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The making of Valorant’s jolly snowball fight mode, according to Riot

Less murder, more mirth

Valorant - Sova poses with a new, seasonal snow launcher Image: Riot Games
Cass Marshall is a news writer focusing on gaming and culture coverage, taking a particular interest in the human stories of the wild world of online games.

Valorant is a high stakes shooter that encourages teamwork, precision, and skill. In Patch 1.14, it’ll also become a deathmatch where everyone is armed with a snowball launcher. The upcoming update is a frosty, frantic take on the usual formula, and it seems like a fun way to cool down after a streak of competitive matches.

Players will be pitted against each other in a 5v5 team deathmatch. First team to get 50 kills wins. If you’re in a pinch, portals that spew loads of gifts will spawn around the map that give power-ups. Teams can gather around and get buffs, like being able to fire faster or snowballs that grow in mid-air.

The mode requires much less concentration than the standard matches, which is intentional. “We’ve been exploring several modes and prototypes that players can use to escape long stressful Valorant sessions, preferably with their friends,” said Riot senior game designer Bobby Prochnow and senior producer Jared Berbach in a press release. “We had the idea of trying to come up with a mode that felt appropriate to celebrate the holidays and the release of Ice Box.

There’s even a lore explanation for these unusually silly festivities! Killjoy has rigged a custom version of Brimstone’s molotov launcher, which fires projectiles. Make sure to aim at where a target will be, not where they are. You also have a knife, because... sometimes you need a knife. Nothing sinister about that.

According to Prochnow, it took the team some time to get the snowball throw exactly right. “When we were first testing with snowballs, we had to keep the collision of the snowballs fairly small so that they wouldn’t get clipped on corners or doorways,” he writes. But this meant that it was really difficult to hit other players. We solved this by creating a separate, larger collision volume that we attached to the snowball to check for player collision.”

Prochnow adds, “But in our first few tests, we hit a pretty nasty bug where the player collision would sometimes sweep across the entire map right when the snowball was shot. The result was every time you fired a snowball, there was a decent chance you’d kill someone else all the way across the map.”

There’s also a Winterwunderland skin line, which is inspired by cheery European villages celebrating the Christmas season. There are skins for the Vandal, Phantom, Ghost, and Marshal guns, as well as melee weapons. What’s interesting is the way these skins are applied. Instead of a coat of paint, it looks more like the gun is clear, and players are able to peek in at a joyous seasonal scene.

The texture is animated, creating a fun snow globe kind of effect, where the player is looking in on a celebration briefly in between bouts of brutal, gun-based battles. The weapon skin changes depending on where you are in the map. If a player is out in the lights, the internal painting changes to a sunny afternoon over the mountains. In dark areas of the map, you get the scene with Aurora Borealis lighting up the night time sky.

There are also melee skins, but they’re much simpler. Players can unlock big candy canes, in a variety of colors, and use them to give their opponents a season-appropriate paddling.

Snowfight mode launches on Dec. 15, and runs until Dec. 29. If players enjoy the mode, it could return in the future.

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