KAY/O Might Be Valorant's Missing Piece

KAY/O could be what Valorant's been waiting for.
KAY/O could be what Valorant's been waiting for. / Photo by Riot Games

Big news arrived for Valorant, with Episode 3, titled REFLECTION, announced and set to release June 22. Perhaps more importantly, the game's 17th Agent was finally announced. The robot Initiator KAY/O was unveiled in style, with a gameplay trailer showing off his utility, including the long-rumored suppression ability. The truth is, KAY/O, with his abilities designed around forcing enemies to shoot their way out of encounters, might be the best thing Valorant and its players could've hoped for.

From a glance, KAY/O's kit looks normal: he has a grenade, his FRAG/ment (C), along with FLASH/drive (Q), that disorients opponents who get caught in the line of sight. But that's not the kicker for KAY/O; it's his ZERO/point (E) that makes him valuable, not only to players, but to the game. ZERO/point lets KAY/O throw a suppression knife at his opponents, and should they be caught in the area, their utility is neutralized.

At times, Valorant can feel like a game dominated by its Agents' abilities. KAY/O flips that feeling upside down, and bringing the most essential element of the game, its shooting mechanics, to the forefront, and makes players earn their kills. Cheap flashes and ultimate abilities ruin the experience of the game; when you're the doing dishing them out, sure, you feel great when you get an Ace because you burned 3 flashes. On the receiving edge, though, players feel frustrated and angry because they died to nonsense. Those kills weren't earned. But with KAY/O, and his utility suppressor, that takes those cheap flashes out of the equation and evens the playing field.

Back when Valorant was teasing KAY/O, in a blog post, developers said, "This time around we are throwing in some abilities that should feel familiar to folks who’ve played traditional FPS games their whole lives, but with added elements that will make those recognizable abilities unique within our roster. This is an Agent who’s utility can create moments where you must rely on your gunplay."

If he's implemented right, KAY/O can add an entirely new dimension to Valorant. It won't be an ability-focused shooter, but a shooter with abilities in it. Striking that balance between gunplay and utility will make Valorant not only a more popular game, but a better game. Considering they aren't playable yet, this might be a whole lot of nothing if KAY/O goes live and ends up getting walked all over by the other Agents. But it's what KAY/O represents that's important to Valorant. So even if he isn't great or effective when Episode 3 launches, the developers can always tweak him, change how his abilities work, or any number of fixes. KAY/O holds promise for the future of Valorant, and every player should be thrilled about that.