Hoping to get to know the Valorant characters? Riot Games has taken on several genre giants with its new multiplayer Valorant, a tactical FPS that combines the lethality of Counter-Strike with the character abilities of Overwatch. In keeping with other shooters these days, that means having a roster of characters with backstories, drama, and reasons for competing against one another.
The key to winning matches relies on you getting to know how each agent plays. There's a lot to learn about Valorant's characters and as they continue to release, it's important to keep up with their new strategies. I'm here to introduce you to each of Valorant's eleven agents, outline their abilities, and offer a few tips on how to best utilise their strengths.
Before we begin
It's important to understand just how character abilities work in Valorant, since it's different from most other shooters. Instead of having access to several powerful abilities on short cooldowns, like in Overwatch, Valorant's character abilities are more varied, and most of them have to be bought, almost like frag grenades or flashbangs in CS:GO. Each character's "ultimate" even takes multiple rounds to recharge between uses.
Your agent isn't stuck with a specialized weapon like in other character-based shooters. You spend money buying weapons (and armor and abilities) at the beginning of each round—exactly like Counter-Strike.
Here's a quick rundown of each type of ability characters have:
- One ultimate ability - This powerful ability requires multiple charges to use that are earned from kills or completing objectives (like defusing the bomb). It might take three rounds or more before you have enough charges to use yours.
- One signature ability - This ability is automatically usable each round. How many times and how often you can use it varies between characters.
- Two purchasable abilities - Each character has two extra abilities that require charges bought from the store at the beginning of a round. Think of them like grenades in Counter-Strike, an optional item that gives you some extra utility in combat.
Tier A: Top agents
Strengths: If spying on your enemies is your thing, you'll like Cypher: He's an expert at luring enemies into deadly traps and revealing their movements. His regular abilities slow opponents to make their journey to the bombsite more challenging, allowing him to sit further back and engage at a safe distance. One of his traps can even be detonated remotely.
Tips: Place Cypher's Spycam high up near a bombsite, ideally obscured from view. This allows you to check on the bombsite while you hold another angle. By stacking your Trapwire and Cyber Cage abilities and hovering close to them, you can promptly react to incoming opponents. These abilities buy you just enough time to eliminate a slowed enemy before taking lethal damage.
- Trapwire: Place a tripwire between two walls that restrains and reveals enemies who cross it for a short time. Can be retrieved and reused.
- Cyber Cage: Places a trap that, when activated, slows enemies who pass through it. Cypher can also detonate the traps, either one at a time or all at once.
- Spycam: Place a remote camera that can be manually operated to fire tracking darts at enemies.
- Neural Theft: Steal intel from a dead enemy, revealing the location of their allies.
Strengths: Raze is a demolitions specialist who's the perfect choice for those who are good at anticipating enemy movements, and punishing them.
Tips: While the Blast Pack ability can deal damage, it's more valuable as a boost to get you to high ground faster. The element of surprise is actually far more damaging to your opponent in most cases. Raze's Showstopper ultimate is loud, so limit its use to when you're sure an enemy is cornered.
- Blast Pack: Instantly throw a Blast Pack that will stick to the surfaces. Re-Use the ability after deployment to detonate, damaging and moving anything hit.
- Boom Bot: Equip a Boom Bot. Fire will deploy the bot, causing it to travel in a straight line on the ground, bouncing off walls. The Boom Bot will lock on to any enemies in its frontal cone and chase them, exploding for heavy damage if it reaches them.
- Paint Shells: Equip a cluster grenade. Fire to throw the grenade, which does damage and creates sub-munitions, each doing damage to anyone in their range.
- Showstopper: Equip a rocket launcher. Fire shoots a rocket that does massive area damage on contact with anything.
Strengths: Sage is Valorant's resident medic, able to revive downed allies and impair enemy movements. As a support agent she demands a patient playstyle that keeps her alive for as long as possible. Her abilities largely dictate that she remains behind cover, but she can create her own in times of need.
Tips: Don't waste Sage's Barrier Orb by placing it as soon as the round begins. Commit to using it once you know roughly where the enemy team is heading. Also, coordinate with other members of the team to combine Sage's Slow Orb with another ability, such as an incendiary or poison cloud.
- Slow Orb: Throws an orb that creates a zone that slows any who pass through it, preventing them from jumping and emitting a distinct noise when they move through it.
- Barrier Orb: Creates a large, impassable wall.
- Healing Orb: Heals you or an ally over several seconds.
- Resurrection: Revive an ally to full health after a quick delay.
