Riot wanted a ‘deceptively simple’ VALORANT map in Pearl, but considered adding a hole in the ground

There's a hole in the site on the map in the bottom of the sea. Well, there was one.

Image via Riot Games

After unique takes on maps on Icebox, Breeze, and Fracture, the VALORANT level designers and developers wanted a more “straightforward” design for the eighth map, Pearl. That’s why they ended up scrapping their original idea for a dangerous open hole in the ground.

In a short Q&A with the VALORANT dev team, level designer Joe Lansford explained why the newest map went by the codename “Pitt” prior to its release. Originally, the underground cylinder in mid used to be an open pit that players could fall down and die in, reminiscent of the Well stage of the Overwatch map Ilios. Early on in development, that pit was actually located in the center of the B site, which would have proved especially daunting to mobile agents like Jett, Raze, or Neon.

Image via Riot Games

Eventually, the team shifted their goals for what they wanted in the new map, opting for a more “deceptively simple” approach without unique elements like closable doors, ascenders, teleporters, or ziplines. Thus, the team went away from having a big hole in the center of a site because that element “didn’t quite match the goals of the map.”

Lansford added that “Pearl demands committed engagements, without the rotation and
mobility support of doors, ascenders, or teleporters,” invoking the more traditional feel of a CS:GO map. Pearl is a standard three-lane map with longer main entrances to each of the sites, plus a smaller middle corridor known as Mid.

Setting-wise, it’s the first map in VALORANT’s rotation to take place on Omega Earth, and of course also the first located underwater, in a sustainable underwater city with architecture, music, and artwork inspired by Portugal. The music and art itself were directly created by Portuguese artists.

Pearl will officially release in-game on June 22, after the start of Episode Five, Act One.

About the author
Scott Robertson

VALORANT lead staff writer, also covering CS:GO, FPS games, other titles, and the wider esports industry. Watching and writing esports since 2014. Previously wrote for Dexerto, Upcomer, Splyce, and somehow MySpace. Jack of all games, master of none.