What’s the most important part of any Call of Duty multiplayer? Is it the guns, the killstreaks or the game modes? Well, they’re pretty important, but the real answer is the maps. They can make or break a Call of Duty. They’re why a game can be the most hilariously unbalanced thing ever, and still be remembered as a modern classic. I’m looking at you, Modern Warfare 2.
In fact, almost every map from that game is a stone-cold classic, and the same is true for the original Modern Warfare as well. Unfortunately, Modern Warfare 3’s selection wasn’t as good, but there were still some gems included in its rotation. Take a look at some more recent Call of Duty’s and one thing becomes clear: they just don’t make them like they used to.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is here, and what better way to celebrate its release than by looking back at some of the maps that made Infinity Ward’s original trilogy so great. Here are ten of the greatest.
Rust – Modern Warfare 2
Playing Rust in a packed lobby is complete carnage. Spawntrapping is common, killstreaks completely dominate and the map is far too small to support 6v6 gameplay. So how did it manage to land a spot on this list?
You probably know why.
Rust is the ultimate 1v1 map. If you had beef with someone, this is where you’d come to settle your differences. And that came with its own rules. Everyone knows you had to use the Intervention, quickscoping and noscoping were the only things allowed, and the final kill had to be a trickshot.
Some of the best times on MW2 were spent messing about with friends, spinning three-hundred times off the giant structure in the middle in hopes of landing that amazing final killcam. And everyone remembers that sweet, sweet satisfaction when they finally did.
Dome – Modern Warfare 3
Dome is the only map from MW3 to make this list and it’s not hard to see why. It stands head and shoulders above anything else in that game. Like Rust, the map is small and great for 1v1s. Unlike Rust though, Dome is good for pretty much any game mode and can support full lobbies.
The map is everything Call of Duty should be – close-quarters combat and intense action with opportunities for every type of player to do well. Fighting was never concentrated in one place so you were never more than a few seconds away from that next gunfight. Crucially though, the map was big enough that you weren’t spawning on top of enemies and dying immediately, as tended to happen with Rust.
The only thing it was missing was a good place to jump off for all your trickshotting needs. The catwalk above the titular dome just didn’t cut it.
Vacant – Modern Warfare & Modern Warfare 2
The first COD4 map to make the list, Vacant took place in an abandoned Russian office block.
Matches here were fast, frantic and unpredictable. The maze-like design of the building meant that an enemy could be lurking around every corner. But that same design also gave you the potential to rack up a ton of kills by allowing you to flank and outmanoeuvre your opponent. And if you didn’t fancy some close-quarters combat inside, there were plenty of opportunities to rack up some big killstreaks outside too.
Because of the sheer amount of close-quarters engagements, Vacant was one of the few maps where shotgunning was a truly viable option. But at the same time, the map encouraged enough long range encounters so snipers and assault rifles could get in on the action too.
A real triumph in design if you ask me.
Skidrow – Modern Warfare 2
A classic from MW2 and probably the most underrated map on this list, Skidrow was set amongst the back alleys and rundown apartments of inner-city America.
Skidrow was always a solid choice for Team Deathmatch or Free For All, but where it really stood out was in objective-based play. In particular, the map played host to some of the most hectic Domination matches ever. Everyone would rush to B, and the hallway that housed it would quickly become a meat grinder. It required real teamwork to capture that flag and hold it down.
Snipers and light-machine gunners alike would camp either end of it, whilst shotguns and submachine guns would reign supreme in the tight rooms and alleys that branched off it. There was something for everyone and every playstyle could thrive.
Overgrown – Modern Warfare & Modern Warfare 2
Call of Duty has always been built around run-and-gun gameplay and racking up loads of kills. Because of that, large maps don’t tend to do well, nor do they become very popular. Turns out, most people don’t like running around for minutes at a time without seeing anyone. Who knew? Overgrown manages to bucks that trend though and is a great example of a big map done right.
Like with most big maps, Overgrown was a sniper’s dream. With so much long grass on the north side and an abandoned petrol station to the east, a particularly stealthy sniper could shoot anyone who happened to run past them before moving onto another spot. Meanwhile, more aggressive snipers and those using assault rifles could find success by locking down Grandma’s House and watching over most of the map from the roof. Unsurprisingly, some of the most intense battles on Overgrown took place over this house.
