Riot Games’ new first-person shooter game, Valorant, will not be tied to the existing world of Runeterra that has been developed through League of Legends and more recently, Legends of Runeterra.
Game director Joe Ziegler says that Riot considered mixing Valorant with existing lore but they realized it was not possible to fit a tactical shooter into the world. Having mechanical bullets coming out of a gun, and giving it to Ryze or a Piltover Soldier just didn’t mesh well.
Valorant is instead set on a version of Earth in the near future. This version of Earth has experienced a worldwide event known as First Light, which affected life and technology. In addition, some people started gaining abilities caused by First Light, those with such gifts are called Radiants.
Radiants, and people who use Radiant technology, were pulled together by a shadow organization to create the Valorant Protocol. These Agents have their own stories and some may have even met each other beforehand. The Agents cover a wide spectrum of backgrounds, from criminals to military personnel.
Riot recognizes that a successful hero shooter is based on its cast of characters. There is an aim for 12 playable characters at release, but the game currently only has 8. Each Agent has one ability that operates on a cooldown system and an ultimate that charges over time. Players can also buy other secondary abilities. These abilities can affect allies and enemies, so players need to make sure they are not hindering their team or helping their opponents.
Brimstone comes from the United States and is a former member of the military.
“Brimstone’s orbital arsenal ensures his squad always has the advantage. His ability to deliver utility precisely and safely make him the unmatched boots-on-the-ground commander.
- Incendiary – He launches an incendiary grenade, which explodes into a field of fire.
- Stim Beacon – Brimstone targets a nearby location, calling in a Stim Beacon. The Stim Beacon gives all nearby players Rapidfire.
- Signature Ability: Sky Smoke – Using the minimap to select locations, Brimstone can call in deployments of smokescreens to obscure vision.
- Ultimate: Orbital Strike – Using the minimap to select a location, Brimstone can launch an orbital strike which pulses high damage over several seconds.
This Moroccan surveillant has abilities that allow him to trap and track enemies across the map.
- Free Ability: Trapwire – Cypher can place a stealthed tripwire between two walls. Enemies that trigger it will be restrained and revealed.
- Cyber Cage – Launches a trap, which will activate when the ability is reactivated. The cage will slow enemies which pass through it.
- Signature Ability: Spycam – Places a remote camera, Cypher can reactivate this ability to view the video feed. Can also fire a tracking dart.
- Ultimate: Neural Theft – Cypher can extract information from dead enemies, revealing the locations of all their living allies.
Jett comes from Korea. She is an agile fighter, who prioritizes movement in an evasive fighting style.
- Cloudburst – Throws a cloud of fog, which obscures vision. Players can hold the ability button to bend the cloud’s trajectory.
- Updraft – Propels Jett upwards, after a brief wind up.
- Signature Ability: Tailwind – Immediately dashes a short distance.
- Ultimate: Blade Storm – Arms Jett with throwing knives, which deal moderate damage and kills on headshots. Getting a kill restores all daggers. Players can either throw a single dagger, or all remaining daggers in one burst.
Omen hunts in the shadows, focussing on hindering his enemy’s vision. Players may remember him as a reference to the concept for a League of Legends character with the same name.
- Paranoia – Omen sends out a shadow in a straight line. The shadow is Ethereal and Nearsights anyone it touches.
- Shadow Walk – After a delay, Omen dematerialises and teleports a short distance.
- Signature Ability: Dark Cover – Launches a stealthed Ethereal orb, which bursts at its final location into a vision-obscuring sphere. Can be charged to increase distance.
- Ultimate: From the Shadows – Using the minimap, Omen can teleport anywhere. He will appear as a Shade when arriving, which will return to Omen’s original location if killed. Once the teleport is complete, Omen becomes Incorporeal for a short time.
A British Agent that can wield fire, allowing him to basically reshape the battlefield.
- Hot Hands – Phoenix throws a fireball, which delays on impact or after a delay. The fire zone it creates damages enemies and heals Phoenix.
- Blaze – He creates a wall of fire, which blocks vision and damages anyone passing through it. The wall can be bent by turning whilst casting.
- Signature Ability: Curveball – Launches a flare that curves through the air. It then bursts after a short delay, temporarily blinding anyone looking at it. Players can choose to curve it left or right.
- Ultimate: Run it Back – Marks your current location. If Phoenix dies whilst this ability is active, or when it expires, he will be reborn at the marked location with full health.
Sage was perhaps the first Agent we saw, after screenshots were leaked of her. She is the game’s most prominent support character and comes from China, bringing orbs to aid allies and hinder opponents.
- Slow Orb – Casts an orb that breaks on impact, creating a slowing field. All that is caught in the field is slowed, grounded and will make noise when moving.
- Barrier Orb – Creates a large, solid wall. This can be rotated before casting.
- Signature Ability: Healing Orb – Heals an ally, or Sage, to full health over time.
- Ultimate: Resurrection – Sage can resurrect a dead ally after a short delay, by targetting their corpse with this ability.
Sova is a Russian hunter, armed with a bow and arrow. He can equip his bow with different bolts, allowing him to do a number of tasks.
- Shock Bolt – Sova fires an explosive bolt, that pulses damages on impact
- Owl Drone – He deploys a controllable drone, which can fire a dart to Reveal enemies hit.
- Signature Ability: Recon Bolt – He fires a bolt that is fitted with a sonar emitter. The sonar pings nearby enemies causing them to be revealed. The bolt can be destroyed.
- Ultimate: Hunter’s Fury – Sova fires up to three energy blasts, that spear across the entire map. Each blasts deals heavy damage and marks enemies hit.
Viper is a poison predator from America, specializing in chemical warfare.
- Snakebite – Viper fires a projectile, which explodes into a pool of acid.
- Poison Cloud – She throws an emitter which will create a poisonous smoke cloud when reactivated. The smoke cloud costs fuel and can be picked up and thrown again after a short cooldown.
- Signature Ability: Toxic Screen – Viper deploys a long line of emitters which will create a tall wall of gas when reactivated. This wall uses fuel and obscures vision.
- Ultimate: Viper’s Pit – Emits a toxic cloud over a large area, which lasts as long as Viper stays in the cloud. Enemies in the cloud are damaged and revealed to Viper.
It is clear to see where inspiration and ideas have come from. Omen has abilities that echo Reaper’s from Overwatch, and his ultimate is even one of Reaper’s voice lines. Sova and Sage are similar to Hanzo and Zenyatta respectively, both from Overwatch too.
A lot of the abilities are focussed on limiting sight and controlling the battlefield. Remember, players will likely only get their Ultimates twice per game, and each game lasts up to 24 rounds. The use of every ultimate is incredibly important and players must use these abilities to either attempt to secure a win or do something clutch that turns the tide.
During the announcement of the game and its abilities, some fans expressed concern regarding abilities that revealed opponents and resurrected allies. Denying vision is a huge part of Valorant, so the ability to reveal enemies is clearly strong. But, we need to recognize that such abilities are either only an ultimate ability or can easily be countered.
For example, Sova’s Recon Bolt can be destroyed and only works in a small area. Players can potentially destroy the bolt before it reveals anyone.
Only one agent, Sage, has the resurrect ability, and it’s an ultimate ability that may only be seen once or twice per game. Sage also needs to get to an ally’s corpse to be able to resurrect them, and it has a short delay. This means opposing players can try to keep her away from ally corpses, kill her first, or simply kill her while she’s resurrecting an ally.
Although the game is still in Alpha, it is rumored to be coming to Beta very soon. That means that these abilities could see significant changes before the playable Beta version and almost certainly before the final release.