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Valorant may become the esport of competitive ‘bunny hopping’

In Valorant’s recently released 0.5 update, the developers directly addressed bunny hopping (b-hopping). B-hopping is an advanced maneuver of mobility that is not officially referenced within the game. Originating as an unintentional mechanic from another franchise, b-hopping has been intentionally included in many shooters, including Valorant. Unlike its most prominent competition, Counter-Strike (CS), Valorant is balancing b-hopping for their game’s made-for-esports gameplay. Unintended mechanics can enhance excitement for Valorant’s professional scene, or it could kill the game before it establishes one.

Balancing b-hopping for battle

Valorant developers intend to include b-hopping in competitive play. In the 0.5 changelog, they commented on almost every change, including b-hopping specifically. When addressing a now-fixed bug that allowed b-hopping to “trivialize a whole set of character abilities,” the team stated that they do not intend to “completely negate [b-hopping]:”

“We see you b-hoppers out there, jumping through Incendiary, Fireball, and Snake Bite while taking no damage.”

The developers acknowledged that b-hoping can be abused to gain an unfair advantage in competitive play. Rather than removing b-hopping, they weakened its effect to balance the online battlefield. The recognition and nerfs b-hopping received confirms that the developers intend to incorporate b-hopping into Valorant’s core gameplay.

What is b-hopping and how it can distinguish Valorant

B-hopping is an unintended mechanic from the Quake era of online competitive shooting games. B-hopping entails manipulating the physics of a game to maintain or gain momentum by continuously jumping.

Valorant already owes some of its success to mechanics adopted from other games. Valorant’s gunplay is based on an adaptation of CS’s gun mechanics The copied mechanics have helped Valorant grow its playerbase, but have hindered the game’s ability to distinguish itself.

Competitive b-hopping would differentiate Valorant from CS. Since CS was just a modification, b-hopping has been tweaked to have minimal use in competitive play, if any. If Valorant developers balance b-hopping for competitive play, they would distinguish their game amongst their competition.

Unintentional mechanics have helped and harmed esports in the past

Many esports have had their competitive scene enhanced by the inclusion of unintended mechanics in competitive play. Unintended mechanics are developed from clever usage of in-game systems. Sometimes, these mechanics can enhance gameplay and elevate competition. Many games have welcomed unintentional mechanics into competitive gameplay:

Unintentional mechanics have become advanced maneuvers. These entertaining and skillful maneuvers elevate the potential of a talented player. As players increase in skill, watching them execute advanced maneuvers in competitive gameplay will increase in entertainment.

Advanced mechanics may deter new players unless they are officially acknowledged. Although the developers addressed b-hopping in the changelog, there is no acknowledgment of it within the game client. There is no way for a new player to learn about b-hopping without seeking third-party resources. The developers are not enforcing a fair playing field for their competitive shooter by keeping mechanics secret. Valorant’s steep learning curve is made more difficult to climb by the inclusion of advanced mechanics that lack explanations.

Bunny hopping could become Valorant’s defining quality. We will have to wait to find out if that is good or bad. What is your favourite unintentional mechanic that impacted competitive play? Follow us on Twitter and let us know!

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