The varied pool of Agents is at the heart of Valorant's dynamic gameplay. Your character determines your strengths and, for the most part, the archetype into which your playstyle would match. With the release of Episode 2 Act 2, yet another agent was added to the diverse pool, namely Astra.
Though be it controversial, it's been a long time since Riot has added a meaningful agent that has depth, and strategy while adding something substantial to the meta. Amongst all of the Agents
that have been added to the game since launch Astra might be the first real game changer that significantly adds game-changing strategy and opportunity into the meta. Since we have made guides on Yoru
, and Skye
. It would only be fair if we had one for Astra; so, without further ado let's get right into it.
is the newest controller added to Valorant agent pool, with her kit revolving around using strategy and versatility to outplay your opponent’s rather than with pure mechanics. Her official description reads:
“Ghanaian Agent Astra harnesses the energies of the cosmos to reshape battlefields to her whim. With full command of her astral form and a talent for deep strategic foresight, she's always eons ahead of her enemy's next move.”
In order to make sense out of any of Astra’s abilities, it’s important to understand what Astral form is and what it does for her kit. Astral form is a state that Astra can go into, to place down her stars across the map and it also allows her to set up her ultimate wherever she pleases. When you want to go into her astral form, you can press your ultimate button on your keyboard. There is no cooldown on how many times you can go in and out of this form so players can do it as many times as they need.
Although it’s worth knowing that once you enter the Astral form, you are completely vulnerable to the environment around you and will not be able to see nor hear enemies approaching you; so, players shouldn’t go into astral form in a place where an enemy can walk up behind you and kill you with ease.
Once in Astral form the main thing you want to be doing is placing your stars down around the map. Stars are first currency that is completely unique to Astra as an Agent. They are a currency that she purchases that allows her to place down her stars around the map. Stars are a deployable that you can use to turn into your abilities while in astral form or you can even exit astral form and then reactivate them later in real time when you reactivate them outside of Astral form, they can be transformed into nova pulse, nebula dissipate, or gravity well.
Before we hop into her main abilities let's explain how her stars affect Astra’s economy. Astra's abilities cost stars and they do not cost traditional in-game credits. Her abilities can only be activated depending on the availability of stars in your inventory, and at the start of every round you will get 2 stars for free. Her stars cost 200 credits each and you will need to buy them in the shop menu at the start of every round.
Astra has a limit of 5 stars per round, which will end up costing you 1000 credits, because of the fact that all of her abilities require stars being placed to use. Stars additionally take some time to replenish after recalling and all Stars that are recalled are counted as used and will not be saved to the next round. So, handle them mindfully nonetheless.
All of her abilities also have their own specific cooldowns. For example, if you wanted to, you could use all five of your stars as her nebula smokes, but you will need to wait 15 seconds after you've used the first two charges of her smokes before another charge becomes available. Simply put, her abilities are usable multiple times in one round repeatedly but you must wait for their specific cooldown to expire.
This decision was made to ensure that a balance is maintained; otherwise, she would become beyond broken having the ability to activate five smokes on the map at the same time. One of the biggest things you will need to master with Astra is stars and economy management if you want to get the most out of her as an agent.
Nova Pulse (Q – 1 charge, 12 second recharge):
Place Stars in Astral Form (X) ACTIVATE a Star to detonate a Nova Pulse. The Nova Pulse charges briefly then strikes, concussing all players in its area.
After a brief delay, Astra's Q, Nova Pulse, stuns all agents inside. Which will make it a perfect combo for Gravity Well as discussed earlier. As you can see from the image above, it has the appearance of a large tornado. The capacity has a large radius and has a similar impact to Breach's E, Fault Line.
You can activate one of your stars to detonate nova pulse. The nova pulse charges briefly and then strikes, concussing all players in its immediate area. This ability only has one charge that can be used at a time and after using it, one must wait for 12 seconds before using it again.
Nova pulse is an ability that requires a lot of foresight when using it in game. Its success is determined by where, when and how you position it. For example, on offense you can place a star in an area that will usually have a defender and you can activate Nova pulse in an effort to catch them off guard and stun them. This is a nice way to flush out an enemy holding a contested position that your team wants to push or gain control of.
