Valorant’s Lead Character Designer, Ryan “Morello” Scott released a vlog that explains the developer philosophy behind designing agents.
Riot’s new tactical shooter Valorant has been quite successful as it managed to jump from closed beta into a competitive title in a matter of months. The game truly took the gaming world by surprise, but many still doubt that it’ll be as successful as its main competitor CS:GO. The two titles have many similarities, but they also differ quite a lot because Valorant has agents and abilities.
Valorant walks the fine line between Overwatch and CS:GO but borrows major elements from both. Much like in OW, every new character to the roster can drastically change the meta and a player’s perception to the game. In his latest vlog, Valorant’s Lead Character Designer Ryan “Morello” Scott explains the thought process behind each new agent.
With the launch of our newest agent Killjoy I kind of wanted to sit down and go over the hows and whys of character design, what adding a new agent to a game like Valorant and what we’re trying to achieve in terms of gameplay.
"What we Introduce Will be Disruptive"
According to Morello, each new agent should shake up the meta. That’s certainly good news since you don’t want the game to go stale. We doubt that’ll happen soon in terms of agents since Riot have a rather clear roadmap and we should be seeing a new character at the end of every act. Maybe. The designer also mentioned that each character should have an individual value that’d make them desirable in a team. He’s talking about the utility of course and wouldn’t you know it, every agent in Valorant has some form of utility. Sure, some are better than others when compared directly, but there’s no “naked” agent that’ll offer nothing to the team.
It’s not enough to be a piece of cool new content, or fun for the target player. We think the player experience does matter, but the health of the competitive ecosystem matters more. Looking at Killjoy as an example, we wanted to contrast her with other agents like Sage and Cypher.
Killjoy is about hunkering down, fortifying and creating risk within a zone. And that risk, if not managed correctly, turning into kills for Killjoy. This is a lot different from Sage and Cypher - setting up a turret or a nanoswarm and not being able to capitalize on it doesn’t do a lot. Dealing with two threats at one is how Killjoy accomplishes this defend and convert pattern we want.
Morello also had a couple of words to say about balance:
In the end it’s about a big picture approach. Balance is temporary and metas come and go. Balance ability is permanent.
We’re not really sure about that last statement. On one hand, Valorant was supposed to be a direct rival to CS:GO, offering smooth and rewarding gunplay with abilities having a secondary role. On the other, it feels like we won’t be seeing anything else in patch notes other than ability tweaks. Does it mean that the weapons are perfectly balanced? Probably not. It’s more of a sign that agents and their abilities play a much bigger role than what Riot initially promised. I digress maybe it’s unfair to compare Valorant directly to CS:GO as we’ve already mentioned the two titles are quite different and will only get further away from each other.
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