Shoot for the stars with Astra, VALORANT’s cosmological controller
© Riot Games
With a smoke ability to make Omen jealous and a unique ability that can turn encounters on their head, Astra is ready to make a difference in your competitive VALORANT games.
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Astra is a controller agent with a kit unlike any other in the game. Controlling the map with the stars from her Astral form, she rewards the players that take the time to plan out how they want their rounds to go before they even start. She’s a complement to any player that knows how to use their abilities with discipline. With two smokes, a stun, a gravity well and a map splitting ultimate, she will be a valuable member of any five stack.
Her kit is refreshing and features some of the most dynamic abilities in the game. Using stars that must be preselected on the map to activate her abilities, she is a big brain agent that only gets better as you understand more about her kit. While she has the ability to push, you want to play her slowly and have her be one of the last ones into a fight.
Astra gets value out of using the entirety of her kit, and being the first one dead obviously inhibits that. The first post-launch controller is a needed change of pace to VALORANT and comes with a high skill ceiling that many players were clamoring for. So, if the new controller has caught your attention, here's all you need to know.
Gravity Well (C ability)
Using a star, Astra deploys a gravity well that pulls all nearby characters, friend or foe, into its clutches. As one of the best parts of Astra’s kit, Gravity Well takes so many forms in making your team's life easier. There are so many ways to maximize this ability, especially if you pay attention to enemy patterns. If an Omen likes to peek A long on Haven, a gravity well can turn his cheeky plan on its head. The same goes for if someone likes to camp garage windows; a simple Gravity Well can keep them in place long enough to confirm the kill and secure your team's approach onto site. Unlike other agents, Astra’s abilities are on cooldown, so after 12 seconds look to use it again if need be.
Using Gravity Well in high traffic spots, or to pull an enemy into an open corridor is truly gratifying, but it can go even further by targeting a type of player we all hate: Campers. You know the ones who take early spots at unforgiving angles or wait in the teleporter for your team to lower their guard? Well, Gravity Well solves some of that problem. Dropping a star in astral form adjacent to a camp spot is an easy way for your team to focus down unsuspecting phoenix’s and jett’s looking for an early pick off they can't escape from. When dealing with teleporter campers, drop the star near the door, have the unsuspecting player pulled in, and open it to their doom.
Ledges and windows aren’t safe either, now that gravity well is in the game. It will pull anyone as long as they are close. Hiding below it or above it won’t matter, and any enemies camping those spots will find themselves like fish in a barrel. Gravity Well lets you take any fight and flip the advantage on its head with discipline. Another great use , or perhaps side effect is a better word, for Gravity Well is how it interacts with utilities. Boombot, Owl Drone, and Skye’s Seekers are just some of the abilities that can be affected by gravity well, and that’s just one of the many reasons it’s one the most exciting abilities added to VALORANT to date.
To put it simply, on offense, use it to clear known spots where enemies are waiting for you to walk into their crosshairs and, on defense, use it to punish attackers, who are waiting just out of sight in well known choke points. Be mindful of your allies though! Don’t let them get caught in it because you didn’t call out your play.Gravity Well is a great all around ability and a unique change to how interactions will play out in VALORANT. Another way to get great value out of it, will be to pair it, and use it directly after this next ability.
Nova Pulse (Q ability)
You can activate one of your stars to trigger Astra’s Nova Pulse, which detonates after short charge up, concussing all players caught in its area of effect. It only has one charge you can use at a time but, unlike the other agents, it is on a twelve second cooldown before you can use it again (as long as you have a star on the map to use it on).
A great ability to use on attack and defense, whether or not it will come into play depends on how well you know the map and the enemy team. Since you must catch enemies within the range of your star, it will be a reactive ability as opposed to a proactive one that you will always need to be aware of. While enemies may avoid the stars, there are always exceptions to the rule. Through either poor judgment, you corralling them with your poor aim, or being able to switch to Astral form to place one in a spot someone is camping on the fly, there are ways to catch opponents off guard.
It’s not impossible, it’s just challenging. How you choose to use it will make or break the ability for you. Placing it in well known defender spots or on off angles another player has consistently taken up, are great ways to surprise the enemy in the early stages of the round. Since a placed star is unassuming and ambiguous, players will take their risks on what you choose to do with the ability. Using it early in a round can surprise players and give your team a chance to push onto a bomb site effectively.
When in post-plant, you can use the Nova Pulse similar to a Killjoy Swarm Grenade. Ignoring your collective groans, dropping your remaining star economy on the bomb will give you a huge advantage when defending the site. Once you hear the defuse begin, you detonate Nova Pulse.
A lot of players will fake the bomb defusal initially if the enemy is still alive, baiting them into a true one on one, when the bomb defender thinks they’re getting a free kill. Detonating Nova Pulse will guarantee that anyone near the bomb gets concussed, allowing you to clean up the site with far less resistance.
On defense, Nova Pulse is a great deterrent. Placing a star in known choke points, like Hookah on Bind, or Heaven on Ascent, is a great way to make aggressive players hesitant or, even better, let you punish them for pushing with a little too much excitement. Concussive abilities always work better when punishing out of position players and, if you drop a star on an angle which only lets the attacker see it when they’re already too close, can be a great way to boost your K/D ratio.
