We take a closer look at the maps in VALORANT and see if they can be improved.

19:00, 22 Nov 2020

With the release of Icebox, VALORANT has now officially increased its map pool to five, but some of the community aren’t exactly thrilled about this, and the debate on how VALORANT maps can be improved has been one of the most prevalent ones since the beta.

From deep video analysis on the map designs, to players on Reddit expressing their woes and concerns, we’ve identified the major areas in which the community would like to see changed or improved upon.
 

Choke Points

One of the initial complaints about the VALORANT maps back in the beta was the fact that there were way too many choke points and they were often very narrow or small, and six months down the line, these complaints have not gone anywhere. For example, the entrance to the A bombsite on Split is extremely thin, and it is the only way to get onto the bombsite for attackers with the exception of A Heaven.

While players have figured out over time that the Jett dash mitigates some of these challenges, it contributes to the issue that Split still remains as one of the more CT-heavy maps. The design of this chokepoint also means that there is an imbalance of ability expenditure for attackers. It takes a lot more utilities to be able to work your way onto A in comparison to the number of utilities it takes to defend it. In a game like VALORANT, where timings and how you use those utilities is crucial, this kind of disadvantage is something that becomes incredibly annoying and frustrating for players to deal with overtime.

That’s just one example, A Short on Bind also has similar faults as well as B Long on Icebox. The space within these choke points, as well as the regularity, also lead to a feeling of claustrophobia - something players have frequently complained about since the beta. Furthermore, players are also required to clear more angles and corners which can be a good thing and a bad thing, but on a map like Icebox, it creates a level of unnecessary chaos that becomes difficult for players to strategise around.
 

Lack of “Mid”

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While the innovation of three bombsites on Haven is something that has impressed some of the VALORANT player base, the fundamental lack of a defining ‘mid’ area on some of the maps has been troubling. This issue is most prominent on Bind where it’s caused a headache for a lot of top-tier teams because it’s very difficult to come up with a default. Not having a defining mid area means you have to play very differently in order to take control of the map and it’s pretty much impossible in some cases to split up bombsites and execute fakes. 

VALORANT is often compared to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and in CSGO, Mirage is one of the all-time favourite maps precisely because you’re able to take mid control, Split up A and B and go back to either site to execute. Not being able to replicate this means certain playstyles and strategies are discouraged. While Split arguably has a better layout when it comes to a defining mid area, the specific places you have to go through to split up the team are big choke points which means the issue is merely softened but still very much present. One of the most common ways players have been playing the game is to group up as five and tackle the site together, especially on maps like Bind and Haven. While this is a tactic that does work and can be entertaining to watch, the lack of opportunities for defaults means the game is at serious risk of becoming less creative and stale. 

Ascent, on the other hand, has the best layout when it comes to mapping out a logical and balanced mid area but the other parts of the map still contribute to the polarising viewpoints from the community since its release. 
 

What Makes a Map a “Good” Map?

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This is a very difficult question to answer because player experiences vary from one to another but after gathering months of discussion on Reddit, Twitch, and in pro play, there are a few things that seem to be a unanimous must on the community’s list.

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As we mentioned earlier, Mirage from CS:GO is often hailed as one of the most balanced maps in the game, and of course, nobody expects Riot Games to design an exact replica but taking some inspiration and feedback from the community would certainly help if they had plans to add more maps or rework some of the existing ones. It’s clear that the number of angles, corners, choke points and places for players to camp has been frustrating for the player base so whether that’s reducing some of these or redesigning them, something needs to be done to make everything more balanced.

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The agent abilities mean it’s a more complicated feat to balance maps because a Sage Wall, for example, can change the whole dynamics of the round. However, a few points of contention need to be added especially when it comes to mid control because T side can feel impossible sometimes, especially when it comes to solo queue.

Lastly, as seen in a recent popular Reddit post, some players are calling Riot to give the community a chance to submit their own designs, believing that it’s the only way the developers will be able to understand what it is that the fanbase really want and need. While this is definitely a good idea, and it’s something that worked for CS:GO, the nuances of VALORANT maps are a lot harder to grasp. Either way, Riot have actively been trying to improve the game, and with more Agents on the way, there’s a lot of potentials that the maps we see now will not be their final forms. 

Images via Riot Games

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