Just a day into the start of VALORANT Episode Four: Disruption, it’s clear that the biggest shakeup to the game’s meta isn’t the introduction of new duelist Neon, but rather the re-emergence of the Ares.
Episode Four began with the introduction of Patch 4.0, which included significant nerfs to the widely used Spectre and an improved fire rate for the Ares. The nerfs to the Spectre include an earlier firing error during a spray and increased recoil multipliers while running/jumping, making long-range sprays and close-moving sprays more inaccurate.
This nerf has paved the way for the Ares to become the new popular weapon pick in second round buys and force round buys, with an in-game cost of only 1,550 credits. The Ares was already a decent gun for its price with a high fire rate, good damage output, high wall penetration, and a large clip size. But now, the fire rate is even higher and removing the spin-up cycle means its time-to-kill is drastically reduced.
The popularity of the Ares has the whole VALORANT community talking now, but it’s not all positive. Take a look at the VALORANT subreddit and you’ll see a few posts from players who are unhappy that the time-to-kill speed of the Ares is now faster than that of either the Phantom or Vandal, which each cost twice as much as an Ares. The Ares’ presence effectively turns the second round into a buy round for either side, regardless of the outcome of the pistol round.
The pros are talking too, with most of them saying that the Ares is now overpowered. Just search “Ares” on Twitter and you’ll see an entire feed of pros commenting on it. XSET’s IGL dephh called it “a value Odin on steroids,” while Cloud9 leaf said it’s “basically [an] extended mag Stinger.” TSM Academy IG Payen shared a screengrab from his team’s match in an NSG tournament, showing nine Ares being used in round three.
The rise of the Ares does bring back memories of the Stinger meta from early on in 2021. Eventually, the Stinger had its fire rate and accuracy significantly nerfed in Patch 2.03, then again in Patch 3.0, with the weapon now effectively not being used much at all. If and when nerfs do come for the Ares, ideally Riot can find that sweet spot where the Ares isn’t relied upon all the time but also isn’t rendered useless.