14. Temple of Anubis
Temple of Anubis is an Assault map set on the outskirts of Cairo, Eygpt. Featuring two capture points, the Overwatch map itself features gorgeous art direction, however, this is overshadowed by the frustrating level design. While the first capture point features multiple roots and levels of verticality, the second half is terribly unbalanced.
In order to acquire the second point, players have three approach options, all of which can be easily defended from the capture zone. Going down the middle route without some form of a Reinhardt shield will cause your forces to bottleneck, making it easy for the enemy team to kill you. The right side just funnels into the middle or causes you to waste time trying to jump over the large wall. Finally, the bottom left entrance just offers up another bottleneck that makes it easy for the enemy team to close in and swarm from all directions. It also doesn’t help that the enemy team literally spawns right around the corner, making it simple for them to just stall the timer our indefinitely with the right team composition.
Much like Temple of Anubis, Hanamura is another map that features a great visual design but is sadly unbalanced in the favor of the defenders. The first chokepoint is fair enough, as smart attackers can make use of the many avenues for taking the first objective. In terms of the defenders, there is enough high ground and cover to offer teams multiple ways of defending the chokepoint. However, the issue with this first area’s design is that it almost requires either a Reinhardt or a Mei in order to hold the first point for a fair amount of time, and no one map should effectively force a certain character at a high level of play.
Yet, it’s the second capture point that is the biggest issue thanks to the very defender oriented design of the building. There is limited cover once players actually make it to the control area, and the enemy team will literally spawn only a few feet away, making it very easy to delay a capture. It also doesn’t help that flankers such as Genji, Tracer, and Sombra have very little to offer on attack since there is really is no backline to harass on Hanamura’s second point. This is simply a poorly designed Overwatch map that is disproportionately weighted in the favor of the defenders.
12. Lijiang Tower
Lijiang Tower is an Overwatch Control map that is made up of three locations, each with their own feel and design. However, only one of the three areas offered doesn’t suffer from glaring issues. Starting off with the good, Control Center’s large indoor location offers a multitude of vantage points, cover, and attack routes that lead to a large center location where the control point resides. This map allows for all styles and team compositions to flourish, as the geography offers a variety of different approach options.
Yet, the same cannot be said for Night Market and Garden, both of which suffer from a more linear design, with the latter being the biggest offender. Unless you have a way to bridge the gap, teams are forced to cross either a very narrow bridge or try and funnel their way through some tiny doors. This makes it exceptionally easy for teams to seal off any breach attempts from their opponents. Night Market, on the other hand, effectively punishes teams from attacking the control point’s flanks as they can be easily pushed off and sent falling to their doom. This map’s main fighting area offers very little in terms of positioning, forcing most teams to just crash against each other at the front door.
11. Volskaya Industries
The last of the Assault maps, Volskaya Industries suffers from the same issues as both Hanamura and Temple of Anubis, except to slightly lesser degrees. Yes, the walk back to the first point for defenders is obscenely long, but given how easy it can be to choke attacking teams off at the entrance, this is needed. The first location has enough vertically and attack options that the defender side never feels truly unfair.
However, much like the second point on all the Assault focused maps, it’s clearly weighted in in favor of defenders. Yet, this instance is not nearly as annoying, as flankers still have room to maneuver and escape if spotted. The defenders spawn is also less oppressive, which can make it harder to stall out the entire game by picking specific heroes.
One of two downloadable Overwatch maps released so far, Eichenwalde is one of the most visually stunning levels in Overwatch. Yet there are two rather notable chinks in this level’s armor, with the first being the opening chokepoint for the attackers. This section, much like Hanamura, effectively requires teams to possess a Reinhardt and Mei as there is a very small opening that the attacking team has to pass through. This can be incredibly annoying, even with fliers like D.Va and Pharah being able to flank behind the entire team.
Once a team pushes beyond this point, however, Eichenwalde is rather enjoyable thanks to the balance between close-quarters and ranged combat. While the second chokepoint at the castle door can sometimes be questionable in terms of being fair for both sides, Eichwalde is overall an agreeable battleground. Plus, it has a Dark Souls reference, which is always welcomed.
Ilios is another Control map, however this one has a rather weird design across its three levels. While the map is visually stunning, Ilios suffers from misplaced control points that aren’t exceptionally fun to play around. The most notable is Well, which features a massive bottomless pit in the center of the capture point. This means actual terrain to move around is limited and characters like Pharah or Lucio can knock an entire team off with one well-placed “boop.”
Ruins is perhaps the most balanced, as there are enough locations for both teams to take cover and use as approach options, yet Lighthouse is just annoying. The control point that teams fight over is in a tiny room that offers almost no maneuverability, and teams are punished for attacking the flanks because they’ll just be knocked off the stage. Ilios also suffers because it’s easy for teams to set up in strategic positions that will cut off all approach options for the enemy team, making it very hard to recapture.
