VALORANT's First-Ever Indian Character Is Paving A Path Beyond Tokenism In Video Games

Harbor from VALORANT's trailer
Harbor from VALORANT's trailerYouTube

When it comes to the gaming industry, we are still miles away from competing with western game developers and their infrastructure. With time and resources, this gap can be bridged in the near future. However, it is always a proud and exciting moment when we see Indian characters or play as one in famous game franchises. We have Ajay Ghale ravaging through Kyrat in Ubisoft’s Far Cry 4, our own Indian-Australian treasure hunter, Chloe Frazer in the Unchartered franchise, who can give Lara Croft a run for her money, Dhalsim in Street Fighter, Farah in the Prince of Persia franchise and several other Indian characters. In Civilization VI, you can even play as Gandhi and lead India to a glorious future. Today, we are going to explore an exciting new Indian character in the world of VALORANT.

A 5v5 intense first-person tactical shooting game, VALORANT, is the craze of the global online gaming world today. It has thousands of players from all over the world and is as popular among gamers as Counter-Strike was in the early 2000s. Developed by Riot Games, the company was founded in 2006. In 2009, they released their debut title, League of Legends, which acclaimed worldwide popularity. League of Legends went on to become the most-played PC game in the world and a key driver of the explosive growth of esports.

In 2021, VALORANT came out where each player must play as an agent. Each agent has four abilities and unique backstories. They have real-life combat arsenal like flashbangs and grenades, along with superhuman abilities like teleportation, conjuration, shooting sonic beams, and more. Each character must level up their skill points to cast an ultimate, which can change the tide of the battle. There are twenty agents/playable characters in the game, Astra, Breach, Brimstone, and Sova, to name a few. The setting of the game is near-future Earth.

Most of the characters have European or American origins. However, three weeks ago, Valorant added its twenty-first character, an Indian agent named Harbor. The first trailer video shows Harbor cruising through the streets of Delhi, on his bike, and dodging bullets. It also tells the viewers about Harbor’s origin story. Harbor’s real name is Varun Batra and he worked for an organization called Realm, which collects ancient relics. On a mission inside a cave in Mumbai, Varun came across a relic, which emitted a strange aura. A senior operative and Varun’s partner betrayed him and opened fire on him, as he wanted the relic for himself. It was then when a wall of water rose up, blocking the bullets and protecting Varun.

Realm now hunts Varun, instead of ancient relics. Two months after that incident, Varun has been recruited into VALORANT’s group of heroes and goes by the name of Harbor. He has a diverse skill set and can conjure barriers of water to slow down or block enemies. Having mastered the element of water, Harbor can also summon a bulletproof shield made out of water. He looks like an ideal team player and gamers worldwide are excited to play with this new character. The Indian agent has a quirky sense of humor and talks in Hindi in the trailer. Aside from the brilliant graphics and gameplay, the trailer is accompanied by the track, Raja, released by Valorant and featuring Indian artists, ARB4, Tienas, and Mangal Suvarna. It is a Hindi-English electronic hip-hop track, with Carnatic fusion backing tracks. On the inclusion of Harbor in the Valorant universe, a fan of the franchise says “We are witnessing actual decent and memorable character design that's diverse without it feeling forced. Truly great work”.

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