KAY/O is Valorant's next playable agent, Riot Games revealed Thursday, and he arrives when Episode 3 Act 1 launches June 22.
KAY/O's kit is built around suppressing the abilities of opponents, forcing them to rely on pure shooting mechanics to prevent getting steamrolled. Here's his kit:
- ZERO/point (E): EQUIP a suppression blade. FIRE to throw. The blade sticks to the first surface it hits, winds up, and suppresses anyone in the radius of the explosion.
- FLASH/drive (Q): EQUIP a flash grenade. FIRE to throw. The flash grenade explodes after a short fuse, blinding anyone in line of sight. Right clicking the flashbang throws a charged flash, causing it to only have to cook for 1 second, as opposed to left click throwing a flash that cooks in 1.6 seconds.
- FRAG/ment (C): EQUIP an explosive fragment. FIRE to throw. The fragment sticks to the floor and explodes multiple times, dealing near lethal damage at the center with each explosion.
- NULL/cmd (X): INSTANTLY overload with polarized radianite energy that empowers KAY/O and causes large energy pulses to emit from his location. Enemies hit with these pulses are suppressed for a short duration. While Overloaded, KAY/O gains Combat Stim. If KAY/O is killed while overloaded, he is downed and enters a destabilized state, allowing allies to stabilize his core and revive him.
KAY/O's ability to turn Valorant into a pure shooter was a conscious one, according to KAY/O game designer Ryan Cousart.
"I think all of the designers here to tend to have quite the imagination for mechanics so being able to add a bit of Valorant spice to the 'basics,' felt great to be able to achieve on KAY/O with the addition of Suppression," Cousart said in a press release.
Cosuart said he struggled to find the mechanics to sell KAY/O's fantasy of being a no-frills killer robot. It wasn't until he and senior game designer Max "Orcane" Grossman started playing late night sessions together that they found KAY/O's core mechanic.
"I remember, one night, we had just kind of started talking about some of the goals and one of us had said, 'eff abilities man, I just wanna frag,' which is how we got to Suppression being what it is today — allowing players to only have to worry about enemies shooting guns at them without having to worry about their abilities. We got it in game, started testing out a bunch of iterations of this and the rest was history."
Character producer John Goscicki said KAY/O should feel immediately familiar to tactical FPS veterans.
"I think at one point the pitch deck for KAY/O just had a gif of flashbangs being thrown in other FPS games," he said.
"We have all been playing with them for so long though. It's such a comfortable ability, it's like, 'Give me a bag of Flamin' Hot Cheetos, some green tea, and a flash bang...' this is how I have been fraggin' for 17 years."