“Valorant’s” developers promised a “galaxy brain” new agent, and they have delivered. Astra, a Ghanaian controller agent whose aesthetic is inspired by Afrofuturism, brings a kit and perspective that feel wholly distinct from anything available in the game right now.

Astra’s abilities work differently from those of most other agents — with the exception of Omen’s smokes. In the buy screen, the agent can purchase nodes; by pressing the X/ult button, Astra enters an interface in which she hovers over the map to place the nodes. During the game, these nodes can be retracted by the agent (with a cool-down before they can be redeployed) or triggered to do one of the following abilities:

  • Gravity well: This ability pulls in players within its radius after which it explodes, adding a weakening debuff to the players caught in the blast.
  • Nova pulse: This ability, when activated, charges briefly and then concusses players caught in its radius.
  • Nebula: This is a smoke ability. These smokes function similarly to Omen’s — as opposed to, say, Brimstone’s — as the smokes themselves are hollow on the inside.
  • Cosmic Divide: Astra’s ult, like all of her utility, is triggered through the hovering map interface. Cosmic divide creates a massive barrier, placed by the player, that dampens audio and blocks bullets. The barrier can be walked through.

Astra goes live March 2 alongside the new Act 2 battle pass. Information about the agent, who was set to be formally announced on Sunday, leaked in advance of the planned release.

Smoke abilities have become an essential part of a standard team composition in “Valorant,” and Astra looks to be the most strategy-oriented and unique agent with smoke abilities in the game.

“With Astra, we wanted to make a controller that was thinking about the whole map,” said Jordan “Riot Wrekz” Anton, a designer at Riot Games. “Her global presence was there right from the beginning. From there, the fine-tuning was in finding the right abilities to balance predicting enemies’ actions and reacting to changing game circumstances. … We wanted her skill expression to be about gathering information and turning that into a plan, where the execution phase is less about precisely targeting a grenade throw and more about seeing if your read on the enemy came together how you hoped.”

The other two most prominent controllers with smoke abilities — Brimstone and Omen — have been tweaked in recent months. Omen’s utility was made more expensive, and changes to Brimstone were aimed at making him a less onerous choice.

The new Act also comes with an updated battle pass, offering rewards in exchange for experience points gained during play. The new battle pass will cost $10, though some of the items on it will be available free, similar to previous passes. Three new skin sets can be obtained via the battle pass, including a new set of Prism skins — a redux of the purchasable Prism skin line that launched early in the game’s life cycle. The pass will also include player cards, gun buddies, titles and sprays.

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