Beep. I’m the only one left alive, so everything is about to be my fault. Beep. The enemy has planted the Spike, and I know I don’t have long to defuse it. Beep beep. It’s guarded by three enemy gun wizards, but they can only watch one angle each. Beep beep. I’ve got a chance. Beep. I start moving. Beep beep. I jump around a corner, and land a lucky headshot. Beep beep. They know where I am now. Beep beep. I know I don’t have long, but I don’t know how long. All I know is BEEP BEEP BEEP oh crap I’ve to move oh crap I’m in the open and oh BEEP BEEP BANG.
That wasn’t the bomb. I got shot because I panicked too early, and Valorant is very good at making you think you’re about to explode.
The real masterstroke, though, is the beeping noise the bomb makes. Just like in Counter-Strike, every round sees one team try to plant a bomb. If they manage that, the enemy team has 45 seconds to defuse. It’s an exquisite way to generate tension, and Valorant is very much in Counter-Strike’s debt. Riot have outdone them on the beeping sound, though, because it’s been very cleverly calculated to make people panic before they need to.
Here is a video in which I very cleverly do not panic, but hopefully illustrates why I might have. (I am sorry about the breathing. I’ve been trying to quit.)
I’m pretty sure that’s as close as you can possibly come to being blown up without actually being blown up. I played it cool, but oh, my poor heart.
The noise is just so well-gauged. To an experienced player, that beeping communicates vital information: you’ve got 3.5 seconds to start defusing once the beeping becomes frantic. In the context of a game where killing someone usually takes far less than a second, 3.5 seconds is plenty. I know that now, but it’s still unnerving. It still messes with my head – and better yet, I know it messes with other people’s.
Well done, Riot. Top beeps.