How much of the '80s is in VALORANT
How much of the 80s is in VALORANT? Let's dive deep and see what we find!
Who didn't love the '80s? Certainly not the creator's of many trends, nor the adoring fans that stuck with them. Kids born or raised during the period will often brag about its almost alien appeal, while modern-day media seems to be fixated on it, bringing back numerous properties from the time or creating tales filled with '80s tropes.
You probably already know where I fit in that colorful mess of people, so you know where I'm heading with this. The '80s was a magical period that many of us can't help but romanticize, probably due to how it set the stage for our modern-day society and technology while possessing an aesthetic that's almost wholly it's own.
Now, if you aren't living under a rock, you might've heard of this new game called VALORANT. You may even know about the WePlay VALORANT Invitational, and if so, then you've undoubtedly noticed all the neon. Its a symbol of the '80s, of cyberpunk, and of a time when style was wild and diverse.
From big hair to heavy makeup, parachute pants to denim jackets, the '80s had polarizing tastes that just worked in a sort of haphazard way. The theme for our VALORANT Invitational is the '80s, and while our themes are carefully thought out, I feel this time it was a no brainer because the game's roster could easily fit into the period. Who knows, maybe Riot actually did dream up a fantasy world that's based on that iconic period in our history.
Here's why I think VALORANT's agents belong in the Neon skies of the '80s.
Riot tells us Brimstone is former military, but they don't go into details, which got me a little curious. Could he have been part of an elite covert special ops unit that foiled the plans of an evil terrorist organization that had a thing for Cobras? Maybe. While his design seems to be closer to G.I. Joe's Flint than Duke, he certainly fits the part of the field commander.
Brimstone looks like the kind of guy that lights his cigars with the hot tip of a smoking barrel, turns on his home grill with an incendiary grenade, and used smokescreens to ditch class as a kid growing up.
Breach is another G.I. Joe candidate, complete with bionic arms, and who didn't love bionic limbs back then. Following the success of the 1970s American television series The Six Million Dollar Man, it's spinoff The Bionic Woman, and the book that inspired them, Cyborg; the '80s soon became flooded with this type of content. We're talking characters with bionic implants like the animated television series SilverHawks or Bionic Six and the movie Cyborg starring Jean-Claude van Damme.
In Breach's case, his bionic arms are large and bulky, making them apparent threats to any opponent. Looking at some of the technology in the game, it seems like his cybernetic limbs employ older technology, and his continued use of it is a personal choice.
The Mexican beauty Reyna is like VALORANT's equivalent of vampires, which is why I thought of Anne Rice, The Vampire Chronicles, and Lestat. I know, the infamous bad boy is the wrong gender for Reyna, but it's hard for me to think of him without his queen, Akasha. I rather liked the character and wished she'd had a reoccurring role in the series.
Like Akasha, Reyna feasts on the souls of mortals and is more than equipped to handle herself in a tight situation. The Anne Rice book that introduced the world to the femme fatale was Queen of the Damned, published in 1988 with good reception. In my opinion, vampires have always thrived in pop culture, and Reyna wears the moniker beautifully.
Phoenix looks like the hero of a sci-fi movie from the '80s starring Eddie Murphy. The title would be something like Neo Beverly Hills Cop and would feature a funky synth soundtrack, lots of pop culture references, and many more jokes. The British agent's jacket is one of the coolest things about his design, dressing him in what looks like a reflective cycling jacket with some sort of neon lighting that reacts to his powers as its inner lining.
While cyberpunk is a science fiction subgenre that existed decades before the '80s, it was during this period that it began to add elements of punk and hacker subculture to its makeup. During this period, Japanese cyberpunk cinema, anime, and manga all came into prominence. So, why do I associate Omen with the genre? Because he has what appears to be glowing bits inside of him and instead of using his fancy body armor to hide all traces of it, he lets it leak out in places and wraps his arms in cloth. His head also looks like he could be wearing a helmet, which negates the need for his tattered hooded cowl.
While all the neon blue beneath his outfit could be the result of magic and not technology, the mask seems to suggest otherwise. As a result, Omen fits superbly with 80's cyberpunk in the fashion of works like Battle Angel Alita and Tron.
