Since the launch of Valorant, the community has widely anticipated each patch. Many excepted that the patches following VCT Champions 2024 would be focused on changing the meta. The first few patches increased ultimate points for ultimates as well as increased prices for abilities. But, the next change was something no one expected: Riot changed a fundamental aspect of the game. Patch 7.08 has now added animations to indicate when smokes will fade away. In this article, we’ll look at the frenzy that has resulted in the community and whether these reactions are justified or not.
Patch 7.08 mainly focuses on the changes made to the smoke mechanics in the game. Smokes now play an audio and visual cue indicating the smoke is about to fade. This cue is provided for 1.5 seconds before the smoke fades away. This update affects the smokes of agents such as Omen, Brimstone, and Astra. The main reason for the community outcry is that many professional players took advantage of knowing smoke timings to catch their opponents off guard, as they didn't know when the smoke would expire.
With this change in a core mechanic, it’s become easy to know when a smoke is about to fade. After the audio cue is heard in the game, the player within the smoke will realize they are out in the open. Using this cue, they can now escape either by using a teleport or using a flash at the right moment. Previously, if someone wasn’t aware of the timings of each smoke in the game, it would be tough for them to move away when the smoke faded. As such, many players in the higher ranks of the game had already memorized the timings to make sure they were aware of their surroundings.
Ideally, these changes shouldn't matter to them as the timings for the smokes are the same. It’s worth noting that smokes by Harbor and Viper already had an animation of them visually fading away. This could be seen as a way for all controllers to have the same fade-away effect in Valorant.
On the other hand, this is quite a major patch when considering its implications in the long run. Firstly, a core mechanic of the game is being changed in a manner to make it more accessible, resulting in the reduction of the skill ceiling for players by just a bit. The next thing to keep in mind is that there are more audio and visual cues on the map. Each smoke will provide a sound players need to be partially focused on.
Another point to note is this update also adds more visual clusters to the game. Recently, there was a clip by FNS about the amount of abilities used on him in a short period. Many believe as the game gets older, there will also be more pushback on Riot to add a cooldown to abilities. The major issue that lies within this patch is the skill ceiling. Being able to memorize and remember certain mechanics of the game is what makes a given player better than others at that game. Within a game like Valorant, knowing when the smoke is going to fade away and the time your flash is done provides a massive benefit to the team.
Ideally, if Valorant is going to go a path to make the game more accessible for new players, they must realize the after-effects it will have. With the change in the fade-away mechanic now, it makes us all wonder what the next few changes will be and what we could be seeing in the future patches of the game. The saving grace is this mechanic has been added during the offseason, so it won’t have as much of a drastic impact as it would have if it was launched during the active season.