On defense, nova pulse is great for punishing attackers that like to push through choke points with no fear. For example, on B site split, place a star in B main entrance and activate Nova pulse when the attackers try to run through many times. If you can time this ability just right, you can catch multiple people in your stun and swing on them and collect free kills.
Gravity Well (C, 1 Star, 12-Second Recharge)
“Place Stars in Astral Form (X). ACTIVATE a Star to form a Gravity Well. Players in the area are pulled toward the center before it explodes, making all players still trapped inside fragile.”
Gravity Well causes a blackhole-like phenomenon that draws all players to its core. It will burst after a delay, giving agents within it the Vulnerable debuff (receive 2x damage). This is the same debuff that you get when you come into touch with Viper's Snake Venom. This power can be mixed with other agents to create insanely powerful combos, and it can be used to impede enemy movement. When combined with Gravity Well, abilities like Brimstone's Incendiary, Killjoy's Nanoswarm, Phoenix's Hot Hands, and Viper's Snake Bite may be quite effective, and rather lethal.
Astra’s Gravity Well and Nova Pulse are best used in conjunction together. The reason being that each of these alone won't typically stun an enemy going through it as it's fairly easy to run out of it in time. However, if you stack two stars in relatively close proximity you can activate the gravity well to pull enemies closer and follow up with the nova pulse or stun to better guarantee that combination will be particularly effective when dealing with attackers pushing into choke points as they might bump or block each other from moving out of your stun. This can easily set you up to find multiple kills.
Nebula (E – 2 charges, 14 second recharge):
As a controller, it's only normal for Astra to have smokes, as the class is supposed to aid in the battlefield. Astra can position up to two at a time, and since they are hollowed, they are similar to Omen's smokes in size. The form of the smoke, on the other hand, varies slightly to Omen's Dark Cover, as Nebula is slightly broader and shallower.
You can also down one of your stars by pressing the F key to dissipate it. Dissipating a star will return the star into your inventory to be placed in a new location later after an 8 second delay. Dissipate briefly forms a fake nebula at the star's location before it returns to your inventory once the smoke dissipates, which will also give you a refund on one of your stars. Using dissipate is a nice way of intelligently managing your star economy and moving around your stars in real time to your advantage.
Astral Form/Cosmic Divide (X – 7 orb points)
In her Astral Form, Astra uses her ultimate button to see the map and fly around to position her abilities. Aside from that, she has a Celestial Divide ultimate that cost 7 orb points. Cosmic Divide builds a massive wall across the map after a brief pause once cast.
Bullets are deflected and vibrations are muffled by the wall, however skills move through. It'll come in handy in situations like offensively pushing into a site or defensively playing retake. An interesting use-case that has already been discovered is that if you launch Astra's ultimate before using the teleporters on the map, you can use them without the enemies hearing you.
This ability can be a little more geared towards the attackers than the defense. The main reason you would want to use this all is to either retake a site or drop off a spike on offense. You can deploy this wall at an angle to allow your team to safely get on site and plant. This wall creates so many opportunities to take rounds for free.
Astra's abilities not only work great on their own but they are also incredibly potent in combination with other agents. Astra's kit is only useful if she can manage to stay alive for the entire round that means she needs to have more passive playstyle that encompasses facilitating her team first and going for kills second.
On offense an Astra player should never be first in line to entry frag, as she should be in the back activating her abilities and placing down new stars to gain map control and influence the defenders with her nebula, nova pulse, gravity well, and ultimate. The main reason she needs to stay alive on attack is because she can play a significant role in a post plant situation and potentially turn around games in her team’s favour.
On defense Astra benefits from spreading out her stars around the map to start and as the round progresses don't be afraid to dissipate your stars and move them around strategically as you see fit. It’s easy to manipulate an attacking team if an Astra is smart about where she relocates her stars and if she’s quick on the trigger for using her cosmic divide on defense; since, it can make retake scenario go from impossible to extremely easy if you can learn how to angle it right and force your enemies to come to you instead of the other way around.
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Images courtesy: Riot Games