In a livestream with various members from the VALORANT development team, John Goscicki, a VALORANT Character Producer, and Ryan Cousart, an Agent Designer, outlined their goals and ideas for designing the newest agent, KAY/O. The two Riot Games employees highlighted the agent’s simple agility design and why they intend the new character to be an Initiator.
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Why does KAY/O have a simple design?
Coming off of the release of Astra, the cosmic goddess, Cousart stated that the team wanted to give players a more grounded agent. The agents released before KAY/O feature many technical mechanics that have a steep skill curve, or they require extensive game knowledge to use them effectively. For KAY/O, however, the agent’s abilities are straight forward and don’t require full knowledge of the agent, or other agents and maps, to use him competently.
“What would it be like if we just had a flash grenade? Or just a grenade in general?” Cousart said. “We kind of went with something very simple.”
KAY/O also has a new debuff in two of his abilities: suppression. The debuff turns off other agent abilities and creates fights where gunplay is at the forefront. This, again, was born from the idea that KAY/O will be an agent for players from other FPS titles who are not too familiar with VALORANT abilities.
“What if they didn’t have to worry about VALORANT abilities?” Cousart said about players coming to VALORANT from other titles. “We were like, ‘lets just shut it off and then have them worry about their gun stuff.'”
Why is KAY/O classified as an Initiator?
As for KAY/O’s intended role, the developers state that the new agent is an Initiator. While some in the community say the agent may fill a Duelist slot, the agent is intended to set up plays, according to Goscicki.
“We often felt like there was this through line of, he is the ‘go’ button,” Goscicki said. “The thing that really makes you feel like you want to step forward and break that line of safety.”
The developers said that KAY/O could replace Breach, Skye and even Phoenix in some compositions. They further explained that the agent should be used to disrupt enemy plans and set up other agents with its suppression debuff.
“An attacking group comes in and you suppress them when they are about to throw their smoke. Now they don’t have smokes,” Cousart said. “So how does he effect planning and how will teams adapt to having that ability to be suppressed?”
KAY/O releases along with the rest of Episode 3’s content on June 22.