Is Astra's kit too oppressive?
After a couple of weeks of active play and exploration, the newest VALORANT agent Astra seems to have become a problem. Initially released in early March, especially pro players have had enough time to tinker around with her and realise her potential. Now some of them have taken to Twitter to talk about their frustration with the agent which, according to James "hazed" Cobb, "is bad for the game."
Explaining his thoughts, hazed highlighted the reasons why he thinks she is currently overpowered, naming her too versatile kit as a culprit which makes her oppressive to the gameplay experience. "She can single-handedly stall for 30+ seconds," hazed said in a follow-up Tweet, also mentioning her ability to stall for long periods of time as an issue.
1) Shes too versatile. She has too many options with no counter play other than to bait it out. She can single handedly stall for 30+ seconds.
2) She takes away the essence of an FPS. Half of Astra's round in Astral Form playing a mini game.
Especially this stalling aspect of her kit became a major talking point in the discussion as other professional players such as Adam "ec1s" Eccles joined the conversation. "Then you combine her with, Viper with infinite walls with small timings, [Killjoy's] alarm bot and turret to get the perfect time of when to suck, as well as a Sage that can stop any fast plays," the currently inactive Team Liquid player shared, concluding that the composition around those agents including Astra would make for a "real slow snooze fest meta."
Tyson "TenZ" Ngo also shared his thoughts in a separate Tweet chain, naming Astra's Gravity Well as the problem. He said: "Astra pull is by far the most annoying and [overpowered] ability in the game." Gravity Well allows Astra to activate one of her stars, a core resource to her kit which have to be pre-placed in her Astral Form, pulling everyone to the centre in a moderate radius. The ability has a wide range of applications but is especially useful in stalling scenarios as it can be activated from a safe distance while annoying for instance a player which is trying to defuse a Spike or clear a choke.
In the past, the VALORANT community has had discussions about the impact of agent kits on the gameplay, criticising Riot early after beta release for leaving the agent Raze able to have high kill potential with her entire kit. Eventually, Raze was nerfed considerably but remained dangerous with her abilities as developers dialled back the statement that "You don't kill with abilities" in VALORANT. It appears that the criticism for the strength of individual kits will stick with the VALORANT community as a re-occurring topic as developers and their players negotiate their vision for the game.
On the upside, Riot Games has been one of the more receptive developers in listening to their community and pro player opinions, often finding compromises between the interests of the pro community and their creative ideas. At this time, Riot has not responded to the criticism but given their track record will likely respond in time if the problem continues to persist, either through a statement by one of their developers or through concrete changes in their patch notes.
Image via Riot Games