Riot interview: Valorant devs on new skins, crossovers and lore - Dexerto

Riot interview: Valorant devs on new skins, crossovers and lore

Published: 30/Aug/2020 17:33 Updated: 30/Aug/2020 17:36

by Andy Williams


Dexerto spoke exclusively with the minds behind Valorant’s cosmetics to develop further insight on what we can expect moving forward.  

Despite only being three months old, Riot have already introduced a bunch of cosmetics into their tactical shooter. From an entirely cyberpunk-inspired skin bundle, to a fire-breathing dragon that, when wielded, will turn your Agent into a Targaryen (well not quite, but the Ultra-Edition Elderflame bundle certainly lived up to the hype).

Aside from offering some of the most diverse and outlandish skins in their premium bundles, Riot have also embedded a plethora of unique cosmetics via their seasonal Battle Pass system. Act 2’s rewards gave players the opportunity to add some more variety to their Collection.

So, with Riot kicking off their cosmetic campaign with a bang, we spoke with the Valorant dev team about skin lore, Agent reskins, crossovers and much more.

Fans are loving the range of cosmetics on offer, with Elderflame specifically receiving a lot of love. Will skins like these play into Valorant lore, and will we develop a deeper meaning to terms like ‘Elderflame’ as time goes on?

“The lore behind our skins is completely separate from the lore of the game; they are not directly related. When we create skins, we build an ‘alternate fantasy’ for that skin’s world to help with development (such as asking ourselves questions like ‘In this alternate universe, who’d use this weapon?’), but that fantasy isn’t related to the lore of Valorant. We do try to find opportunities where cosmetics can fit within the lore like with the Kingdom weapons, but we have to make sure that whatever we decide to make goes along with the narrative that is being told at the time.

“We found an interesting opportunity with Glitchpop to say ‘what if this was just a fantasized version of something that existed in the Valorant universe?’ In the same way we have Marvel or DC in the real world, Glitchpop (as shown by the pop-up store that appeared in Split) was something we said can be a fictional IP that lives within Valorant to show what it is, and the gun skins are the sort of fantastical realization of it.”

Sean Marino, Art Lead Premium Content on Valorant at Riot Games.

Elderflame skin collection in Valorant.
Riot Games
The Elderflame bundle was released in July 2020 as the first ‘Ultra-Edition’ weapon skin in Valorant.

Agent skins are widely requested within the community, with the likes of Apex Legends seeing great success by maintaining the shape of character models while giving them a fresh lick of paint. Can we expect to see these in Valorant any time soon?

“Readability is critical in our game, so skinning Agents is a whole other challenge that we’d need to be extremely thoughtful about if we ever decided to include them. We do not have any status updates to share right now. We know Agent skins are something players have asked for and we want to make them, but we are doing our due diligence in figuring out the best way to execute them.

“Agent skins in Valorant is a really complex topic. On one hand, you have people who really want them in our game. On the other hand, you also have a lot of players who are really anxious about Agent skins impacting gameplay and competitive integrity, which is a very valid concern that we share. Either way, when this becomes something we decide to dive into, we want to find the right balance that feels valuable and exciting for players but also adheres to our strict competitive integrity requirements.”

— Dexter Yu, Senior Producer on Valorant at Riot Games.

Valorant's Agents.
Riot Games
Giving Future Earth’s cast a fresh lick of paint is something Riot are invested in doing the right way.

Plenty of titles have seen success from cosmetic crossovers, with the likes of Fortnite x Marvel springing to mind. Can we expect to see any crossovers of this nature in Valorant?

“We don’t have any plans for crossovers at the moment, but we think it would be a cool idea. Same goes for any crossovers with the League of Legends universe. It’s definitely something we’re interested in doing, but it’s not something we have planned right now. We’re still early in our skin development, so crossovers aren’t something we’ve committed to yet.”

Preeti Khanolkar, Premium Content Producer on Valorant at Riot Games.

