VALORANT: Weapon Buffs/Nerfs, Map Changes, Competitive Tuning, and Neon



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VALORANT’s newest update, Patch 4.0, brings along a few map layout and element changes, a new Agent, and a couple of weapon balance changes.

VALORANT: Weapon Buffs/Nerfs, Map Changes, Competitive Tuning, and Neon

Sure, everybody was probably excited to see Neon, the newest Duelist, enter the VALORANT Roster. However, Riot’s buff to an often neglected machine gun became the unexpected highlight of VALORANT’s Episode 4 update.

Weapon Changes

God of WarAres Mega Buff

Historically, the Ares was not a popular weapon for VALORANT competitive play. However, it was a decent gun for its price that featured a good fire rate, decent armor penetration, adequate damage, and a large amount of ammo. The budget machine gun had a brief wind-up time before it reached its maximum fire rate, and its fire rate is pretty slow for a fully automatic machine gun.

Patch 4.0 changed to remove the Ares’ wind-up time and increase its overall fire rate from 10 to 13 rounds/second, which turned the Ares into an instant overnight superstar.

Ares Changes:

  • Removed spin up
  • Firing rate increased from 10>>>13

At just 1550 credits, the Ares is insanely good for its price. The budget machine gun is leagues better than the Spectre in terms of overall damage, effective range, and clip size. The only apparent advantages the Spectre has over the Ares right now are probably the small fire rate advantage and the faster movement speed while the gun is equipped. Oh, and the Spectre costs more than the Ares. Let that sink in for a moment.

However, the nerfs slapped on the Spectre in Patch 4.0 makes it an even less than ideal gun to buy now when the Ares is the cheaper and more powerful option.

The Ares is now cheap and powerful enough to warrant a second-round purchase regardless of who wins the pistol round.

Run and Gun no more: Spectre Nerf

Someone or something had to be sacrificed to give Ares the insane buff it received in Patch 4.0. In this case, the popular Run and Gun SMG, Spectre, took the apparent arrow to the knee.

The Spectre has always been one of the better guns for short-medium range engagements in VALORANT. The Spectre has one of the quickest fire rates of any gun in VALORANT. This gun’s movement speed and running accuracy were also perfect, which ultimately gave birth to the run and gun lifestyle in the lower elo.

In a game that is, on record, marketed as having “Precise Gunplay,” the Spectre was a black sheep.

With VALORANT’s Episode 4 release, Riot finally decided to nerf the Spectre and its run and gun mechanic to more “Precise Gunplay” levels.

  • Firing Error occurs at the earlier bullet stages
  • Increased pitch and yaw (vertical and horizontal) recoil multipliers when running/jumping/on ascender from 1.25>>>1.5
  • Protected bullet count from yaw (horizontal) switching while spraying, decreased 8>>>5 bullets
  • Lowering time to switch yaw from .24 to .18 seconds

These changes ultimately affect the run and gun accuracy of the Spectre. Here are the changes:

Bulldog: Much Needed Ruff. Erm, Buff.

The Bulldog always sat in an awkward spot in competitive matches. The automatic rifle was significantly cheaper than its counterparts (Guardian, Vandal, and Phantom) but was also quite a bit more expensive when compared to SMGs.

The Bulldog’s damage output was always sub-par compared to its rifle counterparts. A previous buff to the Bulldog increased its fire rate to bring it in line with the mainstream rifles such as the Vandal and Phantom.

Nevertheless, the Bulldog always had good damage dropoff properties (no damage dropoff regardless of range), an affordable price tag, and a unique burst-fire mode.

Bulldog Patch 4.0 Changes:

  • Hip fire rate increased from 9.5>>>10
  • Recovery on Burst improved from .4>>>.35
  • Inaccuracy is accrued any time the weapon is re-fired prior to a complete duration of a weapon’s respective Gun Recovery Time. Lower recovery time should improve burst fire efficiency.

Patch 4.0 brings much-needed buffs to make the Bulldog a more practical weapon in competitive matches. The changes highlight and improve Bulldog’s burst-fire and hip fire capability.