8. Watchpoint: Gibraltar
On sliding scale of bad to great, Gibraltar is just mediocre when compared to some of the other payload maps. While the first and second capture points are balanced enough with various hallways and attack options, the last section is simply brutal. In order to capture the last point, players need to fight uphill, which is never good for attackers, and there are very limited avenues that teams can take to subvert this issue.
Yes, you can assault from the side, but then your entire team is trapped in a very tiny room that makes it even easier to be killed. Once you take the hill, the third capture point is more tolerable as the defenders spawn close enough to have a fighting chance, but there’s enough cover for the attackers to not be stalled out for minutes.
The newest map added to Overwatch, Oasis may be too fresh to judge. However, there are some interesting aspects that should be noted, such as the integration of a jump pad that can send users high into the air and cars that’ll instantly kill anyone they touch. All of the actual control points feel fair and offer enough cover and strategic options that when the controlling team is set up, their defense isn’t terribly punishing.
Yet, the Garden stage has one major flaw: you can contest the point on the second floor. There is no way to get up to this area outside of going all the way around to the staircases, and Genji can just contest with little issue. This is so far the only glaring problem with the new Overwatch map, as it’s been a rather entertaining map to play.
6. Route 66
Route 66 is on the better side of Overwatch maps. Its balance of different attack options can cater to both ranged and close characters, and both the defending team and attackers have evenly placed spawns. Even though the final push can be annoying at times, Route 66 offers enough flanking and positional choices that it never feels like players are being funneled into a kill zone. This makes the map feel rather fun, even if Route 66 isn’t anything special visually. It’s simply a solid map, but there’s no aspect that makes it truly stand out among the best that Overwatch has to offer.
Much like Route 66, Numbani is a decent map that doesn’t force users to stick to one style of play or attack. The first point offers enough flexibility for both defenders and attackers, while the second stretch of the level has a great offering of verticality that can help the defenders hold the large street. Even though the third chokepoint can be frustrating, it’s not enough to truly detract from the overall experience of this map. Much like Route 66, this Overwatch map is simply good, but not the best.
Hollywood, perhaps one of the most visually stunning maps in all of Overwatch, couples unique set backdrops with diversity in the level design, meaning each area feels wholly unique from the other. Couple this with the interesting routes going through each capture section, and Hollywood caters to almost all of the heroes on the roster. This not only makes for more dynamic gameplay, but can showcase some really interesting team compositions. Also, having a robot director shout at the escorting team from his limo is pretty damn amusing at times.
When it comes to straight Overwatch payload maps, Dorado is by far the best due to the incredibly balanced sections throughout each engagement area. Each chokepoint feels fair and offers just enough flanking routes that creative teams can take advantage of the map’s layout to secure an area. While the ending stretch has a rather close spawn door, the amount of cover offered is enough to make this tolerable. There’s also some really wonderful art direction displayed that lends Dorado a unique personality through the three areas. Dorado is simply a very fun map to play, regardless of your rank or character of choice.
2. King’s Row
King’s Row is a beautiful map that almost strikes a perfect balance of defender/attacker team fighting. The first point has a rather strong chokepoint, but there are enough side routes that players can use to avoid funneling into a kill box. This area feels like a great mix of both close and far away fighting, allowing for skilled Widowmakers and Hanzos to rain death upon their enemies from above. The walk back from the defender’s spawn to the actual point is just long enough that they can’t stall, but not far enough that if you lose one person the point is lost.
Once players begin escorting the payload the street, fighting is some of the best combat sections that Overwatch can offer. The sheer variety in options, cover, and vertically allows for smart teams to hold unique defense positions. Yet, it’s never unfair; the same options are given to the attackers provided they’ve pushed up to the second chokepoint.
This map’s only only flaw is that the third chokepoint can be rather troublesome. Getting the payload around the corner to the final point can be aggravating, but this is usually due to players not making smart use of the cover and higher vantage points. King’s Row is a gorgeous map, and one that should be emulated in future payload levels.
Nepal is an enigma when it comes to Overwatch maps, as it strikes an almost perfect balance of catering to different teams and heroes. The largely asymmetrical level design rewards those who make the best use of their cover, however, it never feels as if it’s punishing those for trying something new or different. The massive pit is not as annoying as Ilios’s since the point itself is rather large and relegated to one area. Cover is plentiful and the ceiling is high enough to justify the use of more vertical based characters like Pharah. Shrine is a rather fun design that gives teams multiple ways to the center point, which makes defending the area a significant challenge.
However, it’s Village that’s by far the highlight of this map, as this section has some really creative locations, rooms, and walkways that can be utilized in ways we rarely see in Overwatch. While there is a central choke, Village offers enough entrances that this section doesn’t become a mandatory “must hold” for the defending team. It’s a nearly perfect level that has great synergy with a multitude of the game’s characters. While the other maps in this multiplayer game may be fun, Nepal is something else entirely, and the most balanced map in Overwatch. It’s not perfect, as Nepal suffers from a rather rough choke point in the Sanctum level that can take forever to break, but this can be overlooked when compared the sheer amount of positives it represents.