The 6 best tactical shooter games like Valorant
You like chess, but with guns? These games are like that.
The tactical shooter genre is experiencing a renaissance these days. New titles have consistently cropped up over the last four years, from established triple-A studios but also from indie studios and newcomer dev outfits. In the wake of the enormous success of games like Rainbow Six Siege and Valorant, the genre has received renewed attention from the gaming community, and we are inundated with slow-paced, tactical shooter games; shockingly, many of them are quite good. We have prepared a list of the best games like Valorant for those of you who enjoy the cerebral thrills of a good tactical shooter.
If you are enjoying the slow-paced and tactical gameplay of Valorant but don’t feel ready to graduate into the complexity of games like Rainbow Six Siege, you may want to consider Black Squad. Purists may not like seeing Black Squad on the list, but this tactical shooter undeniably has its niche as a low-stakes, more action-oriented take on the genre.
Like Valorant, Black Squad focuses on team-versus-team combat in small-scale, close-quarters engagements; also like Valorant, its modest graphical presentation makes it easy to play, even on older machines. Black Squad may lack the depth of some of the other titles on this list, and their realism, but it has a ton of maps and game modes, and its relatively un-competitive nature keeps it enjoyable. It’s also free-to-play, so there is no buyer’s remorse if you don’t end up falling in love.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
We couldn’t really make a list of the best games like Valorant without including the game that Valorant is based on. CS:GO’s fame precedes it, and if you are reading this, you are most likely familiar with the game. While Counter-Strike didn’t invent the bomb disposal mode, it certainly made it the inescapable staple it is today. If you enjoy Call of Duty’s Search and Destroy mode, Valorant’s standard game modes, or Rogue Company’s Demolition, you owe it all to CS:GO. Valve’s shooter also popularized things like the pre-round buy stage, ability line-ups, and everyone using the same rifle in every match ad nauseum.
CS:GO’s legacy has inspired every game to grace the genre after it. The game is also apparently eternal. Despite being over a decade old – which is like being 200 in live-service years – CS:GO is consistently the most-played game on Steam, and its playerbase continues to grow. It’s almost like actively competing with Valorant has actually made CS:GO stronger.
This modern tactical shooter from BlackFoot Studios is put together by developers with Rainbow Six and Ghost Recon pedigree. With a game loop designed around planning and pitch-perfect execution, Ground Branch is very similar to Valorant in that it takes mechanical knowledge, self-control, and a great deal of focus to play.
Unlike Valorant, Ground Branch is quite dark and gritty in its presentation – something that arrivals from Riot’s colorful shooter may find refreshing or off-putting, depending on their disposition. Aesthetics aside, Ground Branch is worth investing time into for its refined and highly tense gameplay.
Rainbow Six Siege
Ubisoft’s Rainbow Six franchise didn’t give birth to the modern tactical shooter, but it did define many of its must-have features. Rainbow Six Siege has similar gameplay and tension as Valorant, and similar character design in that characters have abilities that act as utilities and lethals. However, Siege is far more involved and mechanically complex, and drone-based reconnaissance is a huge part of competitive play — a feature that no other game has managed to replicate effectively so far. If you like to play Cypher or just like staring at low-def screens, you will be at home here.
Where Rainbow Six Siege differs massively from Valorant is in how its operator roster works. Playable characters in Rainbow Six Siege are divided into Attackers and Defenders, and players may only select from the pool of options available to their team in each match. That means that to get better at Siege, you need to learn to play multiple operators and understand match-ups and map-specific picks. The roster of playable operators is also much larger in Rainbow Six Siege, although many of them are functionally similar and share weapons and gadgets.
The biggest outlier on this list, Rogue Company has two drastically different game modes. While Strikeout is pure chaotic fun, the Demolition mode sticks closely to traditional tactical shooter rules. This is the mode to play if you are arriving straight from Valorant. You will notice that the tone and presentation here are a bit different from Riot’s first-person shooter, but the overall match flow and gameplay are similar.
Like Valorant, Rogue Company has a roster of characters with unique abilities and gadgets, and its Demolition mode follows the same gameplay rules, except with four-player teams, and in third-person perspective. Neither of those things makes for a second-grade experience, and when played competitively Rogue Company matches the complexity and intensity of the more grounded and slow-paced games on this list.
Related: How to unlock characters in Rogue Company
The last entry on this list isn’t quite on par with the rest in terms of pacing or scale, but it’s still worth considering if you are a fan of Valorant or tactical shooter games in general. Like Black Squad, Warface offers more of a junk food take on the genre: instead of realism and complexity, you get heaps of weapons, maps, game modes, and other content. It’s also only the second game on this list to be available on Nintendo Switch, alongside Rogue Company.
A more competitive spin-off, Warface Breakout, is available exclusively for PlayStation and Xbox consoles. Breakout ditches some of the action game excesses of the original Warface in favor of a more slow-paced and tactical experience. If you always pined after Valorant but aren’t keen on PC gaming, you will definitely find something to like in Warface Breakout.