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VALORANT's patch 4.08 introduces us to Fade, the newest agent to join the cast of the game. Using the power of fear, Fade is an Initiator that focuses on recon and debuffing enemy players.
Just like all the other Initiators, Fade has her own unique take on the role, and wildly incentivises a fast, coordinated and precise attack onto a site.
Patch 4.08 also brings major nerf and changes to other agents in the game, notably Jett and Sova, that may change the course of the game in the coming months.
Do note that while these changes were observed in our build of the VALORANT Influencer event (where we get to check out the upcoming changes before it goes live), whatever we discuss in this article are subject to changes in the live version.
Before we talk about these nerfs, let's take a quick look at Fade and her abilities.
Signature Ability: Haunt
Fade equips a throwable orb. When it is deployed, it will spawn an entity that is able to reveal enemy locations if they are in the sight and radius of the entity, much like Sova's Recon Bolt. It also marks the enemies, and each marked enemy will have a trail on them that disappears after a while. It can be destroyed if shot when deployed.
When the orb is thrown, it only spends a short time in the air before it drops to the ground to be deployed, making it a short ranged recon, so you can't have lineups like a Sova Recon Bolt and throw it across the map.
Also, after it is thrown, you can press the ability button again to drop it to the ground anytime before hitting the maximum airtime time limit.
Ability 1: Seize
Fade equips a throwable orb. When it is deployed, it creates a zone.
Any agent that is trapped in the zone will automatically receive an instant 75 hp decay, isn't able to check their map, and will be stuck in this zone until it disappears. The decayed hp will also regenerate to its original value when the zone expires.
Much like the Haunt orb, the Seize orb can be deployed at anytime after it is thrown by pressing the ability button again.
Ability 2: Prowler
Fade equips a cat entity that, when deployed, can be controlled like Skye's hawk, albeit having a shorter active time and can only be controlled vertically, under normal circumstances. Once it has an enemy in its sights, it will automatically track them to their positions.
If it hits an enemy, it will deafen and nearsight them, much like Omen's Paranoia.
If the Prowler is able to latch onto a trail that was made with the Haunt ability or her ultimate, it will follow the trail until it hits the enemy that has the trail, or the nearest enemy it spots while following the trail, regardless of how long it has been deployed for.
Prowler can be destroyed if shot.
Fade sends out a wave of fear that has a slightly larger radius than a Breach ultimate.
Any enemy that is caught by Nightfall will receive and instant 75 hp decay (that will regenerate over time), will be deafened and marked, leaving a trail, much like when they are tagged by her Haunt ability.
Fade will also have a useful callout that states the number of enemies that was hit by Nightfall.
I previously talked about how Jett needed a nerf, but there was a risk of taking away her identity if Riot went too far with it. Thankfully, they seem to have thought of a good way to work around this in patch 4.08.
Jett received a much needed change to her Tailwind dash, requiring the player to activate a 12-second timer first before she is able to use her signature ability.
This somewhat fixes Jett's notorious 'get out of jail free' ability, where she is able to freely dash away after holding an aggressive angle or peek to avoid getting killed by an enemy if she is caught by them.
The ability now requires 0.2 seconds to activate the dash timer, which prevents her users from spamming it to achieve the same effect before the change. If she doesn't use the dash after the timer activation, she still loses her dash ability, and can only regain it after securing 2 kills.
I don't think it's a very heavy nerf, simply because 12 seconds is still quite a long time for the dash usage.
However, Jett players have to think a little smarter this time around and have a plan before attempting to take an aggressive angle.
She is still capable of pulling off the shenanigans that she is known for prior to patch 4.08, but she isn't able to freely run away if she is caught off guard. Her ability to push in very fast on attacking rounds also isn't affected by this change, so her identity is still intact.
Sova got hit really hard in this patch.
His Shock Bolt (or Shock Dart) has had its full damage reduced from 90 to 75. This means you would need to hit an enemy with two precise and accurate Shack Darts to their body to totally kill them.
His Owl Drone (Recon Drone) has also had its duration being shortened, in exchange of it being slightly faster and easier to handle. Its targeting dart will also only pulse twice when it hits an enemy, instead of three times prior to patch 4.08.
The weirdest one, however, is the change to Sova's bow animation when he is preparing to fire his Shock Darts.
I would assume that this was done to deter players from using lineups for their Shock Darts, since a lot of players measure their lineups based on the animation of the bow before firing them.
But the resilient Sova players will simply relearn these lineups based on the new animation, so I don't know what Riot is trying to achieve with this change.
UPDATE: Due to the community uproar, Riot has decided not to implement the new animations for Sova's Shock Dart in the upcoming live patch. Rejoice!
We've heard your concerns about Sova's new animations disrupting lineups. Based on that feedback, his animation changes will be removed from Patch 4.08.
— VALORANT (@PlayVALORANT) April 25, 2022
Why all of this will change the meta collectively
Let's start with the Jett and Sova changes.
Riot has mentioned in their Jett nerf announcement that they had to deal with her overpowered ability before they could perform a nerf on Sova.
This is because Sova's Recon drone was the only ability that could catch a Jett off-guard if she decided to hold an unsuspecting angle due to the unlimited vision that the drone has.
However, the drone had too much airtime, and one could agree that, although slow, it was capable of lingering around for far too long if it wasn't shot down, especially when coupled with its unlimited vision.
Riot could implement this change because of the Jett nerf, as one would assume that there wouldn't be lurking Jetts anymore, trying to surprise everyone at a corner.
While the drone has a shorter duration, it still covers the same theoretical distance due to the increase of speed that the new drone has. So if you have been using the drone in that manner, you shouldn't be affected.
This brings us to the introduction of Fade.
Sova has been the sole 'information agent' in VALORANT since launch, (and occasionally Cypher, but people rarely pick him these days for some reason).
Fade joining the agent list makes her the second agent that can effectively reveal enemies that are hiding behind cover.
Sova has been this strong of an agent for so long for a reason, being the only agent that could provide information effectively to the team if played right.
Other Initiators like Skye and KAY/O are only able to provide 'proximity information', and could never tell their teammates the exact location of the enemies.
Will Fade replace Sova?
I highly doubt so, but they will work extremely well with each other.
Having two agents with the ability to reveal enemy positions on the same team will provide invaluable information, and I predict that these two will be a 'must pick' in any meta composition.
It feels like Riot knows this, and proceeded to make changes to Sova's Shock Dart to prevent extremely overpowering plays.
Fade's abilities and ultimate are able to inflict a 75 hp decay on the enemies, and if Sova's Shock Dart was still at 90 damage a pop, you wouldn't need a direct hit on an enemy affected by this decay to kill them.
This would have made these agents a very lethal combo in addition to the information they could already provide, being able to easily take down two enemies successfully without even seeing them.
Sova also has been an extremely niche pick on maps like Split, due to the amount of corners present.
One single information agent wouldn't be enough to reveal these corners, however, with the powers of Fade and Sova combined, we may soon see a resurgence of Sova players on Split.
We still don't know the extent of all the changes that are present in patch 4.08.
But from the information that we can gather right now, a Fade and Sova combo will be absolutely massive in competitive play, simply because of the amount of information the duo can provide.
It has been reiterated time and time again, information is the most important factor in a tactical shooter like VALORANT, especially when the time-to-kill is extremely short.
And Riot has just introduced an agent that could dominate the meta together with Sova.
Dominic loves tech and games. When he is not busy getting headshotted in VALORANT or watercooling anything he sees, he does some pro wrestling.