A starter guide to VALORANT’s newest agent Astra
Astra’s galaxy brain kit could substantially affect the VALORANT landscape
Patch 2.04 confirmed the leaks that projected Astra as Agent 15. Astra is the first Controller added to the VALORANT lineup since the initial release. This new agent has an incredibly high skill ceiling coupled with a learning curving but is certain to have an impact on team compositions both in ranked and the VCT.
Astra’s Star Mechanic and Abilities
Unlike any other agent in the game, Astra does not purchase abilities. Instead, Astra can buy a total of five nodes called ‘stars.’ By using your ultimate key, Astra projects herself into her astral form where she gains a bird’s eye view and can place stars anywhere across the map. Once a star is placed, Astra can activate it with any one of her three abilities.
After all charges of any given ability are spent, there is only a 13-second cooldown before Astra is able to use the ability again with any remaining stars. Astra is also capable of recalling her stars, briefly popping the ability, and returning it after a 7-second cooldown. Stars are easily visible to enemies and display the area of effect of all Astra’s ability via gold rings making it easily avoidable by enemies with even the slightest awareness. Stars however are unable to be destroyed.
Astra’s first ability, Gravity Well, creates a mini vortex that draws in any player caught in its grasp which includes teammates and yourself. Players unable to escape the Gravity Well before it explodes will have the ‘vulnerable’ debuff status effect, doubling received damage. Tactically, this may be Astra’s second most valuable ability as it can draw enemies out from corners, off ledges and ropes, and can even cancel spike plants.
🚨 Astra’s abilities revealed!
Ultimate Ability – Astral Form – ACTIVATE to enter Astral Form where you can place Stars with PRIMARY FIRE. Stars can be reactivated later, transforming them into a Nova Pulse, Nebula, or Gravity Well. pic.twitter.com/kPMNXDOUtp
— ValorIntel (@ValorINTEL) February 28, 2021
The Gravity Well has its limits as it does not cancel spike defuses. Players can easily walk out of the Gravity Well and retain the same accuracy while locked in it. At the very least, this ability provides a useful slow and interacts with most other agent abilities as it pulls Sova’s Recon Drone, Killjoy’s Turrent, Raze’s Boombox, and more into its gravitational pull.
Nova Pulse is similar to Breach’s concussive ability as it disorients enemies and provides ample opportunity for easy frags. The only difference is that Astra’s Nova Pulse has a short wind-up allowing for a thin margin of escape for anyone caught in the area of effect. This ability extends vertically as well and placement on heaven or any ledge can concuss anyone standing under the Nova Pulse.
Astra’s final non-ultimate ability is Nebula, a rather straightforward smoke comparable to Jett, Omen, or Breach’s smoke just with a different visual. What differentiates this ability from the rest of Astra’s kit is that Nebula has two charges before the 12-second cooldown as compared to the single charged Nova Pulse and Gravity Well.
Astra’s ultimate, Cosmic Divide, is undoubtedly the most impactful part of Astra’s kit and does not require a star to execute. In the astral projection form, Astra players can select a part of the environment to create a massive wall that splits the map from end to end, stretching to the skybox. While bulletproof on both sides, players and specific abilities like Sova’s Sonar Dart or Raze’s Paint Chips can pass through to the other side. In this sense, Astra’s Cosmic Divide acts like a teleporter on Bind as while some abilities can pass through, Jett’s knives or Raze’s Show Stopper cannot.
Ultimate Ability – Cosmic Divide When Cosmic Divide is charged, use SECONDARY FIRE in Astral Form to begin aiming it, then PRIMARY FIRE to select two locations. An infinite Cosmic Divide connects the two points you select. Cosmic Divide blocks bullets and heavily dampens audio. pic.twitter.com/3ddbvAK6fS
— ValorIntel (@ValorINTEL) February 28, 2021
Astra can continue to plant stars and pop abilities on the other side of her wall. The greatest asset behind this ultimate however is that it significantly muffles any sound on the other side of the Cosmic Divide. This makes it an incredibly advantageous ultimate to have on any map on either attacker or defender side. Unless you are on the verge of crossing the divide, it is impossible to hear the spike being defused or planted from a distance.
Effect on competitive and the VCT
Astra has one of the most comprehensive kits in the game as it contains a slow/vulnerability effect, concussion, and smoke with one of the most map influential ultimates so far. In future competition, Astra is likely to have a constant presence but to varying degrees of success due to her rather steep learning curve.
While Astra simply outclasses many other pre-existing Controllers, she will not replace Omen who has maintained upwards of a 90% pick rate in nearly every event as his TPs simply make him too much of an asset. While still among the lowest picks, Breach and Viper have slowly been rising in pick priority however may be rendered obsolete by Astra unless she sees massive nerfs. Cosmic Divide gives more precise map control than Viper’s ult and her map play is far more versatile than Breach’s globals. With the approaching VCT Masters being played on the new patch, Astra is bound to make her pro-play debut.
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Image Credit: Riot Games