Players are very familiar with Valorant’s unqiue characters by now, but they might hardly recognize them from how differnet they used to look.
Game development is a trial and error process, and Riot Games’ Valorant wasn’t any different. While it borrowed heavily from the shooters that came before it, the game shines largely through its characters. These characters are the game’s main stars. And they went through many different changes before players finally got a chance to play the game last summer.
These files are old and unused, most likely from a very early build of Valorant when its mechanics had already been hammered out. But there are differences in how the characters look and feel in the game’s final version. They also reveal that the game’s newest characters, Killjoy and Reyna, had been in development for some time before their respective announcements following the the game’s release.
Normally players wouldn’t be too thrilled to hear that, but in this case it makes sense. Both of these agents have powerful kits that can be difficult to play around, especially when players are still learning the game’s core mechanics. Thier later release was a smart move on Riot’s behalf.
Let’s start with Valorant’s agents that haven’t seen many changes since Riot created their original draft versions. Cypher, Viper, Brimstone, Omen, Jett, and Sage all look very similar their finished product, but they also had some very interesting codenames during Valorant’s developement. In fact, most of the game’s files still refer to the agents by these codenames.
Viper had the unfortunate code name “Pandemic,” while Jett and Omen are still referred to in files as “Wushu” and “Wraith.”
The art style in these early concepts seems more realistic than in the final game, but Jett and Omen haven’t changed all that much since Valorant’s design phase.
Next up are Sage and Cypher, but these two had much different codenames then their final designs would suggest. There are almost no differences between these character’s concept art and thier final versions, but both were known by completely different names than they are now. While Jett and Omen’s alternate names fit with their lore and abilities, Cypher and Sage are a different story. The camera-slinging Cypher was known as “Gumshoe,” while Valorant’s only pure support agent went by “Thorne.”
Both Sova and Phoenix must have hit the gym before Valorant’s summer release. Early concept art for the two show a slimmed down character model. Phoenix was lucky enough to keep his name throughout the development process as far as the game’s files show, but Sova was originally known as “Hunter” internally.
The largest changes that Valorant agents saw between early designs and final release were made to Breach, Killjoy, Reyna, and Raze. Breach is a much more intimidating figure in his concept art, especially with a facemask. Killjoy also looks much different, sporting none of her trademark yellow garb and with entirely different facial features.
Finally, both Raze and Reyna had interesting codenames and complete overhauls to their backstories that included Riot changing up the agents’ birthplaces. During Valorant’s development, “Clay” was another name for Raze, while Reyna was appropriately known as “Vampire.”
Both characters were changed ethnically, with Reyna eventually taking up residence in Mexico while Raze would end up calling Brazil her home. Raze’s overall theme was changed entirely, moving away from the purple motif in the concept art and toward the bomb-throwing, graffitti-loving queen of ultimates fans know and love today.
There’s much more buried in Valorant’s still mysterious lore, but there are indications that the game will see a limited-time game mode filled with snowballs over this year’s holidays. Until then, Riot’s concept art will stand as proof that sometimes things end up quite differently than where they start, especially in game development.