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Halo Maps Ranked: 40-31

Let's get ready for Halo 4. By no means are these blurbs in-depth critical analyses, just quick, cursory overviews. All selections were made mostly with high level play in mind. I judge on map design and how that map design relates to the game mechanics of whichever Halo game it came from; I do not take into consideration the mechanics on their own merit. PC maps and forged maps are not present. Feel free to post how much better your favorite shooter is than Halo.

#40: Small / Halo: CE and Halo: Reach (Solitary) / Played organically, Prisoner is the best 1 vs. 1 map in any Halo game. With that said, it's pretty bad for everything else. While the tower defense-ingrained design of the map is a cool idea, it doesn't make for very balanced matches. The map is more frustrating than anything else, despite having one of the most exhilarating opening rushes of any Halo map. It is so exhilarating because the entire match is at stake if you falter on that opening rush. Including Prisoner in Halo: Reach was a pretty stupid idea as well. Why? Jetpacks. They completely destroy the layout of the map, and it just becomes a jetpack race to the top, even with the tunnels they added in an attempt to balance the layout and make it easier to scale Mt. Prisoner.

#39: Small / Halo: CE / This ranking does not include the Halo 2 remake, Elongation. In Halo: CE, Longest was a solid map, but that was about it. Balanced, symmetrical gameplay made for good competitive matches, but it was definitely the most plain, ugly map to exist in the series. Longest had no real appeal to anyone but high-level players for its balanced gameplay.

#38: Small-Medium / Halo 2 / This small-medium map was apparently a remake of a Marathon map. Sadly, it was another map that lent itself to that tower defense style of gameplay. Gemini matches became a matter of which team set up at the back of the map with the sniper rifle first. Still, any good team could coordinate a push to take it back, so it wasn't necessarily a design flaw and us such was easy enough to overcome. The battles at the top of the portals were also quite exhilarating; rife with portal trapping and mind games. I originally thought this would be lower on the list, but midway through compiling it I realized how intense and fulfilling this map could be at times, and that's what Halo is all about.

#37: Small / Halo 2 / Another Marathon remake, Foundation was a little bit better than Gemini. The main reason Foundation is so high is because of its early custom game potential. It was the go-to map for a while if someone wanted to try out a custom game and have some fun. What was the greatest thing to come out of Foundation? Zombies. Foundation was the greatest zombies map in the series (and the one it was invented for). Players would quarantine themselves in one of the four rooms, fill up the doorway with boxes, and trigger the zombie onslaught. Foundation also had a bit of merit as a competitive map, but when games became too drawn out and monotonous, it lost its appeal. Still, there was a lot of good, balanced gameplay to be had on Foundation.

#36: Small / Halo: CE and Halo 2 (Desolation) / Derelict is a darling map with Halo veterans for its great Free-for-All play. It's kind of alarming to see it so low on this list, but this is when we start realizing how many great maps there are in the Halo series. Derelict follows the simple, symmetrical foundations that constitute a great competitive map. It was a very chaotic map, however, and players were constantly exposed to danger. A great arena style map tailored for FFA, but not much more. Capture the Flag was pretty fun on it, though. The Halo 2 remake, Desolation, was probably different enough to warrant a separate place. I'll relegate it to a small mention, though. As a remake, Desolation was terrible, it divested the map design of everything that made it work, what the remake did do, though, was create a great casual map. It was much bigger than the original, and included mancannons and alternate hallways, which gave a little bit of a safety net for players. Unfortunately, the map was pretty ugly.

#35: Small-Medium / Halo 3 / Narrows is probably the second-most popular map to emerge from Halo 3, and it's easy to see why. Visually, it embodies the architecture of Halo that fans love. It also favors sniping and spawn- killing, which a good portion of the community loves. I'm just not entirely fond of it's design as a balanced map. For slayer, Narrows became all about spawn-trapping, and for CTF, it was very much an uphill battle if you gave up a capture. Narrows was driven by team momentum. A team could capture all three flags in swift succession, and that was usually the only way to do it. If there was no momentum after a flag capture, often games would go beyond the fifteen-minute mark. I'm just not personally as fond of this map as a good portion of the community is. It was an early favorite of mine though, like Hang 'Em High.
7Burial Mounds

#34: Medium / Halo 2 / Burial Mounds was the mother of all spawn-trap maps, which gives it some significance alone. If you really fucked up on offense, you would end up paying for it with two or three minutes of spawning and dying over and over. This added a 'go big or go home' sense of urgency to the map, which inspired a lot of heated games. Round-based objective gametypes on Burial Mounds were some of the most intense that you could attain from playing Halo. It wasn't a great slayer map, and wasn't nice to look at, but for objective play it is one of my favorite of all-time.

#33: Medium / Halo: Reach / While interest in Reach had dwindled before the release of Condemned, it was a solid map that I'm sure a lot of players would have appreciated. Most of the map consists of fairly open hallways, which is where most of the map's traffic occurs. Surprisingly unused is the anti-gravity room in the center of the map. Again, it's another map that's great for casual play, but its nuances (such as the anti-gravity chamber) make it otherwise unplayable at a competitive level. It's also a little bit too big for balanced team matches. Even though the middle chamber connects four portions of the map, it's hard to cover ground quick enough. The battle outside the windows is actually pretty amazing too, but the sounds are very distracting from the gameplay, especially if you use headphones.

#32: Small / Halo 3 / Like Narrows, Construct is another popular Halo 3 map that I don't quite see the full appeal of. Yes, it is a very solid map, but movement options are so incredibly limited on the map given all of the lifts. I'm not a fan of small maps with multiple layers e.g. Prisoner, but I can appreciate Construct for what it is. The first two years that Halo 3 was out, however, I considered Construct my least favorite map in the game due to how predictable the match flow was. King of the Hill was probably the best gametype on here; it was balanced and set-up heavy.

#31: Small-Medium / Halo: Reach / Powerhouse is a rare Reach map that stands up to its predecessors. Had it not been for some of the unnecessary outskirts of the map (almost everything near the edge of the cliff), Powerhouse actually would have made a great competitive map. It suffers from what a lot of Reach maps suffered from, and that was the open, unfinished feeling. Powerhouse was like a High Ground mini, but with less emphasis on power weapons and more emphasis on map control. I'm always a sucker for maps that require team setups, and Powerhouse was great for demanding that.
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