A Valorant developer has revealed that the game will launch with around 10 agents, but only five will be automatically unlocked.
In an interview with IGN, Valorant executive producer Anna Donion stated that “of the ten or so agents available at Valorant’s launch, five will be fully unlocked out of the gate.”
As for the rest of the agents, however, it seems players will have to earn them. New characters will apparently be unlocked through an “engagement-incentivized model” that will also be used to unlock tiers on the game’s battle pass.
However, for those without the time or inclination to play the game enough to unlock new agents, it will be possible to take a shortcut and simply buy the characters directly. Riot state:
“Players will have the option of earning in-game content through playing and engaging with the game, or they can choose to purchase desired content as a shortcut.”
This is a similar approach to the way Riot handles champions in League of Legends, where players can simply spend real money to buy characters, but it’s also possible to unlock them for free by earning in-game currency Blue Essence for playing the game.
Agents in Valorant won’t offer any differences in base statistics like health, movement speed, or hitbox size, but each agent does have its own set of unique abilities. While all have access to the same weapons, the agents you have unlocked could influence the strategies you are able to run in the game.
It appears a similar system will likely be used for the game’s battle pass, which is set to offer both free and “premium” tiers. Riot have promised, however, that there won't be the ability to pay for gameplay advantages, so players don’t have to worry about any “pay to win” features.
Valorant doesn’t yet have an official release date, but it is expected to launch in Summer 2020. Before then, there is expected to be a beta testing period that will give fans a chance to get their hands of the game, but Riot have yet to announce any official details.