Riot's Valorant beta comes alongside an anti-cheat program called Vanguard, which has been a source of controversy for weeks. First, no one was quite sure how to get it; now, it comes right alongside beta access, but has caused problems for many users.
Here's what you need to know about Riot's Vanguard before you jump into the Valorant beta.
How to Get Riot Vanguard Anti-Cheat Download
If you install Valorant right now, Vanguard should come alongside it, and will be installed separately on your PC. Vanguard is an anti-cheat program that's meant to monitor and stop attempts at hacks or exploits in Valorant, in order to maintain a sense of, to use Riot's phrase, competitive integrity.
Riot's been very proactive about security and cheating in general with Valorant, including a crackdown on beta sellers. If you haven't been whitelisted for the Vanguard beta, you can still install the Valorant client and link it to your Twitch account, but it won't come with Vanguard.
Once you've got access to the beta, reboot your PC, and Vanguard should automatically be installed. You can't download it separately anywhere as of this writing; it's only made available to players whose accounts are flagged for beta access to Valorant.
This is still a beta, however, and that comes with kinks in the system, like the dreaded Error Codes 51, 29, and 43, which we've got guides on how to fix. Another one that can keep you from getting into a Valorant match is "Vanguard not initialized," where the game won't start because there's a problem with Vanguard.
If you're running into that error, you should first try quitting the Valorant client and relaunching it, to give Vanguard another chance to run properly.
If that doesn't work, uninstall Vanguard from your system. Uninstalling Valorant won't automatically get rid of Vanguard; you have to go in and uninstall Vanguard separately. The next time you launch the Valorant client, it should automatically download and reinstall Vanguard.
Restart your PC afterward and ideally, you should be all set. If not, it's time to submit a ticket with Riot's support department.
However, if Vanguard is working perfectly, that potentially opens up other problems.
A controversy has been brewing for the last few weeks about the degree of access and control that Vanguard has over a system it's installed on, with a thread on Reddit which points out just how invasive it actually is.
Vanguard is theoretically on your computer to protect Valorant's processes from exploits, and will automatically terminate a match if it detects cheating.
Nobody will suffer a hit to their rank or get a loss on their record; the whole match is simply wiped out, complete with a big red error screen that honestly looks like a self-destruct notification.
However, in order to do that, Vanguard has been designed to get a degree of access to your system that's usually reserved for particularly aggro anti-virus software.
Using a program like this to stop a cheater in a video game is like calling in the entirety of the Marine Corps to stop a purse snatcher.
That comes along with the usual problems you can run into with a security suite, like causing conflicts with other programs or even crucial system processes.
The Valorant subreddit, as of this writing, is full of horror stories like Vanguard causing Blue Screens of Death, shutting down the drivers for the system's mouse and keyboard, or identifying mundane programs as exploits and blocking them without notifying the user.
This also means that if Vanguard itself were to be hacked somehow, that hacker would have direct access to all of the million-plus systems that have installed the Valorant beta client. Riot is more vigilant about its information security than a lot of video game companies, and employs intrusive measures read: paying people to try to break into Riot's servers from the outside to test its systems, but nothing is impossible.
To Riot's credit in this, it's already fixed a couple of Vanguard's problems. Earlier versions of Vanguard would automatically run on system startup, for example.
On May 6th, Paul "Arkem" Chamberlain posted a blog entry on Valorant's website, to discuss why Riot is being so proactive about anti-cheat measures, and what it's doing to keep Valorant's gameplay as honest as possible, but didn't specifically mention the problems being caused by Vanguard in its current state.
In the meantime, it's down to players in the beta to keep opening tickets and reporting their issues. Hopefully, by the time Valorant is ready for its official release, Vanguard will be pared down to a reasonable measure while still keeping cheaters at bay.
For now, though, keep a close eye on Vanguard while you're enjoying the Valorant beta.
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Valorant's still in a testing phase, and some problems are always going to pop up during a beta test. What are some of your favorite major bugs you've seen in a game, inside or out of its beta? Let us know via our official Twitter, @PrimaGames.