming, you are probably wondering, how do I play Valorant once I download it?

In order to play Valorant, and get the most out of your time in the game, you need to understand the following:

  • The characters and their roles 
  • The gameplay modes and rules 
  • The gameplay maps 
  • The best weapons to purchase when starting out 

This article will cover all these points, as well as provide helpful tips to get you started on the right foot as a new player. So, read on to find out everything you need to know to play Valorant.

Characters in Valorant 

The characters in Valorant are called Agents, and each one has unique abilities, including a coveted ultimate ability. There are currently 15 playable Agents in the game:

  • Brimstone 
  • Omen
  • Killjoy 
  • Viper (Serena)
  • Cypher 
  • Sova 
  • Sage 
  • Phoenix 
  • Reyna 
  • Raze
  • Jett
  • Breach
  • Yoru
  • Astra
  • Kay/o

When you begin the game, you will immediately have access to 5 out of 15 available agents: Brimstone, Jett, Phoenix, Sage, and Sova. Other characters can be unlocked by progressing through the game and leveling up, or by purchasing them using the in-game currency.

Character Roles 

The characters in Valorant are each placed into one or multiple of the four main roles.

  • Controllers (Astra, Brimstone, Omen, Viper) – Give support to their team through the use of distractions like smoke screens. During a match, they take charge of the sightlines on a game map to make it hard for enemies to see. Controllers also act as lurkers who guard against enemy flanks or create their own.
  • Initiators (Sova, Skye, Breach, Kay/o)– Support their team by using their abilities to get information and influence the movements of their enemies. They use stuns or abilities that can let you know where enemies are. Initiators set up the field so that other roles can get kills and win the match.
  • Duelists (Phoenix, Jett, Reyna, Raze, Yoru)- Offensive experts that have the abilities to engage enemies, kill them, and open up different ways their team can assist them. They are volatile and will be the first choice to enter high-risk areas of the game map because their abilities have exceptional rewards when used appropriately. 
  • Sentinels (Cypher, Killjoy, Sage)– Defense experts who can use their abilities to hold A flank, heal teammates, or secure a bomb site. They are background characters when fighting, but serve as the team leader by outlining a strategy, coordinating movements, and ensuring communication.

The most balanced team of players with the greatest chance of success when playing consists of 2 Sentinels, an Initiator, a Controller, and a Duelist. The range of abilities provided by each class will be more beneficial to the team overall than having two Duelists.

The Importance of Choosing a Character and the Best Ones for Beginners 

In Valorant, players play through game modes and maps in teams of five. Each person chooses one character they would like to be on the team. Before a match starts, each player will be given time to select the Agent they would like to play as. This is known as the Agent Select screen.

Assembling a balanced team will allow you to have more success in game modes and win matches. The character you choose will have a significant impact on the strategic benefits of the team as a whole, and your game plan for matches. In the current meta, or setup of Valorant, having two Sentinels is essential for team success. 

The best characters for beginners to use are Sova and Sage. Sova can track enemy positions, which allows your team to plan an effective strategy. Sage is known for her healing abilities, which are essential to the team’s longevity and significantly increase the chances that you can rebound during a difficult match.

Tips for choosing a character:

  • Pick a character that matches your play style-this may require testing out all the characters to find one you like. 
  • Some characters have free abilities, like Sage’s Healing Orb.
  • Although abilities are useful and should give you an advantage, the guns your characters hold and your aim with them are also crucial to success. 

Maps and Gameplay Modes in Valorant 

There are currently seven maps available that teams can play in Valorant, as well as various game modes.

Game Maps 

 Each map is split up between first-person shooter lanes and bomb sites. Some are easier, while others are a challenge. However, they are all well-balanced, and your strategy will need to change according to the map. Furthermore, the developers could make changes to the maps at any time, which adds to the excitement and emphasis on strategy. The maps are as follows:

  • Fracture- A top-secret research facility damaged by a failed experiment 
  • Breeze– A tropical paradise of historical ruins and seaside caves 
  • Icebox– A secret excavation site overtaken by snow and ice 
  • Bind– Two sites in the desert with no middle ground, only a left and right path
  • Haven– Three sites vying for Agent control beneath a monastery
  • Split– Two sites marked with a massive tower, divided by an elevated center 
  • Ascent– An open village playground with sites fortified by bomb doors 

Game Modes 

There are several game modes to play in Valorant, and whether you are a casual or competitive player, you are sure to find one that matches your style. The game modes are:

  • Rated and Unrated (Plant/Defuse)- Teams play 5v5 and switch between the attacking and defending side. One-half of a match is 12 rounds, and the team that wins 13 rounds is the winner, so you may not need the second half of the match. If there is a draw, the match goes into overtime and teams alternate between attack and defense until a side wins.
  • Deathmatch– A free-for-all in a server with 14 players. The first player to reach 40 kills wins. It is just a shooting mode, so no abilities are allowed.
  • Spike Rush– A 5v5 mode where all players start out with the same weapon. There are 12 rounds, just like unrated, and the mode is played until one team wins 4 rounds. Orbs spawn on the map that can either give your character abilities or take something away.
  • Escalation- A 5v5 mode where teams level up and gain strength by killing enemies. Every level in the mode features a different weapon, and your team unlocks new weapons by leveling up. The first team to make it to level 12 or the one with the highest level when the timer runs out wins.

