Valorant developer Riot Games has introduced a new playable character named Neon. The newest agent debuted alongside an all-new video titled “Spark.” As the video’s name implies, Neon has electricity-based powers, and a big focus on speed. The video features a mix of animation and gameplay footage alongside the music track “Entertain Me” by Ylona Garcia & 88rising. According to Riot, the character was born in Manila, but few other details have been revealed about her backstory at this time. Unfortunately, the character won’t release until January 10th, so Valorant fans will have to wait a few more days before getting to play as Neon!
Neon is the 19th agent in the game thus far, and will be a duelist. For Valorant’s newest character, it seems that Riot Games worked hard to make sure that her background had an authentic feel. The character is voiced by Filipino voice actor Vanille Velasquez, while Ylona Garcia is a Filipino singer from Australia. On Twitter, Velasquez seemed quite excited about the chance to bring the character to life.
“This has been such a dream come true. I’m kind of at a loss right now. This doesn’t feel real. I can’t believe I’m really saying this right now,” Velasquez wrote on Twitter.
Valorant fans seem to be equally taken with Neon thus far! On social media, fans have voiced their approval for the character’s design, and what they’ve been able to see of her abilities. There has also been praise for Riot’s efforts at representation in Valorant. It remains to be seen whether the character will be able to hold her own with the currently existing agents, but hopefully Riot Games will give players a balanced new addition when she makes her official debut later this month!
Valorant is defined by its slow movement and tight gunplay, but Neon’s unique sprint and slide may shake things up.
Neon stretches her shoulder, while yellow and blue lines of electricity move around her. Her name is written stylistically in the background with a lightning bolt motif.
In her recent (and gorgeous) reveal trailer, Neon, the newest agent about to be introduced to Riot’s team-based tactical shooter, Valorant, breaks the cardinal rule of the sweaty, tryhard, head-clicking tac-shooter genre—she can actually move fluidly.
This isn’t a shot at Valorant’s movement, which I actually really like, but a way of clearly distinguishing her from the rest of the game’s cast. Valorant is a slow, exceptionally twitchy shooter directly descended from Counter-Strike, it modifies this formula by introducing a whole new layer of strategy via team composition, much like games such as Overwatch. However, unlike Overwatch, Valorant’s agents share a lot more in common with each other than not. Everyone has access to the same guns (except for Chamber, the last agent to be added to the game), everyone moves the same outside of their abilities, and every character has the same amount of health. Despite this, Riot has managed to make the game’s dozen-and-change agents feel different from one another.
Neon continues this tradition with unique movement, strange smokes and stuns, and an Emperor Palpatine-esque lightning-based damage super. Her signature ability appears to allow her to sprint, a first for Valorant. She puts down her weapon and charges forward, which can then be chained into a sliding move, during which she readies her weapon. This movement tech will likely 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 through. By creating an enclosed hallway, Neon will be able to easily force 1v1 situations and isolate opponents with sightline control. Rounding out her basic abilities is a stunning grenade, which bounces once—concussing enemies at the bounce and landing points. Finally, her ultimate ability appears to be a recoilless, sustained fire damage ability, which seems to absolutely shred enemies if her trailer is to be believed.
While no one knows how strong she’ll be until Riot releases a full ability breakdown and she gets into the hands of pros, a few things are certain from the short glimpse we see of her abilities in the agent reveal trailer. First, she’s a Duelist, one of Valorant’s dedicated killers. Duelists are expected to “entry frag,” which basically means that it’s their job to start fights and put their bodies on the line for their teammates. Famously, many Duelist mains are terrified of entry fragging and will hide behind their teammates—infuriating them to no end. Please do not do this.
Secondly, her unique movement will be extremely divisive. Valorant is attempting to ride 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 Twitter and YouTube alike, and these accusations will likely continue upon her official release. However, I would argue that characters with unique mobility are not only fine, but actively beneficial for the game—especially given how fragile characters are in Valorant.
The real thing that’ll determine Neon’s run-and-gun capabilities is how significant the aiming penalty on her slide is, since the trailer only shows her using the Stinger, Valorant’s rapid-fire, inaccurate SMG to burn down opponents from close range. If she retains any semblance of accuracy while sliding, then she could have an obscene advantage in combat worth worrying about. Otherwise, it’s just a unique trick that will allow her to entry frag (or die trying) extremely quickly.
Regardless of how things end up working out with Neon, it’s good to see Valorant continuing to iterate and develop new characters in a relatively strict gameplay format. When I first played the beta two years ago, part of me was skeptical that the team over at Riot Games could consistently produce characters with interesting abilities using only a handful of basic tools like flashes, smokes, teleports, and stuns. Despite the simplicity of the format, over a dozen unique agents have, and continue, to come out of the game. I’m excited to see what they do next. Personally, I’m hoping for a new info gathering character, but that’s just me.