State of the Agents - Mar. 2021
The characters team is ending the month with another update, today we’re discussing the recent changes to Viper and adjustments to our balance approach in 2021.
There’ve been quite a few explorations on Viper over the past few months. After many iterations, we've decided on a direction that should sharpen the ways in which she is uniquely powerful without homogenizing her with other Controllers—and in other ways, push her thematic fantasy.
Her Poison Cloud is unique to her zonal control gameplay and thematic, but feels like it lacks the impact we’d want on her base abilities round over round. Amping up that damage threat is our main goal this time around.
We believe that part of what sets Viper apart is that she makes big bets with her map control. She picks a location, gets set, and dares opponents to take the fight in her world. With that in mind, the Patch 2.06 changes are aimed at increasing that threat to a new level. Internally these changes have been very strong, and we’re excited to see how Viper performs with this buff out in the wild. The team also feels like we’re well positioned to tune her as needed moving forward.
Our first update to Yoru in 2.03 was aimed mainly at quality of life improvements, but this time around we’re hoping to move the needle on his power and overall impact.
We think the updates to Gatecrash unlock numerous new play patterns for Yoru and should allow him to apply more of the pressure and mind games he promised at launch. We’re excited to see how this pairs with the buff to Blindside and the added ability to escape bad situations during Dimensional Drift with a little proactive setup.
Given Yoru’s unique space in the game, we’re going to keep a close eye on him and learn how the balance levers he provides affect his impact in the live game.
APPROACH TO BALANCE
VALORANT is now nine months post launch (omg it's been nine months o_o). In that span we’ve learned alot about the impact of our approach to Agent balance. Our previous method was to make small, targeted changes to Agents in hopes that we’d see incremental impact.
Ultimately this approach has not panned out like we hoped. Starting with 2.06, we’re taking a more aggressive approach with our updates, so that we see a larger impact to Agents with each one. This is because we know seeing your Agent in the patch notes over and over can be frustrating, especially when they do not move the needle, so to speak.
As much as we want to get Agent updates out, we also highly value stability in esports and don’t want the entire game meta to shift under our pros’ feet leading into events like Masters and Champions.
With Masters 1 behind us you’re going to see us try out a few things. Viper is up first. Then, as Masters 2 approaches, we’ll evaluate the changes and stabilize versus making large changes as we feel is necessary. Throughout 2021, you should see this pattern: Once a large tourney concludes, we’ll release some larger impact buffs/nerfs, and as the next large one approaches, slow down and focus on stabilization.