The origins of Phoenix

Today, the first Duelist of Valorant is celebrating its fifth anniversary. Yes, it is indeed Phoenix. On this occasion, the developers of the FPS have dedicated the whole of the an article in which they look back on the origins of this Agent who makes sparks fly.

The (re)birth of Phoenix

Phoenix was born many years ago now, before the roles were even created. So at that time he was not yet considered a Duelist or sometimes an Initiator, he was simply seen as the perfect Agent to be the last hope of a team to lead it to victory.

The origin of Phoenix is this concept of a character who can turn a situation around when his back is against the wall and he is the last survivor of his team. We were trying to capture that feeling that we now call a Valorant moment. The skill that was to embody that was his ultimate. We thought of it as a kind of second chance.

Bobby 'excal' Prochnow - Game Designer

Indeed, when creating the Agent, his ultimate allowed him to obtain a kind of invincibility for a few seconds when his health points dropped to zero. He played the role of the martyr who is sent to sacrifice himself for his team, but who may ultimately be the hero.

This conception of Phoenix fitted perfectly with his theme, as he was the phoenix rising from his ashes to fight a final battle.

Final version of Revanche, the ultimate Phoenix
Final version of Revanche, the ultimate Phoenix

Finally, after testing, the developers decided to review this final. Now he cast his skill knowing that his death would allow him to return to the point where he cast it.

The first tests showed that he was in fact an aggressive character, the kind that puts his foot down and wants to get in first. And I thought, "Honestly? That works pretty well!" So we built on that, and his mechanics were built around that idea.

Bobby 'excal' Prochnow - Game Designer

The idea of making Phoenix a killing machine capable of evolving on its own quickly became apparent to the development team. They needed to give him skills that could both hurt enemies and protect him. That's why the creators gave him the abilities Brazier and Burning Hands which allow him to heal himself when he passes through, but which can also inflict damage on opponents.

So there was still one skill to be found. If today we know that it is Curved Ball, it was not always the case. Just like the other Duelists, Phoenix had a rush. The more it was loaded, the further the agent went on the map, but always in a straight line and leaving him vulnerable the whole time. So it was not to be used lightly and it was not really what the developers were looking for in this character. To give him more flexibility and better ability to enter sitesIn the end, its creators modified its competence to become what we know today: Curve Ball.

Phoenix originally rushed forward. But people had trouble using it in the corners or out of their line of sight. With all the angles that Valorant has and that we keep fighting in, it's natural to want a curved trajectory. The skill emerged from the needs in play first.

Bobby 'exal' Prochnow - Game Designer

And now he had all his skills. Now it had to be given a visual identity, a task that was entrusted to the art team working on the game.

The origins of Phoenix - thematic story board representing phoenix using its skills -
Phoenix skill chain

Moving away from the incendiary archetype

The aim was not to make Phoenix like all the characters you see in films, TV shows or video games, who manipulate fire and use it to reduce everything to ashes. He had to stand out because of his ability to control it, to do a lot of damage without destroying everything in its path. This is why the artistic team decided to approach it from a different angle. sunny angleIt blinds its opponents while it hurts.

From an artistic point of view, the sun theme was not without difficulty. I find fire easy to understand and reproduce. But the sun, we're a bit like: "Gee, is that fire? Is it light? Is it magnetic fields? What does it look like, exactly?" It wasn't easy, but we made progress once we could reduce it to a single, simple theme.

Minoh " SS_Minnow_2017 " Kim - Senior 3D Character Design Manager

Finally, the Agent's personality and character had to fit with the fire theme. All these little details were debated for a long time by the developers, until they decided to throw out all their first character ideas and start again. Phoenix did not escape this and his physical appearance and origins were completely revised.

For recreate the DuelistThe development and artistic teams relied on its doubler, Afolabi Alli. They researched the region of origin so that the agent's history and physical appearance would fit in with that geographical area.

The origins of Phoenix - phoenix's final visual identity -
Final version of the Phoenix visual identity

That was it, all the details were taken care of and Phoenix was now ready to be presented to the world.

Two years later

Now that the game is well established in the FPS world, our Agent is not as popular as it was when it first came out. In the early days of the game, its skills were formidable, especially because players were not yet very experienced in the game. But now the community has learned to avoid some of his abilities, especially Curve Ball, which is quite noisy. Phoenix was therefore left behind in favour of characters such as KAY/O, Skye and YoruThis is because they have more effective blinding skills.

This is why the Duelist has undergone a buff on patch 5.01. Curve Ball's loading time has been reduced and the duration of the blindness has been increased to allow the Agent to regain its place as a favourite.

According to the data in the Competition queue, Phoenix has been pretty strong since his buff. His blindness is still a bit limited by his range compared to someone like Skye, for example, but that's good. For a Duelist, he now has a very difficult control to avoid. Maybe too much so.

Dan 'penguin' Hardison - Game Designer

While Phoenix is once again popular with the general public, this is still not the case with professional players. Indeed, he is regularly among the least played characters at international events. This was the case, for example, at the Masters of Reykjavik and Copenhagenor more recently at the Valorant Istanbul Champions. It will take more than that for our phoenix to rise from its ashes on the competitive scene.