Valve shoveled some new maps into CS:GO last week, and a couple of them are quite good. Where do these new P90 playgrounds rank alongside CS capitals like de_dust2 and de_inferno? I took a moment to rate every map in the current build.
A few things:
- I’m excluding maps that aren’t in the current rotation (e.g. de_blackgold)
- I’m also excluding Demolition and Arms Race maps, because c’mon
- I’m mostly judging these maps by how they play in 5-on-5 Competitive mode, which is how you should be playing CS:GO (regardless of your skill level)
The key criteria here is: Would I play this map instead of the one below it?
|1||Mirage is your favorite bagel, toasted evenly. Mirage is a warm, unembarrassing hug from your grandmother. Mirage surfaces the best things about CS:GO. |
Every entry point in Mirage presents interesting, complementary risks and rewards. Pushing cat to B as a Terrorist is a great example of this: you have to smoke the A connector to do it safely, but that action in and of itself expresses your intention to bring the bomb to B.
Adjacent map areas, like apartments and underpass, or ladder room and sniper window, have strong relationships to one another. Map timings at mid window, A ramp, the van at B are all deliberately tuned. The bombsites are tough to take and relatively tough to defend, and the CTs have sneaky options to turn defense into offense in apartments, underpass, and palace. Play Mirage.
|2||FMPONE took an average-looking, underappreciated CS map and gave it a gorgeous, high-contrast makeover for Operation Vanguard. The revamp not only gives Season a coherent, original theme for the first time (Japanese laboratory), it also improves how it plays. Patches of bright mustard yellow (on bombsite B) and leaf green (on A) punctuate the sterile white, improving map orientation and making it easier to spot enemies.|
|3||CTs have a positional edge on Inferno, but I love that the Terrorists have plenty of options for outsmarting, out-aiming, or overwhelming them. And I love the way Inferno challenges you to throw smart grenades. When and whether to smoke mid, or how you flash into B takes intuition and practice. |
A series of T-shaped intersections facilitate this: mid, arch, at the banana exit to bombsite B. And unlike hilariously one-sided maps like Aztec, the CTs must make hard decisions about which areas of the map they feel comfortable giving up, like boiler or the busted car inside banana.
|4||The Toyota Camry of Counter-Strike. Dust2 is reliably fun but a victim of its own popularity. It has the “easy to learn, hard to master” quality we value in games, with the sniping lane down mid being a great example of the latter. Re-taking bombsite B, despite three entry points, is satisfyingly tough for the CTs. Both teams have to hurry to occupy the junction at long A, a perfectly-timed early-round flashpoint. It’s wonderful. Can everyone stop playing it, please?|
|5||Cache is delicious oatmeal: a bit bland, but healthy. No corner of Cache is superfluous—its uncomplicated three-lane structure is gimmick-free. The tiny vent entrance to B is about as unconventional as Cache gets. That leaves us with a pure competitive map—it couldn't be more obvious that Cache was co-designed by a pro player.|
|6||Office is simpler than a one-color Rubik’s cube, but I have a lot of affection for this comforting camper’s paradise. Blowing holes in the mundane, corporate setting remains a big part of the appeal. Shoulder-peeking and entry grenades are the name of the game for the CTs: Office is about small-scale execution of these maneuvers rather than larger map-level tactics, and I like its focus for that reason, but it’s also a map that’ll earn you bad habits if you overplay it.|
|7||I’m still getting the hang of Facade. I like its raised ledge at mid, which overlooks a pair of dust2-like double doors, forming a treacherous no-man’s land. I like the complex configuration of bombsite B, and that it’s countered a bit by open windows that beg to have flash grenades thrown through. On the other hand, rotation from one bombsite to another is cumbersome and slow, especially from A to B.|
|8||I guess it’s possible for Nuke to be more CT-sided than it already is. For instance, the Terrorists could spawn inside a room filled with hungry cobras, or inside an Olive Garden that’s just run out of breadsticks. Nuke’s mid-less configuration and the rafters above A put the Terrorists at a major disadvantage. There’s also some lingering sound problems on the map, especially with Z-axis audio behavior. Despite these issues, it remains a mainstay: the same asymmetry that makes it tough for the Ts gives it a unique feel: no other map stacks its bombsites atop one another, for example.|
|9||Do you even yoga, bro? This is actually a really nice gym. But it kind of looks like a school? Anyway, Workout is a colorful three-lane map with some interesting stuff happening around T spawn (an awkward middle stairway; a pool area with plentiful hiding spots). I’ve had enjoyable rounds on Workout, but mid, the long lane to T spawn, and the middle fountain area are a bit too spacious for 5-on-5 play. It can suck the fun out of the map if the hostages spawn closely together, too. I also don’t like how viable the autosniper can be for Ts on this map, but Workout gets points for style and color from me.|
