Ascent, a key map of Valorant development

From the start, Valorant developers have been fairly transparent about their creative processes. Today, they spoke about the creation of Ascent, a map that has been very important in the development of Valorant. We discover thatAscent has long been the prototype map of Valorant.

Ascent was the first map developed by Riot Games for Valorant, when the game didn't even have a real name yet. Determined to make a competitive FPS that will appeal to gamers, the designers decided from the start to take a classic structure with three lanes, two bombs sites and transverse corridors.

In order to make Valorant stand out from other games, the developers also wanted to add some additional mechanics to this classic base. This is how mechanical doors that can be opened or closed remotely were added.

Ascent prototype sketch
Ascent prototype sketch

When you look at Ascent's first sketch, it's hard to recognise the current map. It's much larger and made up of a multitude of small, interconnected rooms, rather than corridors connecting key places. It was very easy to bypass Point A and B, which would allow assaults from all sides. There is also differences in elevation, point B being much lower than point A.

It's from this first iteration that Riot Games determined what would make Valorant unique. Weapons power and damage reduction have been set based on this map's minimum and maximum distances. Its architecture also made it possible to determine the power of the Agents' different abilities.

Screenshot of a prototype version of Valorant, 4 years ago.
Screenshot of a prototype version of Valorant, 4 years ago

Because it was a lab used throughout development, the map never really stayed the same. One version of Ascent even contained a tall tower that overlooked the two sites, before it was eventually removed. This internal particular status is the reason why Ascent was only completed after the three others, Bind, Haven and Split. These latter benefited from the experiences and ideas developed in Ascent.

The development of Ascent would have lasted almost 5 years. Much of this delay is due to the fact that the game was built around the map, rather than the other way around. Still, it's a good indicator of how much work it requires to create a map in a competitive FPS. Creating an Agent is much easier and faster (keeping everything in proportion of course).

If we listen to social media, a lot of players seem to dislike Ascent, some would even like to see the map removed. But we can easily imagine that the developers hold this map close to their heart. Perhaps the imperfections the map is blamed for can be explained by the fact that it's ultimately a prototype.

For more information and details regarding the creation of Ascent, visit the official website of Valorant.