Riot Games’ new class-based shooter, Valorant, is officially out of beta. Although matches play similarly to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, you don’t just play as a nameless soldier. Instead, you can choose one of 11 agents to take into battle, each of which possesses unique abilities. In this Valorant character guide, we’re going to give you the skinny on every agent currently in the game, as well as which agents we recommend starting with.
Each agent has four abilities, though you won’t have access to them all immediately. Out of the gate, each agent has a signature ability, as well as an ultimate that charges over time. Between each round, you can buy charges for the two other abilities that are specific to whatever agent you’re playing as, in the same way you’d buy guys or armor.
- Purchasable: Snake Bite and Poison Cloud – Snake Bite fires a projectile that creates a damaging pool of acid, while Poison Cloud fires a projectile that creates a toxic cloud of gas. You can pick up the projectile from Poison Cloud and use it again after a cooldown, so long as you have sufficient fuel.
- Signature: Toxic Screen – Launches a line of gas emitters that you can trigger to create a wall of gas. You can reuse this ability as long as you have sufficient fuel.
- Ultimate: Viper’s Pit – Use a chemical sprayer to fire a chemical cloud surrounding Viper. Players inside the cloud will take damage and suffer reduced vision.
Viper is a Controller, and as her, your goal should be to set up damaging defenses for the opposing team. Unlike the other agents, you’ll need to keep an eye on your fuel level when playing as Viper. Toxic Screen and Poison Cloud require fuel, so if you use these abilities too early, you’ll quickly drain your supply. In most cases, Viper’s abilities are best used defensively, particularly when planting the bomb. The damage from her AoE attacks will keep enemies at bay.
It’s important to note that Viper doesn’t take damage from her abilities, so you can fire, say, a Poison Cloud and reclaim the canister before it runs out. Although most of Viper’s abilities are best in a defensive context, Viper’s Pit is perfect for finishing off an enemy team. If you can trap a few players inside, Viper can make quick work of them.
- Purchasable: Updraft and Cloudburst – Updraft spawns a gust of air like Tailwind, though it propels you upward, allowing you to reach otherwise unreachable places. Cloudburst fires a projectile that expands into a cloud, blocking the vision of anyone caught on the wrong side. You can also curve Cloudburst by holding down the ability key.
- Signature: Tailwind – Use a strong gust of air to dash in the direction you’re moving.
- Ultimate: Blade Storm – Spawns a range of floating daggers that resupply when you kill an enemy. You can throw the daggers one at a time or unleash all of them in a burst, and they kill instantly on a headshot.
Jett is one of the most versatile agents in Valorant. Technically, she’s a Duelist, and she certainly excels in aggressive situations. However, you can use abilities like Cloudburst and Updraft defensively, too, allowing you to adapt to the flow of each round. When planting, Cloudburst works wonders for blocking passageways, and Updraft is perfect for reaching a new vantage point. You shouldn’t stand still with Jett for too long, though.
She shines most when darting around the map, using Tailwind to move between cover and Blade Storm to pick off unaware enemies. Outside of defending a plant, playing as Jett requires quick movement and precision, so definitely brush up on your aiming before entering a round as her.
- Purchasable: Trapwire and Cyber Cage – Trapwire, as the name implies, allows you to shoot a tripwire that will reveal and daze any enemies who walk through it. You can pick up the tripwire if it hasn’t been destroyed and redeploy it, too. Cyber Cage deploys a cage in front of Cypher that blocks vision. The cage will also make a noise when enemies pass through.
- Signature: Spycam – Spycam allows you to fire a camera wherever you’re aiming. If you reuse the ability, you can take control of the camera and fire marking darts at enemies.
- Ultimate: Neural Theft – Use intel from a dead enemy to reveal the locations of all living enemies.
Cypher is a Sentinel focused on revealing enemy locations above all else. You should use Spycam at whatever bombsite you’re not near. That way, you can keep an eye on that location, while revealing enemies who come into range. Trapwire and Cyber Cage work best offensively, stacked on top of each other. Trapwire will slow the enemy, and Cyber Cage will alert you of their presence, allowing you to sneak in a kill before your enemy can recover.
- Purchasable: Stim Beacon and Incendiary – Stim Beacon spawns a field in front of Brimstone that grants RapidFire (increased fire rate) to anyone inside. Incendiary allows you to use a grenade launcher that fires incendiary grenades. These grenades don’t explode on impact. Rather, they burst shortly after coming to a stop, creating a damaging fire zone.
- Signature: Sky Smoke – Using a tactical map, Sky Smoke allows you to deploy smoke clouds from the sky. These clouds last for a while, and in the process, obscure enemy lines of fire.
