Riot explains why each new Valorant agent will “disrupt” the meta

Published: 20/Aug/2020 1:29

by Andrew Amos


Valorant lead character designer Ryan ‘Morello’ Scott has broken down exactly what Riot wants to achieve from its agents when they launch ⁠— creating meaningful gameplay and “disrupting” the meta.

There’s always a cry from the community about the power of certain characters, even before they were released. In Valorant, there was none louder than with Killjoy. Her turrets caught the ire of the community long before her official announcement.

However, since her release, the turret has been the least of the player’s worries. The rest of her utility has defined her kit as an oppressive zone controller that can capitalize if you fail to flush her out. Her kit has pushed the boundaries of what’s acceptable in a tactical shooter, but Riot are fine with that.

Killjoy turret concept art in Valorant
Riot Games
Killjoy’s turret ended up being the least of players’ problems.

In an August 19 dev video, Valorant lead character designer Ryan ‘Morello’ Scott stated that Riot are looking at constantly pushing the boundaries of what a tactical shooter means. Every new agent is a new chance to experiment.

“We are looking to shake up Valorant with new possibilities in ways that fit the tactical loop of the game,” he said.

Regardless of whether it’s a hard fragger like Reyna, or a more control-based agent like Killjoy, each agent will have an impact on release. This impact is there not to make characters feel overpowered, but to give them a reason to be in the game.

“What we introduce is going to be a bit disruptive. The learning curve of a new agent means that it matters ⁠— it’s meaningful, it’s going to add something to the game. We think that’s a lot better that it might have a learning curve, or it might be frustrating to learn how to play against, than it is when you go ‘why did we even add this thing at all?’”

This philosophy applies from agent conception all the way through to release. Morello explained that each new character needs to not just be the shiny new playtoy, but something that can slot into a unique place in the “competitive ecosystem.”

“It’s not enough to be a piece of cool new content, or fun for the target player. We think the player experience does matter, but the health of the competitive ecosystem matters more. Looking at Killjoy as an example, we wanted to contrast her with other Sentinels, Sage and Cypher namely.

“Killjoy is about hunkering down, fortifying and creating risk within a zone ⁠— and that risk, if not managed correctly, turning into kills for Killjoy. This is a lot different [from Sage and Cypher] ⁠— setting up a turret or a nanoswarm and not being able to capitalize on it doesn’t do a lot. Dealing with two threats at one is how Killjoy accomplishes this defend and convert pattern we want.”

No matter the ability, or the purpose, Riot wants every agent to feel in place in Valorant. While they shouldn’t be must-picks, they need to have an identity that makes them worthwhile in specific situations. Riot wants to constantly enable new ways to play the game, even if this means breaking down the norms of character design.

Reyna in Valorant
Riot Games
Reyna’s “impact” comes in the way of her hard fragging, Riot explained, but she also has good team utility with Leer.

“We want to set our own expectations within our roster and our game, ones that will likely be spicier or feel really inappropriate in another tactical shooter. The tactical loop is our foundation, but it’s the start of the journey, not the end.

“[Abilities] are the things that provide exceptions to the tactical loop, they are things that provide value. We use these things in sparse limited doses, or with strong constraints on them to make sure that when you do them it’s not about being able to do something cool, it’s about allowing new strategies, new opportunities, and new possibilities for the game.


Riot respond after pro Valorant players criticize terrible Ranked queue waiting times

Published: 17/Jan/2021 11:46

by Calum Patterson


A problem that has persistently frustrated the very best Valorant players continues to rear its head, as players in the upper ranks find it almost impossible to find a match within a reasonable time. Riot Games devs have responded, confirming they’re working on improvements.

Valorant’s ranked system is the primary mode for most players, and for the majority of the playerbase, it functions well, with a well-designed MMR system pitting players of similar skill levels against each other.

However, if you’re talented enough to find yourself in the very upper ranks of Immortal or Radiant, the experience can become completely different.

The higher you climb, the smaller the available pool of players to match with and against. For Radiant players, it’s not uncommon to have to wait for hours to get a match.

Valorant ranks
Riot Games
Valorant’s new ranked system has ditched the “arrows” for clear-cut points called Rank Rating.

Riot’s response to queue times

Recently retired pro player Tyson ‘TenZ’ Ngo is one such player who experiences ridiculous waiting times to get a match. During a 24 hour stream on January 14, he was unable to find a match after 4 hours of waiting, while on his main account.

As a workaround, top players will often use ‘smurf’ accounts to play more regular matches.

Responding to TenZ, Riot’s Senior Competitive Designer Jon ‘EvrMoar’ Walker acknowledged the problems with the system. “We are currently talking about how to fix this, and looking into your queue to figure out solutions.”

The dev continued, “I personally feel bad that one of our best players can’t engage with the new system.”

Cloud9 player Joseph ‘Keeoh’ Winkler has since shared his suggestions for how the ranked system could be improved across the board, but especially for the upper ranks.

He too highlights the issues faced by TenZ, stating: “High MMR people (like TenZ) are getting 2hr+ queue times, meaning they can’t climb the leaderboard.”

How Riot plans to address the issues remains to be seen. They have just rolled out a series of significant changes to competitive play for Episode 2, Act I and we can expect more iteration on this system in Act II.

The devs have also responded to some of the other criticisms about the new system, including fears over a ‘hidden MMR’. They reassured players that: “We will be monitoring the data around how long it takes the average player to return to their previously acquired rank and definitely listening to feedback from players.”