Spirits were high going into launch day for Valorant patch 4.0. The newest Agent, Neon, was finally hitting live servers. Minor map changes were being implemented to both Breeze and Bind to make them a bit more balanced. A few of Valorant’s eco weapons were being buffed to make them a more compelling purchase. Unfortunately, one of those eco weapons has taken over Valorant’s meta at record pace: The Ares.
The Ares went from a bottom-tier gun to one of the best purchases overnight. What changes made the Ares such an oppressive weapon, and how are Valorant’s best players making the most of it?
Spray and pray
The Ares is all about getting as many bullets down range as possible. It’s been reserved almost solely for Sova players trying to wallbang on a budget since Valorant’s release due to its slow windup and low headshot multiplier. Not that it’d be possible to get 3 headshots in a row with the Ares, but that’s how many hits it’d take to kill through heavy armor. Before the buffs, it was hard to compete with the Vandal. The Ares buffs are as follows:
Removed spin up
Firing rate increased from 10 >>> 13
Not only did they remove the spin up that kept the Ares from being able to trade with other rifles at close range, they increased its fire rate to almost double that of the Vandal. 30 damage body shots combined with a 13 bullets per second fire rate gives the Ares a consistent time to kill of less than half a second. That, combined with a 50 round mag and a low price makes the Ares a choice that can actively compete with premium weapons like the Vandal, Phantom, and Operator.
A method to the madness
The Ares is a generally low-skill weapon, which makes this meta especially frustrating. While it’s possible to outgun someone using an Ares with a well-placed headshot, it’s difficult to warrant spending near double the amount of creds on a Vandal or Phantom when you can just spray someone down with an Ares. As a result, lobbies going as far up as Radiant rank have been ruined by this gun.
Seeing all Ares like this is common, and it’s even worse in lower ranks where players’ crosshair placement isn’t as on-point as it is in Immortal and up. In Silver/Gold, a weapon like the Ares is sure to wreak havoc on the meta. However, it’s not like the Ares requires no skill to use. There is a way to get the most of out of this weapon.
While firing from the hip is more accurate than you’d think, aiming down sights is the way to go with the Ares. It’s possible to get its weapon spread down enough to consistently land shots at 20m+. It takes some time to get used to taming the Ares’ wild recoil pattern, but, with a little practice, landing shots at longer ranges isn’t too difficult. That said, ADSing reduces movespeed, making it much harder to jiggle peek with the Ares than a standard rifle like the Phantom or Vandal.
The Ares meta is one that embraces a low-skill, and it has completely thrown off the delicate balance required to keep a game like Valorant competitive. While the Ares still has a few weaknesses, its overall power level makes it too good of a purchase to pass up for most players. Hopefully we don’t have to deal with the Ares meta for much longer.
Carver is an esports journalist and analyst who specializes in Eastern League of Legends.