Riot Games has unveiled the Valorant Episode 5 release date – the update adds new map Pearl to the FPS game alongside a brand-new skin line called ‘Prelude to Chaos’ and a fresh battle pass. The new map, Pearl, is the game’s eighth and the first to be set on Omega Earth. It’s a straightforward, no-frills map with heavy Portuguese influence that’s also set underwater. Valorant Episode 5 – titled ‘Dimension’ – goes live on June 22 with Act 1.
“Since Pearl takes place on Omega Earth,” explains art lead Brian Yam, “we wanted to explore how Omega Kingdom would approach climate change and how we would convey this idea visually. The idea of showing the sustainment of cities underwater seemed to be the right visual direction that everyone was excited about.” Pearl also features murals designed by actual Portuguese muralists, and a traditional piece of music from Portuguese artists.
The new map has been designed to keep things a little more simple – Pearl is a three lane map with small, mid, and long range wings, but no mobility tools. Level Designer Joe Lansford says, “After Icebox, Breeze, and Fracture, we wanted to make a map that was a little more straightforward. Pearl demands committed engagements, without the rotation and mobility support of doors, ascenders, and teleporters – what you get is something deceptively simple, strategically speaking.”
If you’re wondering what this means for the game’s competitive map pool, the answer is simple: the team has decided to rotate Split out of the competitive and unrated queue pools on June 22 in order to preserve a seven map selection. Lansford says, “Last year, we were really excited to get to seven maps because it meant tournament best-of-fives could have two map bans without any repeat picks.” Pearl will join the competitive queue on July 12, while esports events will see the rotation happen after LCQs in August to give pro players a little more time to adapt to the new map.
Riot says it feels that seven maps is a nice spot that offers a balance between variety and mastery, without demanding that players learn too many maps. The team says it looked at player sentiment, time since release, planned updates, what maps offer in terms of strategic variance, and where Pearl fits into the map rotation, before making its decision. Lansford says, “We promise we are not picking on Split – we’re pretty sure it will be back sometime in the future though. Maybe even with some tweaks?”
Episode 5 Act 1 also sees the arrival of a new battle pass, which will cost 1,000 VP and features the usual range of skins, player cards, sprays, and gun buddies. Also joining is the new ‘Prelude to Chaos’ skinline. This is a dark, sci-fi themed set which principal artist Chris ‘fragloser’ Stone says is inspired by his love for classic arena shooters such as Quake III, Half-Life, and Unreal Tournament 99, citing his “nostalgia for the industrial, heavy shapes mixed with potent and often unstable energy sources” found in those games.
Associate art director Sean Marino says, “A lot of players loved the Reaver skins but we didn’t have a sci-fi skin that hit the same dark tone as Reaver. We literally asked ourselves, ‘what would edgelords who love sci-fi want in a skin? What would it feel like to kill a demon?’” Lead cosmetics producer Preeti Khanolkar adds, “We want all skins to feel powerful no matter their design, but for Prelude to Chaos we especially wanted to tap into the fantasy of being absolutely unstoppable, like a force of pure chaos and destruction.”
Riot recently announced that it has solved Valorant’s map diversity problem, so we’ll see how the introduction of Pearl affects this. We’ve got the best Valorant settings for FPS and low latency as well as a Valorant agents tier list if you’re jumping into Episode 5 for yourself. If you haven’t played yet, all Valorant agents are coming to Gamepass, so there’s no better time to try it out for yourself.