The next VALORANT map has finally been officially revealed in Sunset, confirming hints that Riot was working on a map set in their own backyard in Los Angeles, California. While the map designers admit that there were some unique challenges in making Sunset, doing so was a labor of love for the city the developer calls home.
Sunset was first shown behind closed doors to members of the media before the start of the final days of VALORANT Champions 2023, which took place in Los Angeles and concluded at the iconic Kia Forum. At the special event, lead map designer Joe Langford spoke extensively about what went into creating the map, saying he relished the opportunity to make a map in LA as a locally grown Californian.
Sunset, a two-site map that prioritizes quickly taking mid control and utilizing unique cover opportunities to catch opponents off guard, is littered with LA-inspired elements like food trucks, a skate park similar to the iconic Channel Park in San Pedro, the easily recognizable art deco and mission-style architecture, a classic movie theater, graffiti murals created by actual local artists, and even the iconic ‘golden hour’ mood lighting. The lighting was one of the greater challenges, though, with Lansford saying that the team worked hard to find the “sweet spot between mood and gameplay,” as the full golden hour lighting effect made it hard to see shadows.
Lansford couldn’t help but share his excitement for making Sunset, saying that the team took numerous trips around the city to draw inspiration and take photos for reference and materials.
Several of the more complex ideas initially in mind for Sunset were scaled back, a recurring trend in VALORANT map development; Pearl featured a massive hole in the ground early in its development when it was still referred to by the codename Pitt. An original version of Sunset featured an acid pit underneath an angled hallway that would deal damage to players like a Viper’s Snakebite if they stayed in it too long. An Ascent-like door that had an attacker and defender-side switch was also considered.
These ideas didn’t stick, though, as the team went for a more simplified approach. Lansford explained that this was due to the map development team’s philosophy of “dialing back [map] complexity” and letting the complexity come from the players via their agent selections and lineup creation. During the media event, numerous pro players showcased that during the preview match, using the popular Harbor-Viper wall combo to take control of a site quickly, prompting the defending team to experiment with both passive and aggressive defenses to try and stop it.
Sunset will officially join the VALORANT map pool on Tuesday, Aug. 29, at the start of Episode Seven, Act Two. Sunset will join the returning Breeze in replacing the departing Fracture and Pearl.