|10||Overpass' unusual layout is both its appeal and a tiny shortcoming, I think. B is one of the most unique bombsites in the game, an exposed concrete perch that the CTs have an elevated line of sight on. The map prompts plenty of tough decisions: A is tougher for the Ts to take but easier to hold. CTs can set themselves up to flank if they scout the tunnel connector aggressively, which can be countered if one or two Ts lurk silently there.|
|11||No classic CS map is more argued over than Train. For many matchmakers it’s a mainstay, but some displeased players have gone so far to revise the map themselves. One thing’s certain: the Terrorists face rough odds on bombsite A—even rushing at full speed, the CTs are always able to put themselves in a better position more quickly. Dark areas in the train tunnels put the Ts at further disadvantage. For better and worse, the map takes a ton of coordinated grenades to solve on the Terrorist side, making solo-queueing on it a pain.|
|12||My rounds on Marquis have been inexplicably positive, despite all the late-round wandering the map inspires. Terrorists face a collar-tuggingly terrifying route to A on this Operation Vanguard newcomer: long, narrow, and then uphill. B isn’t much better, a bite-sized bombsite that’s unusually vulnerable to frags and firebombs from three potential entrances. Some of the hiding spots and elbows underground feel pointless to me. The subway setting is at least a convincing combination of weathered graffiti and loose equipment.|
|13||I’ve been having an okay time with Bazaar since it released last week. It’s a conventional three-lane map with an AWP-friendly mid, albeit with a couple variations: its connectors are weird (like the S-shaped zig-zag from mid to B), and mid has a left- and right-side entrance for both teams. One thing that’s missing here is some decor: Bazaar is 80% unpainted walls and grey brick, giving the map an unfinished feel. More landmarks would inspire better map callouts, too.|
|14||CS 1.6 map Backalley has found its way back into the game. I enjoy Backalley a lot in casual play, where throwing bodies at chokepoints to solve problems becomes standard tactics. In 5-on-5, though, the map’s vertical areas become pretty superfluous. I like the urban, vagely criminal feel of it, but its biggest issue from a competitive standpoint is that the CTs only have one narrow, deadly entry option on either side.|
|15||Dust2’s big brother has effectively been retired from competitive play altogether, and these days it’s valued for its nostalgia. The route alterations Valve made to Dust when CS:GO released were welcome, but no amount of reengineering can change the fact that both bombsites are absolutely buried in CT turf. It’s a piece of history, but hasn’t held up as well as most of CS’ stock maps in Global Offensive.|
|16||Assault is the siege-iest of CS' campy hostage maps. The CTs' entry options are universally bad, clumsily mitigated in CS:GO by the addition of glass windows on the facility rooftop. Pressure through these skylights forces the Ts to turtle even more, opening up chances for braver CTs to break through the front and back doors. There's not much for Ts to do here but make like paranoid conspiracy theorists and point their guns at their own doors.|
|17||Like Assault, rounds of Italy drag on longer than seasons of Dragon Ball Z. Valve tried to lure lazy Terrorists away from the hostage house by moving one of the prisoners into the wine cellar near the center of the map, but old habits die hard: Italy is still a haven for selfish snipers. Though it’d definitely be higher up on this list if the Pavarotti song that played on the radio in CS and CS:S hadn’t been cut from the map, presumably for copyright reasons. Lawyers make bad map designers.|
|18||Huitzilopochtli, Aztec god of multiplayer maps, is not pleased. Someone at Valve clearly didn’t make the correct sacrificial offering. In anger, Huitzilopochtli conspired to give CTs every conceivable advantage: bombsites that are steps away from CT spawn, a bridge that crosses the open air, a horrific ramp, and double doors that open out into two AWP lines for the Terrorists. Temple of Doom indeed.|
|19||Hey, I’ve got an idea: let’s make a map with a massive courtyard overlooked by sniper nests that no one will ever, ever use. Cobblestone in its current form has no business being in the competitive rotation. The action strictly happens around the bombsites, where the Ts have to make treacherous crossings in the open in order to plant the bomb. |
That said, this moment by f0rest was one of my favorites from the ESL One Cologne tournament.
|20||Militia’s days as a charming pub map in CS 1.6 are well dead. Its art embraces the hostage theme in a way I like (sewers, creepy sheds), but the extensive modifications Valve made to the front yard are messy, and they haven’t done much to make Militia more than a misshapen sniping arena. 5-on-5, you can go multiple rounds without seeing anyone depending on which route you take.|
|21||Moms don’t let their babies grow up to design square-shaped maps. Vertigo’s OK as a meat-grindery, 12-on-12, casual romp, but as a competitive map it invites no interesting tactics or tough decisions. Let’s review the Terrorists’ options: 1) attack up an exposed ramp 2) attack up an exposed stairway. There’s no backtracking, secondary routes, or opportunities for trickery: just two teams headbutting. Don’t.|