Halo’s Best Ever Multiplayer Maps
With Halo Anniversary coming and allowing players to re-live their favourite Halo: Combat Evolved maps using the Reach engine we started thinking about some of our favourite multiplayer maps from across the Halo series. Multiplayer is arguably the backbone of the series and it’s multiplayer maps have kept us joyfully entertained for hours killing friends sat screaming opposite us or taking out hapless dudes on the other side of the internet. So here without further ado is our pick of the best multiplayer maps from across the entire Halo series – the best from each game – with our explanation of what makes them, and Halo’s multiplayer, so amazing.
Mastering Halo: Reach is about mastering Armour Abilities. Reach added to that classic Halo weapons trinity of weapons, grenades and melee in a major way with them and to our minds the map that best took advantage of all of that, at least early on, was Powerhouse. Based around a human hydroponic power plant it’s combination of wide open dam areas and tight open corridors within the structure it had room for every style of play. From soaring high above the dam and strafing with a Jetpack, to lurking indoors with a shotgun, shrouded by Active Camouflage or surviving a rocket launch attack with Armour Lock there’s enough space and variety of environment in Powerhouse to really accommodate Halo: Reach’s abilities.
Halo 3: ODST
We’re going to mix it up a little with ODST, which was after a very different sort of Halo game in it’s own right, and talk about our favourite Firefight map. This new mode, which was first introduced in ODST, pitted up to four players against waves of Covenant troops and tasked them to simply survive as long as possible with a limited stock of lives to get a great score. It was a great idea that really distilled the Halo campaign experience and that ‘thirty seconds of fun repeated over and over’ idea. Our favourite Firefight map by far was Alpha Site, set high atop the Office of Naval Intelligence Alpha Offices. It’s a tight network of corridors give you plenty of spaces for a clever last stand against overwhelming Covenant odds and an excellent selection of weapons. From the moment the first drop ship delivers it’s party of easy to kill Grunts, to the inevitable death of the players at the hands of overwhelming combinations of Hammer wielding Brute Chieftains and Hunters, Alpha Site is a thrilling war of attrition – and a place you can rack up an amazing score.
This was a hard one, we have to admit, as Halo 3 has some fantastic multiplayer maps, which is why there are still tons of people playing them today. In the end we have to go with Guardian, a medium sized map based in a Forerunner structure and loosely based on a pair of classic Halo 2 maps, Lockout and Ascension. Guardian, with it’s series of high catwalks and a central platform is shrouded in dark green foliage, is the perfect close quarters team based map. Just about every play style is catered to, from the player who enjoys charging in with the shotgun and Hammer, to the cool under pressure sniper – and the central platform is a fun filled killing floor. Guardian is one of those great maps where you need teamwork to win – holding the sniping platform is a great tactic – and Halo 3’s equipment, like the Bubble Shield, really works well here.
Another game in which it was almost impossible to choose the best Halo multiplayer map, and arguably the game with the best multiplayer offering of the entire series. The first Halo game to be played over Xbox Live it introduced Matchmaking, which set the standard for how developers present multiplayer options. We’d be remiss not saying how close the amazing Lockout with it’s series of snowy platforms and catacombs came to taking top spot – it’s still the most intense Halo map of all – but the honour of best Halo 2 map has to go to Zanzibar.
This arena based on a Wind Power Station is another that just blends all the Halo elements perfectly. It’s three tiered structure of outer area by the beach, outer compound, inner courtyard and base interior allowed for everything from vehicle combat with Ghosts and Warthogs, to grouped battles in the inner courtyard, nasty scuffles in the base and brief bloody fights high above the structure on the top of the Wheel , a gigantic Wind Fan power generator. Best of all were the constant taunt sniper battles between snipers on the sea wall and the partly shielded ‘Camp Froman’ spawn point. Zanzibar could easily take top spot as the best Halo map of all time – you can’t play the original as Halo 2 is no longer on Live, but it’s Halo 3 re-make Last Resort can let you get at least a taste of its glorious fun.
Halo: Combat Evolved
Finally, the game that started it all! Halo was released before Xbox Live came online, so it never got to be played online. Instead it was playable over LAN, with up to 16 players all linked together in one place. It was a console first, and spawned massive Halo LAN parties that formed the basis for the burgeoning Halo community that exists today. Thousands of Halo players around the world grouped together to play, scream, cry, laugh and kill each other joyfully – all usually while eating copious amounts of pizza. If you weren’t there you missed a golden time, and what brought players together where it’s fantastic multiplayer maps, which were designed so skilfully to take advantage of that ‘weapons, grenades and melee’ focused play that Halo introduced to the world . It’s going to seem like an obvious go to for any one familiar with Halo: CE, but the pick for best map has to go to Blood Gulch.
This sprawling level enclosed in a long symmetrical valley with a base at either end, had the kind of scale that console players had never seen before. It accommodated the entire suite of Halo : CE vehicles, including Scorpion Tanks and Ghosts, it’s bases, with their flat roofs and tight interiors were great for thrilling close quarter fights and the entire place was a snipers paradise – especially when you also had the Halo : CE pistol, with it’s ridiculous zoom and stopping power.
If you ever needed to get across everything that was great about Halo multiplayer you’d only need to point someone in the direction of Blood Gulch – everything that has followed has been refining what we were first given on this great stage.