The state of VALORANT (A Radiant player’s insight into how the game is tracking)
The Valorant balance team has done a seriously good job at fine-tuning most of the agents and allowing teams to create a myriad of synergistic combinations that aren’t gamebreaking.
Sure, there have been some long-lasting metas like Viper’s lineups, or the supremacy of Jett and Sova but as time has passed the player base has learned to work around most overpowered strategies. This isn’t to say that all agents are of equal strength, that would be an outright lie.
Agents like Jett or Raze are far superior to counterparts like Yoru and Phoenix. Despite this, the dev team are well aware of major discrepancies and are hearing the community out. For example, they just recently released their official rework plans for Yoru and what that is going to look like.
Firstly let’s explore how both agents and maps are holding up after 3 whole Episodes and 9 Acts. Towards the end of this article there will be some details about the Yoru rework to check out if you are interested.
It would be nice to see some of Brimstone’s kit reworked, especially his Stim Beacon. Compared to the abilities that other Controllers have this is one of the main things holding him back.
It certainly doesn’t have as much impact as Omen’s Paranoia or Astra’s Gravity Well. Riot has mentioned that they are looking to improve the state of Brimstone but this was a long while ago.
He has been left out of the meta for a long time. It would be nice to see him compete equally with Astra and Viper. I don’t think Brimstone needs his entire kit reworked like Yoru, his molly and ultimate are quite strong especially when it comes to post-plant situations.
It would be cool to see more of Brimstone in pro play, with a few small buffs I think he would be back in the meta.
There was plenty of hype around the release of this lightning-fast new agent, but at the moment it is safe to say that excitement around her release has died down and so has her pick-rate in games.
Unfortunately, she is not as strong as much of the community was predicting, her abilities are much more situational than expected and or maybe intended by the Riot dev team. Sprinting and sliding around can more often get you killed as opposed to successfully opening up space and initiating fights for your team.
I think down the line there may be a few tweaks to her kit, whether it is the strength of her ultimate ability or her re-equip timers for guns after sliding and sprinting.
Many of us believed that this zippy agent would take down Jett from her throne and be a worthy nemesis of hers but at this moment in time, I think it is apparent that Jett is still much stronger.
Neon has relatively strong engage potential but has basically no way of disengaging whilst Jett can dash out. Jett’s dash is something that will keep her as one of the most desirable agents for a long time to come.
As just mentioned, Jett has been at the top of tier lists and a staple pick in pro-play and much of this comes down to how easily she can disengage from enemies with her dash.
Similar to Jett, Chamber can use his Rendezvous to almost instantaneously take himself out of danger and in fact, change his location entirely. (At least when Jett dashes you still have a rough idea as to where she may be but with Chamber this is a little less obvious).
Chamber’s teleport anchors are his strongest ability, especially when paired up with his Tour de Force sniper.
It is like having another Jett on your team, except he is also able to watch flanks and set up traps on-site to detect and slow incoming attackers. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that Chamber is broken but he is certainly a strong pick and the fact that other Sentinels like Sage and Killjoy still find lots of play in solo-queue and pro play highlight how he has been balanced well.
Some thoughts on other agents
Remaining agents like Cypher, Sage, Raze, Reyna, Breach, Skye all feel very balanced. Some agents like Raze have a super high skill ceiling and opportunities for players to express themselves yet they remain feeling balanced, I think the devs deserve some praise for that.
When certain things have felt a little overtuned, I.e. Raze’s Boombot warranted a nerf in regards to cost increase and damage decrease. Another example is how Astra was able to activate stars immediately when the barrier dropped.
There is now a slight 1.5-second delay and this goes a long way in allowing the enemy team to seize some space and not be trapped behind the barrier as the round starts. Smart little changes like this have kept agents fine-tuned and gameplay well balanced.
Even small price costs to agent ultimate abilities have kept gameplay steady, I.e. Increase in the cost of Skye’s ultimate when she was feeling slightly overtuned, and a decrease to Cypher’s Neural Theft when it was feeling a bit underwhelming.
A change of heart for Breeze, Fracture and Icebox
For a long time after the release of each map, there was a strong negative sentiment towards each one. I would even go as far to say that these maps were hated by a significant portion of the community.
After release, there was quite a lengthy period of time where players would repeatedly dodge agent-select purely because the new map popped up. I know that there still may be dodges when it comes to Breeze or Fracture but after being out in the map rotation for this long now this is a rarity to see.
Personally, these 3 maps are some of my favorites when compared with originals like Haven or Bind. This may come down to repetitiveness; being a player from Episode 1, I have played more games on the older maps than the newer ones.
But the fact that Riot stuck to their guns and were confident that the community would learn to appreciate and like maps like Breeze and Fracture as time passes showcases just how calculated they are about what they are engineering and releasing.