The American chemist, codenamed Pandemic, wears what looks like a sneak suit and evokes the image of a high-tech ninja. These stealthy assassins from Japan were known to employ traps and poisons in addition to the usual swords and throwing stars (shuriken) that were popularized in movies like Chang Cheh's Five Elements Ninjas and the American Ninja series of films.
Just like the mysterious ninja who is proficient with poisons, Viper deploys devices containing poisonous toxins to whittle down her enemies' strength and control the battlefield.
Like Viper, Jett also takes on the popular ninja design, but her focus is on their agile and swift movement. As if controlling the wind, she's able to propel herself in any direction with Tailwind, or high up into the air with Updraft.
Jett's unique weapon of choice, her kunai, completes the ninja aesthetic. She throws these short dagger-like weapons accurately at her targets even while moving around. Uncharacteristically, her head is bare, but her outfit does have a hood she wears occasionally. An early image of her also shows her covering her mouth and nose the same way ninjas do.
When I think of Sova, no particular '80s tropes come to mind. He does have a glowing blue eye, though, so we could lump him with bionics. Sova is proficient with a sniper rifle and custom bow, making him a lethal hunter. All his abilities seem to be based on technology except his ultimate, Hunter's Fury, which fires three powerful shots that pass through walls and reveals the location of enemies it hits.
Hunting is more than just knowing when and how to shoot your prey, which is why Sova is also great at scouting out enemy positions with his Recon Bolt and Owl Drone. His small cape is another nice touch to his design, but it's the fur around his neck that helps evoke images of a lone wolf.
If you've ever read MAD's wordless comic strip Spy vs. Spy, then you're sure to see the likeness here. The use of light and dark gray evokes the black and white of the comic strip characters. While his head isn't shaped like theirs, his hat is similar to the ones they wear and, at the same time, reminds me of their weird heads.
It comes as no surprise that he's an agent who excels at espionage. Cypher can immobilize enemy agents with a tripwire, place tracking darts on them, block their vision, and even observe an area of the map using a spycam. While Spy vs. Spy was created in the '60s, a video game was released in 1984 for the Commodore 64 and Atari 8-bit, even spawning a few sequels. A board game was also launched in 1986, expanding the intellectual properties' reach and carving a place for it in '80s pop culture.
Raze is all about making an impression, evident not only in her aoe heavy toolset but also her design. She looks like a guerilla soldier and loves the big guns.
The Araguaia Guerrilla War was an armed movement against military dictatorship which took place in Brazil between 1967-1974. However, democracy wasn't restored until 1982, and while not a trope, it signifies a major upheaval in the '80s that shaped the future of an entire nation. It's a bit of a stretch, but Raze could've been created in honor of the citizens that fought for a better country.
While Sage doesn't fit the '80s theme, she's still worth the mention as her character design is pretty interesting. Being the only healer in the game (Phoenix doesn't count since he only heals himself), Sage is also able to revive fallen allies. In other game genres like RPGs, healers are often characters with a religious or spiritual background, which serves as the source of their life-giving abilities.
Sage follows that line of character design through her outfit, which looks similar to the clothes Miko (Shinto Shrine Maidens) wear. The sleeves of her kimono are cut short both in length and width. So also is the bottom, which tapers to one side. She's also done away with the skirt-like hakama and replaced it with trousers, but still wears the himo (straps) around her waist as a belt.
Also hanging from her waist are jade-green Radianite orbs that Sage uses with her abilities. These, I believe, are based on magatama, comma-shaped curved beads traditionally carved from earthen materials but are now exclusively made of Jade. Although pieces of jewelry, they have religious and spiritual significance, completing her ensemble.
The '80s has made a resurgence with movies, series, video games, music, and other forms of pop culture being reimagined or celebrated over the past couple of years. It represents a time of change, experimentation, and adventure, which continues to influence our lives and society decades later.
There were very few mobile phones (big block things), and the internet was mostly restricted to the military and academia. Home computers cost a fortune even though their storage was just a couple of megabytes, TVs were several times the size they are today, and grainy video was all we had.
Yet, we love the '80s all the same, and VALORANT is one good example of how it continues to influence the world. At least, that's how it appears to me.
Don't miss any of the WePlay! VALORANT Invitational action, and stop by here for more information.