In the short time that the Valorant closed beta has been live, the character Raze has proven to be the game’s most controversial Agent. Players have been vocal about the fact that her grenades and rockets can be lethal without any warning. According to Valorant’s lead game designer, Trevor Romleski, Riot has heard the complaints and is looking into it for the beta’s first major patch.
One of the community’s most frequent topics of conversation around Raze, which Romleski mentioned, is that her abilities focus more on damage than those of any other Agent. While gunplay is the only way for most characters to get kills, Raze can often use her grenades or her rockets to take enemies down. In fact, Romleski feels that this is part of the reason that she’s drawn such a strong reaction.
Romleski explained in a phone interview that when an opponent is playing a particularly good game as Cypher, you may not notice how often you’re getting trapped or being spotted on cameras, even though those moments can be the difference between winning and losing a round.
“But when Raze is super high-impact and powerful, she’s just killing a bunch of people,” Romleski said. “So it’s definitely more impactful and more obvious when balance is off with someone like Raze.”
Even though this damage makes Raze a little more frustrating when she’s overpowered, it does make it easier to balance her.
“As far as things to change with her, I think in the same way that it’s more obvious when she’s overpowered, it’s a bit more obvious what tuning levers make sense when balancing a character like that,” Romleski said.
In other words, the balance team can take damage out of some of Raze’s most offensive abilities, whereas a character like Cypher, who doesn’t have much damage in his kit, requires more specific changes.
Image: Riot Games via Polygon
But that isn’t the only kind of change that Romleski said the team is discussing for Raze. It also wants to adjust the clarity of Raze’s abilities, to help players get better at dodging all that damage. Romleski explains that there has to be a balance between how powerful an ability, especially an Ultimate ability, is and how easy it is to dodge.
“If you look at something like Brimstone’s Ultimate or Sova’s Ultimate,” Romleski said, “those both can be lethal as well. But you get the right set of cues and information provided to you to plan around those abilities and react to them in the moment.”
Romleski went on to explain why Raze might have an issue on that front.
“For someone like Raze, those abilities are faster,” Romleski said. “And if you’re not responding very quickly, [they] can be a lot more punishing. So what we’re assessing right now is, what’s the right time window to react to these abilities? […] And do we give you the right visual and audio cues to respond to [them] accordingly so that you have fair counterplay against them?”
Romleski also made it clear that while the plan is to get the patch out soon, there isn’t an exact time frame yet. He explained that Riot wants to get a little bit more information before it makes any big changes to Valorant. With the closed beta just being a week old, it’s difficult to tell the difference between things that are overpowered or underpowered, and things that people need to get used to.
As an example, Romleski brought up Omen, a character that many in the Valorant community see as one of the weakest Agents in the game. But Romleski believes that part of the reason players think he’s weak is because they don’t fully understand how to use him yet. Similarly, he thinks that while Raze definitely needs some changes, players will also get better over time at understanding how to avoid her highest-damage abilities.
As for the rest of the changes that will be coming to Valorant, and what nerfs and buffs each character will actually get, we’ll have to wait for the patch to actually be released sometime in the near future.
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