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The greatest multiplayer maps of all time

Oh, what more is there to say? Just about all of you reading our site either knew this was coming, or were buzzing the feature like vultures waiting to pounce in the comments. The out and out favorite since Halo showed itself to the world, Blood Gulch's success has rippled throughout the series, clearly providing the visual inspiration for Halo 2’s Coagulation, and the layout for Halo 3’s Valhalla.

Above: Halo 2 and Halo 3… allegedly

Hell, they even included the map in Halo Wars, and it literally set the stage for shenanigans in Halo’s greatest sitcom, Red vs Blue. Sure, it’s not much to look at at first… two towers separated by a vast stretch of land, sort of how Dr. Seuss would cartoonishly depict two warring kingdoms in order to teach us the folly of aggression for aggression’s sake... But once you factor in the teleporters, Banshees, and Warthogs, most of us are all too aware of what lies underneath B. Gulch’s deceptive mask of simplicity.

Above: Look, it works in RTSes too!

What should’ve been little more than a haven for patient snipers turned into the valley of the hilariously unpredictable. With so much ground to cover, and so many ways to cover it, there’s rarely a dull moment to be had in Blood Gulch.

Never has a bland desert motif meant so much, to so many! Dust has been synonymous with the homegrown Half-Life mod since its 4th beta inception circa 1999. Over the last decade it’s been spun off, sequelized, remade across multiple games, deemed official by Valve and updated for play in Counter-Strike: Source. A billion things have changed about what’s arguably the most popular shooter on the internet, but the Dust always settles the same.

Above: In all its glory

That should come as no surprise, since Dust offers so many avenues of play - dark hallways, AWP sniping, close-quarters shot gunning, choke points, crate-top vantage points - people often forget that the strategic goal is to actually plant a bomb! Though most players never survive to see that, millions of us (if not billions!) have watched from beyond the grave as a single remaining CT braves the quiet, dead calm to defuse a ticking explosive with more nail-biting suspense than anything Hitchcock ever made.

Above: Setting us up the bomb for over ten years!

To this day, players can still find dedicated servers entitled “Dust Only!” or “de_dust 24/7!” Whether you want to attribute that to the map’s balance, popularity, or its synonymous nature with the most refined online FPS, it’s hard to argue that Dust has shown unprecedented timelessness, and that made it the awarding our hotly contested top spot all the easier.

Above: Dust in the sand! An rare and elegant example of Map fan art

Above: They can’t love you like we love you LOLOL!

Dec 2, 2009

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