Valorant has always been a mix between different genres in the shooter space - specifically, a combination between CS:GO and Overwatch.
As DrDisrespect called it when Valorant first came out: Overwatch: Global Offensive.
For most of the game’s lifespan, Valorant has been more like the latter than the former. The gunplay more closely resembles counterstrike than any other shooter on the market.
This reality is shifting, however, with each agent release. Slowly but surely, Valorant is becoming more like Overwatch - for better or for worse.
A hero-based shooter
Valorant’s first year+ was relatively simple.
It's always been a hero-based shooter, but most of the heroes filled rolls that existed in CS: smokes, flashes, mollys, etc.
There were obvious exceptions to this. People like Sova, Jett, and others had unique rolls, but all of them seemed to fit together to make a compelling team.
With recent releases, however, Riot have had to get more creative with their agents - which is a good thing.
Yoru was the first example of this. Up until his release, all of the agents served an existing purpose on your team. Yoru was far more niche.
The next three agents began to dive deeper into the "hybrid" role, with Neon reverting back to a classic duelist.
That’s where we currently stand, with Neon and Chamber being the most recent additions to the game.
If Valorant continues to head in this direction, it will only become more like Overwatch and may run into the same issues.
The Overwatch problem
Overwatch was a fantastic game in its heyday, but it wasn’t without its issues.
The foundational problem with Overwatch was its hero roster. There were so many heroes to choose from - some far better than others.
This eventually led to players choosing agents that were fun to play rather than the most effective option.
Blizzard tried to mitigate the problem by adding role-specific queues for all modes, which left a bitter taste in players’ mouths.
Valorant will, hopefully, never get to this point.
Most of the community agrees that every team needs a controller and sentinel. Even low-ranked lobbies will usually avoid five-stack duelists unless they’re trolling.
Every agent can frag-out in Valorant - something that can’t be said for most healers and tanks in Overwatch.
Still, Neon’s release signals a potential Overwatch-style problem for Valorant.
She’s fun to play but doesn’t look like she’ll be a meta pick for most situations.
Yoru is in a similar situation.
Sure, Yorus can be cracked, but you won’t see him played in a pro tournament at his current power level. Even Pheonix has begun to fall into this category.
The point is that as Valorant’s roster will continue to expand, more entertaining and off-meta selections will enter the game over time.
The good news is that Riot seems to be aware of this potential issue and are adjusting to it. Chamber and KAY/O are perfect examples of this.
Both agents fill required roles on a team but are more slanted in the duelist direction. Chamber reached this goal a bit more than KAY/O did, but both were attempts at the same thing.
With characters like these, fraggers in lobbies with insta-lock duelists can pivot away while still focusing on getting kills.
We know that Valorant’s roster will continue to expand with almost every act.
Unfortunately, the solution to this issue might be to keep new duelists to a minimum - or nerfing the current duelists to make new characters fit better in the meta.
Simultaneously, Riot may need to continue to release elim-based support roles to keep agent pick rates high.
All we can do is hope that we never get to the state that Overwatch found itself in.