Strengths: Yoru specialises in stealth, and he has the perfect tools to navigate Valorant's maps quickly and catch enemies off guard. His Gatecrash ability is a long-range teleport, allowing him to hop to another spot on the map. Fakeout lets him place fake footsteps to trick opponents into thinking he's nearby, whereas Blindside is a bouncy flashbang that can give you the upper hand in a firefight.
Tips: If your chances of winning a firefight are looking slim, use Gatecrash to teleport to safety. You can scout ahead to check that an area is clear using Yoru's Dimensional Drift ultimate, which makes him immune to damage and invisible. If you have nerves of steel, this can even be used to retrieve the Spike from a dangerous spot.
- Fakeout: Equip an echo that mimics footsteps when activated. Fire to activate and send the echo forward. Alt-fire to place the echo in one spot.
- Blindside: Fire a grenade fragment that bounces and then flashes.
- Gatecrash: Fire to send a teleporter marker out in a straight line ahead of you. Alt-fire to place the marker in one spot. Activate to teleport to its location.
- Dimensional Drift: Equip a mask that can see between dimensions. Enemies are not able to see Yoru in this state and he cannot take damage.
Tier B: Solid choices
Strengths: Breach is a seismic force on his team that specializes in disorienting foes with attacks that ignore walls. He can minimize the dangers of pushing onto bombsites by stunning and blinding opponents. His Aftershock ability also helps to clear corners by either forcing an enemy out, or outright eliminating them.
Tips: This agent's abilities are designed to complement the rest of the team; Breach isn't much of a solo hero. Coordinating with your team is essential as some of these abilities damage allies, if they're standing too close.
Ability indicators are displayed on the minimap to ensure you always place them accurately. When playing on Bind, use Fault Line to guide your team safely through the teleporter.
- Aftershock - Fire an explosive charge that breaches through walls and damages enemies standing near it.
- Flashpoint - Fire a flash charge into a wall that flashes enemies on the opposite side.
- Fault Line: Create a concussive quake in a straight line in front of Breach that disorients enemy aim and travels through walls.
- Rolling Thunder: Fire a powerful seismic charge that travels through walls, dazes opponents, and knocks enemies upward.
Strengths: Brimstone brings death from above with a range of orbital weaponry that bombards the map, creating smokescreens and damaging enemies. His abilities focus on two categories: Manipulating enemy movement and dealing damage. Brimstone contains enemies using smokes and incendiaries, while relying on his signature and ultimate moves to remove threats.
Tips: Drop Brimstone's Stim Beacon at the beginning of a round to boost your team's rate of fire and snag a couple of easy frags. Be wary of where you place the beacon though, as it's area of effect benefits opponents, too. Sky Smoke is effective for blocking off portions of the bombsites when taking and re-taking. This makes it harder for the enemy team to see you and reduces the corners you need to clear.
- Incendiary: Throw an incendiary grenade that coats an area in flames.
- Stim Beacon: Select an area to call in this beacon that gives any player nearby a boost to fire speed.
- Sky Smoke: Use your map to call in multiple smokescreens that block vision.
- Orbital Strike: Call in a deadly orbital strike that strikes a targeted area repeatedly over several seconds.
Strengths: Omen likes to play mind games by teleporting around the map to strike and blind enemies. This agent has a well-rounded set of tools with which to sneak around the map, then pops up to surprise opponents in strange places.
Tips: Shadow Walk is handy if you're caught on either side of a long stretch of the map opposite a sniper, as it enables you to cross over safely without having to dodge a shot. You can also use Paranoia to blind someone around a corner and secure a snappy kill.
- Paranoia - Launch a shadow clone in a straight line that inflicts anyone it touches with blindness.
- Shadow Walk - After a delay, teleport a short distance.
- Dark Cover: Throw a stealthed orb that explodes into an obscuring sphere of shadow once it reaches its destination. Can be charged to increase its maximum distance.
- From The Shadows: You can teleport to anywhere on the map, but it takes a few seconds to complete. Enemies can see a "shade" at your destination and cancel your teleport by killing it. After teleporting, you become invincible for a short time.
Tier C: Average agents
Strengths: Reyna relies on the power of soul orbs to heal, avoid damage, and even turn invisible. Slotting neatly into the Duelist class, her abilities encourage her to push ahead of the team and secure early frags to give your team a critical advantage. Reyna's abilities complement an aggressive and confident playstyle, so she'll help you maintain your spot at the top of the leaderboard.
Tips: Use Leer to push around corners and onto bomb sites. Experiment with sending Reyna's ethereal eye through walls when you know someone is on the other side, and be prepared to peek immediately afterwards. This ability only buys you a few seconds as the eye can be gunned down, so dedicate more time to aim training to make every shot count.
