Riot today revealed upcoming planned changes for Jett in patch 4.08. Some of the key changes include adjustments to her dash skill Tailwind to increase game health by balancing Jett in line with other agents.
Greetings all, I’m Alexander Mistakidis, Agent designer on VALORANT, here with Agent Designer Jay Watford and Game Designer Sal Garozzo to talk about upcoming changes to Jett.
When we promised more Agent updates than ever and patches have rolled in, many of you have wondered about Jett. Truth is that we have been working on Jett’s update for a while and took extra steps to make sure we were approaching the update in the best way possible. We wanted to do right for the game’s health and for Jett players. This article will share more context on why we are making these changes.
It’s crazy to think of how perception of Jett’s power has evolved from once being considered one of the weakest Agents in Beta to becoming a mainstay in most compositions. The team’s always loved what Jett brings to the roster: breaking through defenses on executions and making highlight plays with impressive mechanical skills. But some of her other impacts on the game have pushed beyond VALORANT’s core tactical cycle in worrisome ways.
In 4.08, we’ll be making an update to Jett’s Tailwind to address this concern:
- On pressing the ability key, after a short delay Jett activates a 12 second window where she is empowered to immediately dash on next button press.
- Her Tailwind charge is lost whether she Dash’s or the window expire, but can still be regained with two kills.
With this update, we want to bring Jett back into that core loop by asking her to call her shots and then engage with a window of dash power to make those trademark explosive plays. This should create clear signals for other players to consider and understand that Jett made a deliberate call. Jett’s new dash will require an adjustment for players but we feel this is the best solution to balance maintaining Jett’s identity while increasing game health.
We developed and tested dozens of prototypes for Jett’s dash, but they came up short. Some of them avoided having to press the dash ability button twice, but ended up being less intuitive for players despite that. Some of them felt better for Jett players, but didn’t give us confidence that it solved the game health issues we set out to fix.
As players have mastered Jett, her dash has proved unhealthy to the tac cycle in a number of ways that we think are critical enough to address.
Here are the key issues we found with Jett’s dash:
- The dash had no prerequisite, so she always had access to her escape power with no intentional decision making. This freedom gave Jett the unintended capacity to continually take space or hold unusual ground without having to commit her ability. This play pattern is something that no other Agent could match, and allows Jett to exert an extreme amount of pressure on a match in a way that can be oppressive, especially at high MMRs or in professional play.
- This lack of intentional decision making made it feel like she played outside of the tactical cycle all our other Agents adhere to. Too often, she didn’t have to leverage game sense that other Agents needed to succeed, because her reactive dash could often negate her own strategic mistakes, or the great tactical calls by her opponents.
- As we talked about in the Controller Deep Dive, one of our core design philosophies is that Agents are sharp and provide both clear upsides and opportunity costs when compared to their peers. Jett’s strength as both a dash-in executor on attack and holding angles with an Op—with unrestricted access to escape—provided her broad power with little downside. We want her to retain as much aggressive power on offense as possible, but reduce her defensive Op power.
- Even in highly coordinated play, she’s proven very difficult to strategize against, and her access to an instant escape (not to mention two on demand smoke screens) marginalized most of the tools the rest of the Agents have to deal with her.
Overall, we want Jett to have her power moments and to be able to dash, but we also want viable counter play and for Jett players to be more thoughtful when using their abilities.
Often when we nerf an Agent, we get questions on why we couldn’t just buff the rest of the roster. Jett’s reactive power crowded out the competition for other Agents and pressured the core tactical promise of the game to a degree that we think it would be dangerous for the roster to try and match.
It’s important that Agents as a group remain balanced relative to gun play and maps, in order to keep our tactical cycle healthy. Buffing other Agents against an Agent that is breaking that cycle might avoid some pain in the short term, but jeopardizes the tactical promise that we think is key to VALORANT. Simply put, our goal with balance is to maintain the game integrity and the tactical cycle. (See How We Balance VALORANT.)
It’s not just about existing Duelist balance either, as Jett’s power also makes it more difficult to create compelling and viable alternatives for Duelist players. Also it sometimes made it hard to balance other Agents. For example, we were concerned about a Sova nerf before we shipped 4.08, since his utility is a key piece of how many of you deal with Jett in coordinated play. We found it necessary instead to update Jett’s dash ability to avoid reworking the entire game around her.
Our hope is that these Jett changes provide a window where Jett can feel as powerful and reactive, prior to the changes, when she calls her shots correctly. We’re committed to making sure Jett can keep her unique place on the roster while giving our other Agents a bit of breathing room, while also ensuring we can protect the core tactical promise of VALORANT moving forward.
As always, we’ll listen to you to make sure these changes didn’t miss the mark and make a better game for everyone. Thanks to everyone who took the time to read this!