New agent Neon brings sprint and slip to Valorant

Neon stretches her shoulder as yellow and blue lines of electricity move around her.  Her name is written stylistically in the background with a lightning motif.

Picture: Riot games

In his recent (and beautiful) revealing trailer, Neon, the latest agent to be introduced to Rio’s team-based tactical shooter, Appreciate, breaks the cardinal rule of the sweaty, confident, head-clicking tac-shooter genre – she can actually move fluently.

This is not a shot at Appreciate‘s movement, which I actually really like, but a way to clearly distinguish her from the rest of the game’s cast. Appreciate is a slow, unusually jerky shooter that stems directly from Counter attack, it changes this formula by introducing a whole new layer of strategy via team composition, just like games such as. Overwatch. However, unlike Overwatch, Appreciate‘s agents share much more in common with each other than not. Everyone has access to the same weapons (except Chamber, the last agent added to the game), all move alike beyond their abilities, and each character has the same amount of health. Despite this, Riot has managed to make the game’s dozen and change agents feel different from each other.

Neon continues this tradition with unique movements, strange smoke and anesthetics, and an Emperor Palpatine-like lightning-based damage super. Her signature name seems to allow her to sprint, a first for Appreciate. She lays down her weapon and lets go, which can then be chained to a sliding move, during which she makes her weapon ready. This movement technology is likely to make her an absolute monster with the game’s submachine guns and shotguns, allowing her to excel in close combat situations.

In addition to her movement, Neon appears to have a unique double smoke wall, which creates a thin tunnel of smoke that enemies will have to fight their way through. By creating a closed hallway, Neon will easily be able to climb 1v1 situations and isolate opponents with line-of-sight control. Rounding off her basic abilities is a fantastic grenade that jumps once – and shakes enemies at the jumping and landing points. Finally, her ultimate ability appears to be a recoilless, sustained fire damage ability that seems to absolutely smash enemies if one is to believe her trailer.

Although no one knows how strong she will be until Riot releases a complete outburst of ability and she gets into the hands of professionals, a few things are certain from the brief glimpse we see of her abilities in the trailer for the agent revelation. First, she’s a duelist, one of them Appreciate‘s dedicated killers. Duel lists are expected to “entry frag”, which basically means it’s their job to start matches and put their bodies at risk for their teammates. It’s famous that many Duelist circuits are afraid they’ll not break in and they will hide behind their teammates – making them infinitely furious. Please do not do this.

Second, her unique movement will be extremely divisive. Appreciate try to run on a fine line between sticking to the heart of tactical shooters and allowing for more expressive play. Neon is already accused of being a “run and gun” character on both Twitter and YouTube, and these charges are likely to continue after her official release. However, I would argue that characters with unique mobility are not only fine, but actively beneficial to the game – especially given how fragile characters are in Appreciate.

The real thing that will determine Neon’s running-and-gun abilities is how big the aim penalty on her roller coaster is, as the trailer only shows her using the Stinger, Appreciate‘s fast, inaccurate SMG to burn opponents down from close range. If she maintains some kind of accuracy while sliding, she can have an obscene advantage in combat that is worth worrying about. Otherwise, it’s just a unique trick that will allow her to get into frag (or die trying) extremely quickly.

No matter how things end up working with Neon, it’s good to see Appreciate continues to iterate and develop new characters in a relatively tight gameplay format. When I first played the beta two years ago, part of me was skeptical that the team at Riot Games could consistently produce characters with interesting abilities using only a handful of basic tools like flash, smoke, teleportation, and stuns. Despite the simplicity of the format, over a dozen unique agents have, and continue to have, getting out of the game. I’m excited to see what they do next. Personally, I’m hoping for a new information gathering character, but that’s just me.

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