How to play VALORANT: Beginners guide

VALORANT is the popular FPS from Riot Games that should be familiar to CS:GO veterans. While the game features similar gunplay, it also includes a cast of agents with unique abilities, taking notes from other titles like Overwatch and Rainbow Six Siege. VALORANT can be tough to master regardless of your experience level, and most players will need to play a few games before they can slay enemies and outmaneuver opponents with ease.

VALORANT’s classic game mode features two teams of five players facing off in rounds with a 30-second buy phase and a 1:40-minute active phase. The attackers must plant a Spike or eliminate every enemy to win, while the defenders must prevent the Spike from exploding by eliminating the attackers or defusing the Spike if planted. The first team to reach 13 points wins the game.

With a mix of lethal gunfights and strategic abilities, it can take some time to adjust to the game’s style. Here are some tips to help you get used to VALORANT faster and avoid making classic beginners’ mistakes.

Take the time to adjust your settings

Even if it’s tempting, going straight into a game without looking at every setting tab is a mistake. Shooting games can be played in many different styles and it’s crucial to find what you’re the most comfortable with. Hop in the practice range and take the time to get everything right.


If you aren’t used to shooting games, you’ll have to adjust your mouse sensitivity. While there’s no such thing as perfect DPI and sensitivity, you’ll want to lower it and try it out in the firing range to see what you’re the most comfortable with.

For those who play other shooting games, here are the conversion rates:

  • CS:GO sensitivity divided by 3.18181818
  • Overwatch sensitivity divided by 10.6
  • Apex Legends sensitivity divided by 3.18181818
  • Rainbow Six sensitivity multiplied by 1.2


The default key for defusing and planting the Spike is NumPad 4. Many players, especially those coming from CS:GO, will likely be confused by this setting. You can adjust your keybinds as needed or learn to use this key.

Each agent has unique abilities and powers, so finding the proper keys you’re comfortable with is important. You should be able to use certain abilities at a moment’s notice, so find the appropriate setup for your style.


Screengrab via Riot Games

The crosshair is a critical aspect of any FPS game. There’s no perfect setting for it, but you’ll want to adjust the options to see if a different color pops out more for you or if you prefer a smaller crosshair. You can also copy crosshairs from other players, and many pros have publicly shared their crosshairs.

Don’t be afraid to stay still

After taking some time to discover your optimal settings for the game, you’ll be able to start playing. The first thing that will signal to everyone else that it’s the first game for a player is that they’ll hear them running everywhere and see them move while aiming.

Moving while shooting in VALORANT significantly impacts your accuracy. The slightest movement can be the difference between a one tap and death. You also want to avoid running everywhere since it creates significant noise and allows enemies to track your movements.

The hardest thing to do is to find your balance between being hard to hit and accurate when shooting. When first starting out, the safest thing to do is not move while shooting so you can try to be the first to land that headshot.

Using an ability makes you vulnerable

A common mistake made by beginners, particularly those who come from Overwatch and League of Legends, is using abilities too often and in bad moments.

Abilities exist to enhance your gunplay rather than becoming your main asset. Using them makes you vulnerable because of the delay in switching to your weapon. You have to make sure you’re in a safe position to use them, especially for abilities with a long delay.

Aiming down sights can get you killed

On certain maps, there are a few hallways that allow for long-range fights. These spots are often covered by a player with an Operator, which means you should never peek them without using an ability first. Aiming down sights might seem viable, but this feature is almost always worse than firing from the hip.

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Screengrab via Riot Games

Try to avoid relying on the ADS feature since it makes you fire weapons slower and limits your motion in a gunfight. You can hold angles while aiming down sights, but do not rely on it in every situation.

Sound is crucial

It may be obvious for FPS enthusiasts, but playing with a headset is mandatory for performing well in VALORANT. Hearing the sound of footsteps and abilities is the best way to know where enemies are. You should also pay attention to what sentences the agents say when using their ultimate.

If you hear Raze’s “fire in the hole,” for example, you’ll know it’s a bad time to force a fight and time to run away. You can also trick other players with audio queues, like faking a plant or defuse to lure players out of their hiding spots. Learning to track sounds comes with experience, but eventually, you’ll be able to follow enemy movement through walls and obstacles.

Communicate with your team

Riot highly encourages communication between teammates in VALORANT. The game isn’t meant to be played solo. Even the ranked ladder encourages premade groups and trying to win on your own will rarely work.

With that in mind, communicating with your team is crucial. You don’t even need to have a good microphone or flawless English to communicate because a system of pings was created to help share information swiftly without talking. Simple phrases like “Spike A” or “Two B” can also help your teammates when they don’t have time to look at the mini-map.

Remember that you can still convey information after being eliminated in a round by opening the map and using pings to help your surviving teammates make the right decisions.

Know what to buy and when to save

At the start of each game, you should be careful with how much you spend because if you end up losing or dying in several rounds in a row, you’ll be forced to stick with cheap weapons and a light shield.

The pistol round will determine the next three or four rounds, so coordinating with your team is essential. If you win the pistol round, your entire team should buy armor, weapons, and abilities in round two. This should almost guarantee another round win unless the enemy team forces and buys. Winning the second round means most of your team will have lower-tier weapons in round three. Round three can be tough to win if the enemies buy rifles, but successfully winning the third round with your existing weapons is known as bonusing. This is the ideal scenario for the early game since your team will have a three-round lead and a healthy economy for the next couple of rounds.

Losing the pistol round means you should save in round two so your team can fully buy in round three. There are some occasions where forcing is a viable option, but avoid doing this since it can significantly set your economy back in the early game.

Each player should ensure they have 3,900 credits available for the next round if they plan on full buying. This is enough for full shields and a rifle. Players with essential abilities should also budget a bit extra to ensure they have enough credits to purchase their abilities.

In addition, you’ll switch sides after 12 rounds in the game. There’s no need to save your currency in the last round before the switch since you’ll lose everything after 12 rounds, even your abilities.

Several strategies can be formed throughout a game. If you ping that you want to save money or spend it all, it can help the rest of your team decide what to do. You can even make the risky decision to buy an expensive shield and weapon when your team is behind if you’re confident in winning the round. It’s all a matter of coordination and style. But don’t forget to anticipate instead of thinking of each round individually. Lastly, don’t forget that you can pick up the weapons of your dead enemies (and allies).

These tips may help you gain an advantage over the opponents in your first hours on the game. But VALORANT has a high skill ceiling and players must practice if they want to climb the ranked ladder.


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