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The unsolvable eco round Spectre problem in Valorant

Riot Games continues to try and make eco rounds more diverse. The Ares experiment proved there's a lot of tuning to be made.
The unsolvable eco round Spectre problem in Valorant

Valorant is a diverse tactical FPS with tons of Agents, abilities to change the pace of a match, and guns for every unique situation. Despite this, there is one constant that continues to be a staple of the shooter -- the Spectre is a must pick on eco and, sometimes, force buy rounds.

If you're unfamiliar with the terms, they both refer to times in a Valorant match where players in a team can't fully get equipped with all their abilities, armour, and a rifle (Phantom or Vandal). Eco rounds are ones in which they aim to save credits by buying light armour, some abilities, and a low-value weapon. Force buys are times in which a team is obligated to spend as much as they can to avoid losing a critical round, like the last one in a half or a match point.

Taking into account how economy in Valorant works, those cheaper weapons aim to serve as alternatives for different situations that aren't as reliable and versatile as the pricy 2,900 credits rifles. 

You got sidearms, which are the last resort in case you really feel the need to maximise savings, such as the Sheriff, Shorty, or Ghost (you can also, you know, just go Classic), but for the most part, you're looking at SMGs, shotguns, and cheap snipers such as the Marshal to get the job done.

Why was the Ares broken?

The Ares became an unbelievably broken weapon with patch v4.00. (Picture: Riot Games)
The Ares became an unbelievably broken weapon with patch v4.00. (Picture: Riot Games)

In this latter category, the 1,600 Spectre still reigns supreme, with many players feeling the eco-round meta relied too much on the SMG. As a result, Riot decided to severely buff the Ares with patch v4.00, a heavy machine gun that rarely saw play.

Removing the charge rate while improving the gun's rate of fire was a bit too much to handle, as the Ares quickly rose as not only a must-buy in eco rounds but outright dethroning the Vandal and Phantom as the best guns in the game, at almost half the cost (1,550). 

Why was it so broken? Well, it's a gun that already had some positives to its name, namely a large clip size, massive damage output, and high bullet penetration that outperforms both Phantom and Vandal, making it perfect for wall-banging opponents. 

Now, Riot basically just removed every downside it could possibly boast with the 4.00 update. It doesn't take a 500iq brain to find out why the machine gun was virtually everywhere, from Iron to Radiant, and even pro play lobbies. 

Then, the nerf-hammer came along

In and of itself, the Ares was a problem, then you have to add the fact that the Spectre, a direct competitor for that eco round sweet spot was also nerfed on that same patch, and you had thousands of Valorant players scrambling to get their hands on the hottest Ares skins out there.

The fun wouldn't last long, of course, it wasn't meant to start in the first place. Riot took a shot at a different approach and ended up with a massively overpowered weapon. Instead of reverting the changes, the developers once again gambled on a new take -- and it ended up with the Ares in a worse place than before

A slight cost increase to level it with the Spectre, but most importantly, nerfs to its pitch recoil and crouching spread and recoil control made the Ares feel useless in comparison to the SMG.

So is the Spectre better... again?

Sure, you can go back to the way the Ares was always meant to be played, securing tight angles, spraying like crazy, but even this playstyle has now been severely undertuned due to the crouching recoil and spread reduction from 40% to 25%.

Running and gunning is completely out of the question -- if there were any doubts, to begin with. Sure, the Spectre got hit in this regard with firing errors occurring faster while also getting both horizontal and vertical recoil multipliers increased, but as it stands, there's no better weapon in the game at it than the SMG.

In essence, nerfs become quite irrelevant with no direct competitor to overthrow the Spectre's authority as the ultimate gung-ho mindless tool for destruction.

spectre valorant
Behind the Phantom and Vandal, the Spectre is the king of eco rounds. (Picture: Riot Games)

According to stats pulled from METAsrc, the Spectre sits as the third most-used weapon behind the Vandal and Phantom after patch v4.02, with an 8.93% pick rate and a +.35 tendency. The Ares on the other hand sits at a meagre 1.24% pick rate, below the Judge, Marshal, and even Guardian, with a negative tendency of -.78, meaning it's being dropped at an un-shockingly rapid pace. 

If we compare these numbers to patch v4.00, the difference is laughably notorious -- the Ares ranked only below the Phantom, Vandal, and Sheriff, with a 6.49% pick rate and a tendency of +2.61. The Spectre sat at a decent 5.93% pick rate, but with a tendency of -3.26, it was destined for irrelevancy sooner rather than later. 

We've had guns like the Stinger or Ares be the flavour of the month, yet, as Valorant approaches two years since it released in June 2020, the Spectre has maintained its spot as the king of eco rounds. Who'll challenge for the throne next? It remains to be seen. 


Featured image courtesy of Riot Games.