Riot Games’ new competitive arena shooter Valorant is now available to play as part of a closed beta on PC, meaning anyone can give the game a go for free – assuming you can get hold of a key.
Getting a beta key is the tricky bit, and it’ll take a bit of luck, a bit of patience, and a Twitch account. Here’s how it works.
Sign up for Twitch
First things first, if you don’t already have a Twitch account you’ll need one. Sign up to Twitch here for free before you go any further.
You’ll also need a Riot account. If you play League of Legends you’ll have one already, but if not go ahead and register with Riot, and then within your Twitch account settings you should be able to link your Riot and Twitch accounts together.
Watch a Twitch stream with Drops
Now to actually get a key. Right now the only way to earn them is by watching compatible Twitch streams, which will include the main Valorant Twitch account along with various specific streamers.
The first keys went out on 3 April, but more keys will be handed out on 7 April and are expected to continue sporadically while the beta runs, so now’s the time to start watching. To find compatible streams, check this Twitch directory search filtered with the beta Drops tag – this will show every current and scheduled stream that’s handing out keys.
Then all you have to do is watch and hope.
What countries is the beta in?
For the moment the beta is only live in the United States, Canada, Europe (including the UK), Russia, or Turkey – so you’ll need to be based in one of those countries (or using a VPN) to stand a chance of winning a beta key.
The beta may expand to other countries in the future, but for now that’s it.
When does the beta end?
Riot hasn’t announced a firm end date for the beta. The company says the game itself is set to launch in ‘summer 2020’, so the beta will end some time before that in theory.
Riot also said that the aim is “to keep closed beta as short as we can while getting additional regions online,” but acknowledged that “if we hear a lot of unexpected feedback from players during this period, we’ll reevaluate.”
Will Valorant beta progress carry over to the full game?
No progress in the closed beta will be carried over to the final game – so everyone will be on a level playing field at launch – though any Valorant Points (the in-game currency) that you spend during the beta will be returned to you at the end together with a 20% bonus, so there’s still a decent argument for getting involved with the micro-transactions early.