There’s quite the list of amazing multiplayer maps running throughout the Halo series. But it always comes back to that one map which you could literally spend hours on, that one map which has been remade in some form or other in pretty much every Halo game.
I refer to, of course, Blood Gulch.
There was just something so beautifully simple about this map. Two bases in a boxed canyon, various means of moving around – be it from the turret of an angry Warthog driver, through the system of tunnels in the cliffs, or just straight down the middle as volleys of sniper fire either kick up the dirt at your feet or find purchase in the side of your skull. The great strength of this map was how it catered to just about everything the game’s sandbox had to offer – intense vehicular action, dynamic on-foot combat or stealth-oriented snipe-offs.
It came as no surprise when Halo 2 rolled around that Blood Gulch made a triumphant return as Coagulation with a few upgrades.
The bases were given another layer where the Banshee would spawn, now allowing players to take to the skies and face down the barrel of your opponent’s Scorpion tank or the hugely overpowered combo of dual-SMGs. Capture The Flag was so intense on this map, I always found myself running straight for the sniper and active camouflage power-up to pick off enemy Spartans who strayed into the middle of the map.
I remember how tactical the gameplay on this map used to feel, as well. You’d fill the vehicles with your teammates and rush to the enemy base, the Warthog would then go back to the teleporter around the side of the map and wait for you to appear with the enemy’s flag held triumphantly in your arms as you bounced over the small hills back to your base to claim the win. Teamwork was handsomely rewarded with this map.
Unfortunately, Blood Gulch/Coagulation didn’t get remade for Halo 3, but was instead given a spiritual successor known as Valhalla. The map layout was incredibly similar, the main difference being the raised hill in the middle of the map which severely limited the sniper’s dominance. Valhalla was given an exact remake in Halo 4 as well, returning under the name of Ragnarok.
Prior to this, however, Blood Gulch was remade for both Halo Wars and Halo: Reach. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel that the latter managed to recapture the same feeling or replicate the same kind of gameplay that the original maps had. Certain additions to the sandbox completely changed how the gameplay functioned and I didn’t feel like it was a change for the better. Not only that, but the map was the wrong way round so the geometry surrounding the red and blue bases were inverted.
Overall though, the Blood Gulch formula has been a staple in the success of Halo‘s multiplayer over the last 12 years and I hope that it will continue to do so throughout the rest of 343’s games.