This One Feature Makes Valorant Great On Console

Image: Riot Games
Image: Riot Games

Ever since Valorant began its console beta on June 14 I haven’t been able to put the game down. I’m not new to Riot Games’ tactical hero shooter, but the console version has reignited my love for it, and it has to do with the port’s headlining new feature: Focus Mode.

The difficulty in putting any tactical first-person shooter onto console is that it will never feel as accurate as it does on PC (at least that’s what competitive players will tell you). It’s also why mouse and keyboard is seen as the superior input method for any first-person shooter, as the movement of the elbow and wrist gives players a much finer control over movement than a controller’s joystick does. Focus Mode seeks to address that issue, and after a weekend of playing on PS5, I can say the feature does a phenomenal job.

What exactly is focus mode? Essentially it replaces the typical “left trigger to aim down sights” design ethos of most modern shooters, and maps Focus Mode to the left trigger. When pressing the trigger, the game quickly shifts how sensitive the aiming joystick is. It markedly lowers it compared to shooting from the hip, though you aren’t actually aiming down sights (PSA: You can enable traditional ADS in the settings menu). By doing this, it duplicates the fine-tuned control of a mouse. Not perfectly, but well enough. I haven’t seen another shooter on console do something like this before, and while it might not work for every game it works in Valorant.

PC players will tell you that if you are playing Valorant correctly, you shouldn’t be aiming down sights at all. Typically players will stop moving and fire from the hip rather than aim down sights. Both have similar accuracy but aiming down sights takes slightly longer to do. Focus Mode emulates that recommended playstyle Within a couple of matches, Focus Mode felt like second nature. That quick-to-pick-up feel comes from the melding of PC and console sensibilities—a PC player will be able to understand the movement Focus Mode is going for, while a console player will understand the input of using the left trigger for more accuracy.

The only real drawback of Focus Mode is that some feel it makes the game too casual as the console version also utilizes light aim assist (a common feature on console shooters). While it may be more beginner-friendly, I don’t see a problem in that. Having a more casual space opens up opportunities to make the audience larger and offers players a lower-stakes entry into the game. The competitive players obsessed with if Focus Mode makes the game too casual can continue being competitive on PC. PC players won’t come into conflict with Focus Mode, since there’s no crossplay between console and PC

I’m happy to play on both PC and console depending on my mood. I think it smartly solves one of the problems that became a sore point for Overwatch, in that the developers constantly struggled to balance the demand of competitive and casual players. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see new players flock to consoles, then pick up the game on PC if they want to get more serious.

You can sign up for the Valorant console beta here if you have a PS5 or Xbox Series X/S. There is no current end date for the beta, nor is there a date for the full console release.


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