Game Weapons 

Guns are the weapon of choice for Valorant characters; there are 17 in total split into six categories. There are 5 sidearms, 2 SMGs, 2 shotguns, 4 rifles. 2 snipers, and 2 heavy machine guns. Each of them has situations where they are best used. All agents get a free sidearm and knife when they start out, but you will need to spend in-game currency to get.


The sidearms in Valorant all have specific functions, so there are ones for players that like to hit enemies up close and those that would prefer to strike from afar.

  • Classic (free default)- Has two firing modes, single bullet to give you more accuracy from afar, and 3 bullet burst, which is better for up-close firing 
  • Shorty- A sawed-off shotgun that is good for close up shots but can only fire 2 bullets before having to reload
  • Frenzy- Strong recoil but does well in close range thanks to burst fire, and is also good at far range with one or two bullets 
  • Ghost– Has a silencer and is most effective with a headshot, but there is no recoil
  • Sheriff- The most powerful and effective sidearm that fires 4 rounds a second


SMGs do well at short to mid-range firing. When using SMGs at long range, you will need to use burst fire for them to be effective.

  • Stinger– Fires 18 rounds a second but is only effective at close range because of high recoil and spray
  • Spectre– Not ideal for long-range shooting due to reduced firing in zoom mode, but does well in close-up or mid-range firing


The best gun for close-up combat, so use these if you need to take enemies head-on: 

  • Bucky– Has two firing modes, a regular shotgun blast and an air burst mode 
  • Judge– An automatic shotgun with a firing rate of 3.5 rounds a second, good for a face to face duel


The weapons with the most versatility in Valorant. They have 3 firing options, semi-automatic, burst, and automatic.

  • Bulldog– The cheapest rifle that is automatic when fired normally, but uses burst firing when the player has to look down sights
  • Guardian– A semi-automatic rifle that is precise from far away but performs less well when close up and mid-range
  • Phantom– An automatic rifle that is a good standard buy, firing at 11 rounds a second
  • Vandal– An automatic rifle that fires 9.25 rounds a second but does more damage than Phantom


If you are good at mechanics and have a particular talent for shooting, snipers will be the weapon of choice for you as you dominate the map from long range.

  • Marshal– A semi-automatic sniper that fires 1.5 rounds a second and can kill with one headshot 
  • Operator– A semi-automatic sniper that fires 0.75 rounds a second and kills instantly with either head or body shots; effective if you have great aim


Heavy machine guns have more firepower but are less accurate in a fight, but are masterful at killing enemies through walls 

  • Ares– Fires 10-13 rounds a second and deals a significant amount of damage when getting enemies up close, but can become inaccurate the longer it is fired 
  • Odin– Fires 12-15 rounds a second and can stop multiple enemy ambushes all by itself.

Best Weapons for Beginner Players 

These are the best weapons currently available in Valorant for players that are just starting out.

  • Operator- The sniper that can kill players in full armor either at close or far range. You must purchase it as soon as possible for early success. 
  • Phantom– Assault rifle with a fast fire rate, great accuracy on the first bullet, and reasonable price 
  • Vandal– Another rifle that can KO enemies with a headshot

Valorant Tips for Beginners 

Now that you know about Valorant, the Agent characters you can choose from, the gameplay modes, the maps, and the weapons available, here are some tips you can use to get ahead in the game early on and make the most of your time online:

  • Walk instead of run– Running is loud on the maps, meaning enemies can hear where you are, find you, and kill you. Walking is quieter, gives you the ability to sneak up on enemies, and allows you to have more accuracy when preparing to shoot. 
  • Do not run and shoot– Doing this will decrease your accuracy significantly because the aim marker moves around much more when you are mobile. 
  • Know when to save in-game currency– Although it can be tempting to get weapons at the start of every match round, it is better in the long run to save your currency for more powerful weapons and be on the same page with your team.
  • Armor is a must– Armor gives your Agent extra health and reduces the damage taken from hits by 50%. When you do not use armor, you will most likely be down in one or two hits. 
  • Keep your aim pointer at head height- Most players tend to be aimed at the ground, but by staying at head height, you will be ready to make a headshot at a moment’s notice.

If you use these tips, you will be well on your way to becoming a top player in Valorant. Use them outright or adapt them to your playstyle.


Valorant is a 5v5 strategic shooting game with 15 unique characters, 7 well-planned maps, 4 game modes, and 17 weapons powerful in their own ways. Since there is so much strategy involved, it can be overwhelming for new players. However, we hope this guide is helpful to you and will give you the tools you need to start enjoying the game and being successful in it.