Bungie's cradled love child of the early noughties has been running laps in our heads for the best part of twenty years now, with a lot of its well-known maps playing a major role in our core memories even after two console generations. Of course, I'm talking about Halo, along with its groundbreaking, albeit slightly possessive multiplayer platform. Something about it just sort of rings in our ears, reminding us of all the hours we lost to its expansive maps and packed-out lobbies from way back when, when Xbox Live was in the centre of the online industry.
Anyway, the good news is — the clock is about to reset, and we're basically going to do it all over again. Halo Infinite is peeking from a nearby corner, and before long it will enrol us back into a nine-to-five grind, with even more memorable maps to absorb. And until that time comes, I suppose all we can really do is accept our fate and scrub over a few memories with the series. Or, more specifically, the multiplayer maps that we lost a worrying amount of time to. So, here they are: the five best Halo multiplayer maps, ranked.
5. Blood Gulch
There's no hiding the fact that Blood Gulch is Halo's magnum opus, without a shadow of a doubt. Why? Well, because it's the first thing that springs to mind whenever we think about Halo in general, of course. And that isn't from just one guy's perspective, either. That is, in all honesty, a collective thought, and one that has held a dominant presence in the online industry for nearly two decades now.
While it isn't the most advanced map in all of Halo, it is one of the most memorable and beginner-friendly. Yes, it's basically a grassy allotment with two adjacent bunkers on either side of the map surrounded by a canyon, but it's not the lack of obstacles that make it superior to the alternatives — but more the quality of the few it does possess and how it effortlessly radiates them. It's the vanilla cream of the crop, and an overall staple on the Halo frontline. It's the bread and butter of the first-person shooter genre, plain and simple.
Taking a huge leaf out of Halo 2‘s anthology of textbook multiplayer maps, Guardian glues together elements as seen in both Lockout and Ascension, only with a few more catwalks than compressed platforms. But what is it that put Guardian at the apex of the Halo 3 ladder, and why do long-term fans still talk about it almost fifteen years later?
It's simple, really. Thanks to its asymmetric layout and conveniently placed rooms, Guardian is able to host all types of game modes without having to alter the style in any way shape or form. With a selection of platforms and a centrepiece laced with connecting catwalks, it makes up for an ideal King of the Hill arena. And again, it's beginner-friendly, so that's always a major plus. You know, so long as you don't accidentally fall off the map. Those catwalks can be a real doozy.
Speaking of Lockout, it's only fair to give the Halo 2 map a slot on this list, if not out of respect for the number of follow-ups it inspired, then for the memories it churned out like butter over late 2004 alone. It was, of course, a map that fell short in size, but definitely made up for in everything else — especially in the one-on-one matches.
Funnily enough, the Lockout map was initially designed for offline players, offering its tiny scale as grounds for a 1v1 using the beloved split-screen option. But due to its popularity taking a sharp turn upwards, it later became a fan favourite on the multiplayer front, spanning across later instalments to the series under different titles. Again, in a nutshell, it's a bog-standard asymmetric arena and nothing more. But then, that hasn't stopped it from being one of the most talked about maps of all time.
2. The Pit
There's no ignoring the fact that Halo 3 had quite a lot of exceptional maps. Perhaps not as many as its predecessor, but definitely a lot of quality spots to settle a few scores with a jam-packed lobby or a few unlucky friends. And one of those spots that was used as a recreational facility for stacking kills and harnessing wins was no other than The Pit, an African training ground for UNSC troops.
Comprised of high vantage points and a tarmac ground level with a labyrinth of containers, The Pit boasted an expansive collection of opportunities to overthrow your opponents and snag the perfect win. Bunched together, the medium-sized map stood out as a global favourite between Halo fans, and a textbook template that would eventually inspire the likes of Pitfall in Halo 4 and other well-known multiplayer maps in the first-person genre.
1. Ivory Tower
Lastly, it's Ivory Tower, everybody's favourite hangout for a spot of mind-blowing target practice with a satchel or grenades and a well-placed Gravity Lift takedown. Okay, so it's definitely not as large as the other maps in Halo 2 — but it does have a lot to bring to the table.
Not only has the tropical arena gone on to inspire a whole bunch of other maps in the Halo pipeline — but also a great deal of other aspiring multiplayer hits, too. Sure, it's simple and compact, but it's also built to test players for all they're worth, using a series of obstacles to separate the strong from the weak, the winners from the losers. It's fast-paced and demanding, and an overall quality map for Halo to have under its belt.
So, what's your favourite Halo map? Do you agree with our top five? Let us know over on our socials here or down in the comments below.