If there is one thing that tends to define any given match of a multiplayer game, it’s the map on which it is played. A good variety of maps is very important in the re-playability and overall longevity of multiplayer focused games, but sometimes all you need is one. The following 10 maps are what I consider to be the most memorable and iconic multiplayer maps in gaming history. These maps are synonymous with the games and series they’re from, and almost certainly dominate the online servers. This list is not limited to shooters, but shooters will make up the majority of the list.
10. Gridlock (Gears of War series)
This is the newest map on this list, making its debut in the original Gears of War back in 2006. Gridlock was the clear standout map from that original game, and has been present in ever Gears of War game to date. Like most Gears of War maps, Gridlock is symmetrical, with two key points of contention. Most of the fighting revolved around either the sniper rifle or the boomshot, with the grenade spawn sometimes producing heated battles as well. Gridlock was far and away the most played map in Gears of War and has remained the most map in the series.
9. Wake Island (Battlefield series)
Making it’s debut in the original Battlefield 1942, and appearing in almost every subsequent release in the series, Wake Island is Battlefield’s representative on this list. The horseshoe shape of the map combined with the spawn and objective locations is perfectly suited to create the type of encounters that only happen in Battlefield. Wake Island is the type of map that you’ll only find in a Battlefield game, with a huge total size, tons of vehicles of air, land, and sea variety, and one team spawning on an air craft carrier in the middle of the ocean.
8. The Longest Yard (Quake 3: Arena)
Appearing in the pre-release demo for Quake 3, Q3Test, the instant popularity of this map likely had a negative affect on the success of Quake 3. Fans took an immediate love to this map, so much so that many felt the existence of the demo with this map made a purchase of the full game completely unnecessary; they could already play on the game’s best map for free. The Longest Yard remained the most popular map in the full game, despite the variety of maps available, but even more remarkable is the fact that Q3Test continued to have a steady player base for years after the full game was released.
7. Defense of the Ancients (Warcraft 3, League of Legends, Dota 2)
The mod that created a genre, Defense of the Ancients has gone on to be featured in various games under different names, but the layout always remains almost identical. However, this is on a completely different level than the other entries on this list. Sure, Wake Island is probably the most played Battlefield map of all time, but an entire genre of games exists where the only map that anyone plays is this one.
6. Facility (Goldeneye, Perfect Dark)
When I played Goldeneye and Perfect Dark split screen with my friends and my brothers, we almost always played Facility exclusively, but I thought it was just us. Little did I know that pretty much everyone that played these games played almost exclusively on Facility. Now, obviously with the rather isolated nature of local only multiplayer, individual groups have their own preferences, but I was really surprised years later when I learned that a large percentage of people loved Facility as much as I did.