Hands-on Valorant Agent Preview: Astra, The Utility Star
Valorant has introduced another new Controller agent, Astra, who specializes in providing utility and support to her team and we managed to get our hands on the agent early to see what the fuss is all about. In a nutshell, her kit allows her to plant precise smokes and inflict debuffs on enemies across the map globally, regardless of her position. In a game that emphasizes the importance of line of sight and information, Astra is a unique addition that aims to double down on controlling these 2 key aspects that tend to make or break matches. She’s an agent that will require good communication and coordination to be fully utilized to her full potential. More on her abilities and background down below.
The Ghanaian Agent enters the fray
Astra requires constant usage of her ultimate to enter Astral Form, to place down stars in order to proc and trigger any of her abilities. Opponents can see the stars and if they’re placed during the buy phase, the enemy stars will only show up 2 seconds before the round starts. To top it off, agents can’t destroy the stars.
While in this form, she is vulnerable on the map, but obtains the tradeoff of being able to maneuver the map globally to place down stars at any location of her choice. It is worth noting that she cannot put down stars without entering this form. This may be a double edged sword if Astra is not in a safe spot prior to setting up her stars on the map.
Ability 1: Gravity Well
As the name implies, this skill looks to impair the movement of enemies, sucking them into an activated star’s position. On top of sucking opposing agents in, enemies that are still trapped in the Gravity Well succumb to being vulnerable after it explodes! Movement impairment alongside being susceptible to receiving double damage right after is anything but a fun time, except for Astra and her buddies that is.
Ability 2: Nova Pulse
A concussion skill that will impair the movement speed and aiming sensitivity of anyone that gets caught in its blast. This skill could be used in conjunction with Ability 1 to really double down on a single target or two. Or alternatively, players could look to use this skill to clear common spots that hold key angles on maps instead. Remember how enemies can also see the stars that Astra place? Well, this could potentially spur mind games where players would have to decide, whether to stay or run if they are within range of a star. Adding the fact that players can be on the receiving end of either of these 2 mentioned abilities so far, enemies would more likely get out of dodge if they were near a star. The potential corner clearing capability and mind game plays is most likely something to keep an eye out for in the future.
Signature Ability: Nebula / Dissipate
A skill that provides a smoke, as seen in other agents like Jett and Brimstone. With the ability to provide smokes on a global range, this opens up the potential for mind games as well. For example, when attacking, teams could look to fake a site push, with an intricate set of stars set up on one site that are converted to Nebulas, only to bamboozle the enemy to head for the other site. Not to mention, the skill looks viable for defenders as well. If teams require intricate rotation cut-offs or stalling against pushes, Astra can look to drop Nebulas on the other side of the map that her teammates are covering and/or defending.
Then there’s Dissipate, which essentially creates a shorter duration smoke cloud when a star is recalled by Astra (the star is not consumed when recalled, meaning it can be used in a way to somewhat spam fake smokes). This can be useful if a short smoke is all that’s needed to secure a team crossing over a short hallway on a map, and preserve the utility of a full duration Nebula smoke.
Ultimate: Astral Form / Cosmic Divide
While in Astral Form, Astra has the ability to create a map long wide wall, called the Cosmic Divide. The wall provides line of sight cover as seen in agents like Phoenix and Viper’s respective wall skills. It also blocks bullets and heavily dampens audio. However, it’s worth noting that agents and abilities can still pass through the wall. This skill can be used both offensively and defensively depending on the scenario. Offensively, teams could look to utilize her ultimate to cut off several entry points on a site when a team storms in to plant the Spike. Defending teams could also look to utilize her ult to provide emergency cover from gunfire or force teams to commit taking risks to cross the wall in key areas of the map for a site execution.
“With Astra we wanted to make a controller that was thinking about the whole map,” said Jordan “Riot Wrekz” Anton, Valorant Designer. “Her global presence was there right from the beginning. 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.”
Astra is an agent that would most probably appeal to more coordinated teams and not so much for average everyday pub players, especially for those that tend to solo queue. Her toolkit really facilitates setting up her team for success. It will be interesting to see whether Astra gets utilized by pro teams down the line, but we’ll just have to wait until then. Astra should be released in the near future, with the Act 2 update. Stay tuned to eGG Network for more updates on Valorant!