More than a year and a half from release, Valorant has found its groove with a consistent stream of new content to keep players engaged. The tactical shooter hosts a series of unique playable characters and diverse maps, which inform the game’s meta and how players approach matches from a competitive standpoint. As a game that’s so rooted in competitiveness and strategy, the slightest weapon nerf or map change can flip everything on its head. Valorant’s newest Agent, Neon, is going to mark a major shift for the game’s meta.
I had the chance to play Neon ahead of her official release in Valorant Episode 4. What immediately sets the new Agent apart from every other character in Valorant is her speed. Yes, there’s characters with some variation of a teleporting ability in Omen and Chamber, but Neon’s speed is arguably more useful than both.
Neon’s (E) ability is High Gear. This allows her to move at a sprint, much faster than the brisk walking speed that every other Agent maxes out at. The ability to cover ground in such a short time is going to make Neon the rare Duelist that excels on the defensive side. She’s able to rotate between sites faster than anybody, able to support teammates against an enemy push.
High Gear also allows the player to slide by pressing Alt-Fire. This provides a way to quickly end a sprint, get low, and ready your weapon for a fight. Neon’s speediness also means that she’s going to be the ultimate flanking threat. Neon’s mobility will allow her to get behind enemy lines just seconds into a round, meaning big trouble for any unsuspecting players.
As a Duelist, Neon’s primary role will be to get frags and make first engagements with enemies. Something really neat about her kit is that it’s tied directly to her performance. All of Neon’s abilities are powered by her bioelectricity, a meter that sits at the bottom of the player’s screen. The meter slowly climbs every second to a maximum of 100. However, killing enemies causes bioelectricity to recharge in large sums. Players that are able to string together kills and consistently frag will be able to unload Neon’s abilities round after round.
With Neon’s (Q) ability, Relay Bolt, she throws an energy bolt that bounces once, releasing a concussive blast each time it hits a surface. Again, this ability will be excellent for getting onto sites whether it be for a plant or a retake. The wide range and ability to double up on blasts will benefit players with map knowledge and familiarity with common hold points.
One of the highest potential moves in Neon’s arsenal is her (C) ability, Fast Lane. Neon creates two energy walls running parallel to each other, with room for herself (and teammates) to run down the middle. This ability will allow Neon to enter a site with protection on both sides. It also serves as a great fakeout, as players can use it to bait enemies into compromising positions.
Neon channels Emperor Palpatine with her (X) Ultimate Ability, Overdrive. This move allows Neon to fire a steady stream of electricity from her fingertips, zapping enemies to dust in seconds. This ability will be great for completely shutting down areas and quickly disposing of players attempting to take a site or get picks. What’s more, Neon High Gear ability is active as long as her Ultimate Ability is.
Neon takes a lot of gameplay concepts that Riot Games has toyed with in the past, and dials them up to 100. Her potential on both the attacking and defending sides will make her one of the more unique additions to the game following launch. Neon officially joins the Valorant roster with the start of Episode 4 Act 1 on January 11, 2022.