VALORANT Killjoy Abilities: First Impressions Remain Moderately Joyful
The time has finally come - Killjoy has been out in ranked play for a minute, and everyone’s first impressions are coming in. Not everything that people thought would be wholly broken about her is, and some stuff that people thought would be fairly innocuous has caused a little bit of a stir. The only thing we can tell for sure right now is that just like the rest of the game, we’re going to need a little bit longer to truly get a feel for the game with Killjoy in it and settle into a meta that everyone is comfortable (or familiar but uncomfortable) with.
VALORANT Killjoy’s abilities and kit have been covered extensively everywhere already, even before her reveal, in the form of several leaks from the Riot website itself, where her character page went live before intended. However, we now have been able to see this kit in action for a little bit, so to break it down:
VALORANT Killjoy Abilities
Killjoy’s Alarmbot works as a mine, similar to Cypher’s Tripwire - and in-game, functions similarly as well. The trigger timings are almost identical, the alerts are similar, and the hitbox to destroy it once it is triggered is a little more forgiving than the tripwire’s, but the time you get to destroy it is far shorter. The way in which it punishes the offending player for stepping through its holy domain is different, though. It doesn’t necessarily guarantee a kill, on one hand since you can always fight back if you trigger one. Still, if you do, you have to have a faster trigger finger, since you take a significantly increased proportion of damage dealt to you when the Alarmbot is attached to you.
However, unlike Cypher’s Tripwire, the enemy only knows your general location, wherever they put the Alarmbot down. They don’t get wallhacks and aren’t able to pre-aim or wallbang you as a result of the ability getting triggered successfully. The fight is still heavily in their favour, but you do stand a fighting chance.
Her turret does negligible damage at range. The initial freak-out over a turret ability in a tac shooter seems to have settled down as people have come to realise that it basically functions as a hands-free Cypher Camera, serving more to alert people of enemy positions and deny free peeks with bullet tagging (like Cypher’s Camera’s recon dart) than actually get kills. If kills do ever occur from the turrets tic tac spitters, they probably deserve to end up on some kid’s meme-tage from the depths of Iron. This is not to say that it isn’t a great ability - unlike a Cypher Cam, you can actually peek with it instead of after it - but it is hardly the bonkers broken behemoth people assumed it would be before seeing the numbers.
This isn’t true, however, of the Nanoswarm.
As this clip from Mixwell demonstrates, this can really be quite the powerful ability. It functions similarly to Cypher’s Cybercages from the user’s perspective, but the effect they have on the enemies is far more directly lethal. Such horrific events are less likely to occur, of course, the longer we play with Killjoy, and as people get used to her kit, both playing it and playing against it.
Still, it is easy to see how powerful this ability can be in a time-sensitive scenario. After all, with a few seconds on the clock and only one way to go, teams cannot often afford to decide to back out of an area that the nanoswarm is present in.
This ability also makes one of the only truly undeniably good cases for a nerf amongst Killjoy’s kit - it does activate and do lethal damage rather quickly, and for how easy it is to activate, perhaps it should be less directly damaging to enemies or do the same amount of damage over more time.
The ult is somewhat misunderstood - it is hard to tell from the demonstration what it actually does, but the core function as has been seen on streams so far has been to deny space with the threat of impending doom. The debuff is quite severe, but the ample warning time leaves space for enemies to make counterplays before the Lockdown goes off. If you think you have enough time to jump in and frag out once you hear the alarm sound, more power to you, but you better be sure it will work, because it is extremely unfavourable (although not impossible) to win a duel while debuffed.
Some of these insights will change over time, firstly as Riot has never shied away from actually using the tuning available to them to make a character or weapon fit where it should, and secondly, as everyone gets to grips with playing around and against her.
However, with Riot’s promise of a new character every two months, there isn’t much time to get too comfy - the game as a whole has been out for much longer than that by now, and there still isn’t a tried and true meta. With such a rapid content release cycle, it is possible that the meta for this game will continuously be dynamic or unstable - in a perpetual stasis of being figured out, but never truly solved. For some, this is ideal and puts pressure on players and teams to constantly innovate, but for others, makes for a stressful gameplay experience. Only time will tell how the community will handle it.
Images via Riot Games