Breeze, Fracture and Icebox all took a fair bit of time for players to wrap their heads around and begin understanding team strategies since they are drastically different to what tactical shooters have seen up until now. Heading towards the second Episode of Act 4 the community have had plenty of playtime on each of these maps I am starting to hear a lot of positive discussion around the new maps that were formerly disliked.
Furthermore, it is nice to see the Riot dev team track how maps are performing and continuously think of ways that they can improve playability for competitive gamers.
The simple changes towards Breeze, and Bind released at the start of Episode 4 saw barely any complaints from the community and for this they should be commended. Changing things that players have spent time familiarizing themselves with generally warrants some forms of backlash from the community.
Since this wasn’t the case it goes to show how the devs are aware of what is best for players and are thoughtful with their decision-making.
The addition of the yellow container (above) and double box/broken wall (below) are examples of the dev team making sure defenders have adequate cover both when retaking the bombsite and trying to hold it down from incoming enemy attackers.
Episode 1 of Act 4 is coming to an end and I don’t know about you, but I have almost entirely forgotten what the maps used to be like, this already feels so normal and so right.
On the VALORANT official website, a recent dev post outlined all the things we should be expecting from the new strengthened Yoru. Up until now picking Yoru in solo queue has almost always had your teammates questioning whether you are trolling, that alone says enough regarding just how weak he is compared to other duelists.
One of his weakest abilities was his Fakeout (footsteps), despite this ability encapsulating everything that Yoru is about; a sneaky and deceiving agent aiming to trick and confuse enemies, it was just far too weak and lacked any real impact.
It was easy for enemies to decipher and rarely assisted Yoru in making deceptive plays. The devs were aware of this and his Fakeout “is now a full copy of [himself], that runs forward, and when damaged, explodes and debuffs enemies.”
This small clip reveals how Yoru’s clone appears from both a teammate and an enemy’s perspective. It also showcases how he faces an enemy if shot at and then explodes to flash them.
Yoru’s Gatecrash now has an added option for faking the teleport. Whilst faking the Gatecrash, the same SFX is produced at the precise location and this is what should mess with opponents most. Only until they see Yoru’s puddle on the ground will they realize it was a misdirection.
Check it out here:
Lastly, there are a heap of changes for his ultimate: Dimensional Drift.
Here is the list from the devs,
- Yoru is no longer revealed to enemies
- Yoru is able to cast all utility while in Dimensional Drift
- Enemies can hear Yoru’s footsteps
- Nearsighted is removed
- Unequip delay time is increased slightly
- Cast delay added when casting Dimensional Drift, preventing the invulnerability frame on cast.
It is nice to see the nearsightedness eradicated as this lost Yoru some time whilst in his ultimate and forced him to zig-zag a fair bit to be sure that he is collecting the right intel.
It is interesting that enemies can hear Yoru’s footsteps, players that are using the dimensional drift will need to pair up other abilities like his blind to be able to exit his ultimate safely and stealthily.
These changes will push Yoru in the right direction away from his solo mission, in-your-face Shorty playstyle whilst ulting and channel his powers to be more team-oriented.
Since he can use abilities whilst ulting this should allow him to create deep flashes for his teammates and or force enemies off the angle they are holding to check whether his Fakeout is real or not.
These changes are really well thought out and I hope his new invigorated kit will be able to compete with other high tier duelists.
Honestly VALORANT is in quite a good spot right now and there isn’t much to critique. It is going to be interesting to see how the game progresses as the agent pool continues to grow larger.
I don’t think that Riot devs have been guilty of any absolutely game breaking updates, sure the Ares meta at the start of this Act was pretty painful and probably one of their worst updates but there really hasn’t been too many of these sorts of changes.
Moreover, we have to give them credit for the way they promptly sorted out that Ares problem. Additionally, they are always hearing the community out and responding to any major problems. I.e. The player base was becoming far too familiar with how strong the Classic was and the ‘free gun btw’ movement in all-chat saw a nerf on its way in no time.
The balance team is really calculating and measuring things well. There is definitely an agent hierarchy with certain ones being more powerful than others, nevertheless, Riot are doing what they can to maintain balance and integrity for each agent’s kit with smart nerfs and buffs as time passes.
I am interested to see what efforts they make to bridge the gap between certain agents, especially in the duelist category.
Regardless of certain balance imperfections, more often than not if your opponents are dominating and you have just lost a game it is because the enemy team was simply better and or had smarter strategies.
I don’t think I have once thought to myself that one particular agent was hyper carrying with a broken kit, or ‘we lost that game because that ability is overtuned’, etc. Valorant is heavily skill and strategy based and I think the balance team is doing a great job at making it feel that way.
Thanks for reading! For more articles by our resident Radiant, Dandy, check them out here.