Valorant KAY/O first impressions: Future Earth’s Terminator will shake up the meta

valorant agent kay/oRiot Games

With the introduction of Valorant’s newest Agent, KAY/O, comes a whole meta revolution. After getting hands-on with the mechanical Initiator in an early playtest, it looks like players have a lot to look forward to in Episode 3, Act 1. 

Just from first glance, it was pretty clear that Valorant’s new Agent KAY/O packs quite the punch. And boy, were we right.

With a kit that feels familiar yet complex, and a skill ceiling as high as the heavens themselves, it’s going to be interesting to see how this tyrannical Terminator shakes up the current meta.

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After some game time under our belts with the newest Initiator Agent, here are our first impressions of KAY/O, the weapon of war.

Valorant KAY/ORiot Games
Striding into battle, KAY/O is a literal Terminator.

Familiar yet futuristic

In our announcement piece for KAY/O, I described him as a “perfect blend of past and future,” and, not only does it sound fancy, it holds very true.

An initial glance at his kit might prove pretty lackluster to experienced FPS players, who just see a glorified flashbang and frag grenade. However, Riot have managed to take these standard concepts and transform them into something we’ve never seen before.

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While every ability has a stunning graphic to accompany it, his frag grenade pulses and deals damage over time. That’s not something you see, considering its normally one pop and you’re out.

Additionally, in true Valorant style, his flashes are pretty damn blinding, but there’s a slight delay from when you drop them to when they explode. There’s a lot of skill involved in mastering KAY/O, so while he might look simple on paper he’s got an impressive skill ceiling!

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And even my Bronze rank self can see it.

Valorant KAY/O Abilities

  • Ability 1 – ZERO/point: EQUIP a suppression blade. FIRE to throw. The blade sticks to the first surface it hits, winds up and suppresses anyone in the radius of the explosion.
  • Ability 2 – FLASH/drive: EQUIP a flash grenade. FIRE to throw. The flash grenade explodes after a short fuse, blinding anyone in the line of sight.
    • Right Clicking the flashbang, throws a charged flash, causing it to only have to cook for 1 second, as opposed to left-click throwing a flash that cooks in 1.6 seconds.
  • Ability 3 – FRAG/ment: EQUIP an explosive fragment. FIRE to throw. The fragment sticks to the floor and explodes multiple times, dealing near-lethal damage at the center with each explosion.
  • Ultimate Ability – NULL/cmd: INSTANTLY overload with polarized radianite energy that empowers KAY/O and causes large energy pulses to emit from his location. Enemies hit with these pulses are suppressed for a short duration.
    • While Overloaded, KAY/O gains Combat Stim
    • If KAY/O is killed while overloaded, he is downed and enters a destabilized state, allowing allies to stabilize his core and revive him.

Here’s how they look in-game:

Player-friendly (even if you’re Bronze)

One of the things that terrify casual Valorant players everywhere is the idea of an Agent simply being too complex to get the hang of.

Astra proved to be one of those, as almost four months down the line I still struggle to harness her cosmic energy in a way that’s somewhat useful.

While Future Earth’s resident Terminator does have a high skill ceiling, he’s a great introduction to the world of Valorant for newer players because of that familiarity. Plus, he’s just great fun to play.

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Plus he’s pretty strong, so it’s worth picking him up.

Valorant KAY/O Trailer

Is Valorant’s KAY/O OP?

The introduction of KAY/O sees a new mechanic enter the game: suppression. Just like Riot’s League of Legends concept, ‘silence,’ when enemies are suppressed they can’t use their abilities. Things like Viper’s smoke or Sage’s wall don’t immediately drop, they just can’t be used.

The mechanical menace’s ZERO/point suppression blade and NULL/cmd are incredibly strong. Marking who has been suppressed so that your allies know to push in, as well as lasting for a decent chunk of time, it can be used both to scout and to break up an oncoming onslaught. It’s got a pretty impressive radius, and can also affect enemies through walls.

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Is it OP? In the right hands, yes. Is it a terrible mechanic that needs to be removed from the game immediately? No. With a bit of adjustment, it will even itself out.

Valorant new agent Kay/O ERiot Games
This knife is quickly going to become the bane of many player’s existence.

Terminator mechanic

Another new attribute that accompanies Future Earth’s most powerful weapon is the ‘downed’ mechanic. Leaked many moons ago, it seems like players uncovered his revive potential early on.

It works like this; if KAY/O is downed while using his Ultimate, another ally can revive him. You do this by holding F over his body (see the video below, and thanks Lothar for taking one for the team.)

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KAY/O revives with 850 health, which works as a great buffer if he’s being revived in the middle of a firefight.

This is one of the best things about the new Agent. While Sage can res allies, it feels like most of the time you’re just feeding the enemy team another kill, but with KAY/O rebooting him can really change the tide of battle.

Revive me Jett? Nah thanks, KAY/O’s got it covered.

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Valorant’s new Agent review

Overall, KAY/O is a joy to play. Blending familiarity with futurism, he’s perfect for both casual and competitive players alike.

Riot have truly triumphed with the latest member of the Valorant squad because he perfectly plugs a gap in the meta; he forces players to both be skilled in gunplay as well as chaining their abilities.

KAY/O is here to terminate the competition and do it in style, and that’s why I can’t wait to see how the game shifts and adapts around him.

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Valorant’s new Agent, KAY/O, releases on June 22 alongside Episode 3, Act 1. For all of the latest news, be sure to check out our Battle Pass and Yr1 Event Pass guides.