- Ultimate: Orbital Strike – Orbital Strike allows you to fire a laser from the sky using a selected location on the map. The laser deals damage over time to anyone caught inside.
Brimstone is a Controller like Viper, though he’s much more aggressive. As Brimstone, you should be near the firefight, though not on the front line. Stim Beacon works great at the beginning of a round, granting increased fire to your team, and Sky Smoke and Incendiary can cut off flank routes. As Brimstone, your goal is to trap enemies in a particular area, allowing your teammates to easily pick them off with increased fire. Any stragglers are easily dealt with using Orbital Strike.
- Purchasable: Barrier Orb and Slow Orb – Barrier Orb spawns a solid wall wherever you fire it, while Slow Orb creates a field that slows players and prevents jumping. Note that Slow Orb applies to all players, not just your enemies.
- Signature: Healing Orb – Incredibly versatile, Healing Orb allows you to heal yourself or your teammates. A standard shot will administer healing over time to a teammate in your crosshairs, while alternative fire will heal Sage.
- Ultimate: Resurrection – Resurrection allows you to revive a dead teammate. The process takes time, though, so be careful when using this ability.
Sage is a Sentinel medic, which is pretty clear from reading her abilities. She’s an excellent agent to start as if you’re new to Valorant. Sage wants to stay out of firefights as much as possible, using her abilities to keep the opposing team at bay while keeping your teammate’s health stocked. Resurrection, in particular, is very powerful, allowing you to revive a Duelist to finish off the enemy team.
The two purchasable abilities require some careful planning, however. Although powerful on their own, these abilities work best when paired with others. For example, you could throw a Slow Orb to lock an enemy team in a certain area while someone playing as Brimstone fires an incendiary grenade. Well-coordinated strikes with Sage are nearly unbeatable, so teamwork and communication are key when playing as her.
- Purchasable: Aftershock and Flashpoint – Aftershock allows you to shoot a charge through a wall, dealing damage to anyone on the other side. Flashpoint works similarly, blinding any players on the other side of the wall rather than damaging them.
- Signature: Fault Line – Spawns a seismic blast, which causes an earthquake in a straight line leading away from Breach.
- Ultimate: Rolling Thunder – Use a seismic charge to cause an earthquake in a selected path, even through walls. The earthquake dazes enemies and sends them flying upward.
Breach is an Initiator, and like Sage, teamwork is essential when playing as him. His abilities are focused on disorienting rather than damaging, so working with the Duelists on your team is critical. Because you can use most of Breach’s abilities through walls, he’s a machine when it comes to getting enemies out in the open. Use Aftershock to break enemy cover and give your teammates a clear shot, or utilize Flashpoint to stun enemies camping near a bombsite.
- Purchasable: Boom Bot and Blast Pack – Boom Bot spawns a robot that explodes when it reaches an enemy. Blast Pack allows you to use something similar to C4, where you can throw a sticky explosive and detonate it at range.
- Signature: Paint Shells – Paint Shells spawns a cluster grenade that deals damage to anyone nearby. Upon exploding, the grenade creates smaller projectiles, which damage enemies at range.
- Ultimate: Showstopper – Powerful but not exciting, Showstopper simply grants you a rocket launcher.
The go-to agent for competitive play, Raze is a Duelist who specializes in explosives. Boom Bot and Blast Pack pull double duty. For unaware enemies, a blast from either of these abilities is enough for a kill. In the more likely event that your opponents are aware of them, they’ll push enemies out of cover and into view, allowing you and your teammates to pick them off.
Paint Shells isn’t exciting, but it is powerful, especially if you can hit multiple enemies at once. Showstopper is similar in that regard. No matter the ability, Raze makes a lot of noise, so be prepared for a fight if you’re playing as her.
- Purchasable: Shrouded Step and Paranoia – Shrouded Step allows you to quickly teleport to a selected location, while Paranoia fires a blinding orb that obscures vision and deafens all players in range. You can use Paranoia through walls, too.
- Signature: Dark Cover – Throw a shadow orb that explodes into a shadow sphere, blocking vision.
- Ultimate: From the Shadows – Use a tactical map to automatically teleport to a selected location. During the teleport, Omen will appear as a Shade, which enemies can destroy to cancel the teleport.
Omen is sneakily powerful, even if his abilities don’t deal direct damage. He’s a Controller, and although all of his abilities are focused on impairing the enemy team, you can get creative with how you use them. Paranoia, for example, is great for picking off an enemy around a corner, as well as breaking up an incoming assault. From the Shadows works wonders when used properly, too. With it, you can break the enemy line and kill opponents from behind.
You shouldn’t get too aggressive with Omen, though. He works best in well-coordinated strikes, unlike Jett. Although possessing similar abilities as Jett, Omen lacks the stopping power of abilities like Bladestorm and Cloudburst.
