Viper has essentially been relegated to a niche pick since the launch of Valorant, though Riot Games has assured that more changes will soon be on the way to bump the poisonous Agent.
Recent Valorant updates have shaken up the meta in big ways. Sage isn’t quite as crucial as she once was. Breach has become more powerful than ever. Though Viper has more or less stayed put, despite a handful of buffs.
She’s been front and center throughout a number of recent updates. The 1.04 update in July gave a boost to her abilities, while the 1.07 update at the beginning of September allowed Viper to set up her Toxic Screen in the pre-round phase. While these were all welcome changes, the Agent has remained one of the least-picked in the game.
Following on from the latest 1.08 patch - which outlined how “Viper [is] making a strong showing” of late, the community took issue with Riot’s “patient” approach to adjusting the Agent. Valorant developer ‘Altombre’ addressed the issue with a lengthy response, and outlined how more changes are on the way soon.
“We expected Viper to be stronger than she was due to a couple of prolific Viper players internally,” he said. From Valorant's release, the character fell behind the likes of Omen and Brimstone in the Controller category. “Viper has underperformed for quite some time, despite a series of fairly substantial buffs.”
While her pick-rate certainly isn’t where Riot wants it to be, nearby patches will soon look to change that. “We will continue to make changes to the Agent to get her into a good spot,” he added. “While she is improving steadily, she's not there yet. We're actively playtesting further buffs to ship.”
On the matter of buffing characters in general, the developer explained how they prefer a more “measured and methodical change” as opposed to “large, sweeping ones.” Their assessment of balance is purely through data, rather than “gut feels,” he stressed. Riot wants to bring characters into a “sweet spot” without “breaking the competitive scene.”
Breach was highlighted as a specific example of how significant buffs can impact the game. While he’s played more at the pro-level, “Breach is actually still the weakest Agent in the game” when it comes to matchmaking.
“This may seem like Breach got one big buff that catapulted him to viability, but for matchmaking, he's still in the same place as Viper currently.”
Ultimately, it’s all a delicate balancing act for Riot. A slight buff to Viper could see her overwhelming the competitive ladder.
All the while, still falling short in professional matches, for instance. Fans of the poisonous Agent can rest easy though. More changes are indeed on the way to give her a slight bump.
“We know she needs work, we just want to ensure we're making the right changes to maintain her identity and push her into viability without warping the game in unhealthy ways.”