Now that Astra is comfortably settling into the VALORANT pro meta, some players argue that she’s not a healthy addition to the tac shooter.
TSM's James "hazed" Cobb sparked the conversation with a Twitter thread last night, saying he thinks the controller is "bad for the game." Part of his argument was that he thinks she lacks counterplay and her Astral Form is like a "mini game."
"She's too versatile," he said. "She has too many options with no counter play other than to bait it out. She can single handedly stall for 30+ seconds."
Hazed added that her Astral Form "takes away the essence of an FPS" since players are forced to place and use her stars for a large part of the round. For a game that relies on precise shooting, it seems counterintuitive for players to spend so much time without a gun in their hands.
Other pros chimed in to share their thoughts on the newest agent, outlining similar sentiments to hazed. NRG's Damian "daps" Steele said Astra is "just the tip of the iceberg" compared to other agents that might come out in the future. Renegades' Roy "StrongLegs" Ahad remarked that the difference in the flow of a game "with and without Astra is crazy." CLG Red's Benita "bENITA" Novshadian said "she needs to go 100%."
Astra entered VALORANT as a "galaxy brain" pick that would offer a "cosmic shift from the play patterns you’ve grown accustomed to," according to character producer John Gosicki. And she does do that. Having to toggle back and forth between forms, carefully place stars, and use the appropriate ability for the situation can be difficult to manage, especially in lower ranks.
But in the right hands, Astra is oppressive. Her Gravity Well pulls enemies to the center of an area before exploding and leaving them vulnerable. The ability's power was furthered in Patch 2.07 by allowing it to stop enemies from defusing a Spike by pulling them away. And she can do all this without ever being seen.
100 Thieves Josh "steel" Nissan added to the conversation, suggesting some possible nerfs for the agent. To "tackle the issue" of Gravity Well, he recommends not being able to place stars during buy phase or adding a delay before they can be activated. This would be a fix for Astra players placing them at the enemy spawn barrier, which can be a free kill if opponents slip up.
It's unlikely that Riot will make any sweeping changes to the agent, who's design has been obviously finalized. But potentially limiting how many stars she can summon per round, not allowing her to pick them back up after they're cast, or increasing cooldowns might make her easier to play against.
Update April 28 10:40am CT: This article was updated to add steel's tweet.
Make sure to follow us on YouTube for more esports news and analysis.