If a team is pushing together, you can easily catch multiple enemies in one Nova Pulse. If you pair it with your gravity well, you can turn the course of a round with just those two abilities. Be an opportunist with Nova Pulse asyou will only get value out of it if you’re confirming the kills while they are still reeling from the stuns.
Nebula/Dissipate (E ability)
Nebula is the ability that puts Astra squarely in the controller class. Acting as a hollow smoke for fifteen seconds, Astra triggers up to two stars at once to smoke off a site or choke point. Use this ability like Brimstone or Omen by smoking off heaven, high ground, typical defender angles and entry points onto site if you are on defense for success. Unlike other agents, Astra’s abilities are on a cooldown, so once they are all used, wait 14 seconds and she will be able to deploy more. Don’t worry about wasting them to enter a site or on a low reward play.
Dissipate is the second part of her E ability. It allows her to call back a deployed star to reuse at later time. It bursts into a Nebula smoke for two seconds before being returned, temporarily obscuring the enemies vision. This is great for quick rotates and angle changes when you know your smoke i was meant to get you out safely instead of blocking off an enemy's sightline for long. While it retracts your star to be reused, reclaimed stars do not carry over from round to round and it will be highlighted a different color to outline if it is fresh or a reclaimed star.
We can’t talk about Astra without talking about the core of her kit., Astral Form. This ability is how you do just about everything with her. From deploying the layout for where and how you will use your abilities, to being the trigger for activating her ultimate.
Astral form is triggered by pressing X, just like her ultimate, and Astra will get a full view of the entire map. You’re only able to place stars on the map while in Astral form, so it’s smart to get comfortable with switching to it quickly, or even hot keying it to another, more accessible button.
While in this form, Astra can deploy up to five stars around the map, as well as retract them from where she first dropped them. While it is important to use it before the round begins, you can quickly pull them back to make better use of the stars, if your plans change. She can trigger any of her abilities while in this form as well.
Being able to see the map overhead allows for her to use them in a way more akin to a support, smoking as her team progresses onto site. For in person confrontations, though, it is better to just put your crosshair on the enemy and trigger your abilities manually. Once you get really proficient with her kit, it’s possible to re-spec them mid-fight. While it is high risk and leaves you vulnerable, a quick dropped star can turn into a stun or gravity well that might change the round for your team.
This is the foundation of her kit, and getting the handle of it will determine a lot of how your rounds end up. Astra does not have ability interactions the same way other agents do, either. Rather than buying each ability you will only buy her stars with all her other abilities being stocked for single use (or double use for her smokes).
The kicker, with Astra, is that each ability has its own cooldown which it is based around, so, if you want to use five smokes in one round? You can. If you want to use 5 gravity wells? You can. Five Nova pulses? Well, you get the point. Don’t be afraid of it giving away your plans by dropping them on the map before a round starts. They only appear two seconds before a round begins and can even be used as a feint. When the defender sees numerous stars dropped onto site, it will likely force at least a partial rotation, then you reclaim your stars and drop them on the site you actually intend to push.
Ultimate: Cosmic Divide
Astra deploys a dark, ominous barrier on the map, splitting it in half for the next twenty seconds. While her ultimate is active, no one, on either team, will be able to see through the barrier, acting as one giant smoke. Gunfire will not penetrate the barrier and even sounds will be muffled on the other side.Be mindful of using this for aggressive plants because sounds can still be heard, just not as loud. A grenade or flash may come through in your general direction and you find yourself dead because abilities can still make it through the barrier.
Astra must be in Astral Form to use this ultimate, taking her out of the action for a short moment, use the RMB to set the point and then rotate it however you like before locking it into place with the LMB. Out of all the ultimates in the game, none change the look and layout of the map quite like Cosmic Divide. This ultimate has great potential on both offense and defense but in a similar way: when attacking a bomb site.
On offense, it’s great to split the map in half to favor your team, allowing them to take sites without even firing a bullet. The dampened sound will help your team push aggressively without the brutal sound cues that come with stomping around. In the post plant, it is just as game breaking.
Astra is a very economy focused agent. Her stars cost 200 credits apiece and are the fuel to her fire, since all her abilities consume her stars. At least you won’t have to worry about buying them individually. You will start with two per round, and purchasing a third is never a bad option since it will let you use all three of your abilities in a round. How you spend them and how often you do will determine your econ. In early rounds, a base pistol or a frenzy are great, as is the Stinger. Just ensure that, by the time you full buy, you can afford the stars as well as your heavy shield and assault rifle.
Astra’s strategies are less map dependent as they are situation dependent. Look for common choke points or spots defenders love to hold for her Nova Pulse and Gravity Well. Her smokes serve as well as Omen or Brimstone can, smoking off bad angles the enemy can hold over you and are better off uncontested. Always look for cover players are hiding behind, or spots where they are waiting to push. Astra’s abilities are great to dissuade players from taking aggressive and cheeky angles on your team and taking advantage and punishing those players will be important.