Valorant Key Art

For years, Valorant has been huge on PC, becoming a streaming hit, hosting massive esports tournaments, and inspiring tons of fan art and cosplay. After many job listings revealed the game could be heading to consoles over the last few years, Riot has finally brought the game to PS5 in beta form, and it's an impressive version of the shooter in its infancy. It's full of quality-of-life features that make this style of shooter more approachable and learnable for the new audience, without losing any of the skill and mastery required to dominate matches.

For starters, Valorant is a high-precision, team-based shooter that requires a lot of teamwork and impressive accuracy from you. The game, much like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), is a round-based affair with two teams of five facing off in short one-minute and forty-second rounds, either defending a bomb site or being required to plant and detonate a bomb. The first to 13 round wins claims victory.

Valorant Agent Selection Screenshot

But we don’t see this style of shooter on consoles very often, and in fact, the last time we can remember something like this on PlayStation was the original CS:GO on PS3 in 2012. That version of the game quickly died because patch releases were slow and the controls just didn't really suit a controller.

Kills in this genre of shooter are extremely quick. Aim well, and you can kill someone with a headshot or two in less than a second. If you fail to tame the wild recoil patterns of weapons, your bullets will start missing their target and hitting everywhere but where your crosshair is pointed.

Valorant Recoil Pattern Screenshot

The accuracy that's required just isn’t easy to master on a controller compared to the high precision a mouse offers. But Riot has made some key changes to the game that help to try and maintain the precision that you get on PC. The first is a 'Focus Mode' which allows you to slow down your aiming sensitivity by holding the left trigger. Doing this allows you to aim at a corner and wait for someone to peak, or tighten your gun’s recoil cone to deliver more precise shots.

It’s an impressive way of being able to retain the variable sensitivity a mouse offers by giving you immediate access to focused aim when needed, while still allowing players to quickly do a 180 if they hear someone coming from behind them. We still haven’t quite mastered when and when not to use Focus Mode, but it's not something you should rely on to land shots as your movement is severely limited.

Valorant Focus Mode Screenshot

Fine-tuning your settings is also vital to racking up kills and winning rounds. Thankfully, Riot has retained a lot of the customisation and options available on PC for the console release, allowing you to adjust your sensitivity when in Focus Mode, when out of it, and when aiming down sights with a scope.

You can customise your crosshair to a colour and style that you like, as well as change your default movement speed to walking instead of running. There are even deeper options here, like being able to adjust your weapon handiness from holding a rifle or pistol in your right hand to your left hand if you're right-eye dominant, and want to focus on seeing more of the right-hand side of your screen.

In addition to those settings, you can rebind most buttons. However, we do wish Riot would go a step further and let you rebind every button, as some controller presets don’t let you change key actions like jumping, shooting, and activating Focus Mode. For example, we want to put the walk button on L1 or R1 so that we can still aim while slowly moving around the map when needed, as footsteps are loud in Valorant. But these buttons can’t be changed for almost all of the presets, and when they can, it's because they're lesser actions, and major actions have been moved to strange buttons like the Cross, Circle, Square, and Triangle buttons.

Valorant Aiming Haven Screenshot

Despite these minor annoyances, the console port of Valorant in its beta state is excellent. It's clear from the quality-of-life features and improvements that Riot wants this game to succeed away from PC; this isn’t a rushed port, and a lot of care and attention has gone into it.

After spending several dozen hours with the game over the last two weeks or so, we're starting to improve skill-wise. The bottom line here is that the game's incredibly demanding, and requires a calm, cool head, along with impressive accuracy, which we are just not attuned to on consoles. But, after playing around with a few heroes and learning their playstyles, we've settled on an Initiator or Controller. These classes or roles focus on either setting your team up for success to push or defend a point or providing key information like enemy locations — with Fade and Viper being our go-to characters.

However, the varied kits and abilities of all classes mean that there's an agent for every playstyle, whether it’s Astra’s ability to confuse and distract players with her Ultimate and smoke grenade placements, or Iso’s hunter-killer playstyle that drives him to seek out kills and be the main damage dealer for your team.

Valorant Viper Ultimate Screenshot

Unfortunately, in this early stage of the beta, matchmaking can be a little rough. Finding games is easy, but not everyone is playing Valorant as it's meant to be played — or people are still learning how to aim, like ourselves. The latter isn’t a huge issue and will improve with time, and when Ranked releases on console.

But we're often running into matches where teammates play the game like it's Call of Duty, jump-shotting and spraying an entire magazine as their bullets constantly miss. Or, you have players who pick a Sentinel agent and throw smokes in terrible places that either don’t protect you or don’t allow you to properly defend a point.

However, this is all part of the learning curve. After a few months — fingers crossed — more players will understand that Valorant is a different kind of shooter.

Valorant Bomb Plant Screenshot

Either way, Valorant on consoles has become our new addiction. We've lost entire days to it over the last few weeks, as the "one more game” compulsion and the hard-to-master gunplay captivate, and feel fresh and exciting for PS5. Pulling off a last-second defuse and clutching a round are hugely satisfying moments. There isn’t another multiplayer shooter like this on PS5 — and especially not one that's this polished.

Riot has already worked out a lot of the issues over the last four years on PC, which means the game feels great already, and has no bugs or major problems. While a few more changes feel needed in order to really replicate that PC experience on consoles, we're excited to see the experience grow and improve during the beta, as new seasonal Episodes and updates release in parallel with the PC version from here on out.

Have you tried the Valorant beta on PS5? Are you a fan of this precise style of shooter? Don't let your team down in the comments section below.