Since Valorant is free and was released during the quarantine period, many of my friends picked it up. Enjoying team play, we embarked on learning a new game together.
Except, all of them have played CS:GO before.
The most hours I’ve put into any FPS is Overwatch, sprinkled with some Team Fortress 2 back in the day because the first-person perspective view tends to make me nauseous. If I play Overwatch for too long, a headache will start hammering me from the inside.
I’m also a support main, so helping teammates, healing them, and peeling for them are things that come naturally. Having some experience in FPS, I tried to psyche myself up, hoping to transfer what I learned from Overwatch to Valorant since Sage exists.
As it turned out, knowing how to skate on walls, hold steady a healing beam from the air, and pressing space bar non-stop until it came loose are completely worthless skills in Valorant.
The habit of jumping and shooting was a tough one to get rid of. In Overwatch, the impulse reaction to incoming fire is to jump and continually reposition. It didn’t help either that a sizeable portion of those hours were spent playing Lucio.
Everything was new in Valorant. I had no idea how to navigate the terrain, no idea where the enemies were coming from, no idea where A, B, or C was, couldn’t orientate myself with the mini-map, fumbled when changing weapons, didn’t know which button to press or where to plant the bomb or how to defuse one, felt terrified of using zip lines and prayed not to get Split, couldn’t judge how much money I needed, couldn’t differentiate the weapons, couldn’t hear footsteps, couldn’t judge when to run and when to walk, hated that my ultimate was on X, and became utterly confused whenever we switched sides.
Once on Ascent, I was standing on the ledge outside B main unintentionally holding a knife. Surrounded by three enemies, I jumped down and stabbed one for a kill.
“What just happened?” my friends and I exclaimed.
I wanted to Tom Clancy Splinter Cell my way through Valorant by sneaking up on enemies with a knife, but I quickly learned that that wasn’t going to happen.
Dying first in a round was one thing. Every death was a learning process. It’s only when I started to gain more knowledge and knew what was going on — that’s when anger rose.
“How the heck did they shoot me? How did that hit? How did I not hit? I aimed for the head! That’s cheating. That person is hacking, I’m going to report him. Wow, that was totally unfair,” I said.
After it was clear that my group of friends were much better situated in Valorant, and I knew enough to know just how bad I was, I started to feel like a burden.
If I bothered to learn Overwatch properly and learned how to shoot then, I would probably be better at Valorant, I told myself. Or maybe if I upgraded my monitor to the recommended 144hz or 240hz (mine’s currently 60hz), my hit rate would improve.
Things went downhill from there. I got the feeling that some friends would rather play with others who were seasoned CS:GO players rather than have me struggling on their team. I really wished there was an option to compete with and against fresh players so that the gap wouldn’t be so large, but there wasn’t.
Within the first week of trying Valorant, I wanted to quit. This game was too hard. Everyone else who played CS:GO had a clear advantage over me, and it was painful.
Valorant wasn’t just an entirely new game for me, it was a new genre, filled with new mechanics, perspectives, and terminology.
I had to learn what frag, peek, tag, and wall banging meant among the long list of terms. Even then, there are different types of peeks and swings, which up to now I’m not entirely sure I know how to execute.
Coming from a MOBA background, I also didn’t find joy in playing the same map over and over again with the same agent. The concept of respawning and navigating the exact same area round after round was weird.
Even though I desperately wanted to get better by spending a lot of time reading guides and watching YouTube videos, I knew I also needed to take a break to soothe my ego by going back to League of Legends for a while.
It sucked to suck at a good game.
The turning point came when I played with my editor and his group of very experienced FPS buddies who have trashed opponents in Apex Legends, Overwatch, and Call of Duty to name a few. They didn’t judge me and knew how hard I was trying to improve. They witnessed my progress and were there to help and carry. Hard carry.
I noticed that my frustrations shifted from external to internal. I was pissed with myself for making bad decisions and crucial mistakes, rather than what the opponents were doing.
I stopped playing Sage and started smoking. There were times when I went into a custom game for hours, only to run out of the site, throw a Viper Snakebite or Brimstone Molly, then run back in to check where it landed. While it’s gratifying to achieve those lineups, I’ve never actually used any in a real game.
One of the most memorable Achievement Unlocked moments was when I started to walk into smokes. For months I didn’t dare to. I felt afraid to move into the unknown blindly, but as I understood better the functionality of it and become more familiar with the map, my courage grew.
Loving aesthetics (you don’t want to know how much I’ve spent on skins in LoL), I even bought skins for my favorite guns in addition to the battle pass. I also bought a new mouse to improve control. Since 2017 I was using the Razer Atheris purely for its small size. Upon the recommendation of my editor, I bought the Razer Viper Mini and it changed my life. When the package first arrived, I was stunned by how light it was, and even more surprised when I held the mouse in my hand.
From using a mouse that holds the weight of two AA batteries to one that only weighed 61 grams, I clearly didn’t know how much I was missing out on.
Equipped with a solid upgrade, I made it a point to practice more in training mode. Shooting bots, controlling my spray, and upping my reaction time are some of the things I’ve actively worked on. Of course I’m still bronze, but at least I know that I’m capable of improving.
Even though I like Valorant, it’s more fun when played with a group of friends. I definitely wish I had more hours in a day so that I can actually play Riot’s Valorant, League of Legends, and League of Legends: Wild Rift more often.
Since Ice Box went live I haven’t had much time to experience it because I write articles like this everyday, so we expect the cycle of grief in relation to this ridiculously big and open map to continue.