- Purchasable: Owl Drone and Shock Bolt – Owl Drone allows you to use an aerial drone to spot enemies, though it’s susceptible to gunfire, while Shock Bolt equips your bow with an electrically charged round that detonates upon collision.
- Signature: Recon Bolt – Fire a recon bolt that reveals enemy locations within a limited range.
- Ultimate: Hunter’s Fury – Fire three energy blasts in a straight line leading away from Sova. These blasts travel the length of map, ignoring walls, damaging enemies, and revealing the locations of anyone hit.
Sova is an Initiator, though he works in offensive and defensive roles. Recon Bolt is great at the beginning of a match for spotting enemies moving in on a flank, while Owl Drone can mark the enemy team from the opposite side of the map. Like Cypher, Sova demands coordination with your team.
However, Sova can handle himself, too. Hunter’s Fury and Shock Bolt are great offensively, allowing Sova to fight alongside the Duelists without any problems.
- Purchasable: Blaze and Curveball – Blaze allows you to spawn a flame wall that slowly moves in the direction fired, damaging any enemies that pass through it. Curveball spawns a flare orb that will detonate after throwing. You can curve both of these abilities around corners, too.
- Signature: Hot Hands – Use a fireball that travels through the air and explodes into flames after a set time. These flames deal damage to enemies while healing you.
- Ultimate: Run It Back – Place a marker near Phoenix that grants you an extra life if you die while it’s active. If the timer expires before you die, you’ll be brought back to the same location at full health.
Phoneix has a very well-rounded list of abilities. He’s a Duelist, so you should be on the frontlines when playing as him. In close encounters, use Hot Hands to break up the fight and heal yourself a bit. In long-range encounters and around corners, Blaze works great, forcing enemies to either move out of cover or risk being damaged.
Be careful when using Run It Back, though. Although it’s extremely powerful, it doesn’t make you invincible, and a well-trained enemy will easily be able to anticipate your respawn. It’s best in battles where your opponent just barely has the upper hand, allowing you to respawn at full health and finish them off.
- Passive: Soul Harvest – Enemies drop Soul Orbs when killed, which last three seconds.
- Purchasable: Leer and Devour – Leer shoots a destructible eye in front of Reyna, limiting enemy vision to only what’s immediately in front of them. Devour allows you to consume a Soul Orb to rapidly heal over a certain duration. You can heal past 100 with Devour, though any extra health will degrade over time.
- Signature: Dismiss – Consume a Soul Orb to become intangible, and if Empress is active, invisible.
- Ultimate: Empress – Drastically improve your fire rate, equip speed, and reload speed immediately. Killing an enemy while Empress is active renews the duration. Empress will also automatically cast Devour, though it won’t consume a Soul Orb.
Reyna wasn’t in the Valorant closed beta, rather launching alongside the game. It seems Riot is already changing things up. Reyna is the first agent with a passive ability, though it’s not nearly as powerful as it may seem. As a Duelist, Reyna wants frags. More importantly, she needs frags to make use of most of her abilities.
Dismiss and Devour, both extremely powerful abilities, require Souls Orbs. In order to get those Orbs, you’ll not only need to kill an enemy but also grab the orb before the three-second timer runs out. For a properly trained player, Reyna may be the best agent in the game. If you’re a newcomer, you should get some practice in before using her.
Best starting characters in Valorant
When you first download Valorant, you’ll have access to five agents: Brimstone, Jett, Phoenix, Sage, and Sova. You can unlock the remaining six either by completing their individual contracts or simply by leveling up. Although all five of the starting agents are a great jumping-off point, there are three you should pay attention to.
Sova is the perfect starting agent for players coming from Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. With his diverse range of abilities, you can play Sova in any way you’re comfortable. Shock Bolt and Hunter’s Fury are great for an offensive strategy, while Recon Bolt and Owl Drone are perfect for a defensive stance. If nothing else, playing as Sova gives you a chance to experiment with different abilities and, in the process, hopefully find your playstyle.
Sage is the only agent in Valorant entirely focused on healing, and every team should have someone playing as her. If you play Overwatch, you know how important healers are. Although it’s tempting to go for a more aggressive character when you’re first starting, Valorant requires a lot more precision than a game like Overwatch. Playing as Sage will give you the chance to get the lay of the land while contributing to your team in a meaningful way.
If you just want to watch the world burn, Phoenix is for you. As a Duelist, you should be comfortable with combat when playing a Phoenix. However, his abilities still work defensively. Blaze, in particular, is perfect for stopping the enemy team from advancing while your team is planting the Spike. Phoenix may be an attacker, and you should use him as such. Still, he pulls double duty as a Controller in the right situation.
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