I've been playing Valorant and enjoying it as an excuse to dust off my mothballed CS:GO skills. Despite what me and other CS:GO players feared earlier this year, Riot's creative direction for the game—dumping powerful, unique character abilities into the Counter-Strike formula—hasn't really undermined the integrity of asymmetrical teams fighting for bombsites.
But as is sacred tradition within competitive games, something must at all times be anointed OP. We've already had multiple characters labeled too-powerful by Valorant's community and subsequently tinkered with by Riot. First Raze's grenades and rocket launcher ultimate were criticized. Then Sage got some attention—even after having many of her abilities nerfed or made more expensive, she remains crucial.
Now I want to use PC Gamer's platform to announce my own bitter vendetta against the magenta vampire, Reyna.
Reyna is scary and I do not like her: an analysis
Added at launch on June 2, Reyna is an initiator who builds momentum between kills. On attack, she can kick off a bombsite entry as well as anyone in Valorant. And as a solo flanker, she can come out of one-on-one fights essentially unscathed, slurping up the lingering life force of her victims to either overheal or make herself temporarily invulnerable.
Reyna is unique in the sense that she doesn't have access to most of her abilities until she scores a kill. It's frustrating enough that she can erase the damage you've done to her before confronting a teammate at full health—watching her chain through your team in a series of one-on-ones is totally disheartening. But my true gripe is Leer, a floating Sauron eye that blots out vision for any enemy in line-of-sight. Here's what happens when the violet orb gazes unto you:
Vision-taking isn't a novel concept in Valorant (three other characters can execute flashes or similar abilities), but it's the ease with which Reyna can cast the ability without any downsides to herself or her team that bothers me. In summary, Leer is:
- A blinding effect
- That can be cast through walls
- That floats in the air
- That has infinite range
- That does not blind Reyna or her teammates
- That must be shot for 100 damage in order to be destroyed
On paper, it's nuts. In practice, smart players can position themselves to avoid its effects. Personally, it's ruined me.
When I'm holding a bombsite and Leer pops around the corner, I have to drop everything and stick a finger in its eye. In the couple of seconds it takes to do that, Reyna and/or her pals have already rounded the corner, with my crosshair well out of position and my recoil already climbing up the screen. Reyna's presence in general in a match forces me to play more conservative defensive positions, places on the map where I can interrupt line of sight with Leer quickly.
What's frustrating is that even when I know a Leer is coming, there aren't many abilities that counter it. Compare Leer to a pivotal piece of utility in Valorant, Sage's Ice Wall, which can be blown up, teleported around, leaped over, or (my favorite) counter-Ice Walled. Reyna's Leer can be… none of these things. To deal with it, I have to trade away my aim position and recoil, an invaluable resource. The next best I can do is drop a slowing or area-denial ability to deny a rush, but these don't execute with enough speed to counter a Leer push in most situations.
Leer bucks the interesting downsides that similar vision-denying abilities have in Valorant. Phoenix's Hot Hands are as much a threat to his teammates, and reward coordinated timing and physical awareness. Breach's Flashpoint (which share's Leer's ability to penetrate walls) can also blind teammates. Leer, on the other hand, can be thrown almost thoughtlessly forward—it doesn't have to be bounced off of any surface, and if enemies turn away from its gaze, they can't later turn toward it as long as it's in the air.
CS:GO players spend months memorizing and perfecting position-specific grenade throws, learning the map's geometry. Reyna, on the other hand, presses C to chuck a magic purple pupil wherever she wants, ignoring the map as a meaningful constraint.
Reyna's disastrous impact on my psyche
I know my feelings about Reyna, but what about the hard, statistical facts? Is she actually destroying me as much as I think she is?
Oh, cool. Yes, yes she is.
Making the usual caveats about small sample size, in my last nine games where Reyna was present, my K/D ratio against Reynas was 0.62. Against all other characters in those 10 games, my cumulative K/D was 1.11. In four of those matches I put up 1 or 0 kills against Reyna. Ouch.
Within these games I was 57 percent less effective against Reyna than other characters. Most notably, in a close 13-11 win where I went 13-9 against all other opponents, my statline against Reyna was 0-8.
Verdict: she's in my head.
Iron-clad empirical evidence aside, this isn't a declaration of overpowered-ness: Reyna's kit is great in the hands of players who understand it, but more than anything I just need to adapt and stop playing like I'm sitting on de_inferno in 2004. For now, I'll continue doing what everyone does when they're being outplayed: complain about it online.