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Riot Games announced on Wednesday morning the newest set of skins for VALORANT: ‘Elderflame‘, an ambitious project where mixing design, creativity, and performance together has been a very difficult challenge.

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As we can see in the tweet above, ‘Elderflame’ skins will be available in several weapons, including a knife, and its design is not only about being dragon-shaped… the guns actually transform into living dragons.

Thanks to an interview in Polygon with Riot Games’ VALORANT producers, we know more details about these skins, that will be available to purchase this Friday 10th.

The first interesting thing we need to know is that each different gun-dragon has its own roars, firing sounds, and animations. This has been a big challenge since they struggled a lot to make sure both that the guns looked like living dragons and that players could still identify them as the same base weapons they are familiar with.

“[…] But we tried creative things like with the Frenzy and we’re like, ‘How can we fit a dragon into this situation?’ And we found a cool opportunity to take its tail and wrap it around the bottom of the magazine to put it into the correct shape. That way, if someone sees it on the ground, they immediately know what it is, and if you see it in first person you know what it is.”

VALORANT art lead Sean Marino

According to these VALORANT producers, the most complicated task was making the ‘Elderflame’ set feel fair to use, which means that the weapons need to feel complex and unique, with all the details specific to each dragon, without actually taking up more screen real estate than any other skins. That would give a disadvantage to those who buy it.

Here is where producers and designers had to struggle with a particular weapon: the Operator sniper rifle.

“We were on the verge of cutting it because it’s the only dragon that has wings. It was like, if you open up these wings, now it takes up all of your screen space, and that compromises competitive integrity”.

VALORANT art lead Sean Marino

“Yeah, there were at least a couple of moments where Marino would turn to me and be like, ‘Can we ship this skin line without an Operator? And I was like, ‘OK, well we have a couple of months; let’s just see […] and it did somehow make it. It was just intense collaboration between the group and refusing to let it fall through.”

VALORANT producer Preeti Khanolkar

Here we have a Concept art for the Elderflame Operator provided by Riot Games:

Valorant’s Elderflame Operator skin concept art

A huge challenge was also making the skins feel balanced, and this includes the amount of time the different animations last. Despite the speed was the same, the kind of animations we have with these skins make it feel slower when someone reload or equip them.

That is why VALORANT producers had to do lots and lots of testing, just to find a ‘visual way’ to avoid this kind of feeling.

Valorant’s Vandal weapon with the Elderflame skin animation
Elderflame Vandal equip animation

Of course, all these struggles and challenges mean a lot of work and resources dedicated to this task by Riot Games, and that is maybe why we have a last surprise to talk about: Elderflame skins’ price.

The Elderflame skins set will cost you $100, and it includes:

  • Elderflame Frenzy
  • Elderflame Vandal
  • Elderflame Operator
  • Elderflame Judge
  • Elderflame Melee (Free in the Bundle)
  • Dragon spray (Free in the Bundle)
  • Dragon Eye Gunbuddy
Dragon Eye Elderflame Gunbuddy

If you decide to purchase the skins individually, it will cost you 2475 VALORANT points or around $25.

This price has been controversial, and we still need to wait to see if Riot Games change it or not. It is obvious that there is a lot of work behind, but it is also true that many of the VALORANT players cannot afford it.

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