Importantly though, snipers didn’t completely dominate like on other large maps *cough* Wasteland *cough*. There were plenty of opportunities for some close-quarters combat in the multiple houses on the street beyond the dried up riverbed.
Favela – Modern Warfare 2
Multi-level gameplay is so important to a Call of Duty map. Favela pulls it off to perfection. Pair that with a bright, beautiful and colourful theme and you have a real winner of a map.
Much of Favela is an asymmetrical mess of tight rooms, narrow alleys and interlocking rooftops. That’s not a bad thing, by the way. This set up gives Favela the impression of a map three times its size. With so many ways to travel through the map and so many places you could end up in a gunfight, no two games on this game are ever the same. Enemies could come from above, below or behind you and it’s that unpredictability that makes Favela such a great map and an absolute joy to play.
Crossfire – Modern Warfare
I consider Crossfire to be the finest sniping map in the entire Modern Warfare trilogy. It’s certainly the one where I had the most fun. Nothing was better than setting yourself up with a few other snipers in the two storey building at the top of the street and picking off anyone unlucky enough to wander into the crosshairs. The long battles with the enemy snipers at the bottom of the road were another highlight.
But say you weren’t particularly adept with a sniper. Well, Crossfire had you covered there too. It was just as much fun to weave through buildings, fighting enemies face on with your assault rifle or SMG. Of course, you could also try and flush out those snipers who were causing so much trouble by trying to flank them.
Highrise – Modern Warfare 2
As a concept, Highrise perfectly reflects the absolute bonkers nature of MW2. I mean, fighting on top of a massive skyscraper whilst World War 3 rages on in the mist far below you isn’t something you find in many first person shooters.
It’s not just that though. Highrise is also brilliant to play, with the myriad of underground passages, open areas and long sightlines allowing all playstyles to thrive. It also included some of the best spots in the entire trilogy. Who amongst us never tried to hit that sniper shot across the map immediately upon spawning? Or tried to hit that do-or-die trickshot off the crane in the final seconds of Search and Destroy?
And I haven’t even mentioned the king of all secret spots. It took a monumental effort and an insane amount of luck to get up on top of the south building as anyone who tried it knows. But once you got up there and set up camp, you had one of the best spots in the entire game. It was so much fun playing Domination and picking off enemies trying to capture the B flag or rush your spawn.
Crash – Modern Warfare & Modern Warfare 2
The best map from the original Modern Warfare ends up second on this list. And for good reason. Set around a downed helicopter in a Middle Eastern neighbourhood, Crash exemplified everything that was truly great about COD4.
Matches were never boring on Crash. It didn’t matter how many times you played it. You could change up your playstyle each and every time and still find the action just as intense, chaotic and unpredictable.
The map was a perfect blend of terrain for every type of player. Blind alleys and corridors between buildings let you fight the enemy up close and personal, whilst snipers could trade shots down the alley to the south and across the courtyard where the downed helicopter was situated. Meanwhile, people with assault rifles could battle it out for control over mid-map and provide support from any of the elevated power positions overlooking much of the map.
Forget the Modern Warfare trilogy, this is one of the best Call of Duty maps period. It doesn’t really put a step wrong.
Terminal – Modern Warfare 2 & Modern Warfare 3
This is the only thing that could ever top Crash.
Terminal is the best map from the original trilogy and one of the most iconic in Call of Duty history. It manages to be everything you want from a COD map and more. Based on the controversial ‘No Russian’, it sees players fighting at an airport. A bright, colourful and well-designed (for fighting anyway) one at that.
This was a map that had something for everyone. If you wanted to run an assault rifle, the map came with some beautiful sightlines. If you wanted to engage in some epic sniper battles, all you needed to do was sit at either end of the hallway. If you wanted to bum rush the enemy team, you could. And if you wanted to camp, the airplane was the place for you.
Terminal was great for every game mode too. Some of my fondest memories were the Domination matches that took place on this map. They were truly epic battles and were rarely topped either in terms of enjoyment or pure carnage.
It’s no wonder it was ported over to MW3 as free DLC. What a map-sterpiece.
So there we have it, 10 of the greatest maps ever seen in a Modern Warfare title. But what were/are your favourites? Hit us up in the comments below.