Strong settings can really help to make a game, but while single-player locales are often lauded, quality multiplayer maps tend to be less recognised. That just won’t do, so this week we’re sharing the online arenas in which we most enjoy pwning noobs.
Liam | Temple - Perfect Dark
As I mulled over this week’s topic, I began to realise just how many great multiplayer stages I’ve come across over the years. My first instinct was to go with Pokémon Stadium from Super Smash Bros. Melee, but then I remembered Stack from GoldenEye and how much fun that used to be.
If we’re talking shooters, though, I can’t ignore the greatness of Call of Duty 4, a game that’s littered with memorable stages including Overgrown, Crossfire and Strike. In the end, however, it’s a golden oldie that tops my list: Temple, from Perfect Dark.
Its focal point is a giant chamber than runs nearly the entire length of the map, surrounded by a series of tall corridors leading to other flash points that are almost like miniature arenas in themselves. The main room also features a large opening in the floor that’s perfect for making hasty exits when outnumbered or outgunned, as opposed to waiting for the excruciatingly slow (but excitingly suspenseful) stone doors which seal off the corridors.
I have fond memories of this map, particularly when my brother and I would pack it full of MeatSims (the dumbest bots in the game) and partake in some very one-sided matches. Don’t judge us.
Chris | House - Rainbow Six Siege
Rainbow Six Siege's little slice of suburbia has many possible points of ingress for the attacking side, and defenders could be lying in wait near any one of them. There's no shortage of hiding places in the three-storey abode from which players on either team could attempt an ambush, but the best laid plans of mice and men seldom survive a grenade, especially in such compact spaces.
Firefights are often intense, yet short lived, and matches can be over quickly if one team pushes the advantage. Sometimes, just surviving the opening salvo can feel like a win in itself.
On that note, it's admittedly not the most balanced map. Two of the objective rooms can be very hard to defend, even with a coordinated team, but heroes are forged in the fires of adversity and defeat rarely feels unavoidable.
I've always been a fan of smaller multiplayer maps and House embodies everything I love about those spaces, namely less running from A to B and more offloading every time something moves.
James | Valhalla - Halo 3
While the era of online multiplayer was already in full swing by the time Halo 3 graced the Xbox 360, it was undoubtedly a defining moment in the console's history, and that's in large part due to its memorable multiplayer settings, such as Valhalla.
While described as a spin-off from the first game’s Blood Gulch, Valhalla made its own mark by focusing in on the basic, two-base oblong design to create one of the most elegant objective maps of all time.
The terrain between bases is undulating enough to leave plenty of places to duck away from incoming pot shots, in addition to whatever comes courtesy of the mighty Man Cannons, which launch players and grenades out of either base and into the middle of the fray. These were particularly useful for making a quick getaway as the flag carrier.
There's contextual storytelling on offer too, with a downed ship on one side of the map and readouts displayed in the bases themselves, lending plenty of intrigue to the locale, as well as cover on the practical side of things.
Jump on the back of a quad bike (affectionately known as a Mongoose) with a rocket launcher for Rocket Race, a King of the Hill-esque mode, and the map proves just how versatile it is in comfortably accommodating such varied gameplay experiences.
Rob | Facility - GoldenEye 007
The toilet, commode, dunny, long-drop, WC, bog: whatever the heck you call it, we can all agree it’s one of the few places where a person can truly be alone with their thoughts. Fortunately, most toilets don’t have a hatch for Pierce Brosnan to drop through, Silenced PP7 in hand, ready to commit a bog-based bashing.
What am I waffling on about? The world-beating Facility map from GoldenEye 007, of course!
“But Bobby, didn’t you recently say that GoldenEye was better left in the past?” Aye, bang on, but that doesn’t mean my memories of such a wonderful game have been tarnished. For those of you that can still handle both the N64 controller and a single-stick shooter, Facility stands quiff and top hat above all others in my mind.
Select remote mines, cover the walls of the toilet in ‘em, and watch as your local associates are blown away. Add to that the wonderful cast of cardboard Bond characters - Sean Bean, Robbie Coltrane, et al - some beer and a pizza and you have multiplayer perfection. YUM.
What's your favourite multiplayer battleground? Let us know in the comments below.