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Valorant's first hero spotlight shows off flame-spitting Phoenix

Valorant characters and abilities

Riot’s new tactical FPS, Valorant, has already shown that it can deliver some tense gunshoots. But what about the faces behind the iron sights? A hero shooter’s gotta have heroes that inspire, both in their loadouts and their charming, fanfic-ready personalities. Today, Riot gave us a brief look at Phoenix – a hot-headed English lad whose firey arsenal is more about control than simple, thoughtless arson. He’s snappy, he’s technical, but I’m not sure I’m ready to love him quite yet.

We’ve already seen how a full round of Valorant plays. But in all that camera-hopping chaos, it’s hard to get a feel for how any one character plays. In what’s likely the first of many short videos, Riot have put together a quick snapshot of hot-shot hero Phoenix.

Despite having a colourful cast of kooky gunfolks, Riot have been careful not to namedrop Overwatch during this whole Valorant thing. Phoenix sure quips like a Blizzard hero, though, firing out one-liners as he casually flicks a fireball blind ’round a corner.

For a well-dressed pyromaniac, he’s not exactly setting the competition ablaze. ‘Course, in Valorant, abilities play second-fiddle to precision gunplay. A literal firewall isn’t cooking some poor sod’s flesh off – it’s more useful as a boundary, isolate the playing field by protecting Phoenix’s flank as he deals with two troublemakers with ease. That flame he’s tossing doesn’t singe, so much as burst into a flash that temporarily blinds foes.

Not demonstrated is his ultimate ability, Run It Back, which lets Phoenix mark a spot on the map – one that’ll eventually let him rise from the ashes with full health, should he beef it in a nasty ambush.

It’s a very mechanically-driven vid, mind. I don’t feel like I really know Phoenix as a person, y’know? I don’t get a sense of what his fan-art will look like a year down the line. Even a seemingly stone-faced shooter like Rainbow Six: Siege has than on point these days.

RPS guides maestro Ollie has been keeping tabs on everything Valorant since its announcement last weekend. We’ve got tabs on eight characters so far, with a short demo round showing off Riot’s “what if Counter-Strike: Global Offensive had magic” approach to high-stakes competitive shooters.

I’d expect to see more of these short demonstration vids going forwards, especially as we approach Valorant’s closed beta. We know it’s coming, we don’t know the dates, but I reckon it’d help if we knew who’s shoes we were stepping into before entering Riot’s lethal arena.

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Natalie Clayton


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