Deciding whether to heal or conceal yourself requires you to assess situations quickly and respond decisively. If your HP is low, and you can maintain a safe position without breaking your connection with the orb, then Devour is the right move. Just beware of opponents sneaking up on you as you heal. If you still feel overwhelmed by the enemy team after your first elimination, Dismiss and regroup. There's no sense in overextending and leaving your squad a teammate down.
- Soul Harvest: Enemies killed by Reyna leave behind soul orbs that last 3 seconds.
- Leer: Equip an ethereal, destructible eye and send it ahead of Reyna. Enemies that look at it will be nearsighted.
- Devour: Instantly consume a nearby soul orb to heal. Health gained through this skill exceeding 100 will decay over time. If Empress is active, this skill casts automatically and won't consume the soul orb.
- Dismiss: Instantly consume a soul orb to become intangible. If Empress is active, also become invisible.
- Empress: Increase the speed of firing, equipping and reloading weapons, and gain infinite charges of Soul Harvest abilities. Renews upon eliminating an opponent.
Strengths: Valorant's resident bow and arrow guy has abilities that help you track enemy movements. Sova has a drone that reveals enemies to accelerate your teams' chances of locating and eliminating them.
Tips: Avoid sending Sova's Shock Bolts near teammates as this ability damages allies, too. Instead, work on bouncing your arrows off walls to hit opponents lurking around corners and behind cover. While Sova's Recon Bolt reveals nearby threats, remember that well-placed enemy smokes counter it to keep opponents hidden.
- Shock Bolt: Fires a bolt that radiates damaging bursts of static energy on impact.
- Owl Drone: Use a pilotable, flying drone to scout the map and fire darts that reveal enemies.
- Recon Bolt: Fires an arrow that emits sonar waves that marks and reveals nearby enemies for as long as it remains in place (can be destroyed).
- Hunter's Fury: Fires up to three energy blasts that pierce walls and travel the length of the map. Any enemies that are hit take near-fatal damage and are revealed to your team.
Strengths: Phoenix is an aggressive character who excels at rushing into combat and using his fire abilities to push other players around. Stepping into his own flames heals him, making his Blaze and Hot Hands abilities particularly useful.
Tips: Force enemies out of corners using Hot Hands, and be prepared to catch them as they try to escape. Learning how to curve your Blaze ability is essential for both offensive and defensive strategies. For instance, when entering a bombsite, curve the fiery wall to block your enemy's vision as your team pushes. When defending, put the brakes on enemy advances by placing the wall, topping up your health in the process.
- Blaze: Summon a wall of fire that blocks vision and hurts anyone passing through it. The wall can also be bent when casting.
- Curveball: Throw a flashbang that curves around corners.
- Hot Hands: Throws a fireball that covers a small area in flames after a short wait or when it hits the ground. These flames damage your enemies but heal you.
- Run it back: Marks your current location and starts a short timer. When the timer expires, or if you die, you respawn at the marked location with full health.
Tier D: Not our first choice
Strengths: Jett is an agile soldier that specialises in outflanking enemies and taking them out with quick, precise ambushes. While defending a bombsite she can boost herself onto boxes to catch the enemy off guard. Jett's abilities let her reach windows and ledges faster with Updraft. This can be useful for rushing towards opponents.
Tips: Combine Cloudburst with Updraft to place a couple of smoke grenades ahead and propel yourself onto a higher platform while concealed. Maximise Cloudburst's effectiveness by sending your Cloudburst smokes around corners and through windows by holding C and flicking your crosshair around in your desired direction.
- Cloudburst: Throw a smoke grenade that obscures vision wherever it lands.
- Updraft: Launch yourself upwards after a brief pause.
- Tailwind: Dash a short distance in whatever direction you're moving.
- Blade Storm: Wield several throwing knives that deal moderate damage and kill on headshots. Getting a kill replenishes your daggers and you can choose to throw them one at a time or throw all remaining daggers in a short-ranged burst.
Strengths: Viper doesn't take any damage from her toxic emissions and her abilities also use a secondary resource called fuel. You'll need to activate the spike often if you pick this agent, as her shields allow for safe planting.
Tips: Be mindful of the abilities that require fuel. Poison Cloud and Toxic Screen can be used at the same time, but this drains your juice quicker. Viper's Poison Cloud can be reused, though. All you need to do is pick the canister up before it fully depletes.
- Snakebite: Fire a projectile that creates a pool of acid.
- Poison Cloud: Throw a gas bomb that emits a cloud of poisonous smoke at the cost of fuel. You can retrieve the gas bomb and throw it again after a short cooldown.
- Toxic Screen: Creates a line of gas emitters that can be activated to create a wall of toxic gas at the cost of fuel.
- Viper's Pit: Creates a poison cloud that blankets a large area, letting Viper easily pick off enemies trapped within it.