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Valorant: How “Player Models and Movement” are making the Operator a balancing nightmare for Riot

The Valorant Operator still feels broken after patch 1.09 nerfs (image credits: Riot Games)
The Valorant Operator still feels broken after patch 1.09 nerfs (image credits: Riot Games)
Modified 06 Oct 2020, 18:50 IST

Riot Games is facing the same problem with the Operator as they are having with Viper, as they’re both turning out to be balancing nightmares for the Valorant developers.

While Viper’s troubles lie within her own kit, and no amount of buffs will solve that, the problems with the Operator are not an issue with the sniper itself, but rather with how the rest of Valorant is designed.

The Operator, unlike it’s CS: GO counterpart - AWP, doesn’t exactly fit a game like Valorant all that well.

Sure, the mechanics and the skill checks are in place. But, even with the accompanying ‘high-risk high reward’ playstyle, the Operator still feels oppressive and deadly, even after the patch 1.09 nerfs.

In a previous discussion on how Valorant’s core map design is overpowering the Operator, we talked about how Valorant’s maps are creating advantageous holding points that skilled Operator users are abusing.

However, as Twix, the former CS: GO competitive player turned Valorant analytical coach, explains it, the map design is not the only issue that is causing the Operator issue.

In one of the follow-up points that he made in a lengthy Reddit post, Twix goes in-depth about 'Player Models and Movement', and how that makes it difficult to balance the Operator. Speaking on the matter, he says:

"Another aspect of the game which influences the extent to which the operator can be abused in the current meta, is the player model size ( hitbox ) and the restrictive movement. If you compare the hitbox in this game to that of any other tac fps, you'll quickly notice that the hitboxes in Valorant are quite larger than the rest of the games in the genre, what you'll also find, is that the movement in Valorant is much more restrictive.”

Valorant is all about accessibility, and Riot has made it a point to make the game as easy to pick up for new FPS players as possible. Hence, the simpler map, the larger hitbox, and restrictive movement, play a big part in making the game ‘noob-friendly’.

Larger hitboxes are making Valorant’s Operator overpowered

The hitboxe of CS: GO and Valorant (Image Credits: Twix)
The hitboxe of CS: GO and Valorant (Image Credits: Twix)

Twix says that “In Valorant, you accel/build momentum at a much slower pace than you would in any CS game, on top of that, bhopping doesn't allow you to gain momentum fluidly. All these aspects, paired with the fact that you get significantly slowed after being hit even once, make it very difficult to engage in fluid movement sequences, in return making it very easy for players holding angles with an operator to land their shots on you.

The mechanical cap is also much lower in terms of what you can do with your movement. In CS, you can effectively "bait" sniper shots by jiggle peeking angles ( quickly counter-strafing an angle to get vision, only barely exposing your player model ), but in Valorant, due to the significantly slower momentum / accel it's impossible to do so efficiently.”

Bunny hopping, in practice, doesn’t exactly exist in Valorant. In theory, you can go through the motions of it, but the amount of momentum you gain from it is negligible when compared to shooters like CS: GO and Call of Duty. Twix continues by saying

"There still are some neat tricks you can pull off with Valorant's movement system. The fact that you can bhop silently as long as you hit shift mid-air after your initial jump, and the surface you're moving on is inclined, allows for some nice repositioning plays; The best example of this is probably silent bhopping on to the bike and then the wall in A lobby, peeking into A main on Ascent."
"You can also circle/strafe jump pretty effectively to gain vision or bait shots, although you need to know how to "air strafe" to do this properly. This isn't too difficult, it's just a combination of moving your mouse in sync with your player's directional movement. If I'm holding the "D" key, I'm simultaneously moving my mouse towards the right side of my screen.”

He even provides a video example where Sentinel’s professional Valorant player - Dapr is providing a tutorial on Jump Peeking.

Twix's solution to the “Player Models and Movement” issue in Valorant

“Clearly the game's movement system has been consciously designed to function this way, and similar to other mechanics in the game it allows for an even playing field between lower skill level and higher skill level players as the individual skill cap and therefore learning curve is far lower. "
"Whether or not you enjoy this concept of a more "noob-friendly" game or not is a matter of preference, I personally think lowering the skill ceiling like this just puts a hard cap on individual mechanics, which holds negative results in competitive play as the individual impact of players is "forced" to be closer to equal.”
“If I were to change the movement system, I would initially greatly decrease the delay in building momentum/increase the accel, so that jiggle peeking and counter-strafing were made more viable in the game. I think both of those mechanics are heavily skill-based and shouldn't be restricted as heavily as they are in the current live build. The amount a player is slowed after being hit is a bit too high as well in the game's current state, however, if the accel/momentum changes were implemented, it wouldn't need to be adjusted.”

By providing more acceleration to strafing, jiggle peeking, and bunny hopping, Riot will be able to create more counters to the Operator in Valorant.

Published 06 Oct 2020, 18:32 IST
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