Do you know how certain multiplayer maps in video games just sort of gel to your core memories? Sort of like how familiar routes that we travel every day just imprint themselves in our heads, ready for us to link with our muscle memory from the moment we leave the door? Well, that had me thinking — mainly about video game maps that have remained glued to our earliest memories for years.
I don't know what it is exactly, but something just sort of triggers in our heads every once in a while. Without even knowing it, a certain landmark manages to weave with our memories and cement a place for later years to come. And that's strange, in ways — but also pretty nostalgic in its own special way. Just looking at these five maps, as a few examples, is enough to send waves of reminiscent joy down a frail old spine. The question is: can you also recognise them just from their images alone? Are you a part of the 99%? Well, let's see.
5. Nuketown (Call of Duty)
Call of Duty isn't exactly short on memorable maps — especially having a whopping two hundred or more in total over its long and healthy rein as an acclaimed war kingpin. And for that reason alone, selecting just one map isn't exactly the breeziest task in the world. If anything, it's actually pretty darn difficult, and in no way a decision one can make without ticking off a few die-hard Call of Duty fans in the process.
Having said that, Nuketown was perhaps one of the most memorable and, despite being one of the smaller levels in the game — the most densely populated maps ever created for the franchise. Based heavily on a scene from Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull, Nuketown combines its mock suburban district with a population made up entirely of mannequins. And, like the movie, the set basically stands as a nuclear testing facility, in which its sole purpose is to be a guinea pig playground for various bombs and what have you.
4. Rainbow Road (Mario Kart)
If you walked into a room and immediately clocked a TV in your peripheral vision, chances are, you'd already know that it's Rainbow Road before even turning to verify it. Like most levels Mario Kart employs, it just has a certain touch to it that makes it instantly recognisable. Of course, the neon rainbows and candy-popping obstacles probably have something to do with that — but you know what I mean.
Not only is Rainbow Road one of the longest-serving courses in the Mario Kart series (1992 possessing the debut track) — but also perhaps one of the most hated, too. Yes, hated. Thanks to its overly complex track designs and elusive obstacles that come with every instalment, players have been dreading almost every encounter with the fluorescent track for decades. And yet, it weirdly remains one of the most recognisable. Go figure.
3. Dust (Counter-Strike: Global Offensive)
Of all the maps and all the expansions Valve has flushed into Counter-Strike: Global Offensive over the years, nothing has come quite as close to being as instantly recognisable as the iconic Dust map. The question that remains even today, of course, is how on earth such a — in all fairness — mediocre level has managed to keep a foothold all this time. After all, it's not exactly the most advanced arena in the batch, and there are of course alternatives that pack an even heavier punch.
So, what is it that makes Dust just, I don't know — spark? What makes Valve want to keep bringing it back with each passing update to the series and, as of late, bring an entirely new, revamped update to it altogether? Well, according to the vast majority of regular CS:GO players, Dust is a fine-tuned and well-balanced mixture of things, with a nimble design that suits both newbies and first-person shooter veterans. It's a place that allows you the freedom to hone your skills and get a taster of the more refined maps on the carousel. It is, in a nutshell, the go-to hub for both casual and avid Counter-Strike players — hence the recognition.
2. Nacht Der Untoten (Call of Duty: World at War)
If Call of Duty was to ever lose the relatively short but almost compulsory campaigns and just leave its spare pockets of zombies in — then I doubt we'd even bat an eyelid. Zombies has become such an iconic mode in the multiplayer portion of the Call of Duty domain, that a full-fledged spin-off devoted to it wouldn't really be all that bad. In fact, it would be embraced openly, mainly by the millions of blood-thirsty crowds that have supported its evolution these past however many years.
But where did it all start? What was the map that gave such a concept a platform and established the multiplayer mode as one of the most acclaimed in the genre? Well, that can only be one: Nacht Der Untoten, which translates to “Night of the Undead” in German, fittingly enough. If it wasn't for the massive amount of success that came shortly after that specific map, then the zombie modes we have today probably never would've happened. It was the beginning of something new and exciting — and it went down like a fine wine with both fans of the series as well as hardcore multiplayer gamers.
1. Blood Gulch (Halo: Combat Evolved)
As far as Xbox games that revolutionised the gaming community go — Halo was, and still very much is the go-to pawn on the board, with both standalone chapters and a range of original multiplayer maps to keep its reputation afloat in a sea full of thirsty contenders.
The map that cemented the franchise's iconic status in the multiplayer community, of course, was the one and only Blood Gulch, along with its simple design and memorable nooks and crannies. Two things that went on to become some of the most respected elements in the first-person genre, sure enough. And although it wasn't exactly soothing on the eyes, so to speak — it was a seriously fun playground to soak up with friends. And to be fair, back in 2001 — that's all that really mattered.
So, what did we miss? What multiplayer maps spring to mind for you? Let us know over on our socials here.