The Gears of War series, much like many of its Xbox brethren, is highly revered for its massively popular multiplayer component. Like most things, it isn’t flawless, but it is loved for its team-based gameplay and sheer intensity. Occasional latency issues aside, it was, and still is, one of the best multiplayer series on the market, even against the likes modern phenomena like Fortnite and Apex Legends.
Perhaps one thing that makes multiplayer stand tall in Gears of War is its maps. Uniquely symmetrical in layout, and usually fair in weapon placements as such, maps have often been a vehicle for Gears of War‘s multiplayer, be it Execution, King of the Hill, Team Deathmatch, or even Horde mode. While very tough to round up the best of the best, below are what could easily be the definitive multiplayer maps for the Gears of War series.
Appearance(s): Gears of War: Judgment
Likely to be an unpopular choice with many, given hardcore fans’ hatred of Gears of War: Judgment, “Streets” still might be the best map in the controversial prequel.
“Streets” had many great elements in it. With multiple indoor areas, including some warehouses, a butcher shop, and a diner, the map is spread out and feels as if you’re in an actual urban area. It includes many tight alleys and corridors in typical Gears fashion, which can easily end in a gruesome death or two.
One of the best parts of “Streets” is its verticality. Controversially, as opposed to previous and following series entries, the game allowed players to fall from reasonable heights (for the most part). Theoretically, this was to allow for more freedom in traversing maps, though many felt it meddled with the Gears formula. In any case, this system worked great inits conduciveness to “Streets.” With access to rooftops and, with it, powerful weapons like the Longshot, you could easily take a dive off the roof and back onto the streets (no pun intended) to duke it out in close quarters.
“Gondola” was an equally good map for its use of verticality, and “Library” the same. However “Streets” takes the cake for its thematic quality and superior layout.
4. Raven Down
Appearance(s): Gears of War, Gears of War 3, Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, Gears of War 4
Part of a DLC for the first entry in the series, “Raven Down” really took on a life of its own. A map in which players shoot each other to death in the closest of quarters, it was a go-to choice for “pros.” Bearing no weapon spawns, save for frag grenades, in every game it’s appeared in, it’s you, your Gnasher, and your Lancer. It inspires one to channel Marcus Fenix and say: “Let’s do this.”
Otherwise, it may inspire one to camp and wait for some unsuspecting victim(s).
With four different spawn areas on a level playing field, surrounding the wreck of an aptly-titled Raven helicopter, players take a rush from their spawn points and meet each other in the center. It’s quite easy to get in an intimate Gnasher duel with someone in this fashion. However, with many points of cover, the map also grants leeway for midrange firefights and flanking.
All else being equal, “Raven Down” is great because it is the essence of what made Gears so great in the first place. It boils it down to Gears of War‘s variety of combat styles in a condensed arena, forcing the player to rely on skill and strategy.
Appearance(s): Gears of War 2, Gears of War 3
Gears of War 2 has many amazing maps. From base game maps like “Ruins” and “Pavilion” to DLC maps like “Memorial” and “Nowhere,” it seemed like there was a bottomless supply of fantastic multiplayer maps for the second installment in the series.
While difficult to pinpoint, Gears of War 2‘s standout map was likely “Jacinto.” Based in the city that sinks before our very eyes in the campaign, “Jacinto” is a great example of Gears of War‘s ethic of symmetry. Everyone starts out with a fair shake, and from there, it’s a race to the weapon pickups.
Mostly, however, “Jacinto” was pretty much the Horde map for 2008. There were other greats in that field, such as the reinvented “Fuel Depot,” as well as “Fuel Station.” In the end, “Jacinto” was the definitive Horde map. Having plenty of hideout areas and opportunities to flank, waves of enemies could easily be taken down with effective teamwork.
If one player got a Mauler to chase them around the center area, another could fire at the Mauler from a sniper’s nest area, elevated slightly above the area. Suffice it to say that teamwork was the name of the game on “Jacinto.” Moreover, perhaps more importantly, as Horde’s definitive map, it assisted in ushering in a whole phenomenon of multiplayer for last generation. For that alone, it deserves infinite praise.
Appearance(s): Gears of War 3
The first time veteran Gears players were sent to battle in the place where Cole Train became a superstar, titled “Thrashball,” many of them got butterflies. Throughout the previous Gears games until that point, the character’s Thrashball days sounded like the stuff of legends. Alas, it now became a reality.
Starting in the Thrashball field entrance area, players pretty much immediately run out onto the field, which nearly replicates a football field, save for a few details.
Along the field itself are many points of cover, granting the opportunity for chaotic firefights. Furthermore, a narrow passage runs the length of the field, leading to some very tight and highly intense Gnasher duels.
On the other side of the field is a booth, which most unfortunately requires the player to climb a long staircase. This area allows players to fire away at those on the field, though it is also prone to hosting close-range battles to see who will dominate the booth.
Like the majority of other great Gears maps, “Thrashball” sports symmetrical map design, but it is also, essentially, a hilarious example of light-hearted fan service. Typically, one expects multiplayer maps in shooters to involve war-torn battlefields, industrial or military structures, or an area otherwise ravaged by combat. “Thrashball” has definitively been ravaged, but it nonetheless appeals to long-time Gears fans with its acknowledgment of Cole Train’s past, and has a colorful layout altogether. It is truly a giant among giants in the Gears saga.
Appearance(s): Gears of War, Gears of War 2, Gears of War 3, Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, Gears of War 4
Was there any other? The map that has truly transcended the series across a span of over a decade, “Gridlock” is the pinnacle of multiplayer maps, and symmetry in maps, in the Gears of War series.
Both teams start out on opposite sides of the map, each of which are blocked off by a wall, preventing backward movement by the player. The only recourse, then, is to charge into the battlefield: A plaza-like area with many scattered and destroyed vehicles, acting as points of cover, and three sniper areas. A Longshot lies in the middle of the map, leaving an opening for a tug-of-war scenario, while a Boomshot is in the middle of the map as well, albeit on the opposite side.
This map could best be described as “rewarding.” Players start out in as fair a situation as possible and, from there, victory depends on which team displays the best teamwork. There are no unfair advantages or disadvantages, so, despite my best efforts, there are no excuses to be made.
Whereas “Raven Down” is the essence of Gears of War‘s combat styles, “Gridlock” is the essence of Gears of War. It is a very intimate map, littered with points of cover, that requires a high degree of strategy. In other words, do not run to collect the Boomshot as a lone wolf. You will not succeed.
So, what do you all think? Are these the best of the best in Gears maps? Let us know in the comments below!