I recently had a chat with someone who rather outlandishly claimed Battlefield 3’s Metro map is the greatest multiplayer map of all time, almost causing my head to implode like a ripe watermelon just trying to comprehend it. But it’s an opinion, just like any other, and a marker that perhaps we’re all looking for something a little bit different from our multiplayer experiences.
There’s a common thought that there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about map design. And to some degree there is, but the strength is in building maps geared towards either specific playstyles or, best of all, attempting to creating a map that can appeal to anyone, regardless of how they play. Any of these that can achieve this near-mythical aim are rightly heralded as greats, giving birth to timeless classics like de_dust 2, COD4’s Shipment, Halo’s Blood, Unreal Tournament’s Facing Worlds, Quake 3’s Longest yard, and Battlefield’s Wake Island.
For every great map though, there are heaps that can elicit a weary sigh when they come up the rotation. Back in the day, server browsers also used to be the standard, while many games today opt for generic matchmaking that can force a map whether you like it or not. Siege, I’m looking at you.
So I thought it would be interesting to see what you folks think makes a bad multiplayer map, and which maps you believe are needlessly popular despite their apparent downsides. I think it’s an important discussion because, as great as a game may be, it can live or die by the quality of its maps.
I’ll weigh in first with a couple that really stand out to me. The obvious first choice for me is Battlefield’s Metro, which stands head and shoulders above the rest as the weakest map in the Battlefield series, bar perhaps BF1’s Fort de Vaux. Both are actually fairly similar in how they play, truth be told. Metro is Battlefield 3’s smallest map, in a series which has always been about the grandeur of large-scale warfare. It was DICE trying to emulate Call of Duty in a game which offered nowhere near the same level of precision in its shooting mechanics as Activision’s shooter.
It’s essentially a linear tunnel with an outdoor bit at one end, forcing the two teams to headbutt one another endlessly in tight corridors. Before long it becomes a war of tedium and attrition. Medics rez as fast as they can, grenades are flung endlessly, and every round plays out pretty much the same. If I could incinerate one map from the face of the Earth, this would be it.
The second map I’d have to pick is Rainbow Six Siege’s Bartlett University, although it’s a very close-run thing between it and Tower. The amount of spawn peeking afforded in this map is ridiculous; there are no exterior walls to blow open, just a single front door and one hatch. It’s so obviously favoured towards Defenders that it’s painful, and it’s clearly a map designed for Terrorist Hunt that Ubisoft hastily transformed into a competitive map. Thankfully it’s out of the Ranked rotation, and Ubisoft is at least showing it’s willing to make significant changes to maps going forward. They’re going to have to be significant if they want to salvage Bartlett.
So which maps in multiplayer games do you think are inexplicably popular? What makes a map bad? Let us know your thoughts below!