The Valorant team is maintaining an open line of communication with its players in many ways. One of them includes the Ask Valorant series. Players can pose questions to the developers and every so often, the team will respond to some of the more pressing or interesting ones. In the latest Ask Valorant, the team answered a question about the power and balance of the Operator, as well as explaining why players are having issues with footstep audio.
The OP Operator
One of the least enjoyable experiences in Valorant is walking around a corner and getting killed in one shot by an Operator. This happens a lot and has led many players to complain that the gun is too strong. The Valorant team disagrees. They believe the Operator feels unmanageable when a team lacks ways to deal with it, like being unable to break sight with smokes and walls. That is, arguably, not a problem with the weapon, but rather the strategy of a team.
Nicholas Smith, the Game Designer answering the question, then shares an example of what happened during testing when the Operator wasn’t as strong as it is now. He revealed that without the stopping power of Valorant’s most powerful sniper, the game often became about who could rush faster. That would not be a fun game.
Smith does concede that Riot is looking into ways to “smooth out” the Operator experience. However, he also says the team believes the Operator should be powerful. It’s not changing for now, but it might in the future.
Another question that came up in the latest Ask Valorant is about spatial audio. The player asked why they struggle to pinpoint exactly where footstep noises are coming from and how far away they are. Peter Zinda, the Audio Director for Valorant, revealed that you can’t tell how far away a noise comes from because the game’s audio is optimized for making sure a footstep is heard instead of portraying distance.
Zinda then revealed the reasons for Riot taking this position. He said that when the game gets chaotic, with voice communication and abilities, it’s crucial you don’t miss the sound of a footstep. It’s an unsatisfying experience to be killed by someone who you don’t hear coming.
We also need to remember that not all players have the privilege of playing in a quiet space in their home. Many players are playing from loud environments like PC Bangs in Korea and China. The subtle audio sounds required to reveal distance would be lost in those noisy locations and put those players at a disadvantage. This led to the final reason for Valorant’s audio being the way it is. Riot doesn’t want to incentivize players to turn up their volume to the point where it damages their ears.
Zinda ends by explaining that the game is currently mixed in stereo. This has resulted in players not being able to hear the difference between a sound on your left that is 45 degrees in front or behind you. Unfortunately, there is no solution to this issue right now. However, “currently mixed in stereo” sounds a lot like Riot is on the hunt for a fix.