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New Valorant Agent Clove breaks all the rules, Riot says

New Valorant agent Clove's kit has elements that break the rules of FPS games, Riot says, and its ability innovation isn't stopping here.

New Valorant Agent Clove breaks all the rules, Riot says: A young person with short black hair, blue eyes, and freckles wearing a choker, black jumper, and a pink and grey hoodie summons a glowing purple butterfly on their finger, smirking into the camera

When I first saw new Valorant agent Clove, two things crossed my mind. The first was that they, unfortunately, aren’t Glaswegian (we’re the best city in Scotland, sorry not sorry). The second, however, was that their kit feels like a blend of all of the shooter’s best characters. There’s Reyna-style lifesteal, big brain Astra smokes, a damage over time grenade a la Viper, and, of course, a slightly different iteration of Sage’s Resurrect. Given the game is almost four years old, I ask agent gameplay designer Dan Hardison whether or not we’ll start to see abilities repeating themselves – but he reassures me Riot has plenty of “fresh” mechanics in the works.

Valorant’s game designers are always looking for fresh new mechanics to add to the game and the roster of characters,” Hardison tells me in our exclusive interview. “I don’t think we’re anywhere close to the end of new mechanics.”

But what he does note is that some baseline mechanics, including the likes of smokes, are essential to any tactical FPS game, so those aren’t going away anytime soon – after all, the whole point of Valorant’s Controllers is to, well, control the battlefield.

“I do think there are certain evergreen mechanics that are likely for re-use (like smokes, hastes, possessable things that gain power but require you to put your gun down, etc) as they’ve been proven to fit well within the tac FPS space.”

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For Clove specifically, Riot wanted the agent’s central focus to be their ability to control the battlefield even when dead, and as a result stuck to more conventional mechanics for their Meddle and Pick-me-up. Even their ultimate, Not Dead Yet, combines Sage’s Resurrection with Phoenix’s Run it Back; of course with the added difficulty of having to score a kill to fully revive yourself.

“For Clove, we opted to use similar-feeling mechanics outside of Ruse [their E]’s post death loop because we knew that would already be a very large departure for how people are used to playing tactical shooters, and figured that the post death casting should take up the majority of the conversation around the character and their unique output.

“Even though it’s executed within a familiar shell of map-targeted smoke casting, being able to cast smokes after death is something most tactical FPS players understand is a large rule break and feels unique within Valorant.”

A spectral hand holding a glowing blue map of Valorant's Ascent

Given their base abilities’ familiarity, I ask whether or not Clove is designed to be a beginner agent; Valorant’s equivalent to League of Legends’ Annie, who is designed to teach the player the base fundamentals of the game.

“When designing Clove we did intentionally keep their abilities on the simpler side, but that was largely a result of the controller ecosystem within Valorant already having a lot of highly-complex characters like Astra and Viper,” Hardison tells me.

“I’d say that Harbor is medium complexity, so from a player [point of view] we felt like it had been a long time since there was a simpler controller like Omen or Brimstone. Sometimes easing up the brain a little bit to focus on shooting is a satisfying pace change compared to doing a new Cypher set up every round – variety is the spice of life after all!”

A black spectral figure holding glowing blue butterflies floats in a warehouse area

Their skill ceiling, however, is high, with Hardison noting that “Clove’s Ruse is a surprisingly deep and masterful ability – while the output is very strong even at a baseline, being able to coordinate with your teammates on the fly and make difficult, quick decisions on what to smoke as you’re watching someone else play is something that players will continue to get better at over time.

“Clove’s Meddle [their Q] is also intentionally simple to help with balance, as giving the character crazy ability outputs in this slot had proven throughout early development to be outside of the realm of reason when it came to the overall power budget we could allow for the character.”

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As someone who’s been out of Valorant for a while and, of course, decided to rep her home country by taking Clove for a spin, I’ve had a great time with them. While I can confirm they are very, very strong, their abilities blend together to create something new, while maintaining that aforementioned familiarity. For me, they’re the perfect agent for newer players, or those of you who’ve been away for a little while.

So go on then, take Clove out for a spin, but remember to lock in one of the best Valorant crosshairs first to ensure that you’re the one popping heads. Alternatively, if you’re looking to scoop up some slick new skins for cheap, we have the date of the next Valorant Night Market for 2024.

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