Valorant is getting a new map with the release of Episode 5 Act 1 on June 22nd. It's called Pearl and it's set in an underwater town in Portugal. That sounds interesting, but the same update will also see the removal of Split, one of Valorant's original three levels.
Split was included in Valorant's original beta, and honestly it's the map I've played most in the shooter. I liked it because it felt like the map most reminiscent of the Counter-Strike levels I was used to. It's not a favourite of the game's community however, and is generally considered imbalanced despite Riot making revisions over the years. Riot have therefore decided that they want to have no more than seven maps available in-game at a time, and that Split is the map that should be removed to make way for Pearl.
"Learning a new map can be one of the toughest parts of a tac shooter. Going from 'learned' to 'mastered' is even harder. Doing that on a whole bunch of maps is a steep learning curve," writes Joe 'Pearl Hogbash' Lansford, Valorant's level design lead, in a press release about the change. "Not to mention all the combinations of agents and utility. It’s a lot! Simply put, too many maps to learn can feel overwhelming and doesn’t give some of you the opportunity to really go deep on any one of them."
"We expect some of you to wish we chose another map, but we promise we are not picking on Split," Lansford continues. "We looked at a bunch of different factors when making this decision. Player sentiment, time since release, past and future planned updates, what the map brings in terms of strategic variance, as well as where Pearl fits into all of it (to name a few). When we plugged all those numbers into the magic algorithm machine, we landed on Split."
While I'm sorry to see Split go, Pearl does look neat in the trailer above. It's set in an underwater town, but that doesn't mean you'll be getting your feet wet. Instead, scifi "radianite-infused polycarbonate" walls hold the water at the outskirts, leaving the town intact. It also sounds like Pearl might still give me the Counter-Strike vibes I got from Split, since despite the fantastical setting, it's a relatively stripped-back three-lane level without the mechanical twists of some other Valorant maps.
When it launches on June 22nd, episode 5 will also add a new player rank, "Ascendant", which sits above Diamond and below Immortal, and fix various bugs with agents and maps.
Microsoft and Riot Games announced a partnership this past week which will eventually bring Riot's games to Game Pass, including access to all Valorant agents as part of your subscription.