01: On Raze and anti-cheat

The first of our weekly status updates on the VALORANT Closed Beta, today featuring Raze and anti-cheat.

The past two weeks have been a whirlwind of activity as we keep stress-testing VALORANT, its server infrastructure, and underlying technology. We’ve learned many, many lessons over this short period of time and want to stay open and transparent in how we keep going. So on that note, we’re spinning up a weekly ‘State of the Closed Beta’ post where we can answer questions and discuss topics we’re seeing raised all around the world.

First, now that the honeymoon is over with some VALORANT players (two weeks!), we’re seeing some real discussion happening on every competitive players’ favorite topic: game balance. In particular? Raze. And how a damage-oriented agent can exist in the tactical shooter space. Here’s VALORANT’s lead game designer, Trevor Romleski, to talk about Raze, how we’re reacting to community feedback, and why she’s important for the current roster.

“Raze has been a polarizing character in VALORANT, we’ve seen feedback ranging from ‘Raze is fine’ to ‘Pls delete now.’ This has also raised the question about lethal damage from abilities in VALORANT, and when (if at all) does it make sense.

The value of lethal abilities is to create temporary areas of denial that require opponents to quickly reposition from that space. This can be used to reliably clear corners or push opponents off of angles where they have an advantage, forcing them to move from their position of power. Sometimes you can outright kill an opponent if they don’t respect the ability in the moment and fail to respond, or if you coordinate abilities with your team (like stacking a cluster grenade on a Sage slow field).

We don’t expect the common case of lethal abilities to be outright killing the opponent, especially at higher levels of play. As awareness and quick response to lethal abilities increases, the value should shift from outright killing someone to the other areas of value this ability type provides.

However, it is on us to provide you the proper audio and sound cues, information, and windows of time for you to react properly. You should feel that you’re equipped with the proper gameplay information, and that when you die and your opponent makes a good play: it’s on you. This is definitely an area for improvement for us that we’re actively working on now. As an example, when Raze equips her rocket or fires it from a distance, you should be able to clearly hear and identify the oncoming threat.

Bear in mind that we still expect you to respect the rocket when it’s in play—planning around when it’s available in the round. For example, when you hear an ult being used, maybe you’ll try not to take sites as a group rush and instead spread out. Strategically, this feels similar to how you wouldn’t try solo pushing against an enemy Cypher when he has his ultimate up, as you might risk dying, being interrogated, and giving away the rest of your team’s position.

We’re also assessing some balance tweaks to Raze regarding her overall power relative to other agents in the roster. This includes looking into if she has too many grenades, or if her damage is just too strong or too reliable. As always, please give us feedback on how you feel about the changes and if you think they’re improving your experience.”

Second, we’re also hearing some concern around our anti-cheat detection technology, Vanguard, as well as maybe seeing a few misunderstandings out in the wild. VALORANT’s anti-cheat lead, Paul Chamberlain, has a few things to mention on that topic:

“There’s been a lot of interest from the community about our anti-cheat technology this last week and I’m really excited to see so much attention being paid to something that’s usually so behind the scenes.

From the beginning of the project I’ve operated under the belief that competitive integrity is extremely important for a game like VALORANT and that means we need to curtail cheating as much as we can. This belief is why we’ve invested so much in building out our anti-cheat systems; these tools represent our first line of defense and our primary weapons to keep cheating out of the game.

As is the goal of working in a closed beta, we’ve gotten a ton of compatibility inputs and lessons in stress-testing that help us improve our tools every day. We’re also adapting them as hackers start to attack the game, and we’re working hard to make our systems as secure, performant, and compatible as possible.

It’s also worth noting that with all the excitement for VALORANT, we’re attracting a lot of attention from malicious actors who may have their own business interests at heart (like cheat developers). A way for a cheat developer to attract false business is to communicate the illusion of a working hack, even if it gets detected and banned very quickly. I’ll be honest in saying I don’t think we’ll ever stop all hackers, but I do think we can stop most of them and we can work to quickly ban the rest.

I’ve always thought of our anti-cheat strategy in terms of what will best meet the needs of a hypothetical VALORANT player. Now that y’all aren’t so hypothetical, our strategy will need to adapt to your very real needs as well as the very real attacks from hackers. I’m confident that the current approach is a good one for now but I hope you’ll all let me know how we can make the game better for you in the future. More to come!”

Expect to hear again from us week over week as we get more regions online for VALORANT Closed Beta. We want to ensure that as we move forward in our development, we keep you apprised of what’s on our minds and what’s coming up.

We’ll talk again soon.