Valorant

Riot admits CEO's Valorant "abilities don't kill" comment "missed nuance"

by Andrew Amos

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Lead Valorant character designer Ryan ‘Morello’ Scott has admitted Riot CEO Nicolo Laurent’s comment from Project A’s release stating “abilities don’t kill” was “missing nuance,” and he apologized for misleading players.

On October 16, the day of Valorant’s (then still called Project A) reveal, Riot Games CEO Nicolo Laurent posted a short tweet that would soon become ammunition for the budding community.

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“To be clear, in Project A, shooting matters. You don’t kill with abilities. Abilities create tactical opportunities to take the right shot. Characters have abilities that augment their gunplay, instead of fighting directly with their abilities.”

Since then, players have had to deal with grenades, satchel packs, and automatic turrets in Valorant. There’s been an uproar about Riot not following through with their promise. However, the comment isn’t exactly what Riot intended.

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Valorant character design lead Ryan ‘Morello’ Scott explained to players that what the CEO said wasn’t necessarily a reflection of the dev team’s ethos.

“This statement isn't completely accurate — especially in a game that already had Raze and Killjoy's gameplay locked in before our announcement,” Morello admitted to players in a August 13 dev post.

“That was our mistake — a big part of that mistake was in missing the nuance, specifically that tactical fundamentals — not just 'abilities don't kill' — are a key component.”

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Morello instead offered clarity on Riot’s mantra regarding Valorant. Abilities are meant to enable gunplay and create “threat” instead of just outright kill players repeatedly.

Raze grenade exploding in Valorant
Riot Games
Raze's grenade is one example of an ability that will kill you in Valorant.

“Guns provide the vast majority of kills, and even our damage abilities are designed with the goal of creating threat. When well-played against, guns should be the primary method used to finish off opponents that are preoccupied with a distraction, or trying to avoid the damage.”

This threat can come in numerous ways. Even for a character like Raze, who has a boatload of damage on all of her abilities, can create threat through zone control. For others, it’s by locking down sightlines and denying intel with smokes.

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Even games with hardcore gunplay, like CS:GO, feature ‘abilities’ that kill. High explosive grenades and molotovs are threatening, and if players position themselves poorly, they’ll die to the utility. That’s the angle Riot is going for. Morello nevertheless apologized for misleading players.

“If this promise was the thing that made you come to try Valorant, we're sorry if we misled you, even unintentionally. But our position is, and has been, that abilities that deal damage are a core part of tactical games — whether it be Valorant or other tac' shooters.”

While they can’t change the past, they can change the future. There’s still some abilities Riot aren’t going to touch at this point in time. They are looking to keep “high-consequence gunplay,” which means no ludicrous weapons or high health bars on command.

“We try to avoid abilities that would remove the high-consequence gunplay. Increased maximum health tends to be a no-fly zone, as do abilities that replace guns that aren't an ultimate, like Jett or Raze.”