“Valorant’s” Episode 2 is coming out on Jan. 12, bringing with it a new battlepass, a skin pack featuring some of the best cosmetics of Episode 1, and, most notably, a new agent named Yoru, who specializes in lurking away from his team and using traps to confuse opponents.

Yoru’s abilities include:

  • Fakeout: An ability that plays on the importance of sound cues, Fakeout triggers decoy footsteps walking in a direction chosen by the player, mimicking the sound of a real player.
  • Gatecrash: This ability works as a teleport beacon. Yoru can either fire a tether forward and teleport to its location, or drop it in a safe spot and teleport back to it after walking away.
  • Blindside: This ability is easier to explain than the previous two. It’s a flash grenade that only activates once it has bounced against a surface. In effect, this forces Yoru players to flash around corners, or to bounce their flash against the ground before activating it.
  • Dimensional Drift: Yoru’s ultimate ability makes him temporarily invisible and invulnerable to opponents, allowing him to relocate and reposition or scout ahead without being noticed.

While teams often play together in “Valorant,” there is sometimes value in one or several players splitting off from the group and trying to flank or surprise the opponent. Yoru’s kit, which includes abilities that allow him to teleport, create misleading decoy sources of noise and blind opponents, makes him an ideal agent for that kind of play. The game’s developers refer to this skill set as “Stealthly Infiltration,” and no, that’s not a typo.

Some details about the new agent leaked earlier this month in videos of a Russian build of the game, and some influencers and pro players were given a chance to play him in advance.

“The idea of ‘Stealthly Infiltration’ is something we toyed around with for years, but could never fit in the game,” said John Goscicki, character product lead at Riot Games. “We felt that if we started from the ground up, we could create an Agent that revolved around the idea of ‘Stealthly Infiltration’ in some way.”

In “Valorant,” every Episode is made up of three Acts, and each new Episode was meant to mark the introduction of a new map. However, Episode 1 actually saw the release of two maps, Ascent and Icebox, the latter of which was released early to meet player demand for a new map.

Every Act comes with a new battle pass, which offers rewards in exchange for experience points, gained by playing the game. The new Episode 2 battle pass will cost $10, and include three new skin lines, as well as player cards, gun buddies, titles and sprays. One of the new sets of skins, titled Infinity, will have three color variants, a novelty for weapons in the battle pass. Players who opt not to pay will still receive a few free rewards spaced throughout the pass.

“As always, we look to past battlepass content that players love for inspiration and try to build on that,” said Preeti Khanolkar, producer at Riot Games. “We also look for ways for players to communicate through sprays, which led us to make meta sprays like ‘Going C’ (best used when there’s no C site), ‘Lit for 140’ (for every time you regret using the Phantom), and ‘What was that?’ (to silently judge your enemies, or even yourself).”

“Oh, we also always sneak in at least one teaser in every single battlepass,” said Khanolkar. “Actually, this one has a lot more than just one!”

In the past, tier 48 of the 50-tier battle pass has served as a teaser for upcoming agents, giving vague but colorful previews of their aesthetics and characteristics. In the newest battle pass, the card that will likely merit the most speculation is the Bridge Between Worlds card, which features a scene that resembles a savanna, rendered in royal purple and gold, as well as symbols and patterns that appear inspired by afrofuturist art.

The most recent battle pass, from Act 3, appears to have included a red herring. The tier 48 reward was a player card with a dog tag that reads “memento mori” and an hourglass, leading players to speculate that the upcoming agent would have abilities relating to time, death and possibly resurrection. While those clues may hold for a future agent, tier 38 of the battle pass was the real clue: A player card that features the mask logo emblazoned on Yoru’s back.

The new Episode will also launch with a skin pack aggregating some of the most in-demand skins from Episode 1, including the Sovereign Ghost, Oni Phantom, Prime Spectre, Nebula Ares and Spline Operator.

Perhaps most importantly, the addition of Yoru will bring the count of available duelists — popular agents with kits that equip them to pull off individual plays, and the ones most often tasked with initiating fights — up to five. This, in turn, significantly increases the likelihood of coming across three, four and five-duelist teams. Good luck if you have to play against one of these teams, and God help you if you’re on one of them.

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