Icebox, which will be the fifth map in “Valorant” when it launches, is a secret base tucked away in the Arctic. Inspired by movies like “The Thing” and “Alien,” Icebox is littered with shipping containers, drab gray buildings and machinery painted in industrial-warning-sign orange. Like most maps, Icebox has two bomb sites, which Riot assembled to be “combat arenas.”
“Icebox was designed to emphasize skirmishes, sharp aim and adaptive play,” said Salvatore Garozzo, level design lead at Riot Games. “The gameplay premise of Icebox is that each of the sites are intended to be complex combat spaces that feature plenty of cover and verticality.”
Most Valorant maps thus far have had some unique interactive element: on Bind, players can hop through teleporters to rotate across the map; on Ascent, doors can be closed to hamper access to a site; on Split, they can risk taking ropes (internally, Riot calls these “ascenders”) as a shortcut. In a way, Icebox is a return to Split’s ascenders — with a 90 degree twist. The map will feature a zip line for quick horizontal travel.
“Valorant’s” seasonal structure is built around Acts and Episodes, with three of the former making up the latter. Riot initially planned to release one new map per episode — the map Ascent kicked off the launch of Act 1 — but expedited the release of Icebox in response to player demand.
“We take community requests seriously and do everything in our power to provide our players with the best experience possible,” Dexter Yu, senior producer at Riot Games, wrote in a post. “Therefore, we prioritized early testing of our new content with players vs. additional polish. … By releasing Icebox in a beta state on Oct 13th, we allow players to join us in our efforts to make this map competition ready.”
The new Act will also include a refreshed battle pass, which includes skins, gun buddies, player cards and titles and sprays. It will cost 1,000 VP ($10) to unlock all 50 tiers, though players can also get some free rewards without buying the full pass.
If you like the way souped up gaming PCs look, you’ll love the new Singularity skin pack. The bundle will set you back 8,700 VP ($87) if you buy the whole set and includes skins for the Sheriff, Spectre, Phantom, Ares and melee weapon, along with a player card, spray and gun buddy.
The skin series has a chaotic origin story. During production, none of its designers could quite agree on what it was. “Some people thought it was a space rock or some high-tech weapon created by a far-future race. And other people thought it was literally an alien or some abstract life form,” said Preeti Khanolkar, producer at Riot Games. The confusion led to a design exercise focused on solidifying the concept. “We listened to dark drone sounds and looked at pictures of black holes, exploding stars, crystals, and unrefined obsidian on the Internet for an hour, which got us closer to agreeing on a vision. But what really brought us together was watching a video of a washing machine stuffed with bricks spinning out of control. That ridiculous video helped us find the one key word to describe the feeling we were trying to hit: unstable.”
The new agent, Skye, is sure to be a welcome addition after recent changes to Sage, the only other healer in the game, took the character out of the meta. Skye is Australian, and uses what the game calls “trinkets” to summon beasts that can gather information, flash opposing players, and heal teammates.
Skye’s abilities include:
- Trailblazer: Firing this ability sends out a controllable “Tasmanian tiger,” which switches the player’s perspective to that of the “tiger.” While roaming, the player can fire again, leaping forward to concuss and damage opponents. Think Sova’s drone plus Raze’s boombot, and that’s roughly this ability.
- Guiding light: This sends out a hawk — similar to Jett’s smokes — that a player can direct with their cursor. The hawk transforms into a flash when triggered by the player. If the flash hits an enemy in their line of sight, it will signal the player with an audio cue, giving players important information about the presence of enemies, or lack thereof.
- Regrowth: Skye’s regrowth ability heals players within a certain radius and in line of sight. The amount of healing is based on a pool of total healing energy, similar to Viper’s toxins, and can be reused until that pool is depleted. Notably, Skye cannot heal herself.
- Seekers: Seekers will be familiar to anyone who has played “Valorant’s” deathmatch mode. Activating the ability sends out three ghostly green orbs which track down the nearest three opponents. If they reach their target, that target becomes briefly nearsighted.
Though the actual stats on her abilities are still unclear, the well-rounded nature of her kit could make her a staple of future games. Agents with flashes are always in demand when composing a team; but on top of that, Skye’s Trailblazer ability and Seekers ultimate gives players valuable information about enemy positioning and a yet-unseen team-wide heal.
The addition isn’t entirely a surprise. Battlepass tier 48 — similar to tier 48 during the last Act — unlocks a player card that visually hinted at the new agent. Some players had also speculated that a recent patch that added a dog bowl to the map Ascent was an Easter egg, hinting at an animal-centric agent, which Skye is. Earlier this week, Riot confirmed Skye’s addition to the game in a graphic outlining the Act 3 update, and later releasing a teaser video showing off the agent’s abilities in action.