Get ready to anger some video gamers. Riot’s Valorant and Valve’s Counter-Strike are the two biggest FPS (First Person Shooter) titles in the Esports world, both coming with an impressive skill ceiling, a loyal player base and a healthy competitive scene. It’s the nature of gamers everywhere to bang on about why it is their chosen title is superior to their counterparts, and the debate over which of these games is ‘the best’ has been raging since Valorant’s release in 2020.
With the announcement of Counter-Strike 2 breaking the industry, we here at My Entertainment World decided to put the two series under the microscope to answer: ‘which FPS game should you be playing in 2023’?
Counter-Strike began life as a fan-made modification for Valve’s Half-Life back in 1999. The mod proved so popular it spawned its very own title with the company securing the rights, releasing Counter-Strike 1.6, Source and Global Offensive in 2003, 2004 and 2012 respectively. The former two saw the series make its first foray into the world of competitive gaming, however, it was CS:GO’s popularity (especially in the wake of being made free-to-play in December 2018) that really saw the series hit the big leagues.
CS:GO is currently the most played and viewed game on Steam, smashed its own one million concurrent player record as recently as January 2023 and boasts the most stacked open circuit in the Esports industry. Tournaments like IEM Cologne and the two Valve-sponsored Major Championships are jaw-dropping spectacles that now come with multi-million prize purses and viewership records.
Valorant first hit shelves back in 2020 and was at first heralded as the game that would finally break CS:GO’s hold on the FPS world. High-profile players, streamers and influencers defected sides, and Riot certainly talked a good game with significant investment. According to ActivePlayer.io, Valorant still boasts an active player count of roughly 1.5M heading in 2023 showcasing that it still has plenty of backing in the casual market these days.
In terms of legacy, Counter-Strike’s near 25-year history makes it an automatic win here. Its longevity is one of the biggest achievements in the gaming space and shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. Riot have a few years to go before they can claim to match that.
In terms of gameplay mechanics, Counter-Strike has always felt like a more ‘authentic’ feeling FPS title. The emphasis is firmly on the ‘tactical’ side of the tactical-shooter experience, offering realistic scenarios and difficult-to-master mechanics that punish players who don’t play the game ‘properly’ (for want of a better word).
Juxtaposed to that is Valorant, which has always had this vibe of never really taking itself too seriously. Typical FPS mechanics such as crosshair placement and reaction time obviously come into play, however, there’s a much firmer emphasis on utility usage and taking advantage of the unique abilities wielded by the 21 different playable ‘agents’ in-game.
There are no classes in CS:GO, but Valorant’s agents can be further split into four different groups: Duelists, Initiators, Controllers, and Sentinels.
A similarity between the two games is the fact there is a wide arsenal of weaponry to choose between in both of them, with different weapons having different tactical advantages and costing different amounts in the in-game economy system.
Valorant has also helped redefine skill gaming, with Unikrn Valorant betting opening up as a way for fans to sprinkle in some added excitement when high-profile events roll around.
Which Is Better?
Whilst there are some glaring factors that distinguish the pair as very different titles, Counter-Strike and Valorant are more similar than they are different. Both games have a stranglehold on the competitive FPS scene, with their 5v5 Bomb Defusal premise being the perfect blueprint for creating a gameplay experience that is both strategically deep, as well fun to play and watch.
Out of the two, we would have to give the visual edge to Valorant. Riot have been stellar at keeping the game topped up with regular content updates and striking cosmetics, and even following an average game in the server will deliver more chaos on the back of all the hero abilities and utilities going off.
However, the fast-paced nature of Counter-Strike means that crisp firepower and quick executions are prioritised in the Valve shooter, and is there anything more attractive than an instinctive flick or successful no-scope on Mirage or Inferno? Not to mention as well, the dramatic visual overhauls Valve have already demonstrated coming on their way with the release of CS2 should do wonders in giving the series the facelift it was in need of.
Ultimately, having two well-polished and well-supported FPS titles in the market is better than one for gamers. Not only does it give more choice to players, but also encourages developers to keep investing and ensure their respective titles are being given as much love as possible. Whichever side of the fence you fall on probably depends on what sort of shooter you want to play: the glitz and chaos of Valorant and its special abilities, or the gritty, fast-paced established feel of Counter-Strike – the choice is yours!