How Valorant's new Agent and map will shake up the coming season

Going hands-on with Valorant's next Agent Skye and the brand new Icebox map, it's easy to see how Riot's competitive shooter is about to change.

Valorant Act Three is going to be a big one. Along with the usual release of a new battle pass, skin line, and Agent, we also have a brand new map arriving a whole act earlier than expected. This will finally push the map total up to five, meaning Valorant’s pro scene can have proper best-of-five grand finals. The launch of one of the most interesting agents yet will only shake things up further. 

When all of the content due to launch in Act Three becomes available, Valorant will be a very different game. In fact, the additions are so game-changing that the development team has decided to split them over two patches instead of one, to make sure that everything works as intended. This should also give players a chance to get used to the new additions one at a time, instead of overwhelming them. Having played with both Icebox and Skye for the last few days, this is definitely a good decision, as there is a lot to learn. 

The new map: Icebox

Valorant new map Icebox
 
© Riot Games

Icebox is the fifth map for Valorant, and very different from the others we have seen. Set in the tundra, this cold-weather map features a ton of elevation changes – more than in any other map so far – and a load of angles that result in aim duels with opponents. However, unlike some of the other maps on offer, it does follow the standard two-site, three-lane layout. In that regard, it can be a little easier to pick up than the likes of Bind or Haven. 

The B site is found outside in a dockyard type area full of shipping containers, some of which are open and others that are closed. Compared to the A site, it’s very open, with a lot of long sightlines and limited cover. The double-stacked shipping container on the site again adds verticality to the map but can provide issues for any defenders looking for a retake. If the spike is planted on the upper level and time is running short, your only way to get up there without going on a long round trip is via a rope, leaving you very exposed. 

Valorant Icebox map
 
© Riot Games

The A site is very different, located in a giant warehouse area with lots of cover and very tight angles. Again, there’s a lot of verticality and a risky zip line here that can put you in a spot inaccessible by most Agents. While strategies for the map will no doubt be figured out quickly, in our initial testing this seemed to be the easiest site to defend on your own, especially if the opposing team has limited movement abilities. 

Having an Agent who can move around a lot and reach higher elevations – Jett, Raze, and Omen, for example – seems to be a must for Icebox. Being limited to play only on the ground makes things a lot harder, and these Agents can turn into amazing info gatherers, reducing the need for a Sova or Cypher. 

New Map Icebox Valorant
 
© Riot Games

Icebox is a fascinating map, and it’s sure to become a favourite among fans. It is the most traditional map so far, and that certainly isn't a bad thing. But the most interesting part of the launch is the fact that there are now five maps in Valorant. At long last, the pro scene can play full best-of-five finals. So far, pretty much every best of five has given the upper bracket team a one-map headstart, which has severely impacted the hype of some finals. Now we can finally get epic overtimes in the fifth map of giant matches, a result sure to grow the pro scene massively. 

The new Agent: Skye

Valorant next agent Skye abilities
 
© Riot Games

Coming two weeks after the launch of Icebox is the new Agent, Skye. This Aussie animal tamer has without a doubt the best voice lines of any Agent so far, with an accent that spreads joy, and a voice line featuring an expletive that is genuinely laugh-out-loud funny the first time you hear it. Playing with Skye is fun for this reason alone, but her kit makes her very entertaining as well. 

Skye’s focus is on setting up for her teammates. While technically an Initiator, she also could fit within the Sentinel class thanks to her AoE heal; a signature ability that will fix up her teammates but, crucially, not herself. 

Skye new agent valorant act 3
 
© Riot Games

She also has one of the more interesting flashes in Valorant. Guiding Light sees her send out a hawk which can be bent around corners like a Jett smoke or Phoenix wall. When detonated by the user, it provides a significant flash. This will blind your teammates and yourself as well, however, making it is a risky play. Her flash has incredible range and can go round pretty much any corner you can think of, but the slow animations and potential distance mean that this is an ability to be used in conjunction with your team, as you probably won't have time to make it to the flashed opponent before the effect wears off. 

Her most unique ability is Trailblazer, where Skye sends out a wolf to scout out ahead of her. Fully controllable, the wolf is similar to Sova’s drone, but obviously stays locked to ground level; it’s also nearsighted, so you’ll need to be close to an enemy to actually see them. Thankfully, it’s extremely quick and can easily scout out sites. If you spot an enemy, you can leap at them, dazing anyone struck to be finished off by an ally. 

Valorant next Agent skye hands on
 
© Riot Games

With regular abilities that are as strong as this, Skye’s ultimate is a little underwhelming. She sends out three trackers that slowly move towards enemies, wherever they are on the map. This, of course, gives you great information on where they might be, but other than that feels a little lacking. If they end up hitting an enemy, they’ll inflict a daze for a short period, but the slow movement and giant green visuals make them easy to see and takedown if you are being tracked. 

Skye is great fun to play, provided you have a team you can work and communicate with. Setting up for your side for the next push, and then healing them back up after the fight is a great feeling. Skye is an Initiator that really can make the difference in a round, and can fundamentally change how you approach a fight. If the communication isn’t so great, or you’re playing alone, she’ll be harder to use effectively. Solo queue warriors might want to stay away from her. 

Epilogues and extras

Valorant Singularity Skins phantom act 3
 
© Riot Games

While Icebox and Skye are the two big additions Act Three also brings some other changes that will impact how you play. The battle pass now has epilogue content, meaning those of you who max it out will still have something to do. The skin lines included this time around are something quite special too -- especially the karambit-style knife. 

On the subject of skins, the new Singularity set is easily one of the best so far. Looking akin to ancient space tech straight out of Mass Effect, the weapons have the coolest final kill animation yet. Finish the last foe with these, and the body is sucked into a black hole. That’s quite the way to go. 

There is a lot to explore in Act Three of Valorant, but after spending a few days with Icebox, Skye, and the rest of the new content, there’s no doubt that this gigantic update is bound to change how you play Valorant.

Contributor

Mike is an experienced esports journalist having written for a multitude of sites such as BBC Sport, ESPN and Vice to name just a few. He specializes in telling the unique stories of the esports world to an audience who may not be familiar with the industry. He has also written a book, Esports The Ultimate Gamer’s Guide, which is available now. 

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