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

Andy Williams
Riot Games / Dexerto

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.

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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

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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.

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“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.”

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

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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.”

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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.”

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— 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.

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“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.

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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.