Guardian: Faster and More Accurate One-Taps

Shroud can be said that the Guardian might be better than the Vandal or Phantom altogether. While this might be Shroud just overhyping the Guardian, there is still a lot of truth to his statement.

The Guardian is an insanely good weapon in a player’s hands with good aim. The Guardian can one-shot headshot anyone from any distance regardless of armor, all at a very affordable 2200 credits.

Unfortunately, in the grand scheme of VALORANT matches, the Guardian puts players at a clear disadvantage. VALORANT is full of utilities and abilities that often require a few quick burst shots to disable or destroy. The Guardian’s semi-automatic nature and limited clip size are not as versatile as the mainstream rifles like the Vandal or Phantom.

Nevertheless, Riot decided to buff the Guardian slightly to make it ever so slightly more viable in competitive matches.

Guardian Changes:

  • Removed firing rate penalty on ADS (Aiming Down Sight)
  • Removed an extra bullet before it enters a recovery curve

Map Changes

A few changes have been made to balance out the utilization of in-map elements.


The most notable change for Bind is removing the tall box at A-short. As of Patch 4.0, the tall box has been swapped out for a shorter, more accessible box.


Breeze also received changes to some in-map elements. A-site backsite boxes were pushed farther back, and a large Kingdom Container was added to serve as extra cover for A-site Defenders.

Breeze’s A-Main also received a minor rework. The entrance is now slightly wider, and the left side close-corner provides more cover for Defenders.

Lastly, the right pyramid (from Cave) is made more spacious.

Competitive Changes

Smurfing will never cease to exist in any competitive online game. As long as the entry mode is cheap and the time required to become eligible to play ranked matches is short enough, smurfs will always find their way into competitive matches.

As a quick stop-gap measure to curb VALORANT’s smurfing problem, a Competitive change had to be made regarding Competitive Queue Eligibility. As of Patch 4.0, all new accounts must now reach at least Level 20 to partake in Competitive Matches. The new competitive update will require newly made accounts to play significantly more games than the previous 10 Unrated Matches required to unlock Matchmaking.

This update does not affect accounts that are lower than Level 20 as long as they have previously already played ranked games on the said account.

Lightning Quick Duelist: Neon

Neon is the newest Agent to be inducted into the VALORANT roster. The lightning-quick Filipina brings her flavor of speed and agility to the battlefield under the Duelist role.

Here are Agent 18’s Abilities:

Fast Lane

Neon FIRES two energy lines forward on the ground extending a short distance or hitting a surface. The lines rise into walls of static electricity that block vision and damage enemies passing through them.

Relay Bolt

INSTANTLY throw an energy bolt that bounces once. The bolt electrifies the ground below with a concussive blast upon hitting a surface.

High Gear

INSTANTLY channel Neon’s power for increased speed. When charged, ALT FIRE to trigger an electric slide. Slide charge resets after every two kills.


Unleash Neon’s full power and speed for a short duration. FIRE channel the power into a deadly lightning beam with high movement accuracy.

New Year, New Patch, New Meta.

Every new VALORANT Episode update is one of the most exciting times of the year for VALORANT fans. The changes Riot implements in these major patches more often than not shape the overall Metagame for the rest of the year.

As of Episode 4, the Ares is undoubtedly the most valuable gun in the game regarding price-performance ratio. For Patch 4.0, the “minor” change to Ares unexpectedly pushed it to the top of the VALORANT Weapons Tier List. The Bulldog and Guardian also received much-needed buffs to make them more relevant in competitive matches, while the Spectre received an overdue nerf to its run and gun accuracy.

Minor map changes to Bind and Breeze make gameplay more balanced for both the Attacking and Defending sides. The minimum Level requirement change to play Matchmaking is a welcome change that will hopefully curb VALORANT’s smurfing problem.

Lastly, the newest Agent, Neon, looks to be an entry-focused duelist based on her abilities. Only time will tell whether Neon can rival the Queen of Duelists (Jett) in terms of overall speed and elusiveness and the value she brings to her team as a Duelist.

Episode 4: Disruption is upon us. Let’s go! What are you waiting for?

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