Riot’s new tactical shooter, Valorant, is all about challenging players’ skills. But while precise aim and careful ability use may be the stars of the game, the maps players actually compete on are its unsung heroes.
According to Salvatore Garozzo, a senior game designer on Valorant who works on the game’s maps team, the design of each map starts with a unique idea. Garozzo refers to this idea as the “puzzle” of each map.
“We start basically every map with that premise of, ‘what is the unique design goal for this?’” Garozzo says. “What puzzle are we posing to the player that’s different than things that they’ve already had to solve in the game?”
Garozzo goes on to explain that the maps should also be different enough that Agents can have some maps that are more fitting for their skills and some maps they aren’t ideal for.
While Polygon was at Riot headquarters in February, the developer showed off two of Valorant’s maps and explained what makes them unique.
Unlike traditional tactical shooter maps, like the ones in Counter Strike, Haven has three sites that defenders need to protect from attackers. Defenders have more ground to cover than on other maps, and attackers can transition from one site to another quickly, since the sites themselves are closer together. But defenders can play more aggressively on Haven than they might be able to on other maps, because there’s more space to retreat if things get ugly.
The addition of an extra bomb site doesn’t change the fact that Haven feels like a traditional tactical shooter map, but it does introduce an interesting new wrinkle that helps the map feel unique.
Bind has the typical two bomb sites, but it doesn’t have a middle area. Most maps have an area called “mid” that both teams have easy access to, making it highly contested. Bind has paths directly to the two bomb sites but no middle area at all. Instead, the map has two one-way teleporters.
The teleporters let players transition from one bomb site to the other quickly, but they make a loud noise any time a player comes through. This means that anytime they’re used, everyone on the map knows, which opens dozens of opportunities for tricky teleportation plays and fakes.
With the ability to teleport between one area of the map to the other, Bind has the chaotic, action-packed feeling of a small map, without actually being too small. While most small tactical shooter maps involve a lot of very short angles and quick fights, the teleporters allow Bind to have a few long hallways that help mix up the kinds of fights that happen.
While these are only two of the maps that Valorant will have on release, there are likely to be more in the future. And after the game is released later this summer, Riot will continue to add maps, though just how often that will happen isn’t quite clear.