Games like Overwatch and CS:GO offer seasonal map reskins for a limited time. Can we expect to see something like this or holiday-specific events in the future?

“We currently do not have any plans for seasonal map re-skins. Our Maps team recently shipped a temporary update on Split’s Defender Spawn and Coffee Shop (on A-Site) to highlight the content releases for the Glitchpop skin line and Killjoy. We may continue to do smaller scope updates like that, but do not have any massive map re-skins planned at the moment. With that being said, anything is possible, for the right goals, with enough time and resources.”

— Dexter Yu, Senior Producer on Valorant at Riot Games.

Valorant players shooting their weapons.
Riot Games
Imagine Haven covered in snow, or littered with eerie decorations near Halloween.

And finally, given the popularity of the cosmetics we’ve seen so far, is there a particular theme/skin you’ve had the most requests for?

“We get so many requests for cosmetics that it’s hard to narrow it down to just one. If I had to pick, I’d say the majority of the requests are for us to bring back the Reaver skins from Closed Beta (keep in mind this is just over social media, not from surveys). I probably see a comment or Tweet about this at least once per day! Even if we did decide to bring Reaver back, it wouldn’t be the exact same as players remember it. Reaver was a work-in-progress; a prototype to see how players would respond to evolving gun skins.

“Now that we have a lot more experience making skins for Valorant, we believe that we could create something better than what players experienced back in Closed Beta. Separately, we also get a lot of requests for more guns within existing skin lines, like requests for a Prime Phantom or a Glitchpop Vandal. We haven’t committed to making more guns for those skin lines, but it’s cool that players like the skin lines enough to want even more guns!”

Preeti Khanolkar, Premium Content Producer on Valorant at Riot Games.

As Valorant continues to go from strength-to-strength, it looks like there’s plenty on the cards in terms of skin variety. But for those hoping for the Closed Beta’s Reaver skin line, it looks like you’ll have to sit tight. Eh, more reason to get that coveted Sakura Vandal.


Riot will create a Valorant test server similar to League of Legends PBE

Published: 23/Oct/2020 1:01

by Alan Bernal


Riot Games announced plans for a test server in Valorant that would contain pre-release builds for official game patches. These limited servers will perform a function similar to League of Legends’ Public Beta Environment that lets Riot detect bugs and receive player feedback sooner.

Riot Senior Release Manager, Corrie Hardin, said that the PBE is targeted for an early 2021 release. Just like in LoL, there’s going to be a certain amount of time before a PBE patch will go to the live servers; typically two weeks.

In simpler terms, this will be the safe space Riot uses for testing anything from new Agents to crucial bugs before sending the patch out to its millions of players.

Crossover players from League of Legends who’ve tried out the PBE, a separate download from the main client, will be all too familiar with the shenanigans that players can come across on the beta servers.

Valorant Skye
Riot Games
Depending on how Riot structure it, a Valorant PBE could see early tests for new Agents.

It’s unclear if Riot would also use the PBE to test out new cosmetics as well. There’s been a couple of instances, as fixable as they were, where a new skin presented a competitive advantage or brought along with it a new bug that could have been spotted in a testing phase.

Regardless, Valorant’s sister title has benefited from the PBE in the past, especially in the way of character balances. In a tactical shooter like this, this could also apply to specific weapon balances or creative strats that need to be tweaked before they harm live Ranked games.

“We hope to expand on what we have learned and provide an early access experience that does not drastically differ from the live version of Valorant, but still allows for a glimpse into what we are working on,” Riot said in their Ask Valorant Q&A blog.

Omen Valorant
Riot Games
Early access to Valorant patches would be perfect to sniff out Omen bugs.

There has been a trend of Omen bugs appearing soon after a new map or update releases. The PBE servers would be the perfect place for players to rip apart a proposed patch for any potential game-breakers.

The early access arena will be a popular destination for pros and casual players to refine feedback for changes that need to be made in Valorant.

Expect Riot to release more information as we get closer to the release window, sometime in the early year within Episode 2.