5 Best Video Game Maps: Design and Usability

Jesus Figueroa

The map is one of the main elements in video games, as players use it for orientation and exploration.

It’s also the element that gives you an idea of the game’s dimensions, so you can make an idea of how long it would take to discover everything.

Furthermore, with the fast development of gaming technology, nowadays we have open world maps, where the player can create a path that’s unique to their journey. 

For instance, games such as the "Dragon Age Inquisition" or "The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt" have the biggest maps available right now and players can go roam around, leaving the quest behind.

However, we’re going to stick with the traditional video game maps today, the ones that have well-delimited borders and we’ll compare their design and usability.

#1: Counterstrike
This FPS has a plethora of maps and it even allows players to create their own. However, among the official ones, the most popular is the de_dust2 map. This is considered to be the most iconic for the CS community due to its use of vertical space and smart combination of open fighting areas and corridor fighting.

As proof of its popularity, the map was released in 2001, but it is still one of the best and most requested maps in today’s Counterstrike versions!

Now, if you’re not that much into first-person shooter games, but you enjoy fast-paced games that look cute, we recommend Survivio which you can play via your browser. The map is lightweight and gives plenty of indications such as the position of your enemies, hiding spots, environment, and so on.

#2: Medal of Honor: Allied Assault
MOH is one of the most realistic WW2 game depictions ever made, and the associated maps are just as chaotic and intense as the game. However, when it comes to comparing design and functionality, one, in particular, comes to mind: the Omaha Beach level.

The entire game was inspired by the ‘Saving Private Ryan’ movie, but this level came very close to the Hollywood depiction. As a result, the map is challenging, and it may take several tries even for advanced players.

#3: Need for Speed
When it comes to racing games, the role of a map is to show you the way without spoiling the surprises in advance. So, you get to see the winding shape of the road, but you can’t tell the real difficulty of a curve until you reach that point in the game.

The NFS maps are legendary among players because they were not just about the road and the race. They let you wander in the surrounding space and you get to admire amazing landscapes and enjoy the challenges of changing weather.

Not to mention, you may end up being chased by cops in a side of town you never knew it was there before.

#4: Super Mario World
Well, we couldn’t discuss epic maps without mentioning one of the most epic gaming franchises of all times.

This map is the one that truly gives you access to the world of Super Mario, creating a whole new level of experience for this game. If up until Super Mario World you had the same two-dimensional world, that went from left to right with the occasionally hidden chamber, in this game you have a plethora of secret areas that could be discovered using clever play.

Furthermore, each newly discovered area could ultimately change the way the game played!

Now, if you’ve already played the Super Mario World map and you’re looking for something on a similar note, we recommend a game called Stickman Rope. The levels are light and fun, but they do pose some challenges.

#5: God of War
This is one of the most interesting maps for history buffs who would love to take a stroll down memory lane in ancient Greece. The developers did extensive research before creating the map, which is why many of the areas look like they could have existed at a certain moment in time.

Furthermore, the map is a promise for adventure, starting with the ancient city of Rhodes, moving on with the depth of the Tartarus (the titans’ prison) and ending with the heights of Mount Olympus, where the main character has to battle gods.

Overall, this is one of those maps that you can’t wait to explore but feel empty once it’s over.

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