All eyes are on Riot Games as they break into the FPS genre with a competitive new title: Valorant, their first new IP since League of Legends was introduced 200 years ago. It’s interesting to see the studio devote some of its massive resources to something not even slightly related to its flagship game. Yet despite the break in tradition, there’s one feature where Riot hopes to stay consistent: constant, overwhelming, unbearable toxicity. For more, we interviewed Valorant’s game director, Joe Ziegler.
“You know that feeling you get when you’re zero and five for kills, and then your teammate shows up for a gank, only to feed your lane opponent another free double kill?” Ziegler begins. “Of course you flame in that situation. You’re only human, after all. That’s the beauty of League of Legends: the game is perfectly designed to piss you off. We want to carry that feeling over into Valorant.”
Like League, Valorant is a competitive, character-based, objective-focused multiplayer game. However, based on preliminary examinations of the game’s closed beta, Valorant doesn’t appear to carry any of LoL’s most frustrating elements, such as alarmingly inconsistent coding, matches that drag on for fifty minutes, or sluggish snowball mechanics that make falling behind feel like an utterly hopeless uphill slog. Still, Ziegler is confident that his team can flip the script before launch.
“Here at Riot,” he continues, “we don’t put our name on a product unless it reaches our highest possible standards. If there isn’t a fifteen-year-old in the voice chat calling you a racial slur for taking his blue buff, it’s not a Riot-quality game. We still have plenty of time to make Valorant a veritable bloodbath for your mental health, and goshdarnit, we’re gonna make it there. For instance, we’re considering adding a question mark ping for your allies to spam every time you fuck up.”
When asked why someone would want to continue playing a game that is designed by nature to be toxic and frustrating, Ziegler replies, “Because on the occasion that you do win, and it’s a really good game, it’s like heroin.”