How to play Vatu in Paladins – Playstyle, loadouts, tips and tricks

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Paladins Vatu guide

Image by Hi-Rez Studios.

With the Shadows update, Paladins welcomed a new face (or rather, mask) to its ever-increasing roster of champions: Vatu, the Shadow. Vatu was detailed in a preview update at the start of May, and as of today, he is available to purchase and play in Paladins. In this guide, we will go over Vatu’s strengths and weaknesses, his optimal card loadouts, and some tips to help you get a hang of him.

Abilities

Vatu’s primary abilities are Ambush, Dash, and Shadow Bombs.

  • Dash lets Vatu rush forward a short distance, gaining 60% damage reduction while dashing. Dash has a very quick 5-second cooldown and can store up to three charges. Vatu can use Dash vertically, and can also Dash while mid-air.
  • When using Ambush, Vatu teleports directly to the enemy at his crosshairs and inflicts 200 damage to all enemies in a small area around himself. He can re-activate the ability within the next 4 seconds to Ambush another enemy. With the Omnipresence talent, Vatu can reactivate Ambush twice per cast and can teleport to teammates.
  • Shadow Bombs is Vatu’s secondary damage-dealer ability. When casting it, he sends out three projectiles that attach to enemies and explode a moment later, dealing 200 damage each in a small area. With the Unerring talent, Shadow Bombs hone in on enemies and have a slightly bigger area of effect.

Vatu’s ultimate ability is Nightfall. After charging for up to 3 seconds, Vatu dashes a great distance forward, dealing 800 damage to all enemies he passes through, and stunning them for 1.25 seconds. Nightfall cannot be interrupted by crowd control abilities, and its dash length extends the longer Vatu charges up, reaching maximum distance after 2 seconds.

Overview and playstyle

Vatu falls under the category of “edgy ninja,” an archetype that is inseparable from the hero shooter genre. In gameplay terms, he is a highly mobile, squishy skirmisher. His role in Paladins is to flank the enemy team and pick off priority targets in their backline: their supports and snipers. To achieve this, Vatu comes stock with two separate movement abilities, which is a common feature of flank champions in Paladins. Carefully managing the cooldowns of these abilities is key to playing Vatu successfully, because he is very fragile. He has the second lowest HP pool in the entire game, and has to get very close to enemy champions in order to do his job.

Vatu is somewhat similar to Paladins champion Koga in both aesthetic and gameplay, but his primary weapon sets him apart in a big way. Vatu uses Kunai: a projectile weapon that has no damage drop-off over range and deals no bonus headshot damage. The Kunai fan out in a pretty wide arc, and they have strong projectile drop, reinforcing the need for Vatu to stay in close quarters if he wants to confirm kills.

With Dash and Ambush, Vatu makes getting close to enemies easy. However, you should try to hold onto your Dash charges until you actually need them, because they are your only reliable way to disengage from bad situations. It’s also advised that you include multiple defensive cards in your loadouts. Vatu can dish out a healthy amount of damage through his base kit and talents, but he could always use a bump in survivability.

Loadouts

Luckily, Vatu arrived in Paladins with a very strong selection of cards at his disposal. He can build card loadouts to support a variety of effective playstyles. Below are some combinations to consider.

  • Sustained damage: Shattered Worlds + Outnumbered + Assassin’s Tools. This loadout allows Vatu to continuously fire Kunai and Shadow Bombs, dishing out damage with no downtime. The combo works with both the Unerring and Enveloping Shadows talents but is stronger with Enveloping Shadows.
  • Durability: Infiltration + Gathering Shadow. When taken with the Omnipresence talent, this combo gives Vatu a lot of extra durability when diving on enemies.
  • Nightfall spam: Deadly Dash + Shadow Garrote. This loadout allows Vatu to use his ultimate ability much more frequently. It can be especially strong against squishier teams, and on maps with less open space, like Bazaar and Jaguar Falls.
  • Failsafe: Final Sight + Infiltration + Gathering Shadow. This combination allows Vatu to get away from losing fights, or turn them around in his favor. For the loadout to work, Final Sight must be maxed out; that way, Vatu’s naturally low health pool ensures that the card activates regularly, giving him just enough time to escape or reset.