As a follow up to last week’s article on maps, this week seeks to examine a series of maps that ultimately flopped and were of generally noticeably poor quality.
Without further ado, let’s begin, starting with the “least bad” at 10, and getting progressively worse to the end:
10. Little Hope (Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope)
It’s probably not boding too well for the game that the city it is named after is generally quite underwhelming. Little Hope is linear, railroad-y, usually pretty boring and overall not terribly creative or conducive to a horror atmosphere. In general, the map fails to stand out, there is a lot of walking in a straight line, there aren’t really any puzzles or too much the naked eye doesn’t immediately pick up of interest, and the mechanic of the fog turning the player around as they enter a thick patch of it is tired, cliched and very much wreaks of railroading. Overall, it fails to initially capture the player in any sort of suspense or tension, and because it is the location of the plot as a whole, it directly contributes to the overall game being underwhelming in a large way
9. Mystic Mansion (Sonic Heroes)
To be fair, there is a 3/4ths chance that this map won’t be a problem at all. However, for those unfortunately stuck on that 1/4th trying to maneuver through this map with Espio the Chameleon and Team Chaotix, bad news: you’re in for a living nightmare. The other three teams get off mostly scot free, but Team Chaotix has the lovely task of having to first flag down every single red torch, thrown in the most obscure areas, and blowing them out before they’re allowed the merciful favor of moving on from this hellhole. That may sound simple enough, but this game’s platforming in general is clunky, the torches don’t appear in anything resembling remotely intuitive locations, and the constant illusory walls and doors found within the Mystic Mansion is such where locating them will be absurdly annoying. This map alone contributed to Team Chaotix being generally avoided like the plague, which was troubling for a group of new characters to the illustrious Sonic franchise to have to deal with.
8. Irithyll of the Boreal Valley/Anor Londo (Dark Souls 3)
Come one, come all, a festering cesspool of chaotic nonsense for every boy and relentless invasion spam and toxic shenanigans for every girl. Of all levels. Don’t you dare ever try to venture beyond the Pontiff Sulyvahn boss fight in Dark Souls 3 without either first switching to offline mode, or being prepared to deal with getting invaded and forced into Player-versus-Player combat allllllll the time. Sure, PvP enthusiasts may enjoy this element, but players simply looking to enjoy a casual play through within the game with a friend will be astonished at how stupidly tedious it is to cover such a small amount of ground because the game forces unwanted PvP down your throat. The map also encourages invaders, whom the map’s enemies won’t target (though they’ll certainly come for you) to play as toxic as humanly possible, hiding behind PvE enemies and disrupting the player’s attempt to defeat them and making things as irritating as possible. This map is well renowned for being extremely chaotic and toxic. It makes the eventual boss fight with Aldrich, Devourer of Gods and Lord of Cinder, seem like a peaceful cakewalk in comparison.
7. Dead of the Night (Call of Duty: Black Ops 4)
This map is just boring. It’s poorly made, the characters the player can play as are boring, the Easter Egg bears no particular relevance to the plot players actually care about, and the map layout is confusing and uninspiring. There is simply no redeeming value about this map, so it was an obvious selection for this list.
6. Route 13 – (Pokémon Red, Blue, Yellow, and various Kanto region remakes)
This route is just bizarre. Who the hell created these fences in these particular ways? Like, we have a selection of about two feet of fencing that isn’t in the way of anything in particular, this five foot gap, then another ten feet of fencing that also doesn’t really protect anything. Trainers just hang out by these fences because reasons, apparently. Clearly, this was more so for gameplay and lacks any sort of real-world explanation, but that’s the type of thing that easily breaks the fourth wall and is not really pleasant to play through either. Whoever commissioned the building of these fences should probably try and get their money back.
5. Haddonfield (Dead by Daylight)
Aesthetically speaking, this map looks pretty good and that’s probably what saves it from being #2 on this list. The gameplay on it otherwise has historically been really poor. It has admittedly improved over the years, but for quite awhile, it was basically an insta loss for anybody harboring the side of the killer until various balance patches were released over the span of a long time that slowly made things a bit more reasonable. Survivors had so many different ways of easily escaping the clutches of a killer, including numerous “infinite loops” where they were invincible to being rundown and could effectively stay away from the killer and distract them forever. Even in the world of today, this map is heavily oriented towards survivors for the most part, but it used to be immensely toxic to play on as someone on the killer side.
4. World 4 (New Super Mario Bros DS)
This world simply shouldn’t exist. The game makes you jump through hoops to unlock it anyway, marketing it as a ‘secret’ world. The world is quite literally filled with toxic aura. The castle is too tedious to venture through, and the pathetically easy boss of a Giant Goomba is anti-climatic and unrewarding. It should come as little surprise that players everywhere would rather just play through the game the normal way, rather than traipse around through World 2 as Mini Mario just to unlock World 4.
3. E4 M3: Sever the Wicked (Doom 1993)
The map layout here is weird, tedious, and oddly very slow-paced, which is antithetical to the masterful first person shooter game. However, what truly lands this map on this list are the many bugs entailed within it that make navigating it even more absurd. For those looking to embark upon a 100% speed run, turn back; due to bugs, it is literally impossible to obtain all of the Secrets needed to complete a 100% playthrough without cheating. For some bizarre reason, a couple of torches placed throughout the map do not aesthetically appear to block the character off, but an error in coding caused their hurt boxes to remain in the field of play right in front of one of the map’s Secret items. Unless the player inputs a cheat code to bypass this, a practice strictly forbidden in competitive speed running, they cannot acquire 100% of the map’s Secrets. That’s not all, though: those who took the time to dissect the map and examine its coding would probably be baffled to learn that there is a rocket launcher found within a wall that the player was supposed to receive but, again, can not acquire without inputting an infinite mobility cheat code of some kind. Moreover, a plasma gun is supposed to appear behind a door unlocked with a red key, and it visually does appear. However, attempting to claim it will result in nothing happening, as it was only coded aesthetically and not actually placed on the map for some reason. Finally, when playing through the map, at any point in time, completely randomly, a “Texture Cache Overflow” may occur which would cause the game to completely crash and force the player to restart. This only ever occurs on this map. Doom 1993 is filled to the brim with stunningly captivating content, but this map sure isn’t part of that magic.
2. Piccadilly (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare)
Seemingly every map in Activision’s 2019 hit was utterly terrible and contributed to a largely forgettable multiplayer experience. However, Piccadilly was the stinkiest egg in the rotten carton.
Generally speaking, a good map in a multiplayer first person shooter game is one that doesn’t innately favor any one play style in particular, and enables fluid, loose gameplay. This allows players to approach individual games with unique strategies and mindsets that all have a chance at being genuinely successful, rightfully coming down to raw skill to see who the victor will be.
Piccadilly completely trashes this concept. Piccadilly favors extremely passive/defensive play and punishes any sort of effort to “run ‘n’ gun”. It does this by creating several buildings, small cramped in rooms, and dozens of huge busses and other vehicles to hide behind that make actually taking initiative a total death sentence. In a map where everyone is encouraged to wait on someone else to make the first move… The first move simply doesn’t get made, or it takes a tediously long time to occur.
Games of any sort don’t ever end with the score limit being reached, they “go to time”, ending in around ten minutes with around 2/3rds the scoreboard cap being reached. This leads to games that drag out incredibly long and are a total snoozefest to play. Simply put, Piccadilly is the worst Call of Duty multiplayer map in franchise history, a surefire bet to appear on this list.
1. Okumura’s Palace (Persona 5/Royal)
Surprise, surprise, right? Anybody who has read any article I’ve posted over the last six months probably saw this coming from a mile away. Okumura’s Palace is representative of what happens when Altus drops the ball, leaving their formula used to make other palaces throughout the game. The map is incredibly linear unlike other palaces. It directly forces the player into combat, taking away any chance of taking more of a stealthy approach to traversing past various shadows guarding the palaces. The combat is very boring and irritating, and it’s also very repetitive too. The whole “Hurr durr, evil capitalist moneybag sends his cronies to fight for him, how terrible” is incredibly generic. It can work, but it really needs some kind of supporting symbolism of some kind, or it at the very least can’t be tossed in the player’s face over and over like a deterioratingly repetitive joke. Important fights in this palace are strictly against armies of Okumura’s worker robots, and because they happen to resist almost everything in the book, they can be annoyingly tedious to kill, causing combats to also take a long time.
The second half of this abhorrent map is like trying to finish a Rubik’s cube when someone stole one row of the cube’s colors. The puzzle isn’t as hard as it is tedious, and the puzzle itself also happens to entirely be the second half of the map.
Symbolism, gameplay and map structure of this map are incredibly poor.
But the real death sentence that ultimately causes it to somehow be even worse than Piccadilly and Sever the Wicked would be how much of a nosedive the otherwise brilliant and compelling storyline takes right around reaching this palace. Morgana as a character often gets ragged on for being a wee bit annoying, but the script writing for him here is such where “wee bit annoying” far from does him justice. Morgana has an irritating runaway scene where he flees the party, bitter over how incredibly and rightfully useless he has become. Rather than just shrug him off, the player is encouraged by the game to actually care about the useless black cat and spend days doing nothing but being forced to search for him and beg him to return to the team. Yawn. It’d be just as well if Morgana ran off to go lose all his nine lives playing dress up with another terribly written character, Haru “Beauty (Cringey) Thief” Okumura than if either of them had been incredibly awkwardly forced onto center stage during the trek through this palace. Embarking upon the painstaking journey of defeating Kunikazu Okumura wasn’t enough: we get treated to an awfully cliched monologue from Morgana, as he steals anyway any chance Haru’s script writing had for a redemption arc as he stops her from getting the monologue instead.
In general, everything about this map was just awful. It really sticks out like a sore thumb on account of how brilliant the rest of the game is. The silver lining: said sticking out will hopefully place it in such a position of prominence where it gets sufficient attention to clearly indicate to game developers everywhere how awful it was, and to take good note of the mistakes made and endeavor not to replicate them.
Shanghai-La (Call of Duty: Black Ops 1 and 3), Temple of Tiamat (Neverwinter), and Purity Forest/Wish Cave (Pokémon Mystery Dungeon DX: Red Rescue Team)