Another large patch hits the servers, addressing a lot of decried issues. Did Riot stick the landing?

19:00, 02 Jun 2020

Launch day is finally here! The release of VALORANT comes with a brand new 1.0 patch that attempts to tackle various issues pointed out by player feedback given to Riot Games. From balance tweaks to map changes over to optimization and new report systems, a lot of the common issues you would see on your timeline have been addressed. For that reason, not every addition is addressed. You can find all of the patch notes here. Instead, we look at the most impactful changes and how it will affect the game.

Coming for the queen

Healing Orb cooldown increased 35 >>> 45 seconds
Barrier Orb segment health reduced 1000 >>> 800
Barrier Orb duration reduced 40 >>> 30 seconds

Sage’s changes were a long time coming. In tournament play, she saw a nearly 100% pickrate due to her ability to control sites reliably by herself. Every ability in her kit was highly useful and made her arguably the strongest agent in the game for the entire duration of the beta. Her Barrier Orb was simply too reliable and versatile, doing too much too safely. Healing Orb was also too spammable, going off twice a round with relative ease.

The changes to her don’t drop her out of S-Tier but she might be in line with more heroes now. Our guess is that she’ll still be a must-pick for the most part but with the buffs to other agents, we can at least have a discussion on bringing someone else in over her.

Much-Needed help for the face of VALORANT

Cloud Burst smoke duration increased 4 >>> 7 seconds
Tailwind automatically breaks Cypher’s Trapwires after being briefly revealed

Jett didn’t receive many changes but the Cloud Burst duration buff is huge. Considering that she has three charges, her ability to make plays around choke points has greatly improved. Often, Jett would attempt to sneak by her smoke, trying to not give away her position via audio cues, but 4 seconds often left her vulnerable after the fact or forced her to move immediately upon deploying the ability. This made it rather easy to predict her movement and spam her through it. Jett got a lot more outplay potential now and it might just be enough to fulfil the role of the “smoker” which is required to take over sites from a defending opponent (generally Brimstone/Omen). It also makes her arguably the best carrier of an Operator, as she can safely retreat and obscure, denying trades effectively.

Phoenix from the ashes

Blaze duration increased 6 >>> 8 seconds
Blaze healing: 3 every 0.25s >>> 1 every 0.16 seconds
Blaze damage: 15 every 0.25s >>> 1 every 0.033 seconds
Curveball max flash duration increased 0.8 >>> 1.1 second
Hot Hands healing: 3 every 0.25s >>> 1 every 0.08s.
Run it Back automatically reloads all weapons on respawn

We might just have a new top tier agent. Phoenix had been hovering around the A or B Tier in our VALORANT agent tier list but these changes might push him up to the top. The biggest change seems to be the duration increase of Curveball. Beforehand the timing was tricky, leading even seasoned players to occasionally flash themselves if they wanted to catch their opponents off-guard. 0.3 seconds might not seem like much but in VALORANT it’s a significant difference. Much like Jett, the duration of Blaze now allows for slightly more breathing room to play around. The changes to healing really don’t tip the balance by much but simply give Phoenix options that push him further towards being one of the most self-sufficient agents in VALORANT, being able to do a bunch of everything on his own.


New agent Reyna

It’s yet unclear what the ceiling is for Reyna as she’s definitely an agent that requires sound decision-making and does have ridiculous snowball potential in the right hands. While it’s admittedly a little early to tell where she will land on a tier list, she doesn’t look to be ridiculously strong or even an S-Tier challenger. Perhaps we will eat our words in a week’s time.

No love for snakes

It’s quite interesting that Viper has received no balance adjustments which allows for speculation as to where Riot want to go with her. Either developer’s think she’s not as bad as initial statistics and tournament playrates make her seem or they have something else planned for her. In some ways, it smells like a minor rework of her abilities is in the works.

Split mid control

Split has been by far the most defensively favoured map in VALORANT since closed beta launch. Even after the heavy changes to angles and spawn doors, controlling middle was still relatively easy for the defenders, who had many options to hold the angles in a crossfire position. The implemented changes open up the middle choke more and give less safe hiding spots for defenders. It likely is still a great spot for defenders to hold but it’s a massive advantage anymore.


New Midjpg

Map glitching

Rather early in beta, people took to breaking the game and finding glitched spots that would allow them to gain tremendous competitive advantages. From Omen being able to teleport into the ceiling of maps and walk unintended glitched paths to unkillable Cypher Camera spots, unrestricted map boundaries caused large and reliably exploitable issues. While Riot could’ve heavily restricted the skybox, they are for now asking players to send in their bug reports for these glitches, allowing them to fix them one by one rather than implemented one restrictive fix that would likely also restrict the ability to find lined up utility spots for abilities like Recon Arrow and Shock Bolt.

Optimisation patch with at least anecdotal success

According to Riot, all kinds of machines should see an increase in the FPS they are getting. VALORANT had been criticized for not delivering steady framerates despite purposefully choosing to go for low requirement graphics. Widespread tests on the improvements of patch 1.0 have yet to be conducted. Anecdotally, I saw an increase of 20-40 frames on a mid-tier rig, running reliably just above 200 frames at medium settings.

Controlling toxicity

I personally felt I was in a weird bubble of positivity playing from the central European ping range. While many others were telling me that VALORANT had been one of the worst gaming experiences they’ve had in terms of interacting with their teammates, only about 10% of my matches had people I would describe as unpleasant and toxic to play with. Nevertheless, punishing these characters in this manner will not only help the issue but will also help to make feel empowered against bullies. Riot Games had famously dodged voice chat as a feature with their smash hit League of Legends despite the community push of companies like Curse to come up with third party solutions in the last decade. The nature of VALORANT no longer allows to dodge this responsibility and so Riot will have to create new reliable systems to destress the amount of toxicity they are likely to have in their community, especially in a game that’s free to play and only requires culprits to create another account for free. The Riot coined term “soul ban”, a nebulous term that seems to refer to more than a hardware ban had been thrown in the discussion to punish the worst offenders.

Images via Riot Games

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