Community-made VALORANT maps might not come anytime soon, according to design director Joe Ziegler. But Riot’s still dedicated to increasing map variety.
VALORANT’s closed beta released with three maps before Ascent and Icebox were added later on. And while each one offers a different feature and theme, some are definitely more successful than others.
Though there are only five at the moment, Ziegler said a “couple more” would help Riot feel “comfortable” with the game’s map diversity in last month’s Dev Diaries. In the meantime, assessed the tactical shooter’s current inventory.
Here are our map rankings for VALORANT.
VALORANT players either love Split or hate Split—and most fans hate it.
Riot tweaked the map and adjusted barrier locations in Patch 0.50, giving attacking teams more of a fighting chance. But Split still heavily favors defending teams. In First Strike: North America, for example, defenders won 55 percent of the rounds on the map, according to VLR.gg. No other map has that big of a discrepancy.
It’s simply difficult to push on to either point. Defenders can set up traps, smokes, and one-ways to stall, playing safe until the attackers decide to make a move. And Split’s tight corners and short sightlines are optimal Raze, who can use her grenades and rockets to effortlessly kill unsuspecting enemies with little counterplay.
Unlucky teams that start off on attacker’s side often fall into a deep hole in the first half. This puts the momentum on those who defend first, only needing to string together a couple of rounds to win the match.
While Riot is planning some balance changes to the map, they likely won’t appear until the next act.
Ascent debuted when VALORANT officially launched in June, offering some variety after the closed beta. But its long sight lines and lengthy rotations leave little room for error and require plenty of communication.
For Operator lovers, Ascent is fun. You can post up in the middle of the map and test your aim against any rotators, stragglers, or peekers. And since coordinating the right smokes with a synchronized push is often hard in solo queue, snipers can take advantage of a team’s miscues.
Mobility agents can certainly have a lot of fun on this map, jumping on walls and crates to outplay opponents. And even the nerfed sentinels can hold down a site with well-placed traps.
If a team is able to take over a site and plant, however, it can be hard to retake the point. This is especially problematic for B site, since there are so many angles that players have to look out for. All the enemy’s possible locations can leave your head spinning. Are they at boat house? Hiding in cubby? Behind the double stack? Or simply waiting by B tunnels? If you’re already low on numbers, you’re better off just saving your gun.
Icebox is the tac shooter’s newest map. But it’s receiving some mixed reviews.
The snowy tundra has tight angles, choke points, long rotations, and verticality, making it a nightmare for rusty or inexperienced players. If attacking teams don’t execute their push quickly, they’re liable to get flanked from either site. If the attacking team pushes through and claims a site, they can easily cut off rotations and finish the job.
These aren’t necessarily cons or pros, but perhaps preferences. Jett, Raze, and Omen mains may enjoy the verticality, which helps them get to cheeky vantage points. And players who enjoy skirmishing and deathmatch might like more action that tests their shot. But some tact and strategy is lost on this map, which seems to favor precise gunplay instead.
Patch 1.14 should solve a lot of Icebox’s problems, reducing the height of several vantage points to create simpler crosshair placement. And attackers hitting A won’t have to worry about enemies hiding behind the double stack of Radianite crates, which have now been removed.
Haven is the one map that doesn’t clearly favor defenders over attackers. Players have three options to plant a spike—A, B, or C site—and can easily rotate through their spawn without enemies hearing them. And while defenders are forced to spread their numbers thin across the map, they can quickly rotate from one site to the other.
There are also multiple ways to get on any site, leaving room for interesting pushes and strategies. And this makes getting B control tactically important for both teams. If attackers can control B, for example, they can then pick off stragglers from A and C since they likely won’t be together. If defenders can maintain B control, then they can easily rotate to either site or potentially catch enemies when they’re rotating. Garage is also a pivotal position since it can lead to C, B and the defender’s spawn.
Haven also includes a little bit of everything. Tight choke points (A short and garage), long sight lines (C and A long), and skirmish potential (B). A lot of agents can have fun on this map. Sova can nail enemies from long distance with his ultimate, Jett and Raze can hop onto crates and boxes for great vantage points, and sentinels can set up their defenses to throw off an enemy push.
While there might not be a clear gimmick like ziplines or teleporters, the name of Haven’s game is balance. And it works to perfection.
Bind is definitely a fan-favorite because it’s well balanced and its gimmick, the teleporters, can help for last-minute rotations and major outplays.
The desert-like map doesn’t have a true middle lane, like Split, Icebox, or Ascent. Instead players have to attack or defend two points on each lane, for a total of four. This initially seems problematic for attackers, who are forced to infiltrate a site by pushing through extremely tight lanes (like B site’s Hookah or A site’s Showers). But the teleporters more than compensate for that.
Teams can fake a push into one site, get a pick or two, and then immediately rotate through a teleporter. This can throw off defenders, who may be forced to gamble on a rotation. Defenders, on the other hand, have clear points they need to secure. They just have to execute it well.
Teleporters aside, the map also holds some other interesting features and fair crosshair placement. The cramped Hookah can lead to great gunfights or fiery ends from a grenade or molly. And players can often get a one-vs-one duel in Showers if they want to limit test their aim.
While Bind may slightly favor defenders (52 percent in First Strike: NA), it’s not egregious enough to warrant balance changes. It’s fun, fair, and friendly to both sides.