How do developers balance the game? It’s a mix of data and player sentiment.
Community sentiment is often a determining factor for an agent’s viability in Valorant. However, there are quite a few instances where community sentiment does not properly reflect an agent’s performance and popularity. In the latest State of the Agent post, Riot has released some fun facts about a few agents, highlighting how their matchmaking success is not in sync with player sentiment.
Despite being relatively weak and having a significantly lower priority in ranked games, KAY/O is extremely popular in professional matches. Meanwhile, Phoenix and Sage are two of the best in ranked, according to Riot. The blogpost also makes a special mention of a very strogn agent that is extremely unpopular (for now) in ranked.
|KAY/O||Weaker agent in ranked; Very popular in Pro Games|
|Breach, Brimstone and Neon||These agents shine in coordinated 5-stacks at highest MMR|
|Yoru, Neon||Practice makes perfect: Riot calls them high mastery Agents|
|Phoenix||The 3rd strongest Agent in solo queue in high MMRs|
|Brimstone||General sentiment is Brim is very very weak|
but the agent has one of the highest win-rates in higher MMRs.
So which is it?
|Sage||Player Sentiment: Fourth weakest Agent|
Truth: One of the best Agents across MMRs
Which is the most difficult agent in Valorant?
Well there are two. Riot, in its latest blog post, says that Yoru and Neon have the highest learning curves in Valorant. The two agents are quite popular in pro play as well as in ranked games, however, they do require some level of skill and practice to master their gameplay.
Yoru’s abilities allow him to teleport to other locations and cause confusion amongst the enemy. He also has the Dimensional Drift via which he can move through the map, mostly undetected and either provide valuable information or teleport and get a few kills. Along with this his flash makes him an excellent initiator into bombsites adding to his teamplay capabilities.
Neon’s abilities include a couple of charges of concussing enemies, making them easy targets. Neon’s ultimate, however, is the one of the strongest ultimates in the game, lethal even from a long distance.
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Phoenix and Sage: Excellent picks
Finally the released data also highlights Sage and Phoenix, two agents that are extremely popular and successful in ranked games.
Phoenix is not as popular in pro plays, although we have seen quite a few Phoenix picks in VCT Champs Istanbul so far. Usually Phoenix picks are reserved for special occasions or special compositions, however, Riot says picking Phoenix is no longer a gamble.
Early signs are promising that picking Phoenix is no longer a gamble.
How do developers balance the game?
In addition to agent-specific data, the blogpost gives us some insights into how the developers balance the game.
The meta is like a living culture that shifts patch to patch, and effective improvements to VALORANT are ones that make an impact on it for the better.
A patch update might seem overpowered for one particular agent, but the true impact of an update only unravels over several weeks. In addition to data and numbers, the developers also keep tabs on the community’s feeling via Reddit posts, tweets and more.
The ultimate goal of Valorant devs is to make the game balanced for every player, to provide an experience that is fair for everyone.
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Some agents are overpowered, but the community perception about them is not. Speaking specifically about Brimstone, generally very optimal and powerful, but is not as popular amongst the masses. As a developer, their options are limited, they cannot further buff these agents, without breaking the game completely. But the low pick-rates pose a different problem. You have an overpowered agent that is simply not picked as much.
Metas often evolve over time even without game patch updates. We have seen metas emerge even after several weeks and months on the same patch in other games. Valorant is no different and as players discover the usability of some agents, the meta can drastically change.
The State of Agents is a regular blogpost by the Valorant developers providing the community an insight into their thinking and their plans for the future. In the latest blogpost, the developers also teased the new Agent 21 that is ready for release.