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Deadlock is Valorant’s first perfectly balanced agent

Riot has shattered its tradition of inadvertently releasing overpowered Valorant agents by introducing Deadlock, an agent that walks the tightrope of balance.

Deadlock is Valorant's first perfectly balanced agent: A blond woman wearing a white bomber jacket with a green jumper underneath stands holding a rifle looking into the camera on a sunny blue background

On Monday, June 26, Riot Games shared an action-packed trailer for Valorant‘s new Norwegian sentinel, Deadlock. She looks cold, dangerous, and fearless in the trailer, and she mirrors that poise in the server. I was invited to try out the new Valorant agent at a closed playtest, and was pleased to find out that the FPS game developer has finally rolled out a character that isn’t absolutely broken at release.

Deadlock is viable, as viable as a sentinel should be. Like Chamber, Neon, Gekko, and more, she won’t stir trouble in the meta during the initial days of her release. Deadlock is fierce, but most importantly, she’s balanced.

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Valorant agent Deadlock isn’t broken, seriously

When Deadlock’s gameplay leaked, I almost tossed my keyboard away. She looked too overpowered, especially her tornado ultimate, which snuffs out enemies and pulls them to their death. GravNet and Barrier Mesh look equally as tormenting, but Deadlock played out like butter on the field.

GravNet (C): Equip a GravNet grenade. Fire to throw. Alt Fire to lob the grenade underhand.

The GravNet is an ability that is uber-powerful if it connects with an enemy, but can also be dodged easily. This makes things more fair because, if you do end up in GravNet, you honestly deserve to be concussed; it’s just that easy to dodge. The AoE of GravNet is small, meaning if you take a few steps, the trap will vanish immediately. It won’t wait for an enemy to walk in. The impact only lasts if an agent is trapped.

GravNet can be plucked out by pressing F, and the duration required to remove the device is much less than Cypher’s camera. So, even if you’re caught, you can escape easily.

A gridlike net structure made of blue sparking electricity on a floor

Sonic Sensor (Q): Equip a Sonic Sensor. Fire to deploy. The sensor monitors an area for enemies making sound. It concusses that area if footsteps, weapons fire, or significant noise are detected.

Agent 23’s Sonic Sensor, an audio detector, is the weakest of her entire toolkit. The tiny device is easily detectable and is avoidable with a shift walk unless well-hidden. If you’re Deadlock, you want to hide it in the darkest corners to squeeze full juice out of it.

A camera with a blue tint looking at a wall in a crumbling desert area

Barrier Mesh (E): Equip a Barrier Mesh disc. Fire to throw forward. Upon landing, the disc generates barriers from the origin point that block character movement.

While her Q is underwhelming, Deadlock’s Barrier Mesh makes up for it. The cobweb-like wall is transparent and divides grouped-up enemies into tiny corners. With some practice, Deadlock players can annihilate enemies by combining Barrier Mesh with Nanoswarms, Incendiary, or Snake Bite. What makes it so powerful? You can’t break the mesh without putting your head on the line.

Barrier Mesh requires an entire clip of Phantom to be destroyed, so good luck if you’re encased during a pistol round. Even if you have Phantom equipped, you’d be vulnerable with an empty magazine when enemies catch you shooting mindlessly at the mesh devices. But, on the flip side, Barrier Mesh is still balanced: it’s transparent, meaning you’re able to shoot through it.

A huge ball of blue energy runs parallel to join with another on a dusty, crumbling desert location

Annihilation (X): Equip a Nanowire Accelerator. Fire to unleash a pulse of nanowires that captures the first enemy contacted. The cocooned enemy is pulled along a nanowire path and will die if they reach the end, unless they are freed. The nanowire cocoon is destructible.

Deadlock’s final ability, Annihilation, is similar to GravNet: deadly if connected, but otherwise easily avoided. Her ultimate only impacts an enemy if they’re right in front of the laser beam. If they’re too far, the beam won’t catch them. Secondly, Annihilation ropes in only one enemy, so if your teammates are still alive, you have a chance at survival.

Annihilation warrants instant death, but it’s highly situational. For example, there must be no barriers between the center of death and the target, meaning a Sage wall can render the ultimate useless. Another way to dodge is by using Yoru clone. Annihilation can’t detect clones and would pick up the imposter instead. Finally, you could just step aside, and the ultimate would go to waste.

Two blue tornado structures whirling around a training room

So, while Deadlock is highly useful, her toolkit is situational, making her a balanced agent. Like Yoru, Deadlock’s learning curve is steep, meaning she’ll be highly niche in Valorant, like a feast or famine agent – overly-complex in the hands of a generic player, and meta-breaker for a skilled one.

Besides Deadlock, Valorant Episode 7 is also bringing in a new team deathmatch mode which makes the regular DM look like a joke. If you’re a Valorant skin collector, you should also check out our rundown of the Episode 7 Act 1 Valorant battle pass, which includes dozens of meme references.