VALORANT is getting an eighth map, Pearl. Set in an underwater city in Portugal, Pearl is a straightforward map with no design gimmicks like teleporters or doors, according to a press release from Riot Games.
The map is slated to come to VALORANT in Episode 5 Act 1 on June 22.
Pearl is a three lane map with small mid and long range wings. From early gameplay previews, Pearl’s middle area looks as though it will be hotly contested. There is also a good balance of long range and short range angles. Attackers will descend into the Defender territory towards the spike sites.
“After Icebox, Breeze, and Fracture, we wanted to make a map that was a little more straightforward,” Joe Lansford, a level designer at Riot, said in the release. “What you get is something deceptively simple, strategically speaking. That said, it still has some twists and all the depth you’d expect from a VALORANT map.”
Visually, Pearl was designed around its underwater setting.
“The inspiration for Pearl started from an older underwater theme pitch concept, which was combined with a newer pitch that revolved around a major city flooded from climate change,” Brian Yam, the concept art lead, said.
After that, the team chose the Portuguese setting. They took inspiration from the location in many design elements. The map features murals from actual Portuguese muralists and a traditional piece of Portuguese music, a fado, from Portuguese artists.
“The idea of showing the sustainment of cities underwater seemed to be the right visual direction that everyone was excited about,” Yam said. “It’s a nice visual juxtaposition of Kingdom Industries structures with older structures of Portugal.”
From a lore point of view, Pearl is also the first map set in Omega Earth. The “second” Earth, Omega is the parallel world in the VALORANT universe. Agents from Omega have travelled to the main Alpha Earth to steal radianite in previous cinematics.
Pearl is slated to be one of the only VALORANT maps that doesn’t have a signature “gimmick.” According to the press release, this almost wasn’t the case. The map was originally codenamed “Pitt” on account of a giant open hole that players could fall into. That idea was later scrapped.
“We moved away from that direction because it didn’t quite match the goals of the map,” Lansford said.
The seventh map added to VALORANT was Fracture. Before that were Breeze, Icebox and Ascent. The original three maps in the VALORANT beta were Split, Haven and Bind.
Coby Zucker is Upcomer's resident CS:GO writer. He's also played League of Legends at the collegiate level and is a frequent visitor in TFT Challenger Elo. He's a firm believer that Toronto should be the next big esports hub city.