The day of reckoning for fans of Astra and Raze has come, with Riot Games dropping their key balance updates in patch 2.07. Designed to uphold the knife-edge competitive level playing field in this hugely popular tactical shooter, this new Valorant update may catch some experienced player out if they’re not acutely aware of the balance patch: and knowledge of what’s changed may give you the edge in a match.
The first agent affected by this update is the brilliant Astra. According to the developers, the Ghanaian Agent harnesses the energies of the cosmos to reshape battlefields to her whim. Her basic abilities include:
- Gravity Well: Equipping this basic ability creates a mini vortex that draws in any player caught in its grasp (which can include teammates) upon activation and applies the vulnerable de-buff to anyone caught it its grasp. This is perfect for surprise attacks and offensives, and now with this update, Gravity Well is a great Spike defence also.
- Nova Pulse: activates a star which falls down to concuss any player in its blast radius. This is similar to Breach’s concussive ability, but Astra’s Nova Pulse has a short warm-up period which gives potential victims time to escape.
- Nebula is more of a standard smoke ability, that lasts for 15 seconds and a charge is depleted.
Astra’s abilities are great for ambushes and distraction, and that’s no different when it comes to her Ultimate ability: Cosmic Divide. Astra players can select a part of the map to create a tall and imposing wall that splits the environment from end to end, going all the way up to the skybox. This wall blocks bullets and most special abilities.
Where Riot Games have tweaked Astra is with that Gravity Well ability. Now, activating Gravity Well near a player defusing a spike will suck them into the vortex created and if the player is pulled out of the spike range, the defuse stops. This makes Gravity Well a great last-minute defence against a defuse.
Commenting on the change, Riot Games commented:
We want to try and keep our ability interactions as consistent and easy to learn as possible and allow you to explore ways to leverage Agent abilities without running into unexpected walls. We think this update can create some interesting interactions post plant where enemies try to bait out the Gravity Well and play around its cooldown.
The second change comes with Raze, the Duellist Agent. Raze’s playstyle is very aggressive compared to many of the other agents, with a heavy focus being made towards damage and agility. That’s why Riot have chosen to make her breakneck mobility abilities a little more noticeable to potential victims on the Valorant battlefield.
Her basic abilities include:
- Boom Bot: Equipping this ability, you can deploy a bot that travels in a straight line on the ground and lock onto enemies. Your little robot friend will hunt them down and explode for heavy damage if it reaches them. Kaboom!
- Blast Pack: Throw a Blast Pack and it’ll stick to surfaces and once shot or denotated, it’ll explode! This explosion will knock back anyone it hits, damaging foes but not Raze or your teammates, instead launching them.
Raze’s ultimate ability Showstopper allows the player to launch a rocket that explodes on contact, dealing serious damage to enemies caught in its blast radius.
A mostly unintentional result of the Blast Pack is that, as Riot have put it, “Raze mains have learned to fly!”. Now it’s not uncommon to hear an explosion in the distance from a Blast Pack and then get surprise aerial swiped by a Raze. A balance update here adds audio cues when Raze gets boosted in the air by a cleverly positioned Blast Pack, allowing other players to better track her movements.
The other change made to Raze is toning down the particle effects associated with the Showstopper and Raze’s explosions, making them less obscuring and reduce the amount of time the effects linger. Raze’s abilities are first and foremost aggressive, damage orientated affairs and so having the Showstopper obscure combat violated the key essence – and flaws – of using this Agent.
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