Valorant‘s freshest addition is a speedy blue agent, and no it’s not Sonic the Hedgehog. Today we welcome Filipino agent Neon, the bioelectric speedster that cannot stop going fast. I played her during a preview event a few days ago and even though I’m more of a defensive/control oriented player, her aggressive style of play, shockingly adept kit, and hyper-confident personality makes me want to dash into the action every single round.
Firstly, let’s do a quick rundown of Neon’s abilities:
HIGH GEAR (E): Instantly channel Neon’s power for increased speed. When charged, you can alt fire to trigger an electric slide. Slide charge resets every two kills.
RELAY BOLT (Q): Instantly throw an energy bolt that bounces once. Upon hitting each surface, the bolt electrifies the ground below with a concussive blast.
FAST LANE (C): Fire two energy lines forward on the ground that extend a short distance or until they hit a surface. The lines rise into walls of static electricity that block vision and damage enemies passing through them.
OVERDRIVE (X): Unleash Neon’s full power and speed for a short duration. Fire to channel the power into a deadly lightning beam with high movement accuracy. The duration refreshes by 25% on each kill.
Her abilities are supercharged with flashiness and flare, and they shine even more in-game. Her HIGH GEAR allows her speed and agility that no other agent can hold a candle to. The RELAY BOLT is a powerful tool that can block off multiple entrances with a single kit, and is truly annoying to step on as an opponent. FAST LANE chaperones her to bomb sites with a red carpet entrance, blocking off vision on two sides and clearing a clean path for her team to follow up. And OVERDRIVE turns her into a nimble Emperor Palpatine; it’s an incredibly powerful move that allows her to fire high accuracy beams even while moving. At times OVERDRIVE feels unfair, and is a design choice that fundamentally conflicts with the grounded, methodical play in a tactical shooter, but boy, is it fun to use.
She is quick, rowdy, and outclasses a lot of agents with her unmatched mobility, putting characters like the roadman Phoenix in the buff waiting room. Neon excels at running where she wants while disrupting her foes, and that agility makes her stand out from other agents. Developers at Riot answered questions on the philosophy behind her design.
“Speed, everything about Neon came back to that feeling of running forward and moving fast,” says John “Riot_MEMEMEMEME” Goscicki. “A lot of her design was inspired by athleisure clothing, sprinting gear, and a runner’s physique. We also looked into the kind of bioelectricity you see deep in the ocean. This provided us with a nice foundation for some unique shapes and movements within her lightning.”
Neon is also the first Filipina agent in Valorant, which continues to foster their diverse roster of agents from cultures all around the world (and a robot).
“I’ve been at Riot for a while now and until now, there’s only been talk here and there of making a character from the Philippines,” says Ryan “rycou” Cousart. “I’m a Filipino designer, so the opportunity to help bring a Filipina agent to life in Valorant is an absolute blessing to me all the way down to the core. I vividly remember the day John and Jay broke the news to me that I was going to have this opportunity and thankfully my camera wasn’t working, as I was choked up and full of tears. I remember not being able to speak for a few minutes and though speechless I let out a very quiet ‘Thank you, so much.’ To see all the work that the Neon pod, in conjunction with our Riot team in SEA [Southeast Asia], has put into bringing Neon to life in the most authentic way we can is something I’m genuinely proud of even if just a small part.”
Neon sprints into Valorant today, at the same time as Episode 4, which includes a brand new battlepass, map reworks, and gun balance adjustments. Only time will tell how effective Neon’s kit actually is, but I can report that she is sick as hell to play, and it’s exciting to see the devs push the boundaries of what kind of mechanics they allow in Valorant.