Valorant has had its share of… interesting introductions to the game.

Be it the Chamber meta that ruled 2022, the nerfs that saw him barely played in 2023, or the numerous nerfs they’ve given to Jett over the years (RIP), each patch seems to bring a new element of gameplay with it.

But introducing a third sniper rifle into the game, the first new gun since the beta (excluding Chamber’s ultimate), has sparked a great deal of discussion, and for good reason. The Outlaw gun is once again, changing the way the game will be played.

Valorant sniper rifle Outlaw released in Episode 8 Act 1
Credit: Riot Games

A major strategy pioneered over the last year was buying rifles with half armor, first used by NRG and quickly adopted by most pro teams.

It helped the economy of teams invest in more full-buy rounds. Even in anti-eco rounds (those following a pistol win), buying half armor and a rifle, then carrying the weapon forward into the third bonus round could help convert another win against your opponent’s full-buy, netting you a solid lead.

The Outlaw gun: an introduction to the sniper

With the Outlaw being introduced, the half-armor buy has become an increasingly risky tactic. Why?

Let’s take a look at the new gun. Available at 2,400 credits, the Outlaw falls around the price range of a Bulldog or Guardian rifle. The Outlaw’s trademark is its ability to fire two powerful shots rapidly without zooming out of your scope. 

Valorant in-game buy menu showing the Outlaw gun and its damage, cost, and other details
Screenshot by Kaavya Karthikeyan/ONE Esports

This by itself wouldn’t be an issue, except of course, for the fact that the Outlaw does 140 damage with a mere body shot.

The damage fall-off for wall-bang kills also so far seems minimal with this weapon, with players taking 125 damage, again, enough to take them out of play if they didn’t have full armor.

How the Outlaw will change the way economy is managed

The implications of the massive 140-body shot damage are clear — no longer can players play their anti-eco rounds the same way, buying a rifle and half armor after a win.

Because it is technically possible for a player to force the Outlaw even after a round loss, the risk of the 140-body shot damage is quite high.

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Even if opponents do have full shields, the sheer amount of damage leaving players alive with 10 HP leaves them easily cleaned up by a Killjoy turret, a molly, or just a stray bullet. 

Fnatic’s Timofey “Chronicle” Khromov , the only player in Valorant’s history to have won three LAN trophies, called the gun “broken.” “We can see the death of eco rounds, is there any chance to lose antieco with this beautiful gun,” he said, predicting a meta shift in Valorant as a result of the Outlaw gun.

Valorant sniper rifle Outlaw released in Episode 8 Act 1
Credit: Riot Games

The Outlaw invalidates anti-eco rounds and even pistol buys, with some players refraining from buying anything in the pistol and just forcing Outlaws in the second round. It also reduces the probability of players forcing after a loss in the pistol.

Previously, teams expecting a Marshal buy could opt for half armor which would let them tank a body shot but the Outlaw doesn’t let that slide anymore. Players will have to fully save to afford full armor and rifles after losing a pistol, since even buying a Sheriff or Marshal would break their bank. This means that the likelihood that the game will be increasingly stale to watch.

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The Outlaw however, at its price point, can be an expensive investment for a team after a round loss so it remains to be seen how many pro players will be buying one after a loss, especially when you can cop full armor with a Spectre or Stinger for almost the same cost of just the Outlaw.

Further implications of the Outlaw gun for the Valorant meta

Aside from economy cycles, the Outlaw will likely also affect the meta significantly. With its damage output being as high as it is, agents which can hit a free shot and get out alive should see a peak in usage.

Chamber and Jett both shine in this regard, the former with his Rendezvous ability and the latter with her Tailwind. Even with the nerfs these abilities have received over the past year, thanks to the Outlaw, they can be more effective again. 

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Another likely outcome of this weapon being in the game is an increased pick-rate for healers and controllers. The double-controller meta is likely to jump back in style on multiple maps, not just for their versatility but also the ability to cut off more angles and lines of sight.

Also, with the 140 damage being a big deal, investing in a healer on the team in the form of Skye or Sage might also come back into style, especially since Skye also has a great utility kit that is already used on multiple maps.

Valorant Sage
Credit: Riot Games

With both Breeze and Icebox — maps where sniper weapons shine — being in the meta, this weapon will likely see a great deal of use. It also falls between the cost of the cheaper Marshal and the more expensive Operator, the other two sniper rifles, giving it its niche.

The drawbacks of the Outlaw gun

Of course, the Outlaw isn’t without its drawbacks.

You can fire off only two bullets before needing to reload, and the no-scope accuracy is practically non-existent. The reload time is also quite high, especially if you’ve fired both bullets. (It reloads faster if you only fire one.) 

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Secondly, the weapon is dependent on you being able to hold an angle, so if you have methodical opponents with a multitude of flashes and/or smokes, it’s going to be difficult for you to find value with it. Rush attacks against players holding sites with initiator utility will reduce the potential of the gun. 

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Most importantly, the gun is quite awkwardly priced. At 2,400 credits, it falls just below the Vandal and Phantom, the rifles that are a staple of play and arguably much more versatile than the Outlaw.

The good seems to overpower the negatives of the gun, though. 2024 should see this weapon rapidly find its place in professional play unless the next patch does